From the ring of the cheers that echoed in the huge Viking Auditorium of Oslo's City Hall, you would have thought that Norway's own contract bridge team had won the European Championship. But, for the third successive year, the toasts at the victory banquet were for Italy's World Champions: Walter Avarelli, Giorgio Belladonna, Eugenio Chiaradia, Massimo D'Alelio, Guglielmo Siniscalco and Pietro Forquet.

With their victory, the redoubtable sixsome from Naples and Rome earned the chance to make it three straight world titles, too, when they meet the challenge of the top U.S. and South American teams in a three-way match to be played in New York next February.

The scandalous speculation about Italian cheating recently front-paged in the United States will no doubt mean SRO signs—perhaps even network television—for the exhibition of those February matches here. But the sound of those cheers in Oslo left no room for doubt of how Europe felt. For its champions, this was vindication as well as victory.

If the vindication was overwhelming, the victory was not. The result was in doubt right down to the conclusion of the very last match. On the basis of two points scored for each match won and one point for each draw, the final ranking put Italy and England into a first-place tie. The tie was broken and the championship decided on "quotient." In this comparison of the margins by which each match was won or lost, the victorious Italian team had a wide advantage.

From the opening gong, it appeared that an upset was in the making. Experts confidently predicted that the 15-nation field would be topped by one of three teams—Italy, France or Great Britain. Then, in the very first match Italy played, the French trounced them by the decisive margin of 25 International Match Points (one IMP is roughly equal to a difference of 100 points in the total score).

This put France into the role of strong favorite, especially when, in the next round of play, they succeeded in holding the highly regarded British team to a draw. (Actually, Britain outscored the French 41 to 37. However, under European scoring, a match decided by fewer than six IMPs is accounted a tie.)

It was evident that Italy was jittery in its first-round match against the French, as will be seen by the following hand:

Neither side vulnerable West dealer

NORTH

[5 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[Jack of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[King of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[9 of Diamonds]
[8 of Diamonds]
[King of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]

WEST

[Ace of Spades]
[Queen of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[8 of Hearts]
[4 of Diamonds]
[Jack of Clubs]
[10 of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[8 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]

SOUTH

[9 of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[Queen of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]
[Ace of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]

EAST

[King of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[8 of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[10 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]
[Queen of Clubs]
[5 of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]

Against Belladonna and Avarelli, France got to a slam on this bidding:

WEST
(Belladonna)

PASS
2 [Spade]
PASS
PASS

NORTH
(Trezel)

1 [Heart]
PASS
PASS
PASS

EAST
(Avarelli)

PASS
PASS
4 [Spade]
PASS

SOUTH
(Jais)

2 [Diamond]
4 [Heart]
6 [Heart]

Opening lead: spade 7

Trezel trumped the second lead of spades, drew trumps and played the diamonds correctly. He assumed that if either opponent held four diamonds it would be East. He won the second diamond in his own hand with the king and, West having showed out, he took the marked finesse against East's diamond jack. France chalked up a plus of 980 for making the slam.

In the other room, the bidding shows the Neapolitan Club system working to advantage even when the club bid is not used.

WEST
(Svarc)

PASS
1 [Spade]
4 [Spade]
PASS
PASS

NORTH
(Siniscalco)

PASS
2 [Spade]
4 NO TRUMP
6 [Heart]

EAST
(Pariente)

PASS
DOUBLE
PASS
PASS

SOUTH
(Forquet)

1 [Heart]
3 [Diamond]
5 [Club]
PASS

South's hand was a maximum for his bid of one heart. Had he held one more point in high cards, he would have opened the bidding with the strength-showing bid of one club. The opponents did their best to crowd the auction but the Italian methods are well prepared to cope with such preemptive tactics.

Forquet ignored the double of the cue-bid. His three-diamond call showed control of that suit. Siniscalco's four no-trump bid was not a Blackwood call for aces. The Italians use Blackwood rarely, and only where there is a jump to four no trump. In this auction, the four no-trump call showed additional values and told partner that he could not lose two immediate tricks in any suit. In return, South showed the ace of clubs, so North was able to jump to the slam.

Unfortunately, after West had won the first spade and shifted to the jack of clubs, Forquet tabled his cards. He thought that the hands included nine diamonds and that the lead of the ace would insure 12 tricks. As a result of this claim, he was not allowed to take a diamond finesse and so was set 50 points. The total loss—1,030 points—cost Italy eight IMPs.

