Join Bridge Winners
A Reply to David Yates' Articles
(Page of 37)

David Yates has been so kind and hard-working as to write a number of articles about the Blue Team in world championships in the 1950s.

http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/lose-the-bermuda-bowl-with-me/

http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/prelude-to-bermuda-bowl-1959-2-csmi7j5uo4/

http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/bermuda-bowl-1959-segment-1/

http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/yet-another-look/

 

Of the 66 pages, many are about pyches. I find this strange; the North American opponents used them often from 1957-1959, then they faded away, with a small resurgence in 1966. We see the pattern that one would expect; sometimes partner had a good hand, sometimes not. Sometimes partner got the gag too late, sometimes not. Win some, lose some.

My opinion is that this focus on psyches is misguided; they are of little relevance to the topic of Blue Team success and the possibility of their using illicit signals. There are, however, subjects regarding Blue Team actions that are of great importance; I believe Mr Yates gives them insufficient analysis. I will cover them later.

Mr Yates' articles discusses some hands from the world championships of 1957 and 1959. If there are two Blue Team world championships that I would ignore, they would be... 1957 and 1959. Not because I think Blue Team cheating did not occur (I think it did, and in abundance), but because the US/North American teams were the weakest the Blue Team ever faced. All other years (1958, 1961-1968, 1972), in my opinion, had stronger US teams.

1957: Goren–Sobel, Goren–Leventritt, Sobel–Leventritt, Sobel–Seamon, Ogust–Koytchou, Ogust–Leventritt, Leventritt-Koytchou, Lebentritt-Seamon

1959: Fishbein-Hazan, Harmon-Stakgold, Lazard-Fry

Of 1957, Mr Yates writes:

Team USA-1957 was composed of top players in America at that time

I don't agree. No Becker, Crawford, Rapée, Roth, Schenken, Silodor, Stone... the teams of 1957 and 1959 were not the best teams the US could put up, although Sobel and Lazard were certainly excellent. (Helen Sobel had a most disappointing Bowl, while Lazard's great skill was already known - he played this incredible hand in his early 20s: https://bridgewinners.com/article/view/sidney-lazards-great-coup/ )

Mr Yates:

It is apparently fashionable to dump on Goren's ability...

Damn right. While Goren was the master bridge marketer of the 1930s and 40s, there is no doubt that, by the late 1950s, whatever playing skills Goren had, had waned. I have spoken to players of the day. One kibitzed Goren in 1958; Goren, a defender, cashed an ace in the mid-game. Some time later Goren was alerted to the fact that it was his lead. Another played Goren in a 1961 National and observed clear signs of Goren's disorientation.

 

Judy Kay-Wolff:

By the time I came upon the serious glitz and glitter of the bridge scene in 1960, his mind was starting to go downhill...

Bobby Wolff:

In the Spring of 1967... I had received another offer to play professionally with [sponsor] Charles Goren... who by then had slipped dramatically and was very near senility... Goren is a legendary figure in bridge, but the truth be known, he was never considered a top flight player by his peers. His real gift was salesmanship... At the table, his bidding was good, and he had fine judgment in competitive situations, but he was otherwise mediocre.

 

Mr Yates makes much of the silly mistakes of the Blue Team and the American opponents in 1957 and 1959. I think it is incorrect to draw some sort of parallel, for we are not comparing two similar groups of bridgeplayers; we are comparing a group of bridgeplayers that won ten consecutive Bermuda Bowls and three consecutive Olympiads with their opponents. It is for that reason that I think that a theme of Mr Yates' (that we see weak and foolish actions from both sides, so there is some form of congruence) is mistaken.

Here are some hands from 1957 that Mr Yates either does not discuss, or, in my view, gives insufficient attention. Choose your call in each instance. You are South throughout.

1.

South
AQJ10
A4
AJ96
Q65
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
P
P
1
P
P
2
P
P
2
P
?

 

2.

South
A9632
32
A54
A52
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
X
3
4
?

 

3.

South
AQ976
A872
6
A83
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
X
P
1NT
2
P
2
P
?

 

4.

South
J
KJ1074
52
Q7643
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
1
1
1NT
X
2
P
P
3
P
4
P
P
?

1. Board 2.

Forquet
43
Q873
KQ
AK974
Leventritt
K872
J109
10875
32
Siniscalco
965
K652
432
J108
Goren
AQJ10
A4
AJ96
Q65
W
N
E
S
 
P
1
1
P
P
1
P
P
2
P
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Failing to make a takeout double of 1 and moving on over 2 is poor judgement indeed.

Also noteworthy is Siniscalco's failure to raise Forquet's overcall immediately. This is in line with Blue Team policy - bid conservatively when partner overcalls with a four-card suit; bid aggressively when he has overcalled with a longer suit. More on that shortly.

 

2.  Board 116.

Seamon
10
QJ97
KJ73
KJ104
D'Alelio
KQJ54
K6
1086
863
Sobel
87
A10854
Q92
Q97
Chiaradia
A9632
32
A54
A52
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
X
3
4
4
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
4X South
NS: 0 EW: 0

As with Goren, Chiaradia doesn't know much about hand evaluation.

 

3. Board 69.

Ogust
J2
K65
KQ953
K104
Chiaradia
1054
943
A108
Q752
Koytchou
K83
QJ10
J742
J96
D'Alelio
AQ976
A872
6
A83
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
X
P
1NT
2
P
2
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Nor does D'Alelio. Sobel was content to stop in 2 in the other room and played with good technique to make an overtrick. D'Alelio made a mess of the play and went down.

Note the auction... Chiaradia gave preference to 2. This is because they were not playing canapé, while Mr Yates thinks they were. More on that shortly.

 

4. Board 70.

Koytchou
Q10753
98
AJ106
52
D'Alelio
K64
6532
K9
AJ109
Ogust
A982
AQ
Q8743
K8
Chiaradia
J
KJ1074
52
Q7643
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
1
1
1N
X
2
P
P
3
P
4
P
P
4N
P
5
X
P
P
P
D
5X South
NS: 0 EW: 0

 

What do you suppose was going on here?

How can Chiaradia justify driving the auction to the five-level? By what means did Chiaradia know there was a fit? Can D'Alelio not be 4-2-4-3? Would not a large penalty then result?

I take a different look at this truly bizarre action in this article, pages 11-14.

https://bridgewinners.com/article/view/the-return-of-the-curse-of-the-blue-team/

Here is Chiaradia at work a year later.

1958 Bermuda Bowl final, board 86

Chiaradia
10
8
642
AJ865432
W
N
E
S
1
3
P
3
P
4
4
X
P
?

 

Chiaradia bid his suit three times and went for 500; the opponents were about to go for the same penalty.

Chiaradia is often named as a brilliant bidding theoretician, but we see little of that here; after all, overruling partner is the act of a weak player. I think that Chiaradia was so weak that he had trouble with simple Stayman.

 

1957 Bermuda Bowl final, board 43

AK3 Q96 Q653 J106

 

1958 Bermuda Bowl final, board 163

QJ6 KJ10 A72 9874

 

In each case, over D'Alelio's 16-18 1NT, Chiaradia used Stayman and bid 3NT over the response (2 and 2). There is no sign he understood that feeding defenders information about declarer’s hand can be costly.

 

And then there was this little curio:

1957 Bermuda Bowl final, board 38.

K974 K86 Q94 Q85

Chiaradia used Stayman, found a 4-4 spade fit and bid 3NT.

 

Can you make any sense of his actions?

Well, what about card-play?

 

1.

North
A42
J42
A103
10642
South
109
A1087653
KQ
K9
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
3
P
P
P

 The lead is a low spade. You win and play a low heart, 9... ?

 

2.

West
Q9
Q84
9762
10832
North
1042
92
J105
KQ976
W
N
E
S
 
P
1
P
1
1
2
P
3
P
4
P
5
P
P
P

 

You are West, playing standard signals.

Trick 1: Q, 2, 8, K.

Declarer cashes the A and plays a low club to dummy, partner following.

Now a heart to the king and a heart ruff high(?!), partner following.

Next comes a low club to declarer's ace, partner pitching a low spade.

Now a heart... what do you do?

1. 1957 Bermuda Bowl final, board 167

It's not worth bothering with the full deal, for you have doubtless guessed right...

Yes, Chiaradia rose ace and lost two trump tricks. One down. In the other room, Goren knew enough to score +140 in the same contract.

 

2. 1957 Bermuda Bowl final, board 9

Goren
Q9
Q84
9762
10832
Forquet
1042
92
J105
KQ976
Leventritt
AJ865
1053
A843
4
Siniscalco
K73
AKJ76
KQ
AJ5
W
N
E
S
 
P
1
P
1
1
2
P
3
P
4
P
5
P
P
P
D
5 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Siniscalco appears to be playing to set up the hearts (doubleton queen or 3-3) and hoping for clubs to break. No luck, but 5 still made.

Goren was having another of his naps, for, when Sinicalco played the fourth heart, he discarded.

 

Chiaradia's 1963 idiocy, playing LHO for 14 cards and to have dealt and passed with a 14-count when playing 4XX, is well-known. I think that his poor bidding and cardplay ineptitude, combined with his attempted assault upon jeering spectators, were the causes of his never playing another set for the Blue Team.

 

Now, we have seen both Goren and Chiaradia bid and play like beginners. But Chiaradia won six consecutive Bermuda Bowls. D'Alelio, maybe a whisker stronger* than Chiaradia, won ten consecutive Bermuda Bowls and three consecutive Olympiads.

Here is the gold medal count in world championships for the Blue Team players, 1957-1959, 1961-1969, 1972

Avarelli: 12

Belladonna: 16

Chiaradia: 6

D'Alelio: 13

Forquet: 15

Garozzo: 13

Pabis-Ticci: 8

Siniscalco: 3

 

I have doubts about the chances of a team with half the players being mediocre achieving such a record by legitimate means. I'm not alone.

Anders Wirgren:

After reading many, many old world championship deals, I agree with the author. My own view is that neither Avarelli, Chiaradia, D’Alelio or Pabis-Ticci were good enough to be on an ordinary open Swedish national team – if they played bridge. They needed a partner who “helped them”. Otherwise, they were simply too weak.

