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Talking about Bridge with Giuseppe Failla (interview by Paolo Garrisi)

Posted on 15 June 2010

  leggi in italiano »
Giuseppe Failla, World International Master and member of the Federal Board of Directors, has agreed to reply to our questions, which range from bridge hands to the Fantunes Affair.

What do you think of the Neapolitan Club and the systems with a strong club? A revolutionary system which affected the history of worldwide bridge.

 An ingenious intuition which started with the canapé of Pierre Albarran, introducing the concept of a strong opening.  It has been superseded not so much by other systems, but by the evolution of bidding which made progress in competitive sequences and destructive bids. The same problems today face the more modern systems based on the long-short with strong club.

The so-called Weak Opening Systems (WOS) that is, systems with forcing pass, are prohibited except in the Bermuda Bowl. Do you agree with this policy?

Yes I do agree with it, not so much because of the difficulty in playing it, but because of the opponents’ impossibility to enter into the philosophy of the system, which due to its nature becomes less precise in the constructive sequences. I’ll explain myself more clearly: if the opponents playing a natural 5 card major with 4 diamond system, bid 1 club, 1 heart, 1 NT we know that the opener certainly has at least 4 clubs, because the setup of the system gives this information. For systems with many conventions, dealing with all the hands becomes not obvious and not predictable, and they are sometimes difficult to read even in the most simple sequences. The level of study needed to fully understand the opponents’ system is too great not to have evident disadvantages. I believe that a system can be more or less aggressive, more or less difficult to tackle, but this difficulty should not be caused by the sequences of the system, which sometimes are enigmatic.

We have a suggestion: admit all systems but each pair must deposit its system in a federal data bank and not change it for at least two years. In the two year period the pair can play only the deposited system or another one published and divulged at least at a national level. What so you think?

It could be a good idea, but a convention card or a complete statement doesn’t resolve all the problems I mentioned.

Let’s talk about Fantoni-Nunes: the motivation of Maria Teresa Lavazza’s decision to exclude this pair was not given. This has caused irritation and perplexity even for some who were not their fans. Can you explain the basis of Ms. Lavazza’s choices?

Too much has already been written and said about this subject, to reopen arguments or discussions which sometimes were only utilized for other purposes. I only hope that Italy will once again win the European championship, bearing in mind that the formula of the championship is the worst possible for our team, from the competitive point of view, that could have been organized.

The Lavazza team on May 2 won the Italian championship defeating Angelini’s team. This means that Bocchi, Madala, Sementa, Duboin were stronger than Lauria, Versace, Fantoni, Nunes. Ms. Lavazza’s decision seems to confirm this. Is it true?

Absolutely not, winning or losing a championship doesn’t prove anything. What’s more, I don’t think there is any need for proof to state that the pair Bocchi/Madala is of absolute international value. On the other hand, the victory of the Lavazza team shows that the national team will be competitive, as all Italians who attach importance to the results of the national team hope.

Last Friday I saw you play against Jimmy Cayne’s team in Bridge Base on Line. On the 9th board you opened 1 ♠: ♠QJ107543 ♥AQ8 ♦986 ♣Void. Can you explain it? If it was a bluff it worked: the opponents were scared and let you play a partial contract. At the other table, De Falco opened 2♠ and the opponents went to game without even taking notice.

Too strong to open at 2 level, a little weak to open 1; it would have been better to have ♥AKx but I have more or less 1 ½ defensive tricks; with three ♥ and all points concentrated, I thought it more descriptive to open at 1 level instead of passing, and didn’t consider a weak opening in ♠ with two of the three major honors in hearts. In effect, good sense and the commonly accepted norm is to open this kind of hand if it had 6 ♥, on the basis that the spades can almost always be declared afterwards. But sometimes the bidding doesn’t permit you to enter even with spades, for example 1NT 3NT of the opponents.

Against Cayne your partner was your 23-year-old son Andrea. On the 21st board he held: ♠K ♥Q106 ♦AKJ1043 ♣Q97. At the other table Cayne and De Falco called a grand slam in diamonds with no interference; at your table on the other hand the young Adam Kaplan (14 years old) wouldn’t give up. Comment on Andrea’s bidding.

GiuseppeFailla Adam Kaplan Andrea Failla Edgar Harmon
1♠ Pass 2♦ 2NT
Pass 5♥ Double Pass
6♦ 6♥ Pass Pass
7♦ All pass

With our system we play 2 diamonds response, either natural with five cards game force, or very weak with a three card fit in spades. Therefore the double of 5 hearts is obligatory with all strong hands having real diamonds. The pass later at 6 hearts is a forcing declaration justified by the closed diamond suit and K of spades. A void in hearts was more than likely, certainly if I had had this hand: ADxxxx x Dxxx AKx, I don’t know if I would have bid 7 diamonds. This is a situation of stress of the system in which you have to take a greater risk than normal, because it’s a different situation from the other room.

Giuseppe it was a pleasure to chat with you about bridge, talk to you soon again?

Whenever you want.


 traslated by Carol Sims

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