My way – Norberto Bocchi’s Column (no.3): I shall see thee at Philippi

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Memphis. The Vanderbilt KO Teams is the main event in the Spring Nationals, still I would like to say first a few words on the Norman Kay Platinum pairs tournament. The  tourney was won by the famous Bob Hamman and the young and gifted Justin Lall. This new partnership is by far this year’s most remarkable news in bridge at the world class level: the much older, serious and successful Hamman, being a typcial representative of  “old style” bridge and Lall being young and light-hearted, yet not as successful, with his “new generation style” bridge (which I like).

I think they will form a brilliant pair because they can learn from each other one. Enriching one another they will build up a better partnership than other pairs who have similar technical abilities, age, and philosophy of life.

The Vanderbilt ends a turbulent season. Next year some astonishing changes will take place. Some old sponsors are to retire or take a break. Many teams will change their line-ups and we will see new world-class partnerships. As I wrote in my first column, the new bridge season in the USA will produce a lot of fun.

This year the Vanderbilt was full of surprises. Day after day high seeded teams were knocked-out and destroyed, even in an early stage. In the quarter-finals only my team, Jacobs (number 7), and Diamond (number 8 ) survived the massacre. Diamond (Moss, Gitelman, Greco, Hampson, Platnik) in fact reached the final, surviving attacks by much lower seeded teams and so did the team of Leslie Amoils: the sponsor played with Darren Wolpert (the younger brother of Gavin Wolpert) and further on board were Cheek and Grue, a very solid partnership and true fighters and Australian Del’Monte and Frenchman Thomas Bessis, a random partnership with excellent technique. Amoils won the final, and I personally think it is very good for bridge that three very young players (Wolpert, Bessis, Grue) did win such an important event. Fresh air is what we need to ensure the future of bridge.

The partnerships game. During the last ten years or so, I often played against all the important pairs of the wordl. I designed a personal list out of this group out of which I will tell you a merit and a flaw of each partnership. And I will send them a funny message. I am going to list them without any particular order and I do not intend to make silly rankings. I apologize to players or pairs I am not mentioning, though they certainly might have deserved so.

Helgemo-Helness. They have a great partnership understanding (merit), however they have the least number of conventions of all (flaw). I have a request: could you introduce me to the Prince of Monaco?

Versace-Lauria. They are competitive and have a complex system (merit), but sometimes they should acknowledge their mistakes (flaw).  I have a message of solidariety for Lorenzo: If you play with Alfredo, the least that could happen is to have the hives. [Lauria has been suffering from urticaria for many years, Note of the Editor]

Two bridge monsters (merit), but with introvert personalities (flaw). I have a humble request for them: I am not good at languages, so when you speak to me, please do it slowly!

Brink-Drijver. Early birds to play a successful aggressive kind of bridge (merit), but sometimes they are too aggressive (flaw). I have a warning for them: “I shall see thee at Philippi” *

A very solid partnership, and good teammates (merit), but their problem is their system (flaw). Request: I still do not understand what Slavinsky is. Please explain it to me again.

Balicki -Żmudziński.
They always do well (merit), but they have been playing the same system for thirty years (flaw). Request: could you be called Mister Smith and Mister Johnson, instead of all those zykhqx’s?

Both have a great technique, which is always useful (merit), but sometimes it looks like they do not gel together (flaw). I have a question for Sementa: I spent 20 years with Duboin, basically half a life…and you dear Antonio, are you ready for the other half?

Levin-Weinstein. A European-style partnership, very careful in bidding (merit), but they think too much and therefore get easier tired than other payers do (flaw). Message for them: I am not going to challenge you in the Cavendish, understood?

My own flaws, both in bridge and in life, are millions. No further explanation needed; they are so obvious.

Adios y hasta muy pronto


*This is a proverbial  and very popular expression and means that sooner or later there will be a showdown (The day of reckoning. The expression derives from the phrase that the ghost of Julius Caesar said to his killer,  Brutus. It’s a quote from the the fourth act of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare; and Shakespeare takes the episode from Plutarch’s Parallel Lives (Life of Brutus, 36). Of course Norberto is waiting for the revenge of Veldhoven [ed.].

English editon by Laura Cecilia Porro for Neapolitan Club

April 02, 2012

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