 

==========================================

* D'Alelio did not have a good 1966 Bermuda Bowl. There are hands where he forgot Asking Bid responses, forgot to open a Roman Two, forgot to canapé, and forgot the responses to Blackwood. His play to go three down in 6NT was described in the Official Handbook as, "an unaccustomed lapse in dummy play."

It wasn’t.

Mr Yates's articles contain errors. Here are two:

 

1. Writing of 1957:

Chiaradia had an awkward hand for Neapolitan on #113.

 

Chiaradia played only with D'Alelio in 1957 and 1958. Neapolitan, the forerunner of Blue Club, used a 17+ 1.

What to make, then, of Chiaradia's 1957 openings of 1 with:

Board 33. 986 K2 K84 KQ1065

Board 109. 432 AJ72 -- AQJ854

He seems to be a bit light for a strong club.

Puzzling!

In fact, Chiaradia-D'Alelio were not playing Neapolitan, but Italian Natural. Edgar Kaplan writes that this system is based upon Culbertson, with the addition of Acol Twos and limit raises. Canapé was used, but only when a reverse. Chiaradia-D'Alelio played this very basic system in 1957 and 1958.

 

2. Also of 1957:

This was before (Roman - yes, “they” invented it) keycard Blackwood...

 

If Mr Yates is saying that Roman Key Card Blackwood was ever part of the Roman Club system, he is mistaken. The "Roman" part of "Roman Key Card Blackwood" comes from the fact that RKCB borrowed part of the Roman Club responses to four-ace (no keycards) Blackwood. The Roman Club response went like this:

5 - 0 or 3 aces

5 - 1 or 4 aces

5 - 2 aces of the same color or rank

5 - 2 aces of different color or rank

I recall asking my father about this* in 1974. Why, I asked, were they so interested in which two aces partner had? Was this not seldom of value unless one had a void? And if one had a void, why use Blackwood?

He was unable to clarify why Avarelli and Belladona were interested in pairs of aces.

The fact is, Roman Blackwood, played by nobody, is pretty silly, while modern RKCB, played by many, is a fine tool indeed.

The two topics above are interesting to examine further....

 

============================================================

* My father. a strong and well-read player, played Neapolitan/Blue Club from 1963 until his passing 30 years later. In 1974 I also asked him, what sort of hand is this in Blue Club?

1 2

2 3

Given that, after a 2/1, the system dictates opener must rebid any five-card spade suit** without a 5+card side-suit, is it

xx AKJ10xx xx AQx

or

xx AKx xxx AQxxx ?

He had no answer.

But, as devoted Blue Team disciples, we prayed daily for the Dallas Dunces to be given the brains to see that they could not bid, play or defend.

Since then, I have come to the view that Blue Club and Roman Club have fundamental structural weaknesses (I think responder's reverses are idiotic***), and that  the Dallas Aces started their matches with a significant handicap.

 

** 1967 Bermuda Bowl qualifying, Italy vs France

After

1 P 2 X

?

Forquet rebid 2 with J10876 8 AQ6 KQ87

 

*** Franco-Pancotti's revised Blue Club uses an artificial 2 response and relays to untangle the silly canapé mess.

1.  Chiaradia - D'Alelio's use of Italian Natural

 

Italian NPC, Carl’Alberto Perroux, after the 1959 Bermuda Bowl:

The American systems, like all natural systems, are adopted for the millions who play rubber bridge; the Italian artificial systems, full of conventions and difficult to memorize, provide an immense advantage in competitive bridge at the highest level.

 

It is my view that "immense advantage" is quite an overbid (just about everyone plays parts of 1958 Roth-Stone; no one plays Neapolitan or Roman), but we are still left with a puzzle - why did Chiaradia-D'Alelio play modified Culbertson in their first two Bowls? Why not rush to make use of this "immense advantage"?

Chiaradia was the inventor of Neapolitan* (played by Forquet-Siniscalco, 1957-1959 and Forquet-Garozzo 1961-1964), so you'd think he'd be very keen to play his own system in a world championship. If there was a reason to stick to Italian Natural, it had to be D'Alelio. It is my opinion that Neapolitan (a simple canapé strong-club system) was too hard for D'Alelio to understand. It took two years for him work it out, and he was ready in 1959 - he and Chiaradia were officially playing Neapolitan.

Almost.

In fact, D'Alelio played no boards in the qualifying or final against the USA. The documented reason given is that he was unwell... but not so unwell that he could not play 7 out of 9 sets against Argentina. I think it is possible that Perroux did not want D'Alelio playing a system with which he was struggling, against competent opponents.

Is there supporting evidence for the view that D'Alelio was unable to easily grasp a new simple bidding system?

Yes.

In late 1971, The Blue Team played a challenge match against the Dallas Aces. The Blue Team had been paid to adopt Chung Ching Wei's Precision system. Forquet-Garozzo and Avarelli-Belladonna played basic Precision... while D'Alelio had to stick to Little Roman, the system he had used from 1964 onwards.

 

=======================================================

* Chiaradia started work on Neapolitan around 1942. After 15 years of work, he was ready to display the magnificence of the 12-17 1NT opening, always 3-3-2-5.

Rome wasn't built in a day.

 

** Arturo Franco - Dano De Falco were Italy's 3rd pair for the 1974 Bowl. They played no boards in the final and were not awarded a gold medal.

USA won the 1981 Bowl and team member Bud Reinhold played no boards in the final. He was not awarded a gold medal.

D'Alelio played no boards in the 1959 final, and is listed as a gold medalist. It is my view that this award should be rescinded, and I expect that to happen right after the WBF releases the Burgay Tape that, like the Gerber Letter, details the illicit signalling methods of the Blue Team.

2.  Blackwood

 

The Blue Team's use of Blackwood is most interesting. Consider these two deals:

 1957 Bermuda Bowl final, board 210

Avarelli
AKJ4
KQ7
AQ983
3
Belladonna
1087653
A105
52
J2
W
N
E
S
1
P
4
P
6
P
P
P

 

1959 Bermuda Bowl final, board 64

Avarelli
KQ7
AKJ94
82
AK3
Belladonna
10
Q1052
AQ9
Q10952
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1
P
2
P
3NT
P
6
P
P
P

 

Mr Yates mentions the first deal in passing but does not consider an important question: Why no Blackwood of any sort? Why should the opponent's assets not include two aces?

From Wikipedia’s current Roman Club entry:

… deadly accuracy in game and slam bidding.

Quite.

 

Here is another example of the non-use of Blackwood

1964 Olympiad semi-final, board 49

Garozzo
K10652
QJ1054
A93
East
Q8743
AK8
KJ7
K8
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
5
P
5
P
6
P
P
P

 

Can you think of a reason that Garozzo cannot have

AKxx QJ10xx Qx Qx ?

 

No, nor can I*.

 

After the publication of my book, I received a few emails from experts who, having played Blue Club in the 1970s, had been unable to reconcile the system's cuing first and second round controls equally, with an absence of Blackwood (unless a jump or on the first or second round of bidding). The hand above enlightened them.

 

Let's move on to the Roman takeout double. That is, in my opinion, a most dreadful can of worms, and one that Mr Yates fails to accurately address.

 

=================================================

* Mark Horton, editor of the English translation of Perroux's book about the Blue Team, also cannot find a sound basis for this auction.

In "Close encounters : Bridge’s Greatest Matches", by Eric Kokish and Mark Horton, Horton writes:

In attempting to locate a definitive explanation of this sequence, I have scoured the resources of the best bridge libraries in the world, but have hadno success. Having refused to cooperate over 3 , [Garozzo's] retreat to 5  with first-round control in both minors is surprising, but not as surprising as [Forquet], a famously conservative bidder, driving to slam unilaterally. His luck was in — on another day [Garozzo] might have held:

AK1062 QJ1054 Q3 2

Mr Yates writes:

Roman

Double showed values. Generally about 12-16 HCP and did not promise support for unbid suits. Doubles were only a tad lighter if ideal shape. Better hands started with 1NT which began at 17 and ran as high as 23-24 points. 1NT did not promise a balanced hand, nor a stopper. However, the 1NT overcall was non-forcing, so it was not widely distributional...

Neapolitan

Double started hands at about opening strength. Unlike Roman, double was not limited*.

 

Mr Yates can be forgiven for supposing that this was the arrangement of Avarelli and Belladonna; after all, these were takeout doubles for them in world championship finals:

 

1958, board 68.

Belladonna
6
KQ10865
KJ
A1076
W
N
E
S
1
X

 

1959, board 118.

Avarelli
K
AJ1075
AJ86
872
W
N
E
S
1
X

 

Strangely, here is what we read in Roman Club System, Avarelli & Belladonna, 1959:

Immediate take-out double (by South) over East’s opening bid:

Holding 12-16 points with 4=4=3=2, 4=4= 4=1, 5=4=3=1 or 5=4=2=2 distribution and the opening suit coinciding with your shortest suit. (Can also be made occasionally with distributions of 4=3=3=3 or 5=3=3=2 when the doubleton is in the suit bid by the opponent.) (My emphasis)

 

Now, I think you will agree that the difference between what Avarelli & Belladonna did at the table, and what their systemic methods advocate, is very remarkable indeed.

 

Things did not improve with age. From the 1968 Olympiad final:

Avarelli
8643
10
AK63
AQ98
W
N
E
S
1
?

Avarelli doubled.

We see that the dichotomy between what they played and what they said they played remained.

Roman Club System, Avarelli & Belladonna, 1969:

Informatory Double in Second Position of a Suit Bid. …

The requirements for the double are 12-16 points with 4=4=3=2, 4=4=4=1, 5=4=3=1 or 5=4=2=2 distributions, where the long suits are not the same as the suit opened. 4=3=3=3 and 5=3=3=2 (with the doubleton in the suit opened) are also permissible. (My emphasis)

Wow.

 

So what is going on? Why the divergence? Given that they actually played wildly-off-shape takeout doubles, why not just tell the truth? What's wrong with Avarelli & Belladonna's system books saying something like this:

A one-level takeout double is most often in the 12-16 range. A classical shape is not required; a double may have length in the opponent's suit and and can have shortage in a side-suit.

 

My guess is this: That if their books espoused the methods that were actually in use, some pairs might actually use them... and then it would be painfully-obvious that the Roman Club overcall/double structure is unplayable without "help" from one's partner.

