An amazing new partnership: Giorgio Duboin & Zia Mahmood

The Lavazza team won the 2015 Vanderbilt even with only four members: Duboin-Mahmood, Madala-Bocchi Giorgio Duboin is an Italian professional bridge player. He has won four world teams champions. Zia Mahmood is a Pakistani professional bridge player. He is a World Bridge Federation and American Contract Bridge League Grand Life Master.

Giorgio Duboin recounted what the Lavazza team should have in the Spingold of 2014. A player left us. The project was started and we had to choose someone else. It was difficult to choose: not only did we need a champion, but also someone who fit the group and Italian style. We all thought of Zia and when he accepted, the team was formed. The idea of rotating players was now more difficult to implement, because our Italians and Argentinians all play the same artificial system, whilst Zia prefers a more natural system that better suits his creative attitude. Based on our features, we thought that I was the best partner for him.

Duboin asked in his column “Italian Style”: What should two players who never played together, who live far away and have different styles do in order to become a high level partnership? Duboin provide us the answer. Since it very interesting and gives an insight on what a partnership should do. I quote what Duboin wrote:

Phase 1: we spoke a lot over the phone (luckily there is Skype) in order to understand  each other’s views on the system.

Phase 2: we defined the basic system: natural, 5 cards majors, 15-17 NT.

Phase 3: we started an email conversation, sending each other system bits, sequences, conventions and agreements which we had been playing with other partners.

Phase 4: we wrote the system, and this is the most complex bit. Each player has his favourite conventions and real passions. We started a game of compromises and refusals, always making an effort not to hurt the other. It looked very much like the discussions engaged couples have: “Darling, on Wednesday nights I have always been playing football with my friends and I’d rather not give it up” Sure dear, on Mondays I usually go to the cinema with my best friend, would you mind if…” I started it. My first suggestion was to add Gazzilli, which I  believe is essential in a natural system. Zia happily accepted it, although he had never played it before, so we added a not-too-complicated version of it. He showed me some sequences to raise opener’s majors which I approved. My second suggestion was to open 18-19 balanced hands 2 Clubs. I do not necessarily think that this is a beautiful agreement, but it has the remarkable advantage of taking these hands away from the 1C and 1D opening bids.

Game forcing hands can be opened 2D, which is ugly, but they rarely occur. Zia agreed to have a special opening for strong balanced hands, but asked me if I was joking about the frequence of game forcing hands. He likes using the game forcing opening bid even with marginal hands, so we came to the compromise of having 2C as GF and 2D as 18-19 balanced.

We went on for a while, agreeing each step of the sequences: two-way check back, reverses, Key Cards, and others. Once the system was agreed, we wrote it down in details and much to our surprise our “mostly natural” 5 card majors was over 100 pages long! (to be continued)

Winners of Alejandro Duplicates Game on March 24, 2015.

Justo Manlongat-Winston Arpon

Harumi Ieda-Sam Nugent

Charles-Lanni-Lerma Lang

Results at the Manila Peninsula for March 25, 2015

Justo Manlongat-Susan Kwee

Nena Ramirez-Salma Lall

Isabel Maloles-Abla Assad

Results at the Cambridge Circle for March 26, 2015

Glory del Rio & Inday Canoy

Ellie Esteban & Dina Velasco

Bambi Harper & Dolly Montenegro


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