Suppose in Room 1, Team A makes three no trump, scoring 600. In the replay, Team B makes four spades on the same cards, scoring 620. The swing is only 20 points, but on another deal it might be over 4,000.
Under European scoring, each deal is scored separately, but the difference in score is awarded International Match Points; one IMP for a difference of from 20 to 60 points, ranging up to 15 IMPs for a difference of 4,000 or more. At the conclusion of a match, if the difference between two teams is less than six International Match Points, the result is considered a tie.
Britain wound up with no less than six ties, including one against the winners—the same Italian team that handed my teammates and me such an unmerciful shellacking in the last world championship played in New York early this year.
The Italians are the first team to return to the world championship with exactly the same player lineup—Walter Avarelli and Giorgio Belladonna of Rome and Eugenio Chiaradia, Massimo D'Alelio, Guglielmo Siniscalco and Pietro Forquet of Naples. Two of their three pairs employ systems of such bewildering complexity that, although I played against them for many sessions, it was only when I was requested to do a book on their system (shortly to be published by Doubleday) that I gained some impression of what was going on.
There has been considerable speculation whether the Italians win because of their system or in spite of it. Whenever I have observed them, the Italians played superbly enough to win no matter what system they used.
British methods have endured three swings of the pendulum since contract swept both Whist and auction bridge off the world's card tables.
At first the British were vigorously opposed to artificial bidding conventions. In 1934 the Card Committee of London's lawmaking Portland Club, prodded by Colonel Walter Buller—who was, appropriately, even more British than John Bull—declared that Ely Culbertson's ace-showing 4-5 no-trump convention, which long antedated Blackwood, was illegal! Buller's argument was that the laws prohibited a player from exposing or naming any of the cards in his hand, so it must be illegal to "expose" them through a bidding convention. The question wasn't settled until the Whist Club, America's lawmaking authority, with Commodore Harold Vanderbilt, father of contract bridge, heading its card committee, persuaded the Portland Club to retreat. Thereafter, artificial conventions won wide support in England.
Today, England, having returned to natural bidding, is close to the top once more. So close that a different result in a single hand of their match against Italy could have earned the British the right to meet the U.S. for the world title this winter.
One such hand, much discussed in Britain's clubs, saw one of the world's greatest card players go amiss.
North opened the bidding with one heart, and North-South duly reached a contract of four spades, played by Terence Reese with the South hand.