 

From my book:

Bolder were Paul Marston and Richard Brightling, members of the NZ team for the 1974 Bermuda Bowl. They decided there was merit in adopting Italian-style "off-shape" takeout doubles, for, while they certainly looked quite odd, the Italians landed on their feet and almost never ran into trouble. So Marston-Brightling played them. But not for long.

A string of nightmare hands and horrible results meant that they dropped the off-shape doubles permanently, swearing never to attempt one ever again.

How does that fit with the table on the previous page? How is it that one pair found off-shape takeout doubles to be disastrous, while a whole team went 15 world championship finals with only five penalties? Why was one man’s volatility another man’s stability?

If you played a method in high-level competition, whereby this ( Siniscalco, 1958 Bermuda Bowl final, board 35):

Q92 Q AJ10743 A98

is a takeout double of 1, do you think that years would go by without being penalized?

 

I think there is quite a bit more to say on Roman Club's use of takeout doubles, and we can start by looking at more of what Mr Yates has written.

 

================================================================

* I am unclear as to why Mr Yates thinks this. While there are some world championship books that say that a Roman 1NT overcall was forcing, the Roman Club (1959, 1969) books have it as limited (17-24 and then 17-20) and not-forcing. There are hands where Avarelli and Belladonna passed a 1NT overcall. And if a double is limited, what is the call with a shapely strong hand?

Mr Yates writes:

In responding to a double, over pass or XX, game-forcing advancing hands jumped or cue bid. Lacking GF values the advancer would respond in his SHORT suit...

On board #22 in 1957, RHO opened 1 and Avarelli doubled, holding:

K4 K2 KJ973 K942

This looks strange to modern eyes as the hand is hardly prepared for a major suit response. This leads to a common, modern-day misconception about Roman doubles. Employing Roman methods, the hand that doubles need not be prepared for a LONG suit bid by advancer. The hand needs to be prepared for a SHORT suit response by advancer.

The systemic call on bd #22 with Avarelli’s hand employing Roman defensive methods is, in fact, double. This promises opening values. A 1 overcall would have been weaker.

The reason the action of double can be taken is that if the next hand passes or redoubles, advancer would bid diamonds with shortness. Avarelli would then pass, and the pair are not any higher than if hand he overcalled. Note that this approach does not increase the chances of being penalized. An unbalanced stack behind an overcall would double as doubles by the opening side were penalty back then. That same responding hand might be bidding over the takeout double

 

The reason the action of double can be taken is that if the next hand passes or redoubles...

Mr Yates' text has a fatal flaw; it assumes that the opponents are so courteous as to never raise. It was not the use of short-suit responses that allowed Avarelli and Belladonna to unscramble the off-shape doubles. There was something else going on.

 

Consider this auction:

1964 Olympiad final, board 39

Belladonna
K8
9
QJ9872
KQJ3
Avarelli
A4
AQ7642
104
952
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
X
2
3
P
4
P
P
P

 

Here, a simple raise leads to one of the most amazing auctions of all time. Blue Team member Pabis-Ticci* sought to enlighten us:

Many spectators in the Bridge-rama wondered** how Avarelli could not bid on to 4 Hearts over four diamonds, but for whoever knows the Roman Club the answer is simple: Avarelli cannot have less than that in hearts to freely bid the suit at the three level, and in case Belladonna had had a couple of small cards in support, his choice would have been between passing or raising. When he bids four diamonds he shows beyond any doubt that his double hinges on a long diamond suit. (My emphasis)

 

My opinion: Pabis-Ticci was being most creative. His "explanation" was an attempt to disguise what was really going on.

 

Here is supporting evidence for this view:

East
K976
107
5
KQ10742
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
3
?

 

As we have seen, partner could have a doubleton spade or singleton club. Pabis-Ticci tells us we must have not have less than a six-card suit to two honors to bid at the three level. And the one call that cannot be considered is 3 for, as Pabis-Ticci said above, with "a couple of small cards in support" partner can pass.

So what is your choice?  

 

==========================================================

* My book incorrectly attributes the quote to NPC Perroux. I thank Maurizio Di Sacco for pointing out my error.

** I am guessing a more accurate description would be, "There was an uproar the moment Avarelli's pass appeared on the screen."

1959 Bermuda Bowl final, board 101.

Avarelli
AJ52
K6
AQJ1092
9
Belladonna
K976
107
5
KQ10742
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
3
3

 

 

Here is another hand upon which to test your judgement:

East
9
AJ7432
876
K83
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
X
3
?

 

Now, even though a Roman Club player doubled for takeout, we must bear in mind that it is still possible for him to have a takeout double.

After all, xx KQx Axx AQxxx makes for a decent slam!

Then again, partner could be short anywhere.

What's your call?

1962 Bermuda Bowl, board 122.

Belladonna
Q106
10
AK1054
QJ95
Avarelli
9
AJ7432
876
K83
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
X
3
P

 I will leave you to your thoughts.

 

Now that you have mastered Roman Club takeout doubles, you will find the following problems very easy, especially given Pabis-Ticci's advice:

One "cannot have less than [AQxxxx] to freely bid the suit at the three level."

 

East
32
KQ632
K4
9653
W
N
E
S
1
X
2
?

What's your call, given that partner could have any shortage?

 

East
KJ1075
K83
Q72
Q7
W
N
E
S
1
X
3
?

What's your call? Don't forget Wikipedia’s current Roman Club entry:

… deadly accuracy in game and slam bidding.

 

East
76532
5
KJ9
QJ83
W
N
E
S
1
P
2NT
?

What is your call?

 

West
A10
108754
10964
Q9
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
X
2
?

Last one.

1959 Bermuda Bowl final, board 118.

Avarelli
K
AJ1075
AJ86
872
Belladonna
32
KQ632
K4
9653
W
N
E
S
1
X
2
3
3
4
4
5
P
P
P

See! I told you partner could have any shortage.

 

 1968 Olympiad final, board 23

Avarelii
A96
Q752
AK863
4
Belladonna
KJ1075
K83
Q72
Q7
W
N
E
S
1
X
3
4
P
P
P

What happened to Pabis-Ticci's injunction about suit length and quality? If "whoever knows the Roman Club... cannot have less than (AQ-sixth} to freely bid the suit at the three level", how can Belladonna jump to 4?

 

1966 Bermuda Bowl final, board 24

Avarelli
AKQ104
K96
543
A9
Belladonna
76532
5
KJ9
QJ83
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
X
2NT
3
P
P
P

This is getting ridiculous.

Danny Kleinman, in a report on the match:

Over Sammy’s 2NT, Giorgio takes quite a chance bidding 3. For Walter hasn’t promised any particular pattern, much less spade support, and may have 13 ill-placed HCP... Partner wasn’t close to having his 3 bid. How could Avarelli know that 3 was already too high?

 

1972 Olympiad final, board 23.

Belladonna
954
AKJ9
Q53
KJ8
Avarelli
A10
108754
10964
Q9
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
X
2
3
P
P
P

Enough already.

This was against the Dallas Aces. I know for fact that they made a detailed study of Blue Team methods and past hands. How do you think they felt, having to put up with actions like this?

Mr Yates is correct; there is more to Roman Club methods after a takeout double. He writes:

If there was an intervening bid, double by advancer was takeout.

 

But I'm afraid that little snippet does not do justice to what was really going on. Let's look further.

The Roman Club books agree with Mr Yates; so do the notes in the Official Handbooks. What about at the table?

 

1965 Bermuda Bowl final, board 30.

4 A64 Q975 106532

1 X 1

Belladonna doubled. Avarelli bid clubs, his longer minor, over the spade raise. All kosher!

 

1966 Bermuda Bowl final, board 45.

AQJ85 65 76 10965

1 X 2 ?

Avarelli doubled.

Now we are on much shakier ground. Danny Kleinman, in a report on the match:

What, pray tell, did Avarelli intend to do over partner’s likely 3 next? Never fear, partner had six clubs and two diamonds.

There is a chapter in my book called, The Club Length Signal.

 

1968 Bermuda Bowl final, board 21.

Avarelli
AQJ102
A96
A
9653
Belladonna
73
QJ853
J72
1072
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
X
1
X
2
X
2
P
P
2
3
3
P
P
P

 

How is this possible? Belladonna showed spades and clubs, so what is going on? How can Avarelli not insist on spades? Why did Belladonna do anything but pass over 1?

And no, the 1 bid was not a psyche.

 

Well, for a change, let's look at Neapolitan/Blue Club.

Mr Yates writes:

Neapolitan

Double started hands at about opening strength. Unlike Roman, double was not limited. The hand also need not be shape-specific, as today. If the next hand passed after the double, the Neapolitan pairs in the ‘50s played the Herbert Convention. The cheapest advance after an intervening pass was negative. Garrozzo/Forquet did not play Herbert negatives. So Forquet’s defensive bidding would change as his partnership did.

 

Again, errors and omissions.

The Forquet - Garozzo partnership started in 1961. Every WC book until 1967 inclusive says that Herbert Negatives were in use by Forquet and partner. Finally, in 1968, we see, "Responses [to a takeout double] are natural". I don't know what took Garozzo so long.

Anyway, Mr Yates will certainly agree that a Herbert Negative (next-step being artificial and negative) was in use by Forquet-Siniscalco, 1957-1959.

Here it is in action:

1957 Bermuda Bowl final, board 77.

Siniscalco
1074
Q9642
92
J95
Forquet
KQ86
K
AQJ543
K10
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
1
P
1
P
P
P

Two things are very clear: Siniscalco correctly showed a negative response and Forquet knew 1 was artificial.

 

You can practice Herbert Negatives on these two hands.

1.

West
A6543
KJ63
9
AK10
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
P
1
P
?

 

2.

West
987
AK10
53
AKJ87
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
P
1
P
?

1. 1957 Bermuda Bowl final, board 115

Siniscalco
A6543
KJ63
9
AK10
Forquet
J10
Q72
J1063
J983
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
P
1
P
?

At the table, Siniscalco bid a sensible 1. He didn't "raise" the hearts, for Forquet never showed any.

 

BTW, this deal is interesting for another reason. In the other room, D'Alelio, South, held:

97 A8 AKQ7 Q7654

Second in hand, he opened 1. Sobel doubled, partner passed and Seamon bid 1

What did D'Alelio do?

