At the halfway point in its battle against Italy for the Bermuda Bowl early this month the American team was very much in contention—only 3 IMPs behind. But when the team fell 45 IMPs back with only 32 boards to go, desperate tactics were called for. Nonplaying Captain Julius Rosenblum followed the traditional strategy for a team in need of quick points and benched his steadiest pair, Edgar Kaplan and Norman Kay, in favor of his swing-getters. Captain Rosenblum got his big swing—a 17 IMP haymaker (below)—but it was against his own team. End of contest.
In the closed room the Italians trotted out one of Giorgio Belladonna's pet conventions in the Roman System. Walter Avarelli's two-club bid showed a weakish three-suiter—with a stronger one, he would have opened two diamonds. If West's hand had been strong enough to make a game possible, he could have bid two no trump, asking opener to mention his short suit. Instead, West merely showed his own long suit, and East passed. Bill Root's reopening double was the sound tactic once the opponents had found a fit, and Alvin Roth's pass was based on a mistaken impression that they had failed to find it.
It was a costly decision. Belladonna won the first trick with dummy's king of hearts, cashed the ace of clubs and ruffed a club, then led the king of spades. North ducked, but declarer simply abandoned the trump suit and took a successful finesse against South's queen of hearts. The defenders collected two diamonds and two spades, and Belladonna chalked up two spades doubled, with an overtrick, for a score of +870. Worse was to follow, as the crowd watching on Bridge-O-Rama heard this bidding: