The 10th Cap Volmac World Top Tournament 1996
By: Fred Gitelman
Originally Published in American Contract Bridge League
BULLETIN, March, 1996
Within 5 minutes of finding out I had lost in the final of the 1995
Bermuda Bowl in Beijing I got some good news to cheer me up. A gentleman
named Henk van Dalen from The Netherlands introduced himself to
me. Henk had travelled to China to scout the World Championship field.
His mission was to find the strongest possible pairs to invite to the 1996
Cap Volmac Tournament. Henk must have been impressed by how my partner,
George Mittelman, and I had played in Beijing for we received an
invitation. Jeff Meckstroth, who was standing nearby and who had
been to the Cap Volmac before, informed me that I was in for a real (dutch)
treat. Jeff was right.
The 10th running of the Cap Volmac World Top Tournament took place from
January 18-21 in The Hague. The venue was the elegant Hotel des Indes,
one of Holland's finest. The fact that Cap Volmac, the Dutch software company
that sponsors this event, was willing to send Henk to China is an example
of the great effort they put out each year to make the Cap Volmac such
a special event. The Cap Volmac has become known as "The Wimbledon
of Bridge." This title is no overbid - the star-studded field made
for the most difficult bridge event I have ever played in.
Bridge is doing very well in Holland. There are over 100,000 registered
players in this small country. The Cap Volmac received extensive coverage
from the media and hundreds of spectators came each day to watch vugraph
and to kibitz. The players were treated like real celebrities. It is a
great tribute to Cap Volmac and the Dutch Bridge Federation that a bridge
tournament can be run so professionally and with such class. The Dutch
seem to be doing everything right when it comes to marketing our game.
They also know how to play. Their two entries in the 1996 Cap Volmac both
enjoyed high finishes. Bauke Muller-Wubbo de Boer finished third
while Berry Westra-Enri Leufkens came in sixth.
16 pairs participated in the 1996 Cap Volmac. Each pair played a 10
board match against each other pair with results being IMPed against a
datum (high and low scores for each board were not counted).
After arriving in Holland, it was announced that Tim Cope from
South Africa was involved in a serious car accident. Tim and partner Henry
Mansell, a very fine young pair, would not be able to participate.
The quality of the last minute replacement pair, David Berkowitz
and Larry Cohen, gives a further indication of the stature of this
event. All the players and organizers wish Tim a speedy recovery.
George and I did not do very well in this tournament, finishing 12th.
The following deal provided one of our few happy moments (our opponents
were Chemla-Cronier of France):
4NT was Roman Keycard Blackwood, 5
showed 1 or 4 keycards with hearts trump.
The defense leads and continues spades. After ruffing how do you plan
The problem with drawing trump right away is that if trumps are 3- 1
or 4-0 you will be stranded in the dummy and unable to draw the last trump.
The line of drawing trump requires trumps 2-2 (about 40%). Instead, you
could take the club finesse (50%) before drawing trump in order to secure
a hand entry in case trumps do not break. Based on this analysis, it looks
right to play clubs first, but there is an additional chance in the first
line that makes it correct. If you cash the A
and K and trumps do not divide,
you are not down yet. Try the top diamonds next. If the person long in
hearts is also long in diamonds, you can ruff the 4th diamond high, draw
the last trump and claim. This extra chance is enough to make it right
to play on trump. I selected this line at the table and was pleased to
see Chemla (on my left) show up with 3 hearts and 3 diamonds. I was less
pleased to see that Chemla also had the CK so that finessing clubs would
To my surprise, George and I were the only pair to bid 6
on these cards. I was surprised because up until that point it seemed almost
impossible to get a good board in the Cap Volmac. Our opponents always
seemed to play well and whenever we made a good decision, the rest of the
field holding our cards had invariably duplicated our good result. The
Cap Volmac is the only tournament I have ever played in where mistakes
are the exception rather than the rule.
Here is another example in which the field really impressed me:
George and I bid and made 6
and confidently expected a swing in our favour. It was not to be as 7 of
the 8 North/South pairs got to 6
on these cards! That's pretty tough bridge.
It is traditional that a top woman's pair is invited each year to the
Cap Volmac. This year Sabine Auken and Daniela Von Arnim
of Germany earned that right with their Venice Cup win in Beijing. Here
is an example of Sabine and Daniela outbidding the field:
- 1 (Strong)
- 2 (Game Force)
- 2 (Relay)
- 2 (4S and 5C)
- 2 (Relay)
- 2NT (Maximum pass)
- 3 (Relay)
- 3 (Shortness)
6NT has some chances but you either need a lucky lie in clubs or some
sort of squeeze. 6 is much better
and in practice made for +1430 - the only slam bid and made on these cards.
The eventual winners of the 1996 Cap Volmac were Geir Helgemo
and Tor Helness from Norway. Henky Lasut and Eddy Manoppo
of Indonesia led for most of the way but finished second. Helgemo and
Helness also won the Cap Volmac in 1994. This remarkable achievement is
even greater when you consider that Helgemo is still a Junior and that
this pair plays together only a couple of times a year! Here is one of
their many success stories of the tournament (their opponents were Claudio
Caponi and Steve Hamaoui of Venezuala):
Although 5, 3NT, and 4
all make for East/West, Helgemo and Helness were the only pair to appreciate
the potential in these cards and bid game. Helness played 4
nicely and made an overtrick. He won the spade opening lead and ruffed
a spade. The J was covered by the
Q and won with the A.
Helness ruffed his last spade, crossed to the K
and cashed two more high trumps. North was left with the master trump but
Helness was in control. He simply ran diamonds. Hamaoui could ruff whenever
he wanted but he then had to lead a club away from the A
for an overtrick.
Thanks to the hard work of Henk van Dalen and many others the 1996 Cap
Volmac was a great success. Perhaps the best news of all was announced
at the closing ceremonies. Cap Volmac has agreed to continue their generous
sponsorship of this event for the next two years. This is wonderful for
all bridge players, not just the stars. This tournament gives bridge a
great deal of positive publicity and international prestige. We can only
hope that other corporations take the interest that Cap Volmac has in promoting
- Helgemo-Helness Norway 881
- Lasut-Manoppo Indonesia 862
- Muller-De Boer Netherlands 848
- Zia-Rosenberg USA 811
- Buratti-Lanzarotti Italy 776
- Leufkens-Westra Netherlands 772
- Berkowitz-Cohen USA 766
- Chemla-Cronier France 750
- Meckstroth-Rodwell USA 742
- Auken-Koch-Palmund Denmark 721
- Auken-Von Arnim Germany 719
- Gitelman-Mittelman Canada 701
- Hamaoui-Caponi Venezuala 694
- Chagas-Lambardi Brazil-Argentina 674
- Levy-Mouil France 657
- Fu-Wang China 623