He doubled. What meaning would you assign to that action?

 

2. 1958 Bermuda Bowl final, board 32.

Forquet
987
AK10
53
AKJ87
Siniscalco
QJ4
97653
A109
64
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
P
1
P
?

This is a bad hand for Herbert Negatives... Siniscalco can't jump; he is underweight and that could be a silly fit. Maybe he should try 1NT, but he didn't.

What did Forquet do?

He bid 2.

What is your opinion of that call?

My opinion is that Chief Director Irénèè de Hérédia should have arranged for Forquet and Siniscalco to individually give an explanation of their actions. The history of world bridge might look very different had he done so.

 

Before we leave Neapolitan and its takeout double methods, again I seek your opinion.

1958 Bermuda Bowl final, board 43. Nil vul.

87 KQJ4 AJ85 Q63

1 ?

 

Siniscalco passed. This was a good bid, for Forquet had a flat four-count.

 

Now, let's consider another observation of Mr Yates...

Mr Yates writes, of 1959:

Belladonna & Avarelli play Roman Club. The other two pairs play Neapolitan Club.... [canapé] refers to a method devised by Pierre Albarran where the short suit is opened before the longer suit.

 

These are Blue Team openings in world championships:

J8 AK8 K4 A86432 - 1, Garozzo

542 KQ K8 AJ10965 - 1, Belladonna

7 KJ1098543 AK9 10 - 1, Avarelli

8 AKJ108632 KQ6 J - 1, D'Alelio

 

Of course, a major-suit opening could just be a long suit, as we see here:

1968 Olympiad semi-final, board 65

97 KQ8432 Q8 KJ8

Pabis-Ticci dealt and opened 1.

 

One year later, Pabis-Ticci also dealt and opened 1, vul vs not.

How should his partner, D'Alelio, proceed?

1086 3 10643 AKQ72

1 4 ?

What's your choice?

Pabis-Ticci
4
KQJ2
AKJ972
108
D'Alelio
1086
3
10643
AKQ72
W
N
E
S
1
4
4NT
P
5
P
P
P

 

Is there a reason Pabis-Ticci cannot have long hearts; a hand-type similar to his 1969 1 opening? Why was D'Alelio so confident of finding a fit?

 

Mr Yates considers something similar.

1957 Bermuda Bowl final, board 178. You are vul.

AK63 764 Q1082 A3

P 1 4 ?

A double would be for penalties. What should Belladonna do?

Belladonna
AK63
764
Q1082
A3
Avarelli
Q
KJ52
AK9653
96
W
N
E
S
P
1
4
4
P
5
P
6
P
P
P

Of Belladonna's 4, Mr Yates writes:

This seems like a pass or correct catering to whatever hand type opener holds. Avarelli had the canapé hand so he bid 5 and G.B. raised to slam.

 

I find myself unable to be so charitable. Mr Yates seems to be saying that Avarelli would rebid 4 with a hand like

Qxx AQxxx Axx xx

That leads to a reasonable 4 contract.

 

But what if, for his 4 call, Belladonna had long diamonds? Where should they be with the example hand immediately above, if Belladonna bid diamonds when he held diamonds, holding:

AKx x KQxxxx Axx

If I understand Mr Yates correctly, he prefers to play game in the six-card heart fit rather than the nine-card diamond fit.

 

The Blue Team sometimes used canapé with overcalls. Here are two problems for you, from 1962.

 

1.

1098762 J542 K6 Q

You are vul.

1 1 1 ?

 

2.

Q32 QJ74 J952 K4

You are vul.

1 1 2 ?

1. 1962 Bermuda Bowl final, board 112

Forquet
1098762
J542
K6
Q
Garozzo
5
AK106
10
J987632
W
N
E
S
1
1
1
?

 

2. 1962 Bermuda Bowl final, board 28

Avarelli
Q32
QJ74
J952
K4
Belladonna
AJ96
6
AKQ10764
8
W
N
E
S
1
1
2
?

 

West passed both times.

Fair enough; we all know the line about a seven-card suit being trumps.

 

So let's leave canapé and move on to overcalls. Mr Yates has an opinion:

Roman

Overcalls were limited by a failure to double, usually to a maximum of about 12-13 HCP, about where the double started. The overlap range was a function of judgment and preparedness...

Neapolitan

The overcall was usually limited. Overcalls in 4-card suits at the one-level were common. Again, honor fourth was allowed. Slightly stronger overcalls were more common in the Neapolitan style than in Roman.

 

My view is that "Overcalls in 4-card suits at the one-level were common" is not sufficient. As with takeout doubles, there was some unscrambling to do, and the Blue Team had quite a talent in this area.

 

First, when to make an overcall?

1961 Bermuda Bowl final, board 5

Garozzo
QJ1063
A932
A4
96
W
N
E
S
1
?

Garozzo passed. Would you?

 

Partner Forquet had one spade and a four-count.

Now, to be fair to Garozzo, this was his first Bermuda Bowl. It takes time to learn the principle of "exceeding tolerance".

 

Danny Kleinman:

The adroit use of illicit signals requires both judgment and discipline. The successful cheater must judge when his illicit information can resolve genuine problems, and take advantage of it only then. He cannot hope to utilize illicit information when he has a clear-cut bid or play available to him; that would exceed tolerance, and enable any suspicious observer to prove a case against him.

 

Avarelli, by contrast, never had the vaguest clue about the concept of "exceeding tolerance". His infamous pass of Belladonna's takeout double of 3 with a 2-7-4-0 is a lesson to us all in the virtues of moderation.

Danny Kleinman:

To give and receive illicit signals in such a way as to escape detection and still show a profit is a delicate task. Few bridge players are up to it...

 

Second, when to raise an overcall?

In an earlier article I showed these two divergent actions by the same player. He seems to be following an unusual principle: With a balanced hand and support, the more you have, the less you raise.

 

1962 Bermuda Bowl final, board 66.

Forquet
Q109
J76
K7
Q10643
Garozzo
AJ865
AQ3
10643
8
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
P
2

An unremarkable auction... everyone bids like a human being.

 

1964 Olympiad final, board 56.

Forquet
Q95
Q7542
AK7
108
Garozzo
KJ104
A3
10632
973
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
1
P
P
2
P
P
2
P
P
3
P
P
P

But what to say about this?

Why pass 1? Why 2 and never raise the spades??

I think Forquet has exceeded tolerance here. He knew Garozzo had a minimum, four spades and no shortage, and his actions show it.

 

The whole topic of raises of overcalls is fascinating.

Earlier we saw that Avarelli declined to raise spades to the two-level with this:

Q32 QJ74 J952 K4

1 1 2 P

Belladonna had a four-card spade suit.

 

But in the same event, Avarelli raised hearts to the three-level with this:

KJ96 K92 109876 8

P 1 1 3

3

Belladonna had a five-card heart suit.

My book has a chapter of similar hands, all from 1962. You can research them for yourself; the Italy-North America final starts here:

http://www.bridgetoernooi.com/index.php/home/bermuda/1962/Bermuda%20Bowl/288

 

It is not only with one-level overcalls that the Blue Team's skill was on display. What do you think of D'Alelio's actions on these two hands?

 

1963 Bermuda Bowl final, board 45.

D'Alelio
5
QJ3
K9843
AQ75
Belladonna
QJ8764
A62
J
1042
W
N
E
S
P
1
2

A passed partner, little playing strength, no fillers, poor suits, vulnerable... what can be said in favor of bidding? And why 2?

Here is the BW poll:

https://bridgewinners.com/article/view/bidding-problem-2-ceov8hs0il/

Now, a loyal defender may say, "Well, the overcall is an example of the Blue Team's aggressive style, and 2 allows for a scramble back to 2 in the event of being penalized. It might not be popular, but bidding 2 first shows vision, foresight and planning."

Perhaps.

 

1957 Bermuda Bowl, board 86

D'Alelio
AJ7
7
K9643
K987
Chiaradia
K9832
32
AQ5
1032
W
N
E
S
P
1
2

https://bridgewinners.com/article/view/bidding-problem-2-d3noc3kzwj/

We see that D'Alelio's choice has infinitely-many supporters as compared to his 2 overcall... here he gets 3 votes out of 139. Some people may wish to learn from the winner of 10 consecutive Bermuda Bowls and three consecutive Olympiads. Maybe these overcalls will become quite the fashion.

My own view is that the 2 overcall was based on a Shortage Signal. More on that later.

As mentioned before, Mr Yates writes:

Belladonna & Avarelli play Roman Club. The other two pairs [in 1959] play Neapolitan Club.

 

I don't agree. I don't think that Avarelli & Belladonna were playing Roman Club, and I don't think that Forquet & Siniscalco were playing Neapolitan Club. (As mentioned, Perroux benched Chiaradia and D'Alelio against the Americans in both the qualifying and finals).

Pages 12-15 of this article showed that Avarelli & Belladonna did not play anything resembling their agreed takeout double structure, not did they play anything like what Pabis-Ticci said they did... and yet they were excellent at finding fits. 

I think they were playing "Bid what suits partner's hand."

This divergence between arrangements and action has been noticed before.

Danny Kleinman:

In my book “Bridge in the Tower of Babel” I examined their [Avarelli and Belladonna’s] use of [the Roman] system, writing a long chapter I called “Bid with the Romans.” Their bidding deviated from their system so often that I concluded they were either terrible bidders or basing their calls on something other than their hands and their supposed partnership methods. That chapter contains some 77 bidding problems of which the pair got only 8 right, but you need not take my word for it, as you can check the deals and my analyses of them for yourself. You might also ask yourself, “Can conclusive evidence of cheating be obtained from studying hand records alone in conjunction with knowledge of partnership agreements?” You might be surprised.

 

My book has a chapter that examines every hand where a Roman Club player had a 5-3-3-2 shape and opened the bidding during the 1958 Bermuda Bowl Final. Seldom do their actions match the agreements... but they always suit partner's hand. A chapter looks at Roman 2m (4441 or 5440) openings. The non-systemic continuations make it clear that Avarelli & Belladonna knew the location of the shortage.

 

Now let's look at Forquet and Siniscalco (Bermuda Bowls of 1957-1959).

Here is a little on their methods, from http://neapolitanclub.altervista.org :

… With 17+ the opening is 1...

