Co-ordinator: Jean Paul Meyer • Editor: Mark Horton • Ass. Editors: Brent Manley, Brian Senior
Web Editor: Takis Pournaras

No. : 1   •   Sunday, 27 August 2000

Let's have a party!

Opening ceremony

Table of Contents
Article Page
The President's Opening address 2
Player Profile :
Dutch Women

The Man at the Top



It was a magical evening - figuratively and literally - as the 11th World Teams Bridge Olympiad celebrated opening night in spectacular fashion at the Theater aan het Vrijthof in Maastricht city center.

"Let's have a party!" cried magician Richard Ross as he stood on stage with WBF President Jose Damiani and Deputy Prime Minister Annemarie Jorritsma-Lebbink, both covered in streamers and confetti, the climax of a celebration witnessed by hundreds of competitors and throngs of organizers.

Ross had opened the evening in disguise as part of a skit which ended with the WBF flag in position at the back of the stage. Ross followed Harry van de Peppel, chairman of the Dutch organizing committee, and displayed his sleight-of-hand magic - including several card tricks -- between each of the opening-night speakers.

As Damiani took the podium near the end, he remarked about Ross: "I definitely refuse to play rubber bridge with that guy."

Damiani noted that the Olympiad was played 20 years ago in Limburg, the Dutch province of which Maastricht is the capital. In fact, two of the competitors at Valkenburg in 1980 will compete again in Maastricht: the Netherlands' Anton Maas, who earned a bronze medal, and France's Paul Chemla, who won the gold.

"The history of bridge is being rewritten," Damiani said, reading a letter from Juan Antonio Samaranch, president of the International Olympic Committee. Samaranch wished the WBF and the Dutch organizers of the tournament well. "We soon hope to Join the Olympic Games," Damiani said.

Jorritsma noted that she enjoys playing, although she downplayed her own skill. As she left the stage for the first time, however, she showed her knowledge of bridge history with a piece of advice for players: "When in doubt in leading against a grand slam with two aces, try spades." This was a reference to a disaster suffered by the U.S. in the 1980 Olympiad final against France, when Bob Hamman led the ]A against a grand slam by France, allowing declarer to take all the tricks in a doubled contract.

Mayor Philip Houben of Maastricht told the crowd that those who "think and play bridge at the same time" chose to be in his city for the next two weeks. "Maastricht, the ultimate European city, is proud to welcome you."

The speaker with the best sense of humor no doubt was Laurens Hoedemaker, president of the Dutch Bridge Federation. After welcoming the players and acknowledging the support of Limburg and the city of Maastricht, Hoedemaker took part in a magic trick engineered by Ross, who said Hoedemaker needed to change his name to "Laurens the Greatest."

Hoedemaker wished all competitors well, reminding them that "members of the national organizing committee and the volunteers have devoted their time to what will become your event."

Whose flags will be raised highest in fourteen days time? Omar Sharif, representing Egypt

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