Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

And the winner is …

Two teams met to determine one of the two places in the Bermuda Bowl in the Netherlands in 2011.  The Fleisher team included Chip Martel, a professor of computer science, who won the World Open Pairs in 1982 at the age of 29 playing with Lew Stansby, still his partner.  Lew is now a professional bridge player after a career as a commodity trader.

Here is an interview between Chip and Glen Ashton (Bridge Matters) from 2001 after Chip had won his third Bermuda Bowl.  I had the pleasure of watching Lew and Chip play many sessions in Chicago.  They play a simple system, they don’t put pressure on themselves and they don’t make many mistakes.

During the BBO sessions several commentators made comments along these lines: “L and W” are hard to beat.  “L and W” are playing terrific bridge.  They were talking about Bobby Levin and Steve Weinstein.

Bobby Levin was the youngest player to win the Bermuda Bowl in 1981 when he was 23 and partner Steve Weinstein is the youngest player to win an NABC  when he won the LM Pairs in 1981 at the age of 17.  There is a  story about Bobby Levin Orlando 1998 republished on Claire Bridge.   The article talks about  Bobby’s failures as well as his successes (like going down in the Bermuda Bowl in a cold grand slam he could have claimed at trick one.)

Marty Fleisher the captain, an attorney and investment advisor also had some early victories, winning the intercollegiate championship at 19 and reaching the finals of the Grand Nationals in 1976 at the age of 17.  He plays with Michael Kamil, a professional player.

The Fleisher team entered the event with a bye to the Round of 8.  But they would have a hard route to the final, with a 244 to 231 victory, beating the number one seed and surely one of the greatest teams in the world, Nickell, who failed to mount a sufficient comeback in the last segment.

The opposition in the final was Diamond, no doubt the favorite on BBO since founder and Canadian Fred Gitelman was on the team playing with his long-time partner Brad Moss.  Also of Canadian origin, Geoff Hampson was playing with his long-term partner, Erico Greco. 

Captain John Diamond playing with Brian Platnick, put this team together.  If asked to name some of the best current bridge players in the world those in the know would have picked members of this team.   Diamond- Platnick and Hampson-Greco play a Precision style forcing club which they use to give them license to open very weak hands.  Their convention cards say 10 points non-vulnerable and 11 vulnerable.  They are in the auction a lot and can steal the hand.  Gitelman and Moss play a standard 2/1 system but they are very thoughtful players and can walk the edge with creative bids from time to time.

During the final, there were hands of beauty and also a few spectacular mistakes.  The match was decided in the seventh segment, boards 91-105 which Fleisher won 57-4.  There was some excitement at the start of the last segment but Board 110 ended much hope of a comeback.

Board 110

Vul: None

Dealer East


 Q 5

 Q J 2

A K J 10 8 4

 8 7


 J 9

 A K 10 9 8 7 6

7 6

 5 2


 4 3 2

 5 3

Q 9 5 3

 Q J 9 6


 A K 10 8 7 6



 A K 10 4 3



In the Open Room Levin and Weinstein had an unopposed auction and bid to 4 and made it.  But in the Closed Rom this was the auction:

Hampson Stansby Greco Martel
1 3 3NT pass
4 pass 4 pass
5 pass 5NT pass
6 pass 6 pass
6 all pass    

Hampson’s 1 was near the top of the range for a non-club opener with distribution.  Greco made a practical bid of 3NT over Stansby’s heart preempt.  Hampson showed his second suit with 4 and might have passed Greco’s preference bid of 4.  But his 6-5 hand has a lot of trick taking potential and he knew that Greco had at least a bit of a fit for each black suit.  If Greco had some aces then a black slam would likely have a chance.  He had to find a way to win imps back and this could be the board.  He invited Greco to slam and when Greco responded positively with 5NT he game him a choice of black suit slams.

The A was led and there were decent chances to make the slam.  Martel played the 3 intending to show and even number of hearts, playing upside carding.  But it was impossible to determine who had the 4.   Stansby took what he though was his best chance to defeat the contract and tried to cash the K.  As we will see in a moment only a diamond shift would have given Hampson no chance to make the contract.

Hampson ruffed.  He was going to have to ruff at least one club in dummy to set up the suit.  If clubs didn’t break he might be able to throw one club on dummy’s K and one on dummy’s heart winner .  So Hampson set about clubs cashing two rounds and then leading a third club.  Stansby thought for a moment and then ruffed with the 9 to force dummy’s Q. 

At this point the play and bidding suggested that Stansby had seven hearts and two clubs, leaving him with four pointed suit cards.  There is no way to make the slam at this point if Stansby had a singleton spade since there are not enough entries to dummy to perform a trump coup aganst Martel’s jack fourth of spades.  The only hope is that the hand is as shown with Martel having three spades.  That makes Martel 3-2 on to have the J.  Whether Stansby held the J or not it was the right play to ruff with the 9 so that does not really provide any information to Hampson.

Hampson. therefore. played the odds and took the spade finesse losing to the J.  Had he risen with the K dropping the J, the slam would have been his.  He would have won 11 imps instead of losing 11 imps.  While the 22 imp difference would not have been quite enough to win the match, this deal appeared to stem the momentum that had been building for the Diamond comeback although looking at the scorecard I can see no other place where Hampson-Greco could have gained more imps.

To take any chances away from Hampson, Stansby had to switch to a diamond at trick two.  Without a diamond lead after ruffing a club (and guessing right about the J) Hampson can run his winners.  Martel will be squeezed in the minor suits.


RossJune 28th, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Really good blog Linda – if you have the energy – more hands please – there was some wowsers. And it was reassuring for me, fresh off 2nd in the CNTC to see even world class stars have their share of accidents – though I noted less outright errors and more outright bidding disasters – would you agree? (going back to the semi’s)

Linda LeeJune 28th, 2010 at 6:27 pm

There were a fair number of bidding disasters that is true. I will be doing more hands in the next few days.

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