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italy, once again!

  ITALY - Francesco ANGELINI, Fulvio FANTONI, Valerio GIUBILO, Lorenzo LAURIA, Claudio NUNES, Alfredo VERSACE and Ercole BOVE (npc)
Michael ELINESCU, Helmut HAUSLER, Josef PIEKAREK, Alexander SMIRNOV, Entscho WLADOW and
Michael GROMOELLER (pc)
Peter BERTHEAU, Fredrik NYSTROM, Johan UPMARK, Arvid WIKNER, Frederic WRANG and Per-Ola CULLIN (pc)

The Italian champion team of ASD Angelini Roma did it again! This was the eighth edition since the revival of the European Champions' Cup competition and Italy has won all but one titles! This year, they were again the ... usual winners! They managed to beat Germany (BC Bam­berger Reiter), the other finalist, by a clear margin. Germany has been the only other team to have ever won the prestigious title (in 2006). The bronze medal went to Sweden, winners of the playoff against Denmark.

This year, the European Champion's Cup competition took place in France, and was hosted in the spacious headquarters building of the Fédération Française de Bridge (FFB) in St. Cloud, on the outskirts of Paris. Twelve teams took part in the competition: they were the na­tion­al (club championship) champions of the top ten countries at the most recent European Team Championships (Pau, 2008), joined by the de­fend­ing champions and a team representing the host country.

The format of the event was a qualifying round robin, followed by a knockout phase. Teams were divided in two groups of six and the round robin determined the top four who would con­test the title in the knock­out stage. The remaining teams also pro­ceed­ed to a knockout stage to determine the final rank.

The end of the round robin saw Italy's ASD Angelini Roma, Sweden, The Netherlands and Russia qualifying from one group (Host France and NC Iceland following), while Germany, Denmark, Italy's Associato Allegra Torino and Bulgaria advanced from the other (NC France and Norway following). The semifinals eliminated half of these contestants. Italy's ASD Angelini Roma, Germany, Bulgaria, Russia and Norway won easily, but the contest between the two teams representing France was very close and ended with a narrow victory of the 'Host France' team.

In the final stage, ASD Angelini Roma trailed to Germany after the first (out of 4) segment of 12 boards, but went ahead in the second seg­ment and stayed there until the end. The final margin was 137-58 IMPs. At the same time, the local derby between scandinavian rivals Sweden and Denmark was almost level after 24 boards, but at the end Sweden prevailed 83-68. Russia beat Bulgaria in the playoff for fifth place, while NC France came ahead of Norway taking ninth place.

The tournament in St. Cloud was very well organized, while the beautiful surroundings of Bois de Boulogne and Paris in general left the visitors fully satisfied after a great extended weekend in one of Europe's most attractive environments.

The European Champions’ Cup is a competition between the elite teams of European bridge, i.e. the national team champions of the top ten coun­tries at the most recent European Team Championships. The defending champions and the host country representatives are also invited, but no country may send more than two teams.

Accordingly, this year, the top ten contenders of the 49th European Team Championships 2008, held in Pau, France, were invited to participate in the European Champions' Cup: Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia and Sweden. Italy's 'Tennis Club Parioli Angelini', the defending champions, and the host team, bring the total number of contesting teams to 12. The format is a round-robin qualifier, followed by semifinals, a final and playoffs.

This is the eighth event of the competition which was revived in 2002 in Warsaw, Poland, with the above format. The winners of that first event were Italy, followed by Israel and Norway. Italy has been more than successful ever since, as it has won all titles held so far, except in 2006 when the gold medal went to Germany. After the inaugural event, the tournament travelled to Rome, Barcelona, Brussels, Rome for the second time, Wroclaw, Poland and Amsterdam. This year, France will host the Champions' Cup for the first time, in the beautiful city of light, Paris, at the Headquarters of the French Bridge Federation, in Saint Cloud.

The European Champions’ Cup competition was originally tried under the support of PHILIP MORRIS in the eighties. The ‘Europa Cup’ addressed the winners of the national club championship in each EBL country. Every two years, the winners of neighbouring countries met in a qualifying stage, with the top ones advancing to the European final. The competition was discontinued in 1988, and was revived under the present format in 2002.

• For a complete list of the previous events, their venues and winners, click here.
• To visit the site of the last event, the 7th European Bridge Champions' Cup in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, click here.

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