4th IOC Grand Prix Page 4 Bulletin 2 - Sunday, 3 February  2002

Meet the Stars

We plan to present as many of the great Champions here in Salt Lake City as possible over the next five days. We start with the fantastic French Women, sponsored by Louis Vuitton, runners up in the most recent Venice Cup.

France - Venice Cup RunnersUp

"We send love from our hearts, and spades, diamonds and clubs too"
Thomas and Olivier were very young when they sent this message to their mother Veronique Bessis, five-times European Champion. The children are now grown, and today are members of the French Junior team. Bridge is a family affair with the team Bessis. Michel, the father, captain of the ladies team at the last European Championships, is a well-known champion and he is a regular commentator on bridge vision.

The Genius
She is considered by the experts as being the most gifted player of her generation. Catherine d'Ovidio has already participated in four European championships, and has won three gold medals and one silver. Married, she has one daughter, Elodie, 22. Catherine works as a credit controller for a gas company. She started playing bridge at the Le Raincy club in Villemomble, which is also where another gifted player, Michel Perron, began his bridge-playing career.

The Tom-Boy
Bénédicte Cronier has been playing for some years in the Open, the highest level of the French elite: few women to date have succeeded in gaining a place. Bénédicte has three European titles and is a world silver medallist. She also won the Women's Generali Masters. Parisian, mother of two children, she is married to Philippe Cronier, European champion, journalist and teaching director of the bridge university of the FFB.

Hereditary, my dear Watson
Sylvie Willard is one eight daughters of Irénée de Heredia, a well-known international director, who forbade his children from playing bridge until they had passed their baccalauréat. Mission accomplished, Sylvie became one of France's greatest players: five-times European champion and world silver medallist. She is married to François, international bridge director and a keen bowls player, just like their son, Fabrice, who was European Junior Bowls champion.

Meet The Players

Venice Cup Winners - Germany


The reigning Women's World Champions come from Germany.

Andrea Rauscheid

Born: 10.12.1963
Current home: Heidelberg
Profession: Medical Lab Assistant
Significant Bridge Partnerships: Beate (Pony) Nehmert

World Grandmaster since 2001. Her international success started in 1995 as runner-up at both the European Pairs and Teams Championships. In the same year she won Venice Cup in Beijing, China (with Nehmert, Auken, von Arnim, Caesar & Moegel). In China again, she was second at the Marlboro China Cup 1997. In 2000 she finished third at the Ladies Teams Olympiad at Maastricht, The Netherlands (with Nehmert, Auken, von Arnim, Farwig & Stawowy) and won the Women's IOC Grand Prix. At the European Ladies Teams Championships 2001 she won the Bronze Medal (with Nehmert, Auken, von Arnim, Farwig & Hackett) and with the same team she won the Venice-Cup 2001 at Paris.

Beate (Pony) Nehmert

Current home: Wiesbaden
Profession: Bridge Teacher
Significant Bridge Partnerships: Andrea Rauscheid

Her first international success was in 1991 winning the silver medal at both, the European Pairs and Teams Championships. Won 1993 Silver Medal in Venice Cup at Santiago, Chile (with Vogt, Zenkel - von Arnim, Caesar - Moegel) 1995 with Andrea Rauscheid she won Silver Medal at the European Teams and Pairs Championships. In the same year she won Venice Cup in Beijing, China (with Rauscheid, Auken, - von Arnim, Caesar - Moegel). Runner-up at the Marlboro China Cup in 1997. 2000 she came out third at the Ladies Teams Olympiade at Maastricht, The Netherlands (with Rauscheid, Auken, - von Arnim, Farwig - Stawowy) and won the IOC Grand Prix. At the European Ladies Teams Championships 2001 she won the Bronze Medal (with Rauscheid, Auken - von Arnim, Farwig - Hackett) and with the same team she won Venice-Cup 2001 at Paris.

Sabine Auken (nee Zenkel)

Born: January 4, 1965 in Bamberg, Germany.
Current Home: Charlottenlund, Denmark
Profession: Marketing Financial Products
Significant Partnerships: Daniela von Arnim &Jens Auken

Sabine may be only 36 years old, but she has already accumulated an impressive array of championship medals. A WBF World Master, she has appeared in seven Venice Cup competitions, winning twice and losing in the final once. Along the way she has collected two gold and three silver medals in European Championship Teams events, and has won four European Pairs Championships (three Ladies and one Mixed). Add to that, wins in all of the major German national championship events and a handful of US National titles and you can see why Auken and Daniela von Arnim are today widely-regarded as Europe's, and perhaps the World's, leading female partnership. Many American readers will remember Sabine's whirlwind visit in 1989. She broke the late Jeremy Flint's record of achieving Life Master status in 11 weeks by a full three weeks (although this record has since been beaten by an Icelandic international). She stayed in the US for a number of years and during that time was a regular on the US tournament circuit. Her bridge and life partnership with Danish lawyer Jens Auken, an international star in his own right, has led to Sabine's proudest moments so far - the birth of Jens Christian in April 1995 and Maximilian in June 1999.

Elke Weber

Current home: Bruehl near Heidelberg (where Steffi Graf comes from)
Profession: EDV Teacher
Significant Bridge Partnerships: Her husband

Elke is new to the team. She started playing Bridge at the age of 15, stopped for 11 years and started again in 1996. Her only international success to date was reaching the final in the Women's Pairs in Lille. In Germany she is a former Junior Champion and finished second in the last Women's Championship.

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