Zia Mahmood and the Seventh Player


November 6th, 2014


This year in the month of October, in Sanya, China was played the World Bridge Championship 2014 . In the first week the players participated in the Mixed events: Pairs and Teams. Jack Zhao and Kerry Sanborn won the Pairs title and SALVO won the teams event.

Sanya 2014 Campeones 2014 de  Equipos Mixtos: Equipo Salvo
Sanya 2014 Campeones 2014 de
Equipos Mixtos: Equipo Salvo

The World Mixed Team Championship was narrated by the WBF in a very nice and short video. Click here

The video begins showing Zia Mahmood- Marion Michielsen playing the last seconds of the last hand of the Mixed Teams Championship Final and continues while they wait, with Anita Sinclair and Nafiz Zorlu (the pair that didnt play the third final set), the team’s third pair to finish playing: Welland-Auken.

The final score is made and confirmed… the Salvo team is the new champion. Many kisses and hugs, seasoned the first seconds of the new world champions.Quien era salvador english

When Zia moves away, Simon Fellus, approaches him to ask the reason for the team’s name: SALVO. 

Zia is wearing a T-shirt where you can see a photo and read the name of Salvador Assael, He explains that the team name is in his honor. Zia tells Salvador, died at the World Bridge Championships, Lille 2012, where he was playing with his usual partner Nafiz Zorlu and that all the team decided to play this tournament in his honor.

When Anita Sinclair received the Gold Medal she explained that the team was a Zia’s initiative… and that they all had agreed to the tribute …Surely this team counted with an insurmountable advantage of a seventh player, present in each of the team players.

World International Master: Salvador Assael

Blue Ribbon Pairs champs  Salvador Assael and
2001 Blue Ribbon Pairs champs
Salvador Assael and Nafiz Zorlu.

Salvador Assael was born in Turgutlu, Manisa in September 1954. He learned bridge when he was young, and met contract bridge after he was 30′s. At first, he had been playing with Ilhan Onat who has a chess grandmaster. Then, he became partners with Nafiz Zorlu. He played in twelve European Championships (1989 to 2012) and one World Championship as a member of Turkish National Team. He was ranked at the top player in Turkish Bridge Federation Masterpoint List. He won many Turkish Championships as well as his greatest victory ”North American Championships – Blue Ribbon Pairs” (one of the most prestigious pairs event in the world) in 2001. He was used to get successful results in championships that he represented Turkey. He has a daughter, called Vera and he was known as a kind, sweet, and cheerful man. (Source: www.assaelbridge.com )

These are two hands played by Assael and narrated by two of the most recognized bridge journalists:



The Turkish Open Team had a fine win over the host country in round 29. One of their good boards was the result of a good defence on board 1.

  A Q J 4
7 4
Q J 4
9 8 7 6
K 8 7
Q J 8 6 2
A 7
A 4 3
  10 2
A K 10 9 5
10 5 3
J 10 5
  9 6 5 3
K 9 8 6 2
K Q 2
West North East South
Zorlu Mouiel Assael Levy
  Pass Pass Pass
1 1 2NT 4
dbl The End    

Salvator Assael’s 2NT showed a limit raise in hearts. Against 4 doubled, he led K and switched smoothly to his low club. Declarer rose with dummy’s King and Nafiz Zorlu won the ace and returned a club, ensuring the defeat of the contract.

The question you might like to consider is: should declarer have gone down? Rising with the K is correct if East has the Ace, of course, but that is pretty unlikely on the bidding once East leads a top heart. The other time it might be correct, at least on the face of it, is when West has only A10 or AJ doubleton of clubs. But if that is the case, can declarer make the contract anyway?

Suppose that West is 3-5-3-2 instead of his actual 3-5-2-3. Declarer wins the club return, finesses in
trumps and returns to dummy with a heart ruff to take a second trump finesse. Having cashed the Ace of trumps, declarer plays diamonds, but West can simply duck twice to shut out dummy’s long suit and declarer has to lose a second club in the ending after all.

Other distributions are possible, but maybe the one suggested above is the most likely one. What do you
think; Assael’s switch to the low club was excellent, but should it have succeeded?


The Best Slam by Svend Novrup, ebridge correspondent

With a 5-4 fit in one suit and 4-4 in another, we all know that usually it is better to play to use the eight-card fit as
trumps as that will present you with a discard in the play. That this is not always the case was proved by the Turkish pair Salvador Assael/Nafiz Zorlu in their match against Ukraine.

  A K 6 3
J 9 8 7 4 3
Q 8
9 8 5
A 5 3 2
A Q J 4 3
A Q 10 6
K 10 7 4
K 8 7 5
  J 10 7 4 2
5 2
J 9 6
10 9 6
West East
Zorlu Assael
2 3
4NT 5
6 Pass

Assael/Zorlu, sitting East/West, bid like this in a most natural way. 3 was a splinter bid agreeing clubs, 4NT asked for aces, and voila! 6 was easy with two diamond discards on the hearts, ruffing two spades in dummy.
At the other table the Ukraine North/South pair came to rest in 6, which had an unavoidable trump loser in addition to the spade; down one and a swing of 14 IMPs to Turkey.

Since 2013 and every year is played; The Assael Memorial Bridge Tournament, its first edition was won by Geir Helgemo & Tor Helness (Monaco).