Poland made history as it withstood a stiff challenge from Sweden (307.5-293) and lifted the Bermuda Bowl for the first time as the HCL-42nd World bridge championships concluded at the ITC Grand Chola here on Saturday.
The final day’s action over 32 boards was one of fluctuating fortunes as the lead changed hands at least four times. The excitement mounted, leaving kibitzers in a frenzy, before the Poles came through the nerve-racking last round with flying colours.
The morning’s action had indications of the swings the match was set to go through as the Swedes, down by 46.5 IMPs, came up with a brilliant display in both the rooms.
With Johan Upmark and Fredrik Nystrom pitted against their Polish rivals Piotr Gawrys and Michal Klukowski in the open room, and Johan Sylvan and Frederic Wrang against Michal Nowosadzki and Jacek Kalita in the closed, the Swedes simply destroyed the cushion their rivals held by taking the first set by a whopping 70-6 margin.
And as they did so, the Swedes had double swings in their favour in the fourth, seventh, eighth, ninth and 13th boards, leaving the Poles in complete disarray.
The classic among these five double swings (hands which gave the Swedes 10 IMPs or more) was the eighth board, which saw Nystrom blow away a 5 diamonds contract by the Poles in the open room with a killer of a lead. Nystrom, despite holding the ace in the suit, led the spades nine to the king held by Upmark and left the rivals with absolutely no chance to finesse in hearts and clubs as he held the kings in both these suits. In the closed room, on the contrary, the Swedes themselves got the same contract, doubled by the Poles, when the opening lead was the ace of spades.
After putting up such a great show, all eyes were on the Swedes when the second and final round got underway, but this time it was the Poles who surprised their rivals, cutting down the lead by gaining 15 IMPs over the first three boards. The Swedes hit back strongly as they won a 2 NT contract in the closed and set up a 2 hearts auction in the open in the fourth hand. But the Poles, taking advantage of the 19 IMPs they gained in the seventh, eighth and ninth hands, opened a lead — only to see the Swedes make another strong comeback by winning 17 IMPs on the 10th and 11th boards.
The issue was finally settled in the Poles’ favour when they put on a steady show of strength in the 12th, 13th and 14th boards and titled the scales in their favour with a gain of a healthy 31 IMPs. The Swedes wilted under pressure by losing the line of play and failed to get to contracts that were very much there to be made. In the end, the 10 IMPs that the Swedes made on the last hand proved inconsequential, paving the way for the Polish contingent to celebrate.
Stepping forward on behalf of the Polish side after its historic win, Jassem Krzysztof was all smiles.
“Wow! Our dream has come true,” he said. “We had played the first four rounds of the league phase with just two pairs and had to struggle a lot. The final turned out to be a real rollercoaster and as we look back, I think it was all the pressure that helped us to win in the end.”
The results: Men (final): Poland bt Sweden 307.5-293. Losers’ final: USA2 bt England 252.3-243.
Transnational (final): Zimmermann bt Bulgaria Open 125-91. Losers’ final: YBM bt Askgaard 65-48.