2017 Vice World Champion and Funbridge Team member Jérôme Rombaut took part in Orlando World Bridge Series from 21 September to 7 October. He shares his impressions with us in an exclusive interview.
Orlando World Bridge Series were made up of:
- 4 teams events: Rosenblum Cup, McConnell Cup, Rand Cup and Mixed Teams.
- 4 pairs events: Open Pairs, Women’s Pairs, Senior Pairs and Mixed Pairs.
Orlando World Bridge Series
Rosenblum Cup (Open Teams)
It consisted of a three-day qualification. A round robin reduced the field to 64 teams. Then came the knockout phase reducing the field to 16 teams, quarterfinals, semifinals and a final played over two days.
The gold medal went to Team Zimmermann made up of 6 Monegasque players: Pierre Zimmermann (formerly Switzerland), Franck Multon (formerly France), Geir Helgemo (formerly Norway), Tor Helness (formerly Norway), Piotr Gawrys (formerly Poland) and Michal Klukowski (formerly Poland).
This team has won the most prestigious events over the last few years and I must admit that their results in the last minutes of each phase left me stunned. See for yourself:
Qualification phase: After 9 matches out of 10, the team was ranking 63/96. They played a decisive match against the team classified 64th. Indeed, the winner would qualify! Needless to say, their elimination at the first stage of the competition would have caused a big stir. They won 17-9 (IMPs) and logically qualified for the next phase.
Phase of 64: They played against a solid Chinese team, won the first set by 20 points but lost the next two. Their opponents were then leading 118-91 before the last segment. 27 points in 14 deals. Hard to get back into the game? No! They finally won the last set 53-17.
Phase of 32: They played against a young American team and lost the first segment but won the next three by a big margin. 141-77 win.
Phase of 16: Same thing against Polish players. They lost the first segment but won the next three by a big margin. 110-44 win.
Quarterfinal: Again, they won 3 sets out of 4 against Indians and easily defeated them 110-83.
Semifinal: They played another exciting match against young American friends this time. After having lost the first segment 53-12, they progressively got back into the game, losing only 105-82 with 14 remaining deals. And again, they played brilliantly and won by 4 points on the last deal! Final score: 121-117.
Final: The final against Italians was one-sided. No real match and a 241-162 win.
Not only they are very strong bridge players but they also have a real ability to excel in the final moments, which makes them nearly unbeatable. By the way, you can watch my interview of Pierre Zimmermann after the phase of 64. He then told me “we will now keep it up until the final victory!”.
Orlando World Bridge Series
It consisted of a three-day qualification, followed by semifinals and a final, all played over two days.
The interesting point here is that eliminated teams from the Rosenblum Cup could enter the ongoing phase of this event the next day.
For instance, teams losing the Rosenblum Cup semifinal could directly enter the Open Pairs final! But out of the 6 pairs allowed to do so, only one decided to participate because players were exhausted and extremely disappointed…
My partner and I played brilliantly. We were ranking 2/6 before the last session of the final, then 3rd with only 2 remaining deals.
Unfortunately, we didn’t not play these last two deals very well and were slipped back to fifth place…
Too bad because the top steps of the podium were occupied by friends of ours:
- 1st: The Rimstedt twins (Sweden) who are still juniors (U25!).
- 2nd: The American Grue-Moss pair (they had already defeated us in the final of Lyon 2017 World Championships).
Here are three deals played at the event:
Final A – Session 4 – Deal 12 – Played by Rombaut
Rombaut North Lhuissier South vs Golebiowski Janiszewski
| K 10 8 6|
A J 8
K Q 10 3
| Q 9 7 2|
7 4 3
J 6 2
9 8 7
| 4 3|
K Q 10 5
K 9 5 3
A 6 4
| A J 5|
9 6 2
A Q 10 4
J 5 2
Lead: Queen of ♥ ducked.
♦ return to the Queen.
♣ to the ducked Queen.
King of ♣ ducked.
♣ to the Jack taken by the Ace and ♦ return to the Ace.
At that moment, I could visualise 4♥4♦3♣ in East, so I played the Queen of ♠ in West.
Then I played the Jack of ♠ in dummy covered by the Queen, which allowed me to get over to the Ace of ♠ to play ♠ again and catch the 9-fourth.
Result: 3NT+1 for 72%.
Semi-final A – Session 2 – Deal 17 – Played by Nicolas Lhuissier
Vs Hegedus Bodis
| A 4|
A 9 6 5 4 3 2
J 10 5 4 3
K 10 9 8 6 5
| Q 10 6|
K Q J 10
A Q 3 2
| K J 9 8 7 5 3|
A Q 9 8
Here you have to ruff in the short hand in ♦. Make sure that you don’t get overruffed if ♦ split 5/2 because then you would see an uppercut, opponents communicating in ♣, and West would play a fourth round of ♦.
Nicolas played very carefully: ♦ taken by the King, ♠, ♦ return taken by the Ace, ♦ ruffed and overruffed. Now, when East plays a ♣ again, you can ruff and play the trump Ace, then cross to your hand by ruffing a ♥ to play the last trump.
Result: 4♠+1 for 68%.
Knockout stage – Session 6 – Deal 21 – In defence
Vs Punch Peterkin
| Q 5 3|
A Q V 8 7 5 4
| 10 9 8 6 4 2|
A K 8 4
K 9 7
| J 7|
7 6 5
A Q J 10 4 2
| A K|
Q J 9 3
K 6 3 2
8 6 5
Declarer took with the Queen of ♣ and played a trump taken by Nico’s King.
Small ♣ return. I discarded in North (few players found that when I asked them how they would play in that situation).
East played a trump but Nico took with the Ace and played a ♣ that I ruffed.
Ace of ♦ to get out. We took two ♥ on the deal for two down. Out of 30 pairs having played 4♠ (doubled most of the time), all with a ♣ lead, we were the only one to make the contract and with 2 overtricks! Only one other pair took an overtrick but with a ♥ lead.
Unfortunately, many pairs made 3NT in NS with a ♠ lead or managed to play 4♦, so the result is not so good.
Result: 4♠ -2 for 61%.
Orlando World Bridge Series
I must say that the first week has been well organised but a few extra days would have been welcome during the second week. In the Rosenblum Cup, knockout matches only comprised 28 deals with two rounds per day.
Final win of Team Manfield (Mélanie Manfield, William Pettis, Debbie and Michael Rosenberg, Beth Palmer, William Cole) against Team Wilson (Alison Wilson, Ricco Van Prooijen, Sally Brock, Chris Willeken, Magdalena Ticha, Richard Ritmeijer) 133-81.
The event consisted of a two-day qualification, followed by semifinals and a final, all played over one day.
It really put us at a disadvantage because my (favourite) partner Vanessa Réess and I were ranking 1st after the 2 days of qualifying sessions but there was no carry-over in the semifinal (scores were reset). We finally didn’t manage to qualify for the final, lacking only 50% on a deal.
Hopefully, our French friends played brilliantly in the final with a superb victory of our champions Sylvie Willard and Franck Multon (who won by a big margin and with an exceptional average of 63%!) and the bronze medal went to Bénédicte and Philippe Cronier.
The Americans Petra Hamman and Hemant Lall finished 2nd.
Orlando World Bridge Series are really nice championships. I can’t wait for the next edition!