It is interesting to compare the bidding of France with the bidding of Italy on another slam hand:

WEST

[Queen of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[Queen of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]
— [Club]

EAST

[Ace of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[5 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[8 of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]
[Ace of Clubs]
[King of Clubs]
[8 of Clubs]

When the French held the East-West cards, Trezel opened the West hand with four hearts and Jais promptly bid six hearts. By contrast, the Italians bid it this way:

WEST
(D'Alelio)

1 [Heart]
2 [Heart]
3 [Heart]
4 [Heart]
5 [Diamond]
5 [Spade]
PASS

EAST
(Chiaradia)

2 [Club]
3 [Diamond]
4 [Diamond]
4 [Spade]
5 [Heart]
6 [Heart]

As the Italians play their reverse bids, the first suit need not be genuine but the second is always playable. This is why East bid two clubs—a three-card suit—ahead of his diamonds, in which he held six. East's bid of four spades after game was reached was a cue-bid. When East finally got around to confirming the hearts, West showed his "extra" values in spades.

Alas for direct tactics as well as for science. A spade was opened and the king was wrong. So was the king of hearts. So the heart slam was defeated, whereas six diamonds could have been made.

Having apparently disposed of their two principal threats, the French position improved still further when Italy pulled Britain down to the level of the once defeated, out-scoring them by 49 to 36. But France lost its advantage in the very next match.

The giant-killer was little Norway, the host nation. With a population of 3 million, Norway boasts a bridge league of over 14,000 members. Its team, while never strongly in contention for the title, went on from its stunning upset of France to finish seventh.

Meanwhile, recovering from its shaky start, the Italian juggernaut was rolling over its opposition by margins that were to be the decisive factor in the final calculation of quotient to break the tie. Here's another example of their systemic exchange of information in approaching a slam against the Netherlands.

Neither side vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

[Queen of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[9 of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]
[King of Clubs]
[Jack of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]

WEST

[King of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[9 of Hearts]
[King of Diamonds]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[8 of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]
[Queen of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[5 of Clubs]

SOUTH

[Ace of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[Queen of Hearts]
[Jack of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
— — [Diamond]
[Ace of Clubs]
[8 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]

EAST

[9 of Spades]
[8 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[7 of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[10 of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]

At the table where Italy held the North-South powerhouse, the bidding went:

SOUTH
(D'Alelio)

1 [Club]
2 [Heart]
3 [Heart]
4 N.T.
6 [Heart]

WEST

1 [Diamond]
PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

NORTH
(Chiaradia)

1 N.T.
2 [Spade]
4 [Heart]
5 [Club]
PASS

EAST

PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

Opening lead: diamond king

In response to the artificial and strength-showing one-club opening, Chiaradia's one no trump showed four controls, counting the ace as two and the king as one. This response is also artificial. It was purely a coincidence that these controls included a stopper in the opponent's suit.

Later, South's four no-trump bid promised additional values and asked what features his partner held that had not been shown already. (North's bidding had thus far declared his ace and two kings and some strength in spades.) When North announced with his bid of five clubs that he also possessed some additional strength in that suit, namely the" king and jack, South felt completely justified in bidding his small slam.

Dummy's ace of diamonds won the opening lead and declarer discarded a spade. He led a spade to the 10, losing to West's jack. After ruffing the diamond return, South cashed the heart ace and spade ace and went to dummy with the heart king. He ruffed a spade and when the king dropped, North's queen was good for a club discard and the club finesse became unnecessary. However, the club finesse would have worked if need be, and the slam contract was an excellent one.

In fact, at the other table, the North-South pair for Holland bid to a grand slam. Against the same king-of-diamonds opening, this rather ambitious contract could have been made by a finesse in clubs and a squeeze against West in spades and diamonds. After ruffing out East's diamonds, declarer comes down to an end position like this:

NORTH

[Queen of Spades]
— [Heart]
[9 of Diamonds]
[King of Clubs]

WEST

[King of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
— [Heart]
[Queen of Diamonds]
— [Club]

SOUTH

[Ace of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
— [Heart]
— [Diamond]
[8 of Clubs]

EAST
(Immaterial)

On the lead to North's king of clubs, West is doomed. A diamond discard establishes North's 9; a spade lets South win the last two with the ace and 10 of that suit.

