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March 24th, 2014: Hawkins, Yomtov capture Silver Ribbon Pairs

Don Caton and Allan Siebert
Don Caton and Allan Siebert

Lifelong friends Allen Hawkins and Bernie Yomtov reunited to win the Levintritt Silver Pairs on Monday night. It was touch and go – they dipped to second going into the last round, but emerged the victors by 52 points – less than a board (on a 77 top). The win is the first North American Championship for both men. Finishing second, with 2532 points, were Allan Siebert from Little Rock AR and Don Caton from Pensacola FL. Hawkins says he and Yomtov played competitively 40 years ago, but family and work became priorities. They got back together a couple of years ago. “We play recreationally,” he says, and only at NABCs. Earlier this week the pair nabbed third place in the IMP Pairs. Hawkins, a bank examiner, hails from Birmingham AL. Yomtov is an investor who lives in Cambridge MA.

The Vanderbilt Knockout Teams continue

The Vanderbilt Knockout Teams is in full swing today after eight teams were eliminated from the original field of 72, most teams having byes.

Taking care of business

Gianarrigo Rona Sanya

Gianarrigo Rona is a busy man. Having just finished running a meeting of the World Bridge Federation management committee in Dallas, the WBF president now turns his attention to the World Youth Team Championships in Turkey, where at least [ilink url=»http://csbnews.org/2014-junior-world-championships-teams-selected/?lang=en»]seven ACBL teams [/ilink] will travel in August. His schedule also includes promotion of the 14th Red Bull World Bridge Series in Sanya, China, this fall.

There are many other tasks, including cementing a relationship with the International Olympic Committee, planning other world championships in faraway places and seeking sponsors for tournaments. Rona said he is optimistic that the tournament in China will attract a large contingent of ACBL members. “I have spoken to many Americans who are interested,” he said.Red Bull Sanja 2014

The Sanya tournament is the largest of the WBF events and is open to anyone who is in good standing with his national bridge organization (e.g., the ACBL). There are open, women’s, mixed and senior pairs and teams. All play will be at the MGM Grand Sanya and the Sheraton Sanya Resort, which are five minutes’ walk from each other.

He said the WBF and the Chinese Contract Bridge Association are preparing to accept 200 teams and 400 to 450 pairs for the various events. Rona said bridge is undergoing a renaissance in China, which will send many players to the world championship.

“It is a big occasion for them to play against the best players in the world,” he said. The addition of Red Bull (makers of a popular energy drink) as a sponsor is a big deal for bridge, Rona said. It is noteworthy, he said, that Red Bull has a high sponsor profile in many sporting events, including Formula One racing.

“This is important for us,” Rona said. “Red Bull is well known around the world. We may be opening a small window to get other sponsors.” Rona said players who are interested in competing in Sanya should consider registering as soon as possible because space could be a problem.

He said there are direct flights to Sanya from many locations in Asia, including Hong Kong and Beijing. The weather in the seaside resort is expected to be in the mid-70s most days, similar to Bali, Indonesia, where last year’s world championships took place. “Bali was one of the best events WBF has had, and Sanya has many points in common with
Bali,” Rona said. For more information, visit www.worldbridge.org.

All efforts of the WBF and the local organizing committee are aimed at making sure players are comfortable where they stay and where they play.

Pairs events will be enhanced by the ability of players to scan their tournament badges to get printed results and matchpoints immediately after every session. The tournament in Sanya will take place after the big event in Istanbul, where there will be five U.S. teams and two from Canada. Another U.S. team has been invited to play in the team championship for players 13 to 15 years old. That event includes free entries and free room and board for the invited squads. In all, 10 teams have been invited for that event. So far, Israel, France and Poland have agreed to send teams.

Rona said there will be 60 to 65 teams in Istanbul. The tournament is hosted by Koc University, one of the country’s most prestigious institutions. The WBF president said the efforts to attract more young players “are starting to have good results, and this is important. The young players want to compete. Many countries now accept that youth are the guarantee of the future.”

Rona said he is happy with the WBF’s decision to do away with appeals committees, as the European Bridge League did last summer. He noted that when he was elected president of the Italian Bridge Federation in 1986, “the first thing I did was get rid of appeals committees because of the politics.”

He said players have accepted the decision, in large measure because of the expertise of the tournament directors rendering the ruling and the process by which they arrive at their decisions. “We have a good team of TDs,” he said.