Ostend has been host to hundreds of bridge players representing their various countries in the European Teams Championships. The ten-day marathon across three disciplines (Open, Women and Seniors) has two functions: first, to find the gold, silver and bronze European medallists, and second, to select the top eight teams (out of 33) who will go to next year’s World Championships in China. It finished on Saturday evening; Norway took gold on the last board, Israel received silver having led all day, and all three England teams qualified and will be going to China. Yippee!
The surprise teams, certainly unknown to me, were Hungary and Russia. Hungary stormed into the top eight after winning their first match and stayed there all week (leading at one point). A sensational performance but unfortunately they finished outside qualification. Russia, on the other hand, started slowly but ended up taking the bronze medal.
Here [see featured image] is Balázs Szegedi for Hungary playing against 19-year-old Giovanni Donati, Italy’s new wunderkind, partnering the great Giorgio Duboin.
Szegedi wasn’t given much room in the bidding, and it looked like he had an uphill struggle ahead. Donati led ♦10 to the Queen and Ace. Declarer tried to enter dummy with a heart, West discarding ♦8, suit preference for spades. If Duboin plays any spade now the contract is toast (♠Q takes it 2 down) but he decided, after a long tank, that a heart exit would be safe. Not this time! Szegedi won in dummy, took the club finesse and cashed all his winners, keeping a beady eye on West’s discards — Donati held on to two spades and two diamonds. Declarer returned to hand with ♥Ace and now threw West in with a diamond — endplaying him to make the ♠K for his 9th trick and a very elegant +600.