A First For Bridge
A narrow victory to Sweden in the World Junior Pairs Championship gave them their second win in this tournament, but the first by an all-female partnership in this or any other Open event at World Championship level.
The World Youth Pairs championships is a four-session event, and this year it attracted a total of 420 young players from 34 countries and 5 of the 8 WBF geographical zones. The pre-tournament favourites, Krzysztof Kotorowicz and Jacek Kalita of Poland, together with Joe Grue and John Kranyak of the United States, very quickly went to the top of the leaderboard. But they were not far ahead of the field; indeed Sara SIVELIND and Cecilia RIMSTEDT led after the first session and were never lower than third at any point in the event from then on.
With one session to go, these three pairs were clearly going to be tough to beat. Although Josh Donn and Jason Feldman of the USA (part of the team to be playing at the 2006 World Youth Team Championships one month later) briefly threatened the leaders, the surprise move came from Marion Michielsen and Vincent de Pagter of the Netherlands. They had a 65% game from 12th place – which would normally have been enough to rise to the top of the field – but while Grue and Kranyak were slipping back, both the other two pairs were putting together nice games, and had opened a gap between themselves and the rest of the field.
With four boards to go the two top pairs were separated by 10MP with top on a board being 140. On the penultimate deal Sivelind/Rimstedt bid a higher-scoring small slam than the Poles had managed with their cards, and took back the lead. But it all came down to the Swedes’ last deal. With both sides vulnerable they collected +600 in 5♣ for an above average result. But the Poles had a chance to take 800 from 3♥ doubled, which would net them the gold if they managed the feat. Alas for them they only registered 500, and the Swedes held on for what was not only a momentous victory but also a hugely popular one too.
In the first ever World Schools Pairs Championship event no further proof of the efficacy of the Polish training system for bridge should be necessary, other than to say that six of the top 12 pairs were from Poland, including the top two places. The winners, Bartlomiej IGLA and Artur MACHNO just managed to overtake the leaders at the end of the third session, Andrzej Bernatowicz and Jan Betley. But the real drama was over who would finish in the bronze medal placing. Separated by ½ a matchpoint out of 5000, the French medalists Pierre Franceschetti and Andrea Landry of France held off a pair from Latvia, denying that country what would have been its first medal in a world championship event.
The tournament was the first World Championship event to be run in Slovakia, and it is a testament to the efficiency of the organizers that it went without a hitch, despite the fact that the membership of the Slovakian Federation must be one of the smallest in Europe. Piestany turned out to be an ideal venue, with a comfortable hotel, generous playing conditions, and highly competent onsite organizers.
The change of cycle in the WBF Youth Program delayed this biennial event for one year, but it has made a strong come back. The 6th World Youth Pairs Championship was the first to be run in two series: for Juniors and Schools players. In Tata 2003, one quarter of the 378 young participants belonged to the Schools category (up to 20 years old), and this is enough to justify a separate series and world title.
The World Youth Pairs Championship is the natural supplement to the World Youth Teams competition for the Ortiz-Patiño Trophy, and a necessary part of the WBF Youth Program for the development of bridge among young people worldwide. The World Youth Pairs Championship is designed to be a massive event in order to promote friendly contact between Juniors as much as possible. This is accomplished by not limiting the number of entries from any country, allowing the participation of transnational pairs, and by not splitting the competition into diverting stages.
The World Youth Pairs is a biennial tournament, conveniently held in conjunction with the World Junior Camp on consecutive dates and at the same or nearby places. This arrangement follows the successful European format, and the WBF Committee wishes to thank the European Bridge League and the Slovak Bridge Association, this year’s hosts, for their support in this effort. The Youth Committee is confident that all NBOs will encourage and support their Junior players to participate in the World Youth Pairs Championship and looks forward to welcoming them to Piestany.
Do you wish to play in Piestany but you are no longer a Junior? No problem!
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