Cavendish Invitational is the world’s largest money bridge tournament. It is a tournament for pairs, where each pair plays three boards against all the other pairs. The time limit is 25 minutes per round. Up to 45 rounds can be played to determine a winner.
History and roots
The name of the Cavendish Invitational comes from the Cavendish Club. This club was created in New York City back in 1925. Examples of well-known bridge players that were members of the Cavendish Club are Harold S. Vanderbilt, Oswald Jacoby, Ely Culbertson, Steve Weinstein, Charles Goren, Howard Schenken, Zoa Mahmood, Bobby Levin, and Sam Stayman. The Cavendish Club moved several times. Its early addresses included the Mayfair House, the Ambassador Hotel, the Ritz Tower and the Carlton House.
Invitational pairs tournament
In May 1975, the Cavendish Club initiated an invitational pairs tournament. It was a charity event, and it became a huge success. The Cavendish Club continued to host an invitational pairs tournament once a year until 1992.
In 1978 – 1981, the Cavendish Club also hosted a companion invitational tournament for individuals. It was a two-day long contest labeled World Individual Championship.
From 1983 and onwards, a tournament has been arranged for teams. Nowadays, it is known as the John Roberts Teams in homage to World Productions co-founder John Roberts. The field consists of eight invited teams. A team that wish to participate can register to be considered.
The Cavendish Club closes
In the early 1990’s, the Cavendish Club was suffering from financial problems, chiefly due to decreasing membership and increasing rent. They were stuck with a leas that made it difficult to move to cheaper quarters. On May 31, 1991, the Cavendish Club was closed for good.
NB! Since 2014, there is a Cavendish Bridge Club at 177 East 87th Street in New York. This club is not associated with the Cavendish Invitational. The club is however run by Björn Fallenius, who won the Cavendish Invitational in 1988, and also won the team tournament in 2001 and 2005. Björn Fallenius owns and runs the Cavendish Bridge Club together with his wife Kathy.
The Cavendish Invitational survives and moves to Las Vegas
Even though the legendary Cavendish Club was not longer in existence after 1991, the Cavendish Invitational Pairs tournament survived and continued to be played once a year. It was arranged in New York until 1997, when the World Bridge Productions took over the tournament and moved it to Las Vegas. This move to North America’s gambling mecca fanned a new interest in the tournament and the purse increased substantially.
The World Bridge Productions also began arranging an Open Pairs event in Las Vegas, as a complement to the invitation-only tournament. The first contest took place in 1998. The pair who wins this contest is awarded with free entry to the next Invitational Pairs, with options regarding the auction.
Move to Monaco
In 2012, the Cavendish Invitational Pairs tournament moved from Las Vegas to Monaco. Up until then, the tournament had always been held during the United States Mother’s Day weekend, which is the second weekend in May. With the move to Monaco, this tradition was broken and the tournament is nowadays held in October.
Cavendish Invitational Pairs – an auctioned event
The Cavendish Invitational Pairs is an auctioned event. The day before the start of the tournament, a fancy black tie cocktail party is held where the top pairs are acquired by the highest bidder. The largest auction pool so far reached $1.5 million.
Every pair that participates in the tournament must buy at least a 10% share in themselves. They have the right to buy up to 40% if they want to.
When the tournament is over, the auction pool (or more exactly, 95% of the auction pool) is distributed among the bid winners according to a scaled payout structure.
Winners of the Cavendish Invitational Pair Tournament 1975 – 2014
|1975||James Jacoby, Jeff Westheimer||Alberto Calvo, Jeff Hand||Matt Granovetter, Ron Rubin|
|1976||Alan Sontag, Peter Weichsel||Jimmy Cayne, Billy Eisenberg||Paul Trent, Sandy Trent|
|1977||Alan Sontag, Peter Weichsel||Ronald Blau, Marty Ginsberg||Omar Sharif, Leon Yallouze|
