10th EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS' CUP
Bad Honnef, Germany • 17-20 November 2011
ITALY RETURNS TO THE PODIUM
ITALY, represented by team Allegra Lavazza, was once again the winner at the European Champions' Cup competition. Beating the holders, team 't Onstein of The Netherlands, they scored their 8th victory in 10 competitions and regained their usual place at the top of the podium. The bronze medal went to Bulgaria's champion team Vito.
The final was a well-fought match between two of the world's top teams. 't Onstein comprised four players (Bas Drijver, Sjoert Brink, Bauke Muller, Simon de Wijs) and the non-playing captain (Eric Laurant) of the team that won the Bermuda Bowl last month in Veldhoven. The Italians of Allegra Lavazza are multi-winners of countless European and World competitions.
The final match was contested over 48 boards, played in four 12-board segments. The Dutch started well, winning the first segment 32-17, but the Italians fought back and almost levelled the score after the second segment (57-59). The third segment went Dutch, leaving the world champions on lead, 68-60. The Italians are famous for their come backs, and this match was no exception. When the smoke cleared, they were gold medallists; the final score was 70-88.
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 50th European Team Championships 2010, held in Ostend, Belgium, were invited to participate in the European Champions' Cup: Bulgaria, Germany, Iceland, Israel, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Sweden and Turkey. The 'Onstein' team of The Netherlands who were the defending champions, and the host team, brought 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 tenth 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 and 2010 when the Cup went to The Netherlands. After the inaugural event, the tournament travelled to Rome, Barcelona, Brussels, Rome for the second time, Wroclaw, Poland, Amsterdam, Paris, Izmir and now to Germany's Bad Honnef.
• For a complete list of the previous events, their venues and winners, click here.