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

cavendishThe 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.

Other tournaments

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

cavendish2The 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

Year Gold Silver Bronze
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).