|1978||Roy Fox, Paul Swanson||Michael Rosenberg, Barnet Shenkin||Alan Sontag, Peter Weichsel|
|1979||Ed Manfield, Kit Woolsey||Jacqui Mitchell, John Roberts||Juan Manuel Nuñez, Jaime Roitman|
|1980||Roger Bates, Dan Mordecai||Ed Manfield, Kit Woolsey||Phillip Martin, John Lowenthal|
|1981||Lou Bluhm, Tom Sanders||Judi Radin, Kathie Wei||David Berkowitz, Harold Lilie|
|1982||Jimmy Cayne, Fred Hamilton||Paul Chemla, Robert Reiplinger||Alan Sontag, Peter Weichsel|
|1983||Robert Lipsitz, Neil Silverman||David Berkowitz, Harold Lilie||Billy Eisenberg, Edwin Kantar|
|1984||Marty Bergen, Larry N. Cohen||Jeff Meckstroth, Eric Rodwell||David Berkowitz, Harold Lilie|
|1985||Irving Litvack, Joey Silver||Billy Cohen, Ron Smith||Bob Blanchard, Drew Casen|
|1986||Matt Granovetter, Michael Rosenberg||Fred Stewart, Steve Weinstein||Harold Rockaway, Bobby Wolff|
|1987||Drew Casen, Jim Krekorian||Gene Freed, Mike Passell||Marc Jacobus, Paul Lewis|
|1988||Björn Fallenius, Magnus Lindkvist||Harold Rockaway, Bobby Wolff||Steve Burgess, Paul Marston|
|1989||Marty Bergen, Larry N. Cohen||Ain Otstavel, Hillar Sula||Brian Glubok, Michael Radin|
|1990||Piotr Gawryś, Eliakim Shaufel||Jón Baldursson, Aðalsteinn Jörgensen||Ron Andersen, David Berkowitz|
|1991||Johan Bennet, Anders Wirgren||Neil Chambers, John Schermer||Russ Ekeblad, Ron Sukoneck|
|1992||Amos Kaminski, Sam Lev||Piotr Gawryś, Krzysztof Lasocki||Neil Chambers, John Schermer|
|1993||Fred Stewart, Steve Weinstein||Ron Gerard, Mike Kamil||Mike Albert, Paul Soloway|
|1994||Neil Silverman, Kit Woolsey||Sam Lev, Bobby Levin||Garey Hayden, Gaylor Kasle|
|1995||Paul Soloway, Harry Tudor||Richard Schwartz, Peter Weichsel||Perry Johnson, Jeff Meckstroth|
|1996||Fred Stewart, Steve Weinstein||Neil Chambers, John Schermer||Lorenzo Lauria, Alfredo Versace|
|1997||Michael Seamon, Harry Tudor||Andrea Buratti, Massimo Lanzarotti||Lorenzo Lauria, Alfredo Versace|
|1998||Bob Hamman, Nick Nickell||Zia Mahmood, Steve Weinstein||Fred Gitelman, Brad Moss|
|1999||Bobby Levin, Steve Weinstein||Curtis Cheek, Billy Miller||Billy Cohen, Ron Smith|
|2000||Martin Fleisher, Eric Rodwell||Steve Garner, Howard Weinstein||David Berkowitz, Larry N. Cohen|
|2001||Michał Kwiecień, Jacek Pszczoła||Billy Cohen, Ron Smith||Björn Fallenius, Roy Welland|
|2002||Bobby Levin, Steve Weinstein||Walid Elahmady, Tarek Sadek||Eric Greco, Geoff Hampson|
|2003||Fred Gitelman, Brad Moss||Walid Elahmady, Tarek Sadek||Ross Grabel, Jon Wittes|
|2004||Sam Lev, Jacek Pszczoła||Fulvio Fantoni, Claudio Nunes||Bob Hamman, Zia Mahmood|
|2005||Andrea Buratti, Massimo Lanzarotti||Cezary Balicki, Adam Żmudziński||Pablo Lambardi, Juan Carlos Ventin|
|2006||Ton Bakkeren, Huub Bertens||Geoff Hampson, Eric Rodwell||Gary Cohler, Howard Weinstein|
|2007||Bobby Levin, Steve Weinstein||Drew Casen, Mike Passell||Bruce Rogoff, Louk Verhees|
|2008||Geoff Hampson, Eric Rodwell||Gary Cohler, Sam Lev||Bobby Levin, Steve Weinstein|
|2009||Bobby Levin, Steve Weinstein||Geoff Hampson, Eric Rodwell||Roy Welland, Chris Willenken|
|2010||Bobby Levin, Steve Weinstein||Tor Helness, Geir Helgemo||Josef Piekarek, Alexander Smirnov|
|2011||Fred Stewart, Kit Woolsey||Bobby Levin, Steve Weinstein||Billy Cohen, Ron Smith|
|2012||Ron Schwarz, Lotan Fisher||Jean Quantin, Philippe Cronier||Zia Mahmood, Agustin Madala|
|2013||Ivan Nanev, Rossen Gunev||Krzysztof Martens, Dominic Filipowicz||Geir Helgemo, Tor Helness|
|2014||Krzysztof Buras, Gregorz Narkiewicz||Fernando Piedra, Luis Lantaron||Massimiliano Di Franco, Arrigo Franchi|
As you can see, the most prolific winner is Steve Weinstein with seven wins, followed by Boby Levin with five wins, and Fred Stewart and Kit Woolsey who has three wins each.
Steve Weinstein (born in 1964) is best known for being the youngest ever winner of the ACBL Life Master Pairs. He was 17 years old when he won, playing together with his stepfather Fred Stewart. Until 2002, Weinstein worked on Wall Street and played poker as a hobby, but since then he is a full-time professional bridge and poker player. His regular bridge partner is Bobby Levin, the youngest winning of a world teams championship (the 1981 Bermuda Bowl).