R. Jayaram

Chennai: The 38th World bridge championship begins on Sunday at the International Convention Centre in Shanghai.

The three main events are the Bermuda Bowl (open teams), the Venice Cup (women’s teams) and the Seniors Bowl (seniors). Teams from 22 countries will participate in these three events.

The teams initially will play 21 rounds of 16-board matches in an all-play-all league format with the top eight teams in each category qualifying for the quarterfinals.

Teams from India have qualified for all the three events. In the Bermuda Bowl of 2001 (Paris) and 2005 (Estoril, Portugal), the Indian Open team made the quarterfinals. Although this is the fourth edition of the Seniors Bowl, India is participating for the first time in this event and industrialist-sponsor J.P. Goenka has got together a strong team of veterans and the expectation from this team is high.

While teams from USA have been dominating all the three events over the years, in the Bermuda Bowl — aptly called the blue riband of world bridge — Italy has always been a force to reckon with, having won the title 14 times as against the USA’s 17.

At the Monte Carlo Bermuda Bowl 2003, USA beat Italy in the finals by just one International Match Point.

Italy, however, had the revenge in the next edition at Estoril, beating the Americans by 18 IMPs in the finals. Interestingly, both countries are fielding the same six in their respective teams for the third consecutive time in this event at Shanghai.

The holder Italy takes on India in the first match of the Bermuda Bowl on Sunday. The Indian team will then play Chinese Taipei and Egypt in the other two matches.

In the Venice Cup, India’s matches are against Jordan, Brazil and England. In the Seniors Bowl, India’s opponents will be Denmark, USA-1 and Argentina.

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