ACBL Bridge Beat #71: Team Trials

Many methods have been tried for selection of the North American team for Bermuda Bowl contests or of the United States team for World Olympiads.

From 1950 to 1960 selection was based on team performance. The ACBL selected the winners of the Spingold, or the victors in a playoff between the Spingold and Vanderbilt winners.

In 1960 the United States was entitled, by virtue of the size of the ACBL membership, to send four teams to the first World Team Olympiad. Two of the teams selected were the winners of the Vanderbilt and the Spingold. Each of the other teams consisted of three pairs selected by a committee (the five most recent ACBL presidents attending the 1959 Fall Nationals) from among the contestants remaining in the seventh or eighth round of the Vanderbilt and Spingold respectively.

The 1961 team was chosen directly by the ACBL Board of Directors. The team consisted of three pairs from among the winners and runners-up in major national events. That team was Howard Schenken, John Gerber, Paul Hodge, Sidney Silodor, Peter Leventritt and Norman Kay.

Pairs trials were instituted in 1961.

From 1961 to 1966, the first three pairs in each trial were nominated as the international team for the following year, and the fourth-place pair became the alternate pair.

Beginning with the 1967 trials, this automatic selection method was dropped and the non-playing captain was permitted to select any two of the top four pairs, and the third and alternate pair from among the remaining finalists. Julius Rosenblum exercised this option in 1967 when he named Edgar Kaplan and Norman Kay, who had finished fourth in the trials, to the team. Phil Feldesman and Ira Rubin, the third-place pair, became alternates. This was the only time the top three pairs were not selected as the international team. The other members of the team were Bill Root, Al Roth, Robert Jordan and Arthur Robinson.

Rosenblum resigned as non-playing captain after the 1968 Olympiad. In his resignation he wrote, “My primary and only purpose was to win and as a consequence, I played what I believed was the best combinations against the Italians. It was unfortunate that I didn’t feel it strategic to play all members as frequently as each might have wished; however, sometimes this cannot be helped. I regret, more than I can tell you, that I was unable to bring home the cup. I have been captain for several years and I think now is the time to turn it over to someone else.”

The final pairs trials were held Oct. 25 – Nov. 3, 1968 in Atlantic City NJ for the 1969 Bermuda Bowl held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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