For the rest, the Olympiad was largely a social affair. Brazil, winner of the South American championship, had the satisfaction of finishing ahead of all other Latin American entries. And for two others, there was the struggle to avoid the wooden spoon—a dingdong battle of midgets involving the Netherlands Antilles and the Bahamas, who met in the penultimate round tied for last place. The Dutch colonials had scouted their rivals during the previous round, sending observers to make notes as Peru blitzed the Bahamas. The research paid off. They beat the Bahamas 18-2 to escape the ignominy of finishing at the bottom of the heap.
Could the Aces ever beat the Blue Team? In Miami Beach, the Blues, especially when they used Giorgio Belladonna-Walter Avarelli and Pietro Forquet- Benito Garozzo (Mimmo d'Alelio and Camillo Pabis Ticci sat out all but 16 of the final 88 deals), rarely gave the Aces an opening. Their bidding judgment—even in the spots Garozzo picked to overbid—was superb. And their opening leads repeatedly torpedoed enemy contracts. But in most other respects, the Aces were their equal. The newest and youngest Ace, Paul Soloway, appears to have settled into a fine partnership with Robert Hamman. Bobby Wolff and Jim Jacoby, though they had some early slam disasters, are sound mainstays for the team. Bobby Goldman and Mike Lawrence produced a brilliant performance in the only session that saw the Aces outscore the Blues. Then, when it looked like the tide might be turning, the Blues regained command. In a game that is falling more and more into younger hands, the invincible Italians were much too strong for a team they were spotting some 16 years.
Unfortunately, the Aces may never get a chance to prove themselves. The Blues seem to really mean it when they say they have made their last appearance as a team. No doubt one or two of the old Blues will appear against the defending champion Aces in the 1973 Bermuda Bowl, which Italy earned the right to vie for by winning the European championship in Athens last year. The team at Athens included Belladonna and Garozzo, who have continued to play on their own. Together, I would rate them the greatest pair in the world today. But even if they do not play as partners in 1973, any team that can field two such awesome performers—and this is the big psychological edge Italy holds against every opponent—must be seriously regarded. The Blue Team may be retired, but the mystique is going to live on and on.