We arrived in Quito on a cloudy Friday afternoon, visitors in a strange land, not quite sure what to expect from the South American Bridge Championships. As we stepped off the plane, we were met by two smiling organizers, holding signs which read "BRIDGE" and had the universal symbols of our game: spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs. They helped us navigate through customs, sent us off to our hotel, and told us to let them know if there was anything we needed. Oh, and there was a duplicate game that evening.

This experience foreshadowed our experience in South America. Everyone was extremely welcoming to us, saying how glad they were that we could come, and proudly showing off their splendid country to us. That first evening, we played in a slam off the cashing ace-king of spades; they laughed and joked with us as if they had known us for years. Everything was one big party; there was wine everywhere, yogurt drinks for sustenance during sessions, and even a parade that the city of Quito held for the bridge tournament one evening, a spectacular procession of dancing through the streets of downtown colonial Quito. It was truly a festival, carried out under the capable direction of larger-than-life Bernd Papenbrok, who seemed to be everywhere at once; we even ran into him several times in the airport on the way back.

The bridge started in earnest with a pair game on the first three days, a three-session qualifying to separate two-session finals for open and mixed pairs. While this pair game was going on, the ladies' and men's open team championships were going on; we got to watch players like Gabriel Chagas compete during the off times in our schedule. The pairs were a lot of fun, and Ari and Jason ended up winning the event, while John and Erin placed second in the mixed pairs. It was a good start to the event for Team North America.

The junior teams started the next day. It was good to have a five-person team when the second-day schedule displayed four twelve-board matches, each 95 minutes long, with no breaks; we were each able to get some rest. In the double round-robin, we came out on top; the final standings were:

North America 206
Argentina A 174
Brazil 162
Argentina B 142
Ecuador 125
Uruguay 61

So we played Argentina B in the semifinals, with Argentina A and Brazil meeting in the other match.

The following deal from the second half proved critical to the semifinal (hands rotated):


  Foot in mouth AKT
Embarassed K983
Cry KQ72
Cool K5 
Foot in mouth Q975
Embarassed 5    
Cry 98643
Cool 874   

   W   E

Foot in mouth 83
Embarassed JT64
Cool JT92
  Foot in mouth J642
Embarassed AQ72
Cry 5
Cool AQ63






 Pass       1Cry     Pass    1Embarassed 
 Pass       2Foot in mouth*     Pass    3Foot in mouth
 Pass       6Embarassed     DBL   Pass
 Pass     Pass    

When Develin responded to the artificial game-forcing 2Foot in mouth by showing a minimum 4414 hand, Greenberg simply bid the small slam. East, Scaravino, doubled, hoping that dummy having the strength meant that he had a trump trick to go with the diamond ace.

The diamond nine went to the king and ace and the club jack was returned. Develin won the king in dummy and cashed the spade king before playing the nine of hearts planning to run it. Scaravino covered and Develin won the queen. A spade to the ten held and declarer played a club to the queen before ruffing a club with the eight of trumps. A heart to the seven followed and declarer claimed the rest of the tricks. Plus 1660 was worth 18 IMPs when Feldman did not double on the East cards at the other table and declarer did not pick up the trumps.

After winning the semifinal, we played Argentina A final, (they had trounced Brazil in the other semi). It was a tough match, but we managed to squeak it out 86-57 and were crowned junior champions of South America. At the wonderful closing ceremony (complete with a fantastic twelve-piece brass band), the prizes for the various events were given out; when it was our turn, we walked up to receive our medals from Bernd. As we strode back to our table, everyone smilingly congratulated us, and thanked us profusely for coming; really, though, it was our pleasure, as we all had a great time throughout the wonderfully hosted tournament.

-Team North America

Erin Anderson
John Barth
Mike Develin
Jason Feldman
Ari Greenberg