ACBL Bridge Beat #76: Team Trials Pt. 2
After the 1969 International Team was selected, the Pair-Team trials were discontinued in order to allow selection of an entire team rather than individual pairs to comprise a team. The 1970 International Team was selected by a direct 180-board playoff between the winners of the 1969 Vanderbilt and Spingold. This reduced the prestige of the Fall North American Championships, which previously had two events that qualified pairs for the trials.
After more evaluation of the International Team selection process, the Board decided to try using placing-points to pick the team.
Beginning with the 1969 Fall NABC, the ACBL adopted a playoff among the teams with the best records over the course of a year. Teams placing high in the three major team championships (Reisinger, Vanderbilt, and Spingold) were awarded points according to the following scale: Vanderbilt and Spingold: 1st -10 points; 2nd – 4; 3rd – 2. Reisinger: 1st – 6 points; 2nd – 4; 3rd – 2. If a team accumulated 20 points it was to be automatically designated the International Team; otherwise teams with lesser numbers of points were to playoff.
With the introduction of the Grand National Teams in 1972, the selection of the North American international team became a simple matter of a four-team playoff among the winners of the ACBL’s four major team events: the Vanderbilt, Spingold, Reisinger, and Grand Nationals. The trials were run in this manner from 1973-1979.
From 1980-1983, the trials became a playoff between the winners of the Vanderbilt, Spingold, Reisinger, Grand National Teams and the Canadian National Teams.
At the request of the Canadian Bridge Federation, the section of the Grand National Teams involving Canadian players was separated from the main event and changed into a Canadian National Teams Championship. The Canadian champions became a fifth entry in the trials in those years when a Bermuda Bowl team was being chosen. The trials started with a round-robin, with one team being eliminated. The usual knockout format was used from that point on, with a carryover formula applied.
In 1985 it was decided that one team from Zone 2 to the Bermuda Bowl would be a United States team. This team would be the winner of the United States Bridge Championship (USBC), a contest among the victors of the Vanderbilt, Spingold, Reisinger and Grand National. The other team would be the winner of a tri-cornered contest among the other three nations in Zone 2 – Canada, Mexico and Bermuda.
In 1991, as a result of WBF action increasing the total entry in the Bermuda Bowl, Zone 2 was authorized to send three teams. These teams were the winners of the USBC and the tri-country trials plus the top three pairs from the Pan North American Bridge Championships.
Starting in 1995 the United States representatives were determined in the International Team Trials. Many teams entered each year, and a carefully constructed screening process was used to decide what teams play which, and when. In Olympiad years (years divisible by four), one team is chosen; in Bermuda Bowl years (odd-numbered years) two teams are selected.
In 2001, the United States Bridge Federation was formed for the primary purposes of selecting and supporting United States teams in International Competition and supporting the World Bridge Federation in its efforts to obtain Olympic recognition for bridge. After making a significant effort to promote bridge as an Olympic Sport, including sending a team to the Salt Lake City IOC in 2002, USBF now focuses primarily on selecting teams for International competition, by holding the United States Bridge Championships for Open, Women, Senior and Junior teams, and on providing training and support for United States teams in International competition. USBF was originally formed by ACBL and ABA. It now receives support for United States International Teams from the ACBL International Fund and Junior Fund.