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SEP. 11/99






by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish


 St. Vincent, Italy, hosted the 1966 World Teams Championship. It was the heyday of the legendary Blue Team and the native sons won big. Three of the five teams (Netherlands, Venezuela, and Thailand) lacked the depth to challenge seriously, so the real battle was between Italy (Giorgio Belladonna-Walter Avarelli. Pietro Forquet-Benito Garozzo, Camillo Pabis Ticci-Massimo D'Alelio) and North America (Bob Hamman-Lew Mathe, Ira Rubin-Phil Feldesman, Sami Kehela-Eric Murray) The press voted Canadians Kehela-Murray the best non-Italian pair (Pabis Ticci-D'Alelio played only one disastrous session) in the field.

 The match featured a series of North American gambits that prompted the Blues to consider revising some of their methods.

Neither side vulnerable West deals


  A 4 2
K 9 8
Q 9

K J 10 7 5

J 10
A Q 5 4
A 8 2

9 8 4 2

9 7 3
7 6 3 2
K J 7 5

6 3

  K Q 8 6 5
J 10
10 6 4 3

A Q 

West North East South
Mathe Belladonna Hamman Avarelli
1 Dble 1 1NT
Pass 2 Pass 2
Pass 2NT Pass Pass

  Rubin-Feldesman bid the North/South cards unobstructed to 4
; plus 450. Hamman's psychic bid of 1 over North's double hit a seam in the Italian methods. Belladonna favoured an esoteric idea known as "exclusion" advances to takeout doubles. With third hand silent, a new suit bid by advancer showed shortage in that suit; if third hand volunteered a suit bid, a double would show shortage. Not that this explains Avarelli's 1NT or his pass of 2NT. Italy lost 7 IMPs. The other Italians tried unsuccessfully to convince Belladonna to drop the exclusion idea. "If Walter had bid spades at his second turn we would have reached game," roared Giorgio.

 Earlier in the match, Eric Murray had made his presence felt with mixed results. First, a third seat 1# opening at favourable vulnerability on



 98 Q10832 6 J10753, backfired.



 Kehela's strength-showing redouble warned Belladonna-Avarelli that the missing high cards were likely to be badly placed for them. They gained 12 IMPs by stopping in game while Hamman-Mathe failed in a reasonable slam.

 Later, at the same vulnerability, Murray again tried 1# in third seat with:

93 Q876542 96 106,


 catching Avarelli with only:

AK7 AJ KQ107 AKQ8.


 Avarelli jumped to 3NT, and Belladonna, holding:

$QJ42 K1093 A 7532,


 conservatively passed.


 It was embarrassing for the Italians to play in game with 36 combined points and a sound play for a grand slam, but they were fortunate that Hamman-Mathe stopped in 6NT; the cost was only 13 IMPs. Avarelli was too strong for an Italian-style takeout double and a 2 "cue-bid" would have been natural and forcing! Poor Avarelli was stuck with 3NT, which might have been either a balanced high-card hand or a hand with a long strong suit and some stoppers.

 You can be sure that Murray enjoyed this deal more than the fruits of his first psychic. This time, the Blue Team could not ignore the problem, and adjustments were made. Italy, irritated but not fatally wounded, would win the next three World Championships before bowing to their traditional rivals in 1970.