With that in mind, what is your call as dealer, nil vul, on Bermuda Bowl 1958  final, board 78?

A3 AQ75 KQ652 K7 

 

Forquet fell at the first hurdle and opened 1 (canapé).

 

The neapolitanclub website also provides us with guidance regarding rebids:

1-1NT; 3 — Strong jump: four spades and five or more diamonds.

So, what should Forquet do after Siniscalco responded 1?

 

Forquet rebid 2.

What should he do after Siniscalco rebid 2?

 

Anders Wirgren can take over:

I would have raised to 4 spades myself. If some of you prefer 3 spades, I can understand that, but I can’t fathom how somebody can pass with this hand. But pass is what Forquet did.

What did Siniscalco have? 6=3=1=3-distribution with the spade queen and the red jacks. Surprising that 2 spades was high enough?

 

Now, maybe Forquet didn't know his system's opening bids and rebids, and was unfamilar with the concept of a game bonus. However, my view is that Forquet's actions were all based upon a Range Signal. More on that later.

Mr Yates makes some statements about the Americans:

...this is conclusive proof that the Americans don’t have secret lead signals.

Proof positive the American’s aren’t collusive signaling.

 

I am unsure as to why this is worthy of comment. So far as I know, no one has ever stated or implied that any American pair of 1957-1959 was using illicit signals. That said, not all has been immaculate in the history of American bridge.

Edgar Kaplan's highly-influential (if not revolutionary) essay*, “New Science" discussed "That Old Black Magic"; the transmission of information about one's holding via pauses.

Kaplan:

Black Magic is more accurate than science. The auction:

1 1

1 1NT

in which the one-notrump bid can be either a sign-off or a progressive bid, is ideal when the sign-off is in a flat, listless tone, and the progressive bid is in ringing, pear-shaped tones.

I don’t mean to suggest that all standard bidders practice Black Magic or that all scientists wear halos, but it’s the simple truth that you don’t need inflections to define your bids if they have narrow limits to start with. And it is one of the most compelling arguments for “new science” that some of the highest-ranking standard bidders are sorcerers.

 

"...narrow limits to start with."

Is that how you would describe Blue Team takeout doubles? You know, the ones made with side-suit shortages, the ones that disappeared once the screens came in.

 

I think Kaplan was right:

...some of the highest-ranking standard bidders [of the day were] sorcerers.

And I think Mr Yates is right when he writes:

The pre-bidding box bridge world I knew in the USA was UI-ville... Back then, there was never any discussion as to whether a bid sequence was to play, invitational or forcing. Everyone at the table could tell by the voice.

 

1963 Bermuda Bowl final, board 134.

Schenken
AKQJ74
K8432
Q10
Belladonna
AK53
3
J96
K9832
Leventritt
10872
652
AQ107
76
Pabis-Ticci
QJ964
1098
5
AJ54
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
4
4N
P
5
P
P
X
P
5
6
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
6X East
NS: 0 EW: 0

From my book:

More than fifty years have passed and this auction still reeks. Belladonna has no reason to suppose the opponents cannot make slam; evidence that he made a slow double is in Pabis-Ticci’s inspired pull to 5. How fast and loudly would Belladonna have doubled with this hand with which he also opened 1, 129 boards earlier?

542 KQ K8 AJ10965

Leventritt, who could have had a 3=3=4=3 Yarborough, has clearly sent the message of useful values, allowing Schenken to bid 6, after having been doubled in five.

A shameful business from every player at the table. Fortunately, things have changed. New Science and Law 73 have trumped That Old Black Magic.

 

I have spoken to US experts who were active in the 1950s and 60s. All of them have great regard for Schenken's cardplay skills. They have little respect for some less-technical aspects of his game.

Still, I think there is a qualitative difference between the two pairs here. 

One was using casual Black Magic; everyone at the table could read it.

One was using a formal set of private illicit signals. The primary signals were the Range Signal and the Shortage Signal.

 

=================================================

* Found in The Bridge World, Dec 1956 and Dec 1997, and "Bridge Master: The Best of Edgar Kaplan"

Mr Yates writes a little about Blue Team opening leads and finds nothing much of note. Some people had other views.

 

Sonny Moyse, The Bridge World, The Bridge World, February 1957:

Take the matter of blind opening leads, a department that happens to impress this observer. I have not made a thorough analysis, but for hand-after-hand it was almost uncanny, the way an Italian [during the 1957 Bermuda Bowl] picked out the killing (or if that wasn’t possible, the least costly) lead.

 

Sports Illustrated, February 10, 1975

For years it had been whispered that, good as they were, some Italian pairs were cheating. Just how, no one was certain, but one thing causing suspicion was the remarkable number of killing leads made by the Italians when no such leads were called for from the bidding.

 

Bobby Wolff:

Playing against the big three, if a low card was the opening lead (primarily against a suit contract, but also often against NT as well) and we had the queen in dummy and the ace in hand, it was a sheer waste of time to rise with the queen because the king would never be in the opening leader’s hand. However, if the queen were in dummy and we didn’t hold the ace, often the lead would be from the king. Simple, scary and true as can be. After we discussed this fact with the team at least some of us [Dallas Aces] decided it was folly to even try the queen...

 

Ron Klinger, in a book endorsement:

Even without necessarily knowing the method of [Blue Team] cheating, it can be detected by inconsistent actions on equivalent holdings and constant success with offbeat and dubious actions. Leading an unsupported ace and regularly hitting partner’s singleton tests the bounds of credulity. Similarly, leading from a king-high holding and constantly finding partner with the ace or queen is success well beyond expectation.

 

Anders Wirgren*:

It was obvious that it was some sort of signals, since when any of the Italians should lead, they always picked a suit which suited their partner very well.

 

It is my opinion that thoughtful, well-considered and often-successful opening leads are the domain of the true expert. Analysing the bidding and looking to future of the play are standard tools of the world-class player, and they do it very well and very frequently.

Here is a conversation I had with Tim Seres while waiting to score-up (and at the speed Tim played, there was invariably plenty of waiting), some 30 years ago.

AW: That was a good lead to their grand, Tim. You know what happens on a trump lead, don't you?

TS: I do, and I had some clues about that in the bidding. I had a little something in dummy's side-suit, and if anyone were guarding declarer's side-suit, it had to be you. Declarer was so kind as to advertise his diamond shortage with a splinter, so that's what I lead to stop the double squeeze.

Now, there's really nothing very remarkable about that. I think very close to all top-class players would have done the same. And I think the converse follows: If you are a poor opening leader, you will not be a top-class player.

 

Let's look at some opening leads by Walter Avarelli in 1958.

1.

West
K10
K8764
103
A632
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
P
4
P
P
P

North's 4 could be a useful 4-6, a strongish 4-5 or a flat hand with more than a 16-18 1NT opening.

Your lead.

 

2.

West
7542
K9
KJ95
542
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P

There was no "clubs or balanced" back then... with a 2NT response being a flat game-force, 2 was very likely to be a long suit.

Your lead.

 

And let's advance to Avarelli's last world championship:

3.

West
QJ1032
A103
Q9832
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1
1
2
4
X
P
P
P

34 boards earlier, your partner opened 1 with J9

18 boards earlier, your partner opened 1 with J7

Your lead.

 

=========================================================

Should some readers be unfamiliar with Anders Wirgren:

http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/anders-wirgren-has-passed-away/

 

We see:

Danny Kleinman: I considered Anders the best analyst of card play in the world.

Mike Lawrence: We combined to write a book which could never have been done without his research, insights, and patience

Roy Hughes: He was a terrific analyst.

Matthew Granovetter: I refer to him all the time in my bridge classes or when I’m coaching. He was an original writer and thinker.

 

I second all of those. I had many emails from Anders; before I opened them, I was sure I was about to learn something.

1. Bermuda Bowl final, board 92.

Avarelli
K10
K8764
103
A632
Roth
AQ95
AJ
KJ87
KQ8
Belladonna
763
952
AQ52
1095
Stone
J842
Q103
964
J74
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
P
1
P
1
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

 

More often than not, dummy will have useful diamonds, and building side-winners looks to be the order of the day.

https://bridgewinners.com/article/view/lead-problem-2-p0k7zqzfm7/

Avarelli led 10 for a quick one down. Do you think Stone would have made 4 on a heart lead? 

I do.

And, by the way, I had to laugh when I first saw this deal. Avarelli's trump holding was awfully familiar...

 

2. Bermuda Bowl final, board 112.

Avarelli
7542
K9
KJ95
542
Belladonna
KQ83
J1085
642
98
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P

 

Trouble! With a dead K, they could easily have six hearts and five clubs to run. The big question is, which diamond? Given that ace-fifth in partner's hand is a genuine shot, should we lead the nine and hope partner can read it, or low and hope the suit is not blocked?

https://bridgewinners.com/article/view/lead-problem-2-v1rzyhdt0n/

Avarelli led a spade.

 

3. 1972 Olympiad final, board 67.

Avarelli
QJ1032
A103
Q9832
Belladonna
QJ10
54
KQ985
AJ10
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
1
1
2
4
X
P
P
P

 

Mike Lawrence was declarer. He writes of the pause before Belladonna doubled:

Belladonna gave this a lot of thought. Later when I saw his hand I wasn’t sure what he had been thinking. Then he started that staring routine so popular with Jaïs and Trézel. All of the same mannerisms. Look left. Look right. Look at partner. Ultimately, Belladonna doubled. He got 100, because of the 3-0 spade break. It was the only time I saw this display from Avarelli and Belladonna. Is the bidding the only thing of interest? It is not. Look at Avarelli’s hand. What would you lead? I doubt many will find his choice. Avarelli led the ace of diamonds. Considering East’s 1 bid said nothing much about diamonds, this lead is hugely dangerous. The lead turned out not to matter at the table but it does matter in any sane discussion of the hand. It says a lot.

 

I think the lead says only one thing: that Avarelli was following the same rule on all these hands - Lead partner's best suit.

Mr Yates writes about discipline and, rightly, considers some US teams lacking in that department. I had some text in my book that that did not survive a purge:

 

Ewart Kempson on the US players at the 1958 Bermuda Bowl:

Baccarat after late bridge sessions is not conducive.

