ACBL Bridge Beat #102: Cavendish Invitational

The Cavendish Invitational is the largest money bridge tournament in the world. The event was first contested in 1975 at the famous Cavendish Club founded in 1925 by Wilbur C. Whitehead in association with Gratz M. Scott and Edwin A. Wetzlar. The club was housed for the first eight years at the Mayfair House, and then moved to the Ambassador Hotel. It was at the Ritz Tower Hotel 1950-1965 and occupied premises on Central Park South 1965-1974. In 1974 it moved to the Carlton House, stayed until 1983, and after a brief stop on 48th Street, ended in a townhouse on 73rd St. Rent escalations and falling membership forced the club to cease operations on May 31, 1991.

The Cavendish Invitational continued to be held in New York until 1997 when World Bridge Productions (WPB) took over the tournament and moved production to Las Vegas. WBP added two open events as well as the John Roberts Teams, an invitational event, to the schedule to broaden the field for more players.

Through 2011 the Cavendish was played every year in the week before Mother’s Day, ending on that day. In 2012, WBP joined forces with the Monaco Bridge Federation (FMB) and scheduled the event for October in Monaco. Providing that the 2012 tournament is successful, the tournament in will be held in Las Vegas in odd years and Monaco in even years.

The tournament begins with the John Roberts Teams (named for one of the founders of the WBP), and the WBP Pairs and WBP Teams.

The heart of the Cavendish, the Invitational Pairs event, gets underway after the John Roberts Teams the following evening with a cocktail reception and calcutta-style auction. At the auction, the world’s top pairs are auctioned off to the highest bidders. Each pair has the right to buy a portion of the pool bid on them. Auction money is pooled and paid out to the top finishers of the three-day event. Along with the auction is a players’ pool comprised of entry fees from the players. Proceeds are distributed to the top-placed pairs.

For the main event, a scoring method called cross-IMPs – now used in many cash-prize tournaments – was employed from the beginning. Every result on every deal is IMPed against all other results for that deal. Although the IMP scale goes as high as 24, an upper limit of 17 IMPs has been set for the Cavendish Invitational Pairs.

Cavendish Invitational Pairs winners:

1975 James Jacoby, Gerald Westheimer
1976 Alan Sontag, Peter Weichsel
1977 Alan Sontag, Peter Weichsel
1978 Roy Fox, Paul Swanson
1979 Roger Bates, Daniel Mordecai
1980 Lou Bluhm, Thomas Sanders
1981 James Cayne, Fred Hamilton
1982 Ed Manfield, Kit Woolsey
1983 Robert Lipsitz, Neil Silverman
1984 Marty Bergen, Larry Cohen
1985 Irving Litvack, Joseph Silver
1986 Matt Granovetter, Michael Rosenberg
1987 Drew Casen, Jim Krekorian
1988 Björn Fallenius, Magnus Lindkvist
1989 Marty Bergen, Larry Cohen
1990 Piotr Gawrys, Elyakim Shoufel
1991 Johan Bennet, Anders Wirgren
1992 Amos Kaminski, Samuel Lev
1993 Fred Stewart, Steve Weinstein
1994 Kit Woolsey, Neil Silverman
1995 Paul Soloway, Harry Tudor
1996 Fred Stewart, Steve Weinstein
1997 Michael Seamon, Harry Tudor
1998 Bob Hamman, Nick Nickell
1999 Bobby Levin, Steve Weinstein
2000 Marty Fleisher, Eric Rodwell
2001 Michael Kwiecien, Jacek Pszczola
2002 Bobby Levin, Steve Weinstein
2003 Fred Gitelman, Brad Moss
2004 Sam Lev, Jacek Pszczola
2005 Andrea Burotti, Massimo Lanzarotti
2006 Ton Bakkeren, Huub Bertens
2007 Steve Weinstein, Bobby Levin
2008 Geoff Hampson, Eric Rodwell
2009 Bobby Levin, Steve Weinstein
2010 Bobby Levin, Steve Weinstein
2011 Fred Stewart, Kit Woolsey

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