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The Cavendish History

Source: Cavendish Bulletin 1

This competitive event is officially designated as The Cavendish Invitational. It takes his name from the Cavendish Club of New York. This club, beginning on 1941, became a non-profit membership corporation, and the tournament attempt to partially follow this path. On May 31, 1991 the costs and the decreasing membership forced the Cavendish Club of New York to cease operations.

The Cavendish Invitational Pairs Tournament is run as an auction tournament. The money collected from the auction is pooled together and represents the auction pool which is paid out to the “owners” of the top finishers. There is also a players pool which is done with the entry fees of the players and is distributed to the top-placed pairs. As well there are session awards that go to both the winning pair and the owner of the winning pair. The price for each pair is posted after the auction takes place. This formula was created in 1975, to attract the best of the national and international world-class bridge experts. It was to be the richest and most demanding event in the history of bridge. The pairs were auctioned off to the highest bidder, and a portion of that Pool was donated to a worthy cause selected by the Cavendish Club Board. In addition, a large entry fee was required to defray costs and return money to the winning players independent of their participation in the pool. The organizers also developed an IMPs across the field formula for scoring, a unique method that was ultimately adopted in national tournaments by the American Contract Bridge League. The pool in the first year was $50,000.00. By 1979 it had reached almost $300,000.00, which quickly established the Cavendish Invitational as the most prestigious event in the bridge world. Applications for spots in the event were keenly contested, and in a very short time the quality of the field grew to be the strongest in the world.

Over the next decade or so the organizers experimented with different formats and rules designed to increase the size of the pool while keeping the quality of the field. Different events were tried in New York City, a team event and a backgammon tournament were added, and what had been a weekend affair grew to a five day marathon of elegant and intense competition.

In 1996 the tournament consisted of a team event for the Jack Dreyfus Cup with some 18 teams from all over the world and a prize pool of over $50,000.00 This was followed by the Pair event with 80 of the best players in the world competing for over $800,000.00. After 20 years the Cavendish Invitational remains the strongest and by a wide margin the most lucrative event in the world of bridge.


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