Italy's superb Blue Team won its fifth successive World Contract Bridge Championship in New York last week, but the Blues almost faded white before victory finally was secured. The formidable sixsome headed by Carl 'Albertos Perroux had little trouble with the Argentines, battering them 420-308, or with the British, whom they beat almost as badly, 365-286. But John Gerber's North Americans made it clear that Italy's long dominion over the bridge tables is coming to an end, and that end may come as soon as next year. Gerber's young team put up a tenacious battle before losing 331-305, and the match was even closer than the score would indicate.
Gerber's comparatively inexperienced internationals obviously were jittery at the start when, largely through bad luck on slam bids, they fell 64 International Match Points behind Louis Tarlo's British team. But immediately after this they settled down to business, taking a conclusive lead in their first match with Argentina.
Next day they opened against Italy with a 110-to-78 barrage that alarmed the perennial champions. However, in the second session with Britain, the North Americans lost another 11 IMPs, and Johnny Gerber began to think about benching his two youngest players, Mervin Key and Ron Von der Porten. When Italy bounced back with a 71-32 rally on the first 14 deals of their second session against the Americans, Gerber decided to put this plan into operation at once. At first the move seemed to backfire as Italy continued to pile up points and ended the day with a 48-point advantage. But the wisdom of Gerber's move was to pay off in a big way later.
The most successful captain of an earlier era, P. Hal Sims, had promulgated an edict for his famous Four Horsemen, "Never bid a grand slam." Both the American and British captains might profitably have issued a similar order to their squads, but after a number of unsuccessful attempts to earn the large bonus for bridge's biggest bid, Britain finally brought one home as a result of a fine auction by Alan Truscott and Anthony Priday on the deal shown at right.
In the closed room, where the deal was played first, a North American pair sat North-South, and the bidding had gone: