ITALY wins World junior title

Kare Gjaldbaek & Martin Schaltz, Bjorg & Jonas Houmoller, Andreas Marquardsen & Boje Henriksen, npc Jacob Ron and coach Lars W Petersen
Furio & Stelio di Bello, Fabio Lo Presti & Francesco Mazzadi, Ruggiero Guariglia & Stefano Uccello, npc Gianpaolo Rinaldi and coach Andrea Pagani
Kevin Bathurst & Kent Mignocchi, John Kranyak & Joe Grue, John Hurd & Joel Wooldridge, npc Robert Rosen and coach Andy O’Grady

ITALY, the reigning European Junior champions, succeeded in capturing the World Junior title when they won the Ortiz-Patiño Trophy, symbol of supremacy at Junior bridge, at the 9th World Youth Team Championship. They were followed by DENMARK and USA.

The Championship, held in St.Cloud, on the outskirts of Paris, France, 18-28 August 2003, attracted 16 representative teams from all parts of the globe, except WBF zones 4 (Asia & Middle East) and 5 (Central America).

The qualifying stage was played as a round-robin among the 16 participating teams. China Hong Kong took an early lead, as Italy and Denmark emerged as serious contenders for the title. They were soon followed by the United States (USA 2). As the rounds passed by, China Hong Kong faded away and the precious fourth qualifying place was strongly contested by a number of strong teams including Norway, Poland and France. At the end, however, it was POLAND who finished up among the top four.

As Denmark had won the round robin, they had the right to choose their semifinal opponent - and they picked Poland, against whom they had a handy advantage (carryover) from the round-robin. The match went positively for the Danes, and the final result, 194-166, was up to their expectation.

In the other match, Italy started well against the United States and built a huge advantage at half time when they were ahead of their opponents by no less than 92 IMPs! With 32 boards to go, the match seemed an impossible task for the Americans. However, they fought back and started regaining ground steadily. Much to the dismay of their opponents and everyone's amazement, the margin was down to 60 IMPs with 16 boards to go. Then it dropped further, and the match finished almost level. The one-time Italian dominance was reduced to a mere half an IMP, 197-196.5!

The final between Italy and Denmark gave spectators the opportunity to relax from the previous adrenaline-high day. Italy went ahead at the beginning of the match and stayed there until the end, thus winning the Ortiz-Patiño Trophy. At the same time, the United States prevailed over Poland to win the bronze medal.

With their victory, Italy joins Great Britain and the United States in the list of countries who have won the World Junior Team title twice. Other winners have been The Netherlands (1987), Germany (1993) and Denmark (1997). Denmark, however, has an incredible list of distinctions, having participated in the championship a record seven times (missing only the first two events of the series) and won a total of 5 medals (one gold, one silver and three bronze).

The 9th World Youth Team Championship was held in Saint Cloud, a picturesque and historic town on the western outskirts of Paris, from 18 to 28 August 2003.

All Zones of the World Bridge Federation were invited to participate in this prestigious tournament. Zone 1 (Europe) could enter up to five teams, including the team of the host country; Zones 2 (North America) and 6 (Pacific Asia) three teams; Zones 3 (South America) and 7 (South Pacific) two teams; and Zones 4 (Asia & Middle East), 5 (Central America) and 8 (Africa) one team. Conditionally, a sixth team could be - and was - accepted from Zone 1 (Europe). Participating players could be up to 26 years old.

The Championship consisted of a qualifying stage, semifinals, a final and a playoff for third place. The winners of the final were to be the new World Junior Champions; they were to receive the Ortiz-Patiño Trophy and silver replicas for each player and the non-playing captain. Those failing to qualify could participate in a Swiss Pairs contest, arranged exclusively for young people.

This was the ninth event of the series that was inaugurated in 1987 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. As a biennial competition, it was held in 1989 in Nottingham, Great Britain; in 1991 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; in 1993 in Århus, Denmark; in 1995 in Bali, Indonesia; in 1997 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; in 1999 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA, and in 2001 in Mangaratiba, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The host country won the Championship on the first three occasions, but this tradition was broken in 1993 by Germany. In 1995, Great Britain became the first country to win the title twice. Denmark won the title in 1997 and Italy in 1999. The reigning World Youth Champions were the United States of America.

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