The Bermuda Bowl is a world championship contract bridge tournament where national teams compete. It is a biennial event held every odd-number year under the auspices of the World Bridge Federation (WBF).
Since the teams represent WBF zones and nations, the Bermuda Bowl is also called the World Zonal Open Team Championships. It is one of three World Zonal Team Championships; the other two are the Venice Cup (for female teams) and the d’Orsi Bowl (for senior teams). All three are held during a two week long meet.
Contest structure for the Bermuda Bowl
Throughout the course of seven days, every team plays round-robin matches of 16 deals. There are 21 matches to be played, so three matches per day is the norm. International Match Points (IMP) are used and IMP margins are converted into Victory Points (VP). A win gives the team 25 points, losing means 0 points, and in the event of a tie, each of the two teams get 15 points each.
After the round-robin stage is over, knockout matches will be played. The knockout matches are long matches, with 96 deals in two days.
History and background
The 1937 International Bridge League Championships (one contest for open teams and another one for female teams) are generally considered the first wold championships for national bridge teams. This was before the existence of the World Bridge Federation. The open field had 19 teams from eighteen countries (there were two teams from the USA). Both the open contest and the women’s contest were won by Austrian teams.
Holding international events during World War II was difficult, and it wasn’t until 1950 that a new International Championship was held. Only three teams participated: one from the United States, one from Great Britain, and a combined Swedish-Icelandic team known as the European Team. The contest was held in Hamilton, Bermuda and that is why the trophy is known as the Bermuda Bowl. The three teams played round-robin for raw scored or “total points”. The USA team placed first, after winning both its matches. The European (Swedish-Icelandic) team came in second, and the British team ended up last.
The 50 year anniversary
To mark the 50 year anniversary, the 2000 Bermuda Bowl was held in Bermuda (in the city Southampton). The Bermuda Bowl cycle was played normally in 1998/1999, but the concluding tournament was moved to January 2000 as part of the celebrations. It was evident that the Bermuda Bowl contest had grown a lot during the last 50 years. Eight geographic zones were represented, with a total of 20 teams participating.
Zone Europe: Six teams, from Bulgaria, France, Italy, Norway, Polen, and Sweden, respectively
Zone Africa: One team from South Africa
Zone North America: Two teams from USA and one team from Canada
Zone South America: One team from Argentina and one team from Brazil
Zone Central American & The Caribbean: One team from Guadeloupe and one team from Bermuda (the host country)
Zone Asia & The Middle East: One team from Pakistan
Zone Pacific Asia: One team from China, one team from Taiwan, one team from Indonesia
Zone South Pacific: One team from Australia and one team from New Zealand
The 50th anniversary Bermuda Bowl was won by one of the teams from the United States, with Brazil finishing second and the other USA team ending up in third place.