The World Team Championships for contract bridge are best known for its other name the Bermuda Bowl. The name Bermuda Bowl is derived from the name of the trophy given to the winning team. The name of the trophy was based on the location of the first World Championships in 1950 which took place in Hamilton, Bermuda. The Bermuda Bowl is the most prestigious bridge tournament event and any team that wins the World Championship receives considerable recognition and honor. As a team championship, the event sends national teams that represent different regions as set-up by the World Bridge Federation. These regions are referred to as zones, and there are a total of 8 zones in the world.
The 8 zones are Europe, North America, South America, Asia & Middle East, Central America & Caribbean, Pacific Asia, South Pacific and Africa. The number of qualifying teams vary from zone to zone with the European zone sending the most number of teams. The host country, which changes for each Bermuda Bowl, automatically qualifies for the tournament.
Most focus is placed on the Open division, but additionally the Seniors and Women divisions are played at the Bermuda Bowl. The tournament is structured the same for all three divisions and all three divisions play at the same time. The number of teams sent from each zone is the same for each of the three divisions, though the actual national teams representing each zone can vary for each of the divisions.
The history of the Bermuda Bowl goes back to 1950, in which a much simpler format than that of today saw the USA team defeat the European and Great Britain teams. The USA would win again in 1953 and 1954, but the USA would not top the field again until the 1970’s. After dominating much of the 1970’s, the USA team continued to finish first several times in the 1980’s. With only one win during the 1990’s, the USA team rebounded after the turn of the century by winning several more Bermuda Bowls. Other great teams over the decades includes many European powerhouses, most notably the Italians who have won several World Team Championship contract bridge events.
The 40th World Team Championships was played during October 2011 in Veldhoven, Netherlands.
The scoring for the Bermuda Bowl is based off of a series of head to head matches that makes every team in the field play against every other team in the field. Three matches are played each day during the three bridge sessions. With 22 teams in the field the round-robin round takes a week to get through as each team plays 21 matches. Each match is scored on IMPs which is then converted to Victory Points. These victory points are added to the team score each day and the cumulative victory points determine the standings. A total of 30 victory points is at stake during each head-to-head match, but the maximum a team can earn is 25 points. If one team earns the maximum 25 points their opponents can only earn up to 5 points, but could actually earn less than 5 points if the match was extremely one-sided. This scoring system is set-up so that the results are less skewed based on how much the good teams beat up the bad teams. At the end of the round robin play the teams finishing in the top 8 in the standings move on to the semifinals. The seeded semifinals are set-up as knockout rounds where the teams play against each other to see which team advances towards the finals where an eventual winner is crowned.
To qualify for the Bermuda Bowl each zone has different methods to determine which teams will have an opportunity to play for the World Championship. The only country which sends two teams to the Bermuda Bowl is the USA. Those two spots are determined in two different national events. The first spot is awarded to the winner of the US Championships and the second spot is awarded to the winner of the USBC Open Trials.
The World Championship has changed format several times. Most of these changes have been to expand the field and to change the number of qualifying teams from different zones.
1970 North America
1971 North America (Aces)
1976 North America
1977 North America
1979 North America
The World Bridge Federation is the international organization responsible for hosting the World Team Championships. The scheduling of other international events has made it so the Bermuda Bowl now takes place on odd number years so there is always a year skipped in between events. Coverage of the Bermuda Bowl can be found predominately at the WBF’s website. Other sites that contribute to the updates include Bridge Winners who run updates, stories and videos based on the hands being played and Bridge Base Online which users watch hands as they unfold with their state-of-the-art Vugragh. Putting on an event of this magnitude requires a lot of planning and effort by a great number of people and they should all be commended for their contributions. Finally, the host country, which changes for each Bermuda Bowl, plays a vital role in showcasing the event and accommodating all of the players.
During the two-week long World Championship there are two other events that take place. These two events are the World Championships for women bridge players and the World Championships for senior bridge players. The women’s event is called the Venice Cup and the seniors’ event is called the d’Orsi Senior Bowl. Both of these tournaments are the biggest events of the year for the women and seniors, and a great deal of publicity occurs alongside the open championship event known as the Bermuda Bowl. Similar to the powerhouses in the Bermuda Bowl, the Venice Cup and the d’Orsi Senior Bowl have been historically dominated by the European teams and the two teams sent from the United States.
The format for the Venice Cup and the d’Orsi Senior Bowl is identical to the format of the Bermuda Bowl. All three tournaments run at the same during the two weeks with each event progressing in-sync with one another. They all begin with the round robin matches in which each country plays one match against each country, in total 21 matches that happens at a rate of 3 matches per day for 7 days. After the round robin round, the top 8 teams in the standings advance to the quarterfinals. The winners advance to the semifinals and then those winners advance to the finals with the losing teams during the semifinals playing in the consolation match to see who takes third place.