 

Alfred Sheinwold:

Our American players [at the 1959 Bermuda Bowl], averaging about 44 years of age, were allowed to live their normal lives without supervision. They were careful not to drink, but they ate what and when they pleased, and they sat up for a couple of hours each night talking about the hands that they had just p1ayed. All very normal, but not appropriate for what they were going through.

The Italian players ate under the eye of their captain, Carl Alberto Perroux. He shipped them off to bed a few minutes after play ended each night....

 

i agree that some US players of the early days lacked discipline, but I don't agree that the US saw the light with the emergence of the Dallas Aces. Mr Yates writes:

This type of discipline was not seen in the US until the late 1960s (at the end of the original Blue Team run) when the U.S. Aces were managed pretty much as a paramilitary unit...

Personally, I think it unlikely that Kehela-Murray (1966) and Kaplan-Kay (1967) were strutting their stuff on the dance floor until dawn.

And the "Blue Team run" that ended in "the late 1960s" included their win in 1972,  for that 1972 team also won every world championship from 1964-1969.

 

Mr Yates overlooks some Blue Team history; it is not the case that all members were courteous and disciplined at all times.

 

Sports Illustrated, July 1, 1963:

...suddenly little Chiaradia clenched his fists and started to swing. He was quickly led away by a friend.

 

The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 26, 1975:

The Blue Team wrote to the American Contract Bridge League to demand that it not approve his captaincy and when the American governing bodyignored that plea, Blue Team star Benito Garozzo announced loudly that “if Sheinwold shows up in Bermuda, he had better bring along a hospital bed*."

 

John Swanson, Inside the Bermuda Bowl:

Belladonna encountered Burgay in an Italian tournament … [he knocked] Burgay to the floor of the playing area and then emphasized his displeasure with a kick.

 

Mr Yates leads the topic of discipline into a discussion of Tobias Stone's actions at the 1958 Bermuda Bowl. Now we come to a major error.

 

================================

* La plus ça change...

Vanity Fair, 29 February, 2016:

Last fall Brogeland received a text that had originated with a teammate of Fulvio Fantoni and Claudio Nunes, the Italian pair who, for more than a decade, have reigned as the game’s No. 1 and No. 2 players. Brogeland had also publicly accused them, along with two other top-ranking bridge pairs, of cheating. The message read, “Tell your friend Boye that whenever he needs a wheelchair we have plenty of those in the south"

Mr Yates' article:

http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/prelude-to-bermuda-bowl-1959-2-csmi7j5uo4/

discusses the actions of Tobias Stone during and after the 1958 Bermuda Bowl. Mr Yates writes about Stone's "meltdown" around the middle of the event and clearly thinks that Stone, at that moment, was the instigator of somewhat paranoid accusations about the Italians.

In fact, the "issues" started earlier.

The New York Times, 3 August 1958:

On the first day, an American referee noticed that one of the Italian players held his cards high during some hands and low during others. There seemed to be a pattern, it was said —high for good hands, low for poor ones. After the day’s play it was ruled that the cards must be held below the surface of the table, Thereafter, [Stone’s attorney] Mr. Rogge said, Mr. Stone called the attention of tournament officials several times to the fact that at times members of the Italian team were not abiding by the new rule...

Mr Rapée, another member of the team, sent a strongly-worded letter to the League on Friday saying that Mr. Stone’s conduct at the tournament was only a vigorous attempt to prevent the cheating the United States team was convinced was taking place...

 

And it's not clear to me there was a meltdown...

Stone answered back: “You can ask every member of the board to state specifically what I did that was unbecoming, and not one of them can tell you. I was tried and convicted without any specifications … The directors voted eleven to nine against trying me on the charge of accusing the Italians of cheating, and came up instead with this vague accusation of unbecoming conduct.”

“I have heard that I am supposed to have told Siniscalco directly to lower his hand. That is not true. Siniscalco was raising his hand at the beginning of play, and I complained to our captain, who went to the referee and protested that he was violating the rules. The referee instructed all players to hold their hands beneath the level of the table while bidding. When Siniscalco again began raising his hand, I protested to the referee, who instructed him that he was in violation of the rules. I said nothing to Siniscalco.

“Siniscalco also was staring at his partner, Forquet. I told the referee it made me nervous, and Forquet said, ‘Are you accusing us of cheating?’”

“I replied, ‘No, it simply makes me uncomfortable"

 

Mr Yates has some views on this subject of "staring".

The one thing I know for certain is that if a pair has prearranged signals, staring is not required.

 

Possibly so, but earlier, we read Mike Lawrence's eye-witness account of Belladonna doing just that. That quote also made reference to Jaïs and Trézel. 

Mike Lawrence, at the 1971 Bermuda Bowl:

Jaïs passed 5X but not before he went through intense gyrations. He was on my right. He turned to me and stared over my right shoulder. Then he turned and stared over Goldman’s left shoulder. He held both of these poses for over 5 seconds. What was going on? Then he repeated the sequence. Finally, he stared at Trézel. I hadn’t observed Trézel yet since I was paying attention to Jaïs’s movements. Jaïs still hadn’t bid but finally he produced the pass card.

So, at least as Lawrence is concerned, some cheating pairs stared at each other at the table.

 

But was Stone justified in complaining? Mr Yates quotes a Sports Illustrated article of the day:

Charles Goren went over the boards [of the 1958 Bermuda Bowl]...  "with a fine tooth comb," could not find a shred of evidence of cheating by the Italian players, called the very idea "preposterous." As for the staring Stone complained about, Goren said: "Heck, Americans are the greatest starers in the world."

 

So Goren found nothing, while Mike Lawrence wrote in a recent Bridge Winners comment:

And if you have further doubts [about Blue Team cheating], get a copy of the 1958 world championship book and read it.

 

Lawrence thinks that the 1958 book is an excellent source of highly-suspect deals*, while Goren can find nothing. Whom would you be backing?

 

And we are not done with the "staring" topic... we see that Goren said, "Heck, Americans are the greatest starers in the world."

Possibly so, but we read in Life magazine, 18 March, 1957:

[Johnny] Crawford’s slashing style of play is calculated to force opponents into errors...  He stares at them so intently that they become unnerved and drop tricks. “Johnny is one of the best starers in the game.” a friend says admiringly...

 

I find nothing to "admire" in Crawford's bullying. But, unlike Siniscalco, he was staring at the opponents, not at partner.

 

================================

* I agree with Lawrence. The  Official Handbook of the 1958 Bermuda Bowl is startling. I have read it over 40 times, and observed new and remarkable remarkable things every time. It's like a Mandelbrot Set... the closer you look, the more detail you see.

It was published by the ACBL and I vote for a reprint. Not being an ACBL member, my vote is worthless.

Now, we have seen some funny things.

 

This is a takeout double of 1:

8643 10 AK63 AQ98

This is not a takeout double of 1:

87 KQJ4 AJ85 Q63

 

This is a 1 overcall :

KJ104 A3 10632 973

This is not a 1 overcall:

QJ1063 A932 A4 96

 

This is a raise of partner's 1 overcall:

Q109 J76 K7 Q10643

This is a pass of partner's 1 overcall: 

Q95 Q7542 AK7 108

 

And all of the above worked out just fine.

Which is your best guess?

- The players concerned are in need of beginner's lessons

- The players concerned won 43 world titles

 

All of the above, and hundreds more seemingly wildly-unsound Blue Team actions, fall into place if we factor in the use of illicit signals. And there is plenty of supporting evidence for that view:

- The 1958 accusations, signed by all members of the US team*

- The 1963 Gerber Letter, which detailed the Blue Team cheating methods

- The 1976 Burgay Tape, which detailed the Blue Team cheating methods

- Numerous accounts from players of the day... an example, written by Anders Wirgren:

A second episode... is when [Mike] Lawrence played a big team tournament in Italy in the middle of the 1970’s. His team managed to reach the final. So did the Blue Team. Before the final started, the chairman of the Italian local club approached Lawrence and said “I hope you win.” and added, “You know that they are cheating, don’t you?”. Obviously, there were suspicions in Italy too.

 

=========================================

* Of a signatory, Johnny Crawford, an ACBL-associated site says:

An expert in many card games and forms of gambling, Crawford lectured extensively during his wartime Army service in an attempt to help service men avoid being cheated.

Earlier, I mentioned the Range Signal and the Shortage Signal.

Anders Wirgren:

I am convinced that the Blue Team players signaled their strength in a similar way, because their timing was always perfect: they overbid when partner had extra values, but underbid when he had nothing. Always.

 

Try your luck. You are West throughout.

1.

West
J105
92
A7543
Q42
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
3
P
P
3
P
?

 

2.

West
AQJ743
A
AK10
Q87
W
N
E
S
3
P
P
?

 

3.

West
KJ653
A95
K72
Q9
W
N
E
S
P
3
?

 

4.

West
K84
K82
AQ974
A2
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
2
P
P
?

 

5.

West
K8652
AQ8
K872
7
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
?

 

6.

West
KQ875
3
Q9
A9754
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
?

 

7.

West
K9
J
KJ8642
7543
W
N
E
S
1
P
?

1.  1963 Bermuda Bowl final, board 56.

Belladonna
J105
92
A7543
Q42
Pabis-Ticci
AQ873
75
KQ6
KJ8
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
3
P
P
3
P
P
P

The fate of the spade finesse is irrelevant. What we must consider is what each player knew about his partner's hand, and when. Meanwhile, Belladonna's pass has little support:

https://bridgewinners.com/article/view/bidding-problem-2-3f7qmku62f/

 

2. 1966 Bermuda Bowl final, board 82

Pabis-Ticci
AQJ753
A
AK10
Q87
D'Alelio
10962
10532
542
J6
W
N
E
S
3
P
P
3
P
P
P

+140.

Valued at 22.10 by Kaplan-Rubens count, Pabis-Ticci judged this hand better than any BW member.

https://bridgewinners.com/article/view/bidding-problem-2-qsr18lantw/

 

3.  1972 Olympiad final, board 64

Belladonna
KJ653
A95
K72
Q9
Avarelli
A984
Q1086
QJ84
3
W
N
E
S
P
3
X
5
P
P
P

With a working 11-count, a flat hand, no fillers, poor suit, a passed hand and adverse vulnerability, what can be said in favor of bidding over 3?

With Avarelli's assets, would you have passed 5?

https://bridgewinners.com/article/view/bidding-problem-12174/

 

4.

