Mark Hitabashi of Palos Verdes and Joan Stone of La Habra topped 852 Southland bridge experts last weekend in the Epson World Championship, conducted by the World Bridge Federation in 80 countries simultaneously.
Scoring 70.88%, Hitabashi and Stone ranked 24th in the world, Jose Damiani of Paris, chief organizer of the tournament, announced.
World winners were Parisians Francis Frainais and Jann Bouteille, with 78.79%, followed by Hugh Gerrard and Antony Pennington, both of Trowbridge, England, with 77.79%.
U.S. leaders, in seventh place with 76.58%, were Billy Gough and Joe Livezey, both of Philadelphia. U.S. runners-up were New Yorkers Marty Bergen and Larry Cohen, with 76.29%.
Trudi Nugit of Northridge and Tom Lolli of Studio City, with 69.38%, were second among the 426 partnerships that competed in eight Los Angeles area game sites. Third, with 67.25%, were Eddie Kantar and Jim Robison, both of Los Angeles. Highest scorers in communities close to Los Angeles were Mr. and Mrs. D. R. Iverson of Irvine, with 67.25%; and Walter Cravits and Jeanne Mercier, both of San Luis Obispo, with 67.13%.
No previous achievement was necessary for entrants in the simultaneous contest, the first of its kind. To start a contest the game captain at each of the 474 game sites in North America broke the seals of the hands, which were identical worldwide, in the presence of the competitors. After each hand, players opened the score sheet to obtain their tournament score on a scale of 0 to 100 points.
Each game that produced a score of 65% or higher (for 224 hands) telephoned ACBL headquarters in Memphis, Tenn., to report the score, the players, and the number of tables in play. Results from other games are still arriving by mail.