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ITALY - Francesco Angelini, Fulvio Fantoni, Lorenzo Lauria, Claudio Nunes, Alfredo Versace and Ercole Bove (pc). The Cup was presented by Erica Terpstra, a former Olympic gold medal swim champion and nowadays chairperson of the Dutch National Olympic Committee and the Dutch National Sports Confederation.  
Remco Bruggemann, Jacco Hop, Hans Kelder, Marion Michielsen, Marcel Winkel and Henk Willemsens (pc)
Victor Aronov, Rossen Geourgiev Gunev, Vladimir Mihov, Julian Stefanov, Ilia Vassilev and Ivan Nanev (pc)

ITALY has apparently decided that the European Champions' Cup should belong to them! Otherwise, it is difficult to justify why they do not let it go away... It has been 6 years since the establishment of this competition among Europe's best teams, and Italy has won all titles, except one! This year's competition followed suit...

The 2008 edition of the European Champions' Cup was hosted at Amster­dam's White House Bridge Club, on 6-9 November. As usual, the participants had been determined at the recent European Team Cham­pion­ships in Pau, earlier this year. Teams were divided in two groups of 6 and a round robin was played to qualify 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.

At the end of the qualifying stage, Parioli, the team representing the defending champions Italy, faced Germany's champion Bridge Club Bamberger Reiter, while Bulgaria's Bridge Club Quantum played against Bridgeclub Star of the Netherlands. Germany is the only country to have won the title from Italy in the past (2006), so the match was expected with interest. After a practically tied first segment, Italy widened the gap and was leading 21 IMPs after the third segment. Germany fought back, but Italy survived by a margin of 5 IMPs (118-113). In the other semifinal, the host country went ahead and never looked back, even­tu­al­ly winning 115-92.

In the final, Italy showed that the title should not be in doubt. After a slow start, they had a good second segment and a decisive finish in a low-scored match to win their fifth title, 90-44 IMPs against the Nether­lands. At the same time, Bulgaria beat Germany in the playoff for third place, 94-68 IMPs.

The final ranking: 1. ITALY (Parioli), 2. The Netherlands (Bridgeclub Star), 3. Bulgaria, 4. Germany, 5. The Netherlands (White House), 6. Sweden, 7. Norway and Russia, 9. Denmark, 10. Iceland, 11. France and Italy (ASB San Giorgio del Sannio).

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 was a round-robin qualifier, followed by semifinals, a final and playoffs.

This was the seventh 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 and Wroclaw, Poland. This year, the Netherlands hosted the Champions' Cup for the first time, in one of Europe's most distinguished cities: Amsterdam.

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 gave way to another championship that was established in 1990 as a biennial event: the European Mixed Championships.

• For a complete list of the previous events, their venues and winners, click here.
• To visit the site of the last event, the 6th European Bridge Champions' Cup in Wroclaw, Poland, click here.

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