However, the Hollander tried the simple ruse once used with great success by Margaret Wagar of Atlanta in a similar situation. He pushed the queen of spades through, in hopes that East would have the king and would fail to cover. In this case it couldn't work because East couldn't have ducked if he wanted to; he simply didn't have the king.

The days went by, with form holding true. The three top teams won their matches. Both France and England remained contenders, but Italy appeared to have the inside track.

Meanwhile, your correspondent was enjoying the new experience of spending two weeks at a bridge tournament without playing a hand. As I observed the sufferings of many of those who had to do the playing, I felt like the small boy who, having had a molar extracted, filled the offending tooth with jam in order to watch it ache.

In this deal, from Italy's match against Sweden, the sufferers were Forquet and Siniscalco.

Both vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

[Ace of Spades]
[Jack of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[8 of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]
[Jack of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]

WEST

[10 of Spades]
[8 of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[4 of Diamonds]
[9 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]

SOUTH

[King of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[Queen of Hearts]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[9 of Diamonds]
[King of Clubs]
[10 of Clubs]

EAST

[Queen of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[10 of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[King of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]
[Ace of Clubs]
[Queen of Clubs]
[8 of Clubs]
[5 of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]

The virtue of the Neapolitan Club turned out to be a vice when Forquet and Siniscalco bid the North-South cards against Sweden:

SOUTH
(Forquet)

1 [Club]
2 [Spade]
PASS

WEST

PASS
PASS
PASS

NORTH
(Siniscalco)

1 [Spade]
3 [Diamond]

EAST

PASS
PASS

Opening lead: spade 2

North's artificial response to the opening club bid showed two controls. From the fact that he held three kings, South knew that this must be one ace. Therefore, it was certain that his side was missing two aces and the king of diamonds and it was entirely possible that one or both of the black queens would prove troublesome also.

This knowledge made Forquet's pass to three diamonds the correct strategy. But the Swedes didn't have all this information. When they held the North-South cards in the other room, Lundell opened with a spade, jumped to three diamonds over Wohlin's no-trump response, and after Wohlin raised to four diamonds, he carried on to game.

The diamond finesse was on, the spades broke favorably and the clubs couldn't possibly be misguessed, so Sweden gained a lucky five IMPs. The Swedes had been doing well in their previous matches, so this swing came at a time when first place was at stake. But Italy won out and the championship moved into its final rounds with all of the leading teams scheduled to play "set-ups" and the result apparently a foregone conclusion.

Then, under the tremendous pressure of those final sessions, things happened. Great Britain was tied by Ireland. (Actually, Britain, out-scored by five points, was lucky to get off with a draw. One more IMP would have given Ireland the win.) Then came a most astonishing result. Little Iceland, which wound up in last place in spite of this stunning reversal, upended Italy! But France, which could have stepped in to win the title, lost to Egypt in an outstanding upset second only to the loss of the Suez Canal.

So it will be Italy once again in the World Championship next February. And Europe's experts have already installed them as top favorites, no matter which team wins the October playoff that will decide who will challenge them for the U.S.

On what I saw at Oslo, I am reluctantly forced to agree with them. And you can be sure this is one prediction on which I am hoping that I will turn out to be as wrong as wrong can be.

One of the most important events at Oslo was the creation of the organization that may prove to be the United Nations of bridge. At a meeting presided over by Baron Robert de Nexon of Paris, president of the European Bridge League, and attended by Charles J. Solomon, president of the American Contract Bridge League, Alvin Landy, the ACBL's executive secretary, Geoffrey Butler of London and W. J. Sullivan of Australia, the foundation was laid for a World Bridge Federation. Your reporter, also among those present, was named one of the founding delegates.

One function of the new organization is the staging of a contest patterned after the Olympic Games. This is planned as a curtain-raiser to the world Olympics of 1960, scheduled for Rome. Alvin Landy has been appointed secretary of the new organization, and the honorary presidency is to be offered to General Alfred M. Gruenther.

Mrs. Vibeke Petersen of Denmark was the only woman to play in the European open. The other ladies were busy with a championship of their own, won by Denmark, with Sweden second and Belgium third.

PHOTO PHOTOKIBITZERS get courtesy of a look at hand held up by Giorgio Belladonna of Rome. PHOTOFISHBOWL CLASH between France and Italy looked as if it might determine the championship when favored Italians were upset. Goren is standing onlooker. Two men in left corner were operating an electrical board on which public followed match.
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)