Silvio today we are asking you to comment on the Club championships recently concluded in Bologna. What was your impression of how the competition went? We had alternating results; when Lavazza tried to have their third pair Buratti-Comella play, the team went down by 70 points.
When the four title holders (Bocchi/Madala and Duboin/Sementa) played they recovered and won.
Buratti/Comella are a senior pair whom I had the pleasure of meeting at Montecatini during the Seniors cup where they won the gold medal. But it seems obvious that even a good seniors pair can’t be at the level of two pairs who make up 2/3 of the national team. We could say that it was a small sin of audacity. Or else the third pair played in order to let another pair rest, or because of a physical problem of some player: I couldn’t say. I noted that Buratti/Comella played in the morning at 10 o’clock, maybe it wasn’t a good time for the other players. But I really don’t know, I am only conjecturing. The fact is that losing 70 points in a few hands means that someone didn’t play at the required level. Also in that session Helgemo/Helness played perfectly, as they did throughout all the competition.
Let’s concentrate now on the final six sessions where we saw four pairs of champions: Helgemo/Helness and Fantunes for Angelini, and for Lavazza, Madala/Bocchi and Duboin/Sementa, four-sixths of the Blue Team, it goes without saying.
Helgemo/Helness played very well, indeed excellently until the last session where they played two hands badly: in any event we are talking about a pair on the international level. The error which most people probably will remember is that 7 diamonds, down one, on Board 13 of the sixth session. It is an enormous thing in effect which no one can fail to note: when you play a zero board like that it means you made a mistake in the bidding.
How can it happen that a pair of such a high level makes such an obvious error?
Because of lack of concentration, or fatigue, only that can be the problem. It’s an error in bidding: you don’t bid 7 diamonds when you don’t have the K of hearts. The hearts were Axx in hand and Qx in the dummy. You might hypothesize an error in the system of development (duplication of values), but at a certain level I think it’s because of a momentary lack of concentration. When you bid 7 you can go down because of a bad distribution of one suit, but you must have 13 tricks in hand, you can’t bid 7 if an honour is missing. The last hand where Duboin bid 5 clubs is another question: that is a hand to be bid 25%. They bid the hand because they were behind and found the tenace well placed: a lucky hand. The classic coup to try to recover.
But on the whole you liked the Norwegian pair?
Certainly, they are a very solid pair, they don’t make any gifts on defense, and they bid well. They are a pair of absolute professionals.
And did you like the fantastic Fantunes?
They played well except during the last session when they committed some small inattentions, which however you don’t expect from a pair like them. I refer to their 6 hearts doubled, when they were missing AK of trump and A of spades. This error maybe derives from a badly interpreted convention. I don’t know if I misunderstood the bidding, but it seems that there were misunderstandings during the bidding between Nunes and Fantoni. If you review the bidding Fantoni doesn’t even ask for aces.
In addition in a hand of 3NT Nunes guessed wrong, he didn’t play a simple finesse but played for the drop. Certainly on that occasion Sementa was excellent in defense. But on the whole Fantunes offered good bridge. For example I recall a beautiful 3NT by Fantoni, against an error in defense by Sementa. But we could talk about it for hours … Let’s just say to sum up, that the defense in the last sessions was a bit full of holes.
Let’s now analyze the other two pairs, starting with Duboin/Sementa who during the European championships seemed to be not up to their usual great level.
In this championship in Bologna they played better, they led the charge in the final trying to force the play in order to recover. And the results say that they were right. As a pair if I think of the strength of each of them, I could say that they will have to work on it, they haven’t yet reached the extra-galactic level which the Bocchi/Duboin pair had reached. I always say that to form a pair, you need many years.
And now coming to Bocchi/Madala, did they confirm their good behaviour at the European championships?
They certainly showed that they are a good pair. But I still think that as single players you can’t dispute them, very strong, but to form a pair you need more time. Madala has notable intuitions, he guesses good coups but he is still young and commits youthful errors. Can I say that he sometimes fouls up? Bocchi on the other hand was very solid, for me he is the player who makes the fewest errors of them all. His solidity is really impressive.
To sum up, the two pairs of the Lavazza team which among other things won the European championships, still are not at their maximum level.
They still have room for improvement, just think …
Well Silvio, considering the European championships and these club championships, if you were the Technical Director who would you take to the world championships?
I would take Lauria/Versace, without any discussion and without even thinking about it. They are a category still above all those that I saw in Bologna. They can be unlucky, or lose if they are having a bad day, but considering quality of the pair, they are certainly the number one. Then I would take the same team that won the European championships.
Silvio, before the European championships, reading the formation chosen by the Technical Director Maria Teresa Lavazza, you said that it was an experiment, and experiments might at maximum be made in the European championships but not at the World championships.
Certainly. But in fact the experiment had a good result and for a question of equilibrium within the team I would confirm the same national team today. But with all the reservations I’ve stated and which I continue to state I would confirm the team as it was at Ostend. Today frankly I wouldn’t give up the solidity shown by Bocchi. If Bocchi/Madala hadn’t produced results, then I would have said not to take them; but Bocchi/Madala were the best pair at the European championships, how can you remove them? I insist they still must work a lot, and I think that the time remaining before the World championships will give them time to do so. The more hands they play together the more they can find situations to study and analyze. To sum up, I say they aren’t at 100% but they already work very well.
by Laura Camponeschi, translated by Carol Sims