Belladonna
K84
K82
AQ974
A2
Avarelli
J96
Q
K1062
KJ873
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
2
P
P
3
P
4
P
5
P
P
P

Again, with a working 13-count, a flat hand, no fillers, poor suit, a passed hand and adverse vulnerability, what can be said in favor of bidding?

How would Belladonna have fared opposite:

Jxx xxx x Qxxxxx ?

Why did Avarelli not make a slam try, catering for something like:

Ax xxx AQxxxx AQ ?

Danny Kleinman, discussing an Avarelli-Belladonna hand from the 1966 Bermuda Bowl final:

It is auctions like this, with an underbid... and an overbid... compensating for each other to produce a good contract, that suggest either unauthorized information or simple stupidity.

 

5. 1968 Bemuda Bowl semi-final, board 30

Forquet
K8652
AQ8
K872
7
East
3
10652
J965
Q1093
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P

Forquet passed.

https://bridgewinners.com/article/view/bidding-problem-2-zdbn21dbak/

 

6.1966 Bermuda Bowl final, board 21

Avarelli
KQ875
3
Q9
A9754
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
?

Partner might have:

A1062 10752 K74 K3 - make 4!

Or he might have:

109 J9765 10653 K3 - make nothing.

Avarelli passed. Guess partner's hand.

https://bridgewinners.com/article/view/bidding-problem-2-6w3yvd1zpo/

 

7. 1973 Bermuda Bowl final, board 1

Bianchi
K9
J
KJ8642
7543
W
N
E
S
1
P
?

Partner Forquet might have:

AQ1082 K842 9 Q96 - hard to make 1 on a trump lead.

Or he might have:

AQJ82 42 A973 6 - make two slams!

Benito Bianchi passed. Guess partner's hand.

https://bridgewinners.com/article/view/bidding-problem-2-sdurz0d25i/

From my book:

At what point did Hamman and Wolff realize they need not have bothered to show up? When the bookies posted 21/1 odds for the final after the Dallas Aces won the qualifying? When dummy came down? When they wrote down –80 and not –230?

 

Alan Truscott, The New York Times Bridge Book:

A quarter of a century later, analysis offers a wealth of evidence that [Forquet and Bianchi] were “helping each other.” They were almost 100% in choosing the bids and leads that fitted partner’s hand.

Anders Wirgren had similar views. He wrote:

Competitive bidding

The Bridge World's former editor Edgar Kaplan once wrote “The Blue Team’s advantage was in competitive bidding. With few exceptions, they were in the auction when they should be, out of it when they shouldn’t be…”

Here are some examples of that “skill”.

K102 Q7 K82 A10876

RHO opens with 1 diamond. Do you overcall?

With balanced distribution, minimum strength and a neither long nor strong suit, I would have passed, like most other experts. It just shows how little we understand. In the Olympiad 1968, Camillo Pabis-Ticci bid 2 clubs, which worked fine.

What his partner Massimo D’Alelio had? Balanced distribution, 8 HCP and four clubs.

 

A73 AQJ543 64 109

This time, RHO opens with 1 spade in third hand. What do you bid?

Forquet passed in the Bermuda Bowl final 1959. Obviously, it is meaningless to overcall when partner has 8 HCP and a singleton heart. Best to pass, then!

 

975 J A542 AK1042

1 heart from LHO, pass from partner, 1 spade from RHO. Then, it is you. If you wonder, only the opponents are vulnerable.

I would double myself, and consider it pretty obvious, but in Bermuda Bowl 1958 Siniscalco passed. Yet another example of the Italians’ “excellent judgment” in competitive auctions. Why enter the bidding when partner has 4=5=2=2 with a queen and two jacks?

 

KJ95 985 AQ1076 3

You pass in first hand. LHO opens with 1 spade (five-card suit), partner passes and RHO responds 1 NT. Do you bid?

The spade bid to your left has made your hand clearly worse. The diamond suit is nice, but short, and your side is vulnerable. A clear pass, or? I was stupid again! In Bermuda Bowl 1965 Garozzo bid 2 diamonds, which was perfect when his partner Forquet had five-card support in diamonds and 10 HCP. He raised to 3 diamonds, which just made.

Mr Yates writes at length about this deal:

1957 Bermuda Bowl final, board 205

Belladonna
J107
K1085
AK7
A96
Ogust
KQ83
AJ32
10
8532
Avarelli
62
Q7
QJ862
KQJ10
Koytchou
A954
964
9543
74
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
3
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
3X South
NS: 0 EW: 0

At the table, Belladonna led a top diamond and shifted to the 10 for +1100. How did he find this shift?

Mr Yates:

Belladonna led the K. Avarelli followed with the deuce. This looks like SP for clubs. What else do we know?

It is pretty much a given that South cannot have a "real" 1 opening. Avarelli would not have passed the double with a heart void. Therefore the most hearts Boris can hold is four. In the Italian style, any 4-card suit is biddable. In the American style, opener needs 4 HCP in a 4-card suit, or QJ10. This dictum was only violated once by any of the players over the hundreds of hands. Though it was by Boris, who opened 1 on Qxxx in 4th seat on a 14- count. It also did not work out optimally because they missed their diamond fit.

How many more indicators does Belladonna he [sic] need that Boris psyched? Even the sight of dummy indicates that the 3-only heart bid showed Harold was worried about a psych. The partnership has never opened a one-bid light in 3rd seat. Even if Boris did, the state-of-the- match forces a play game opposite such a hand. 3 is fine from Harold’s view because he also knows Boris will bid the game if he did not psyche.

 

I have some "issues" with all that:

 

1. I would like to know the source of Mr Yates' statement: Avarelli followed with the deuce.

It is not the 1957 Official Handbook: West opened the diamond king. West shifted to the heart ten...

I submit we have no basis for supposing Avarelli showed a useful club holding. Mr Yates is not justified in saying, This looks like SP for clubs.

 

2. It is pretty much a given that South cannot have a "real" 1 opening. Avarelli would not have passed the double with a heart void.

The double was 100% penalties. Given what we have seen Avarelli and Belladonna make takeout doubles on, what possible hand without a heart stack could Belladonna have?

A typical legitimate hand for his double: Axx KQJ10 Axx xxx.

There is no case for Avarelli, a passed-hand, bidding. How much bidding and meaningful signalling would Avarelli provide with: Jxxx -- Jxxxx Jxxx ?

 

3. Ogust-Koytchou had never psyched when vulnerable. Belladonna had no reason to suspect a psyche during the bidding.

 

4. Even if the sight of dummy somehow told Belladonna that Koytchou had psyched, there was no reason that Koytchou did not have heart length.

 

This article, attempting to emulate the style of Frank Vine's brilliant Coldbottom articles, provides a rebuttal on pages 14-16.

https://bridgewinners.com/article/view/the-return-of-the-curse-of-the-blue-team/

The narrator has memorised every Blue Team hand from every world championship, as part of his preparation for a grudge match against the famous Blue Team from Ontario's Stoney Creek. In urgent need of a good board, he picks up a hand he has seen before:

J107 K1085 AK7 A96

and also doubled 3 after the same auction.

Well, our bidding went the same way, I led the same top diamond, dummy was the same and I shifted to the same 10. I waited for the tricks to come cascading in. It didn’t work out like that. The first hint of trouble came when Loudmouth showed out at trick two.

 

Me
J107
K1085
AK7
A96
Cartwheels
KQ83
AJ32
10
8532
Loudmouth
6542
QJ9862
KQJ
Murphy
A9
Q9764
543
1074
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
3
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
3X South
NS: 0 EW: 0

 

Like Koytchou, Murphy had psyched, but the devious devil had hearts for his 1 bid! How could I ever have picked that? Surely George couldn’t criticize me for getting that wrong. Murphy won my 10 in hand and played back a middle heart. I covered, dummy won and Murphy now crossed back to his A, drew trumps with a finesse and cashed dummy’s spades. Nine tricks.

George Loudmouth’s face was the color of a ripe eggplant. “You make some nutty double and the moment you see dummy you throw away your trump trick!” he shouted. “What are you doing? Why can’t you bid and play like a normal person?”

I carefully explained that Giorgio Belladonna was the winner of 10 consecutive Bermuda Bowls and if doubling and switching to the 10 was good enough for him, it was good enough for me. George was not paying attention, being too busy pounding the table with one hand and tearing at his hair with the other. He looked like he was about to burst into tears.

 

How did Belladonna know he was not costing a trick with his shift? How did he know Avarelli had any hearts at all, and not a bare queen?

 

Jaime Ortiz-Patiño, on being played the Burgay Tape:

I understood the tape well and was in little doubt of its authenticity... In places, my jaw literally dropped. The media would have loved it: smoke signals, pauses, commonplace words with coded meanings...

 

Alan Truscott, New York Times Bridge Book:

Burgay … taped his telephone conversation … with Bianchi … it explained the illegal signals that [Bianchi] had used with Forquet and that Belladonna had used with another partner, Renato Mondolfo … they involved the use of cigarettes and head positions. The cigarette could point up or down, left or right, to indicate an honor card or a suit.

I mentioned the Shortage Signal earlier. Here is an example from 1959; Mr Yates' articles do not mention it.

 

Stakgold
K852
KQ983
103
97
Belladonna
4
AJ752
A87654
5
Harmon
QJ97
106
KQ9
KQ106
Avarelli
A1063
4
J2
AJ8432
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
1
X
2
P
P
2
P
2
X
P
P
P
D
2X East
NS: 0 EW: 0

 

Roman Club's canapé for opener and responder made for an unusual auction.

- Belladonna's 1 could be a 1-4-5-3, a 1-4-6-2, or even a 1-3-6-3.

- Avarelli's 1 was natural, possible canapé *

- Stakgold's 2 was natural, given that Belladonna might have three hearts

 

Avarelli's lead? Ace and another club, for one down, playing partner to be 1-1 in the blacks.

That is one serious bet at IMPs, given the shapes partner might have. But what if you knew partner had one club and two aces?

 

The Range Signal and the Shortage Signal allow us to make sense of seemingly-bizarre actions we have looked at.

 

Was Belladonna concerned when he doubled 1 with this?

Q106 10 AK1054 QJ95

Not at all, for partner knows about the singleton heart.

