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Open Team Trials, 2009

White Plains, NY

By: Peggy Kaplan

Vanderbilt. Spingold. These knock-out events are the gems of the NABC schedule : long and grueling, matching the best against the best. Yet, perhaps there is one competition even tougher: the Open Team Trials. Held this year in White Plains, NY, the Open Team Trials began on June 5th and continues through June 15th to select the two teams that will represent the United States in the Bermuda Bowl in Sao Paulo, Brazil.Sil

When I arrived Sunday the 7th at the Trials, teams were competing in the "round of 32." The bad news? Virtually no “easy draws.” The good news? This year’s team trials would select not one, but two teams. Thus, any team that lost from this stage on would have a second chance. With double elimination, even with one loss, a team could survive to become “USA #2.”

But make no mistake. The road is long and brutal.

In a historic finish, two teams who started from the first day are facing one another in the finals: Fleischer versus Robinson. Teams with enough seeding points are given byes to later stages of the trials. For 2009, however, each of these seeded teams suffered a defeat. Thus, USA #1 will emerge from a squad that has fought for nine long days!

Four teams now are battling to earn the USA #2 berth. Welland faces Strul; Nickell and Jacobs square off. In the end, one of these four teams shall take on the loser of the finals.

For your "Roaming Reporter," conditions of contest were also challenging! Every player in the event was focused on one thing and one thing only: winning their match. Thus, attempting to get teams to pose with smiles for photos was about as easy as herding cats. Nevertheless, we did manage to capture some shots for the tens of thousands who are following this competition. Players at the table, comparing scores, or grabbing a bite in between sessions are all here.

In addition, the many folks who work tirelessly to make this important competition occur are also here: directors, Vugraph volunteers, USBF staff and volunteers, kibitzers and friends.

For more details and Daily Bulletins, do check out the USBF home page: www.usbf.org And remember; there are still more thrilling sessions of elite bridge competition left! Visit Bridge Base Online at: http://www.bridgebase.com/ to catch bridge at its best!