Every odd-number year, the d’Orsi bowl is contested under the auspices of the World Bridge Federation (WFB). This is a world championship contract bridge tournament for national teams of seniors, i. e. teams consisting of players that are 60 years or older. Because of the age requirement, the competition is sometimes referred to as the Senior Bowl or the d’Orsi Senior Bowl. Another name for the competition is World Zonal Senior Team Championship, since the entries represent WBF Zones and nations.
The trophy – the d’Orsi Senior Bowl – was donated by former WBF President Ernesto d’Orsi at the 2009 tournament in Brazil.
Today, you need to turn 60 years or older during the calender year to count as a senior bridge player in the eyes of WBF. Until 2006, the requirement was considerably lower – you could participate in the senior even if you were turning 55 years or more during the calender year. When the age requirement was increased to 60 years, it was done gradually by holding the defining year at 1950 for six years, to prevent any senior from suddenly becoming non-eligible.
Zones and nations
The World Bridge Federation (WFB) divides the world into eight geographical zones. Each zone is associated with a zonal bridge federation. Each zonal bridge federation is in turn made up by national bridge federations (NBO’s). Sometimes WFB recognizes a geopolitical entity as a nation even though it is not recognized as a sovereign nation by the United Nations. When it comes to playing bridge, areas such as Hong Kong, Wales and French Polynesia are recognized as their own separate nations.
- A team consisting of players from more than one nation is not permissible in the d’Orsi bowl.
- A nation can not send more than one team to a d’Orsi bowl contest. There is an exception though; the zone North America has a quota of three teams and two of those teams can be United States teams.
- A team must consist of four to six players and a captain. The captain may be one of the players. The teams compete as teams-of-four.
- There is room for 22 teams in the d’Orsi bowl.
Transnational teams have participated. There was for instance a transnational African team consisting of both Egyptian and South African players in the 2001 contest, and the South American zone sent a combined Argentinian and Brazilian team to the contest in 2003. The North American zone also has a history of using combined teams, and Central America & the Caribbean have also done this, including a the transnational Guadeloupe – Martinique team.
Throughout the course of seven days, every team plays round-robin matches of 16 deals. In total, 21 matches are played, typically three matches per day.
The teams compete using International Match Points (IMP), and IMP margins are converted to Victory Points (VP).
- A losing team gets 0 points.
- A winning team gets 25 points.
- In case of a draw, each team gets 15 points.
After the round-robin part of the contest, it is time for knockout matches. They are long, with 96 deals in two days.
In January 2000, world-class bridge players congregated in Southampton, Bermuda to play the Bermuda Bowl (for open teams) and the Venice Cup (for women’s teams). This was the end of the 1998-1999 cycle, and it was also the 50th anniversary of the Bermuda Bowl. As a part of the celebrations, a short exhibition for senior players was included in the program. It took place during the first week on Bermuda (8-14 January), to make it possible for the participants to also play in the Transnational Open Teams during the second week.
Six senior teams participated in the senior contest; four of them where national teams (Poland, France, China, Australia), one was a combined team from North America and the sixth team contained one pair from Austria, one pair from Bulgaria and one pair from Israel. The two Austrian players, the two Israeli players and one of the Bulgarian players came from the teams that had won the transnational World Senior Teams Championship in 1994 and 1998. This team was therefore known as the World Champions.
The six teams played a double round-robin, comprised of ten matches of 20 deals. This took five days, and was then followed by two days of playoff matches. Eventually, the Polish team defeated the French team in the 60-deal final by 229 to 73 IMP. The winning team consisted of five players: Janusz Nowak, Stefan Szenberg, Julian Klukowski, Andrzej Wilkosz, and Aleksander Jezioro.
The bronze match stood between China and North America. China won in 40 deals, with the score 133 to 80.
After Bermuda 2000
After the success in Bermuda in January 2000, official world championship flights for seniors were added to the quadrennial World Team Olympiad (which started in the fall of 2000) and to the biennial World Team Championships (which started in fall of 2001).
The first Senior Bowl was held in 2001. Back then, eight teams participated. By 2005, this had increased to 22 teams, making the number of teams identical to that permitted by the Bermuda Bowl (for open teams) and Venice Cup (for female teams).
The very first Senior Bowl was won by a United States team.