 

Did you find Siniscalco’s pass over 1 puzzling, with this?

87 KQJ4 AJ85 Q63

But why double, when partner has rubbish?

 

Was Garozzo’s failure to overcall over 1 strange, when he held this?

QJ1063 A932 A4 96

Partner has a poor hand and only one spade. Better to be out of the auction.

 

Danny Kleinman:

The hallmark of any cheating pair will be actions that no expert familiar with the pair’s bidding agreements would choose. Cheating doesn’t produce good bridge but bad. Bad yet successful.

 

===================================================

* A discussion of this hand in a Californian magazine has a commentator stating that 1 was an artificial negative response. This a marked-divergence from the 1959 Roman Club book; other hands from world championships show that 1 was indeed natural.

Now, it is the case that the Blue Team was not perfect in its use of illicit signals. There were very rare instances of a bad fit.

There was a a silly fit in 1957, a nutty slam auction in 1958, a terrible opening lead in 1963, another silly fit in the 1964 semi-final, ... but literally years go by without extreme actions paying out*.

 

Look back at the earlier takeout doubles. If you played a method of one-level takeout doubles, whereby

A A743 QJ952 A53  (D'Alelio, 1967 Bermuda Bowl final, board 46)

was a double of 1, do you think that, over more than 1,000 hands, you would incur only five penalties of 300 or more?

The fact is, a pair using illicit signals is going to have the occasional problem. It's hardly realistic to suppose that the opponents will wait patiently while a pair engages in a little Tarantella before the auction starts. It's also fact that, on many hundreds of hands, almost without exception, the Blue Team displayed amazing fit-finding skills.

 

See if you can match Walter Avarelli's talent in this area.

1.

West
9653
A72
9832
83
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
2
?

 

2.

West
964
J943
A8
KJ82
W
N
E
S
1
P
P
X
P
?

 

3. 

West
AK87
Q83
AK32
J3
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
X
P
2
2
?

 

4.

West
Q975
4
K92
J10932
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
2
P
3
?

 

 

============================================================

* The two 3-3 major-suit fits played at the two-level by Avarelli and Belladonna in 1959 do not form any kind of exonerating example. Both contracts (stone-cold) were foisted upon them by virtue of playing a two-card major system.

Two-card majors? Well, a slight exaggeration... but, playing Roman Club, with

AK AK x xxxxxxxx

one must open 1.

Hands with primary clubs were often a terror for Roman Club. Danny Kleinman, discussing a Avarelli-Belladonna hand from the 1966 Bermuda Bowl final:

Either Walter bids like a novice, or he’s received a message about Giorgio’s clubs. And about which suit would you transmit illicit information if you were playing a system, like the Roman System, which has no opening bid to show clubs other than the 2-suited 2 and 2 openings that show 5+ cards in the major and 4+ clubs?

1. 1958 Bermuda Bowl final, board 99.

Avarelli
9653
A72
9832
83
Belladonna
A10
Q543
KJ107
AQ6
W
N
E
S
1
X
2
2

Why bid at all, with such rubbish?

Which suit to bid? Well, it would be silly to bid the major.

 

2. 1965 Bermuda Bowl final

Avarelli
964
J943
A8
KJ82
Belladonna
J852
AK1065
107
AQ
W
N
E
S
1
P
P
X
P
2

Which suit to bid? Well, it would be silly to bid the minor.

 

3. 1959 Bermuda Bowl final, board 40.

Avarelli
AK87
Q83
AK32
J3
Belladonna
J1053
10
J10864
Q72
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
X
P
2
2
2

This problem was given to the District 22 Master Solver's Panel (Jill Myers, Eric Kokish, Bart Bramley, Mitch Dunitz, Alan Mould, Paul Ivaska, Rick Roeder, Jim Tritt). 

No one bid 2.

 

4. 1958 Bermuda Bowl final, board 89.

Avarelli
Q975
4
K92
J10932
W
N
E
S
1
X
P
2
P
3
3

Avarelli wandered into the auction with 3.

On this hand, and ten boards earlier, Belladonna opened 1.

These two 1 openings were:

- a 4-3-3-3 13-count

- a 2-4-4-3 13-count

What do you suppose Avarelli found in dummy - two trumps, or four?

Mr Yates' articles are invariably interesting and most welcome, and I look forward to his Bridge Winners essays on all the Blue Team's world championships. One reason for that is, I think it's only after studying a very large number of hands that notable patterns and trends become apparent.

As part of my research, I did searches in many online resources for all things Blue Team (newspapers.com was particularly useful). I came across an article in the Des Moines Register, 28 June 1970, written by Forquet, Garozzo and Belladonna. They discuss Eric Murray's action here:

1967 Bermuda Bowl Final, board 71. Both vul.

94 K92 AK87 Q1096

P P 1 ?

They write:

Murray preferred to pass instead of doubling, perhaps in consideration of his spade doubleton or perhaps for tactical reasons.

Clearly, the Big Boys in the Blue Team think doubling is entirely reasonable, possibly even preferable.

Eric Murray's spade holding reminded me of two deals, and after a little searching, I found them.

 

1. 1957 Bermuda Bowl final, board 130*.

98 J875 AK932 A7

P 1 ?

Forquet doubled.

 

2. 1975 Bermuda Bowl final, board 11.

98 K742 AQJ2 K92

P 1 ?

Belladonna passed.

 

Now that's a little funny.

In 1957, Forquet doubled 1m with a small doubleton spade.

In 1970, Forquet, Belladonna and Garozzo think it's normal to double 1m with a small doubleton spade.

But when Belladonna came to that position, he passed.

He was behind screens.

 

Now, the topic of screens (an Italian invention**) is worth a look, and I hope Mr Yates writes about the Blue Team behind screens soon.

 

While we wait, let's examine these two auctions:

Forquet
A8
105432
KQ86
A5
Belladonna
J96
KQ
A92
KJ1043
W
N
E
S
1
1
2
X
3
P
4
P
4
P
5
P
6
P
P
P

-200

 

Forquet
A9
KJ6
KQ986
532
Belladonna
K83
AQ4
A73
AQJ4
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
2
P
2
P
4N
P
5
P
5N
P
6
P
6N
P
7
P
P
P

17 imps out.

 

What is your opinion of Forquet's actions?

Pietro Forquet, winner of ten consecutive Bermuda Bowls and three consecutive Olympiads, was playing his first and last world championship with screens.

The Official Handbook:

It was clear that [Forquet and Belladonna] were not in the form that has brought them 31 world team titles.

 

On page 9 of this article, Mark Horton describes Forquet as "a famously conservative bidder."

But that was without the screens.

 

======================================================

* The full auction, with Siniscalco in first seat:

P 1 X  XX

1S 2 P 2NT

P 3NT all pass

Siniscalco: Q10632 2 J764 985

He led a low diamond.

Mr Yates does not comment on this deal.

 

** Mario Franco (2nd, Bermuda Bowl, 1951) devised screens.

Terence Reese, British Bridge World, September 1956:

It was only recently that I learned of an interesting experiment made in the final of this year’s Italian team-of-four championship. A screen was placed diagonally across the table so that each player could see one of his opponents but not his partner.

Alan Truscott:

They [Mario Franco and Michel Giovine] represented Italy in one European Championship, earning silver medals. They soon resigned from competitive play, for reasons that were never clearly explained. One suggestion was that they were not willing to go along with their teammates by “helping each other.”

I wonder why Franco devised the screens?

So, what has been the response to my book that clearly states that the all Blue Team players* cheated?

 

- Many emails from world-class and world-champion players, from many countries. All of them agree with the findings in the book.

- An Italian emailed me to say that I know nothing about how bridge is played

- Another Italian emailed me to say that I know nothing about how bridge is played, and I am particularly ignorant about takeout doubles

- In Orlando, a world-class American player asked a member of a top Italian team, "What do you think of that new book about the Blue Team?"

The reply: "It's all true."

- In Orlando, a different world-class American player asked a member of a different top Italian team, "What do you think of that new book about the Blue Team?"

The reply: "We've been told not to say a word."

 

Now, these Italian responses are (regrettably, in my view) predictable. Nationalism and short-term financial self-interest is of great importance to some people. The integrity of results, and of bridge itself, less so. 

 

Also predictable is the silence from Italian bodies such as FIGB, Bridge d'Italia and http://neapolitanclub.altervista.org/

After all, if the case against the Bue Team is proved, then there is that awkward little matter of FIB President Firpo's assurance regarding the Burgay Tape.

WBF Executive Committee, 26 Oct 1977:

...Professor Luigi Firpo, President of the Italian Bridge Federation, undertook certain commitments to the WBF ... To report in detail its findings and decisions together with full documentation including a certified copy of the tape to the European Bridge League and to the World Bridge Federation...

[Firpo said on May 1st, 1976] Should the inquiry determine that the tape was authentic and furthermore that the declaration by Bianchi of his cheating with Forquet was confirmed then the Italian Bridge Federation would renounce all European and World titles won with either Bianchi or Forquet on the team ...

... the reports since submitted are inadequate to form a basis for any reasonable conclusion.

 

Also silent is the WBF.

 

I think part of the reason that the WBF prefers no discussion of the fact that world bridge was dominated for 20 years by a team using illicit signals, is that they were part of the cover-up.

The Burgay Tape affair went from:

Associated Press article, 27 Oct 1977

The World Bridge Federation decided Wednesday to suspend the Italian Bridge Federation on grounds that it failed to investigate thoroughly charges that its players used smoke signals to cheat in world competition.

to:

WBF President Ortiz-Patiño, June 1978:

We all felt thoroughly convinced that the WBF and FIB could go forward together in the spirit of reconciliation. The WBF was now able to write to the new FIB President withdrawing the threat of suspension.

 

Very nice, but what were the findings? What are the facts?

- Did Burgay's tape have Forquet's partner, Benito Bianchi, discussing the illicit signals they used in world championships, or did it not?

- Where is the "full documentation including a certified copy of the tape", mentioned above?

 

==================================================================

I am defining "Blue Team players" as the eight members of the Blue Team, 1957-1972:

Avarelli, Belladonna, Chiaradia, D'Alelio, Forquet, Garozzo, Pabis-Ticci, Siniscalco. 

15 Comments
Getting Comments... loading...
.

Bottom Home Top