The 4 French teams qualified for the worlds and 3 medals won (updated 5/07/24)

Bridge in the Kingdom of Denmark

June 26: departure day for Anaïs and me.

June 27: arrival in Herning, at the championship venue!

June 28: the championship begins for us!

June 29: second day

June 30: the third day of the competition!

July 1: Day four

July 2: we have a good lead over the third and get closer to the Norwegians!

July 3: penultimate day and silver medal almost guaranteed

July 4: the medal!!

Bridge in the Kingdom of Denmark

by Vincent Labbé

The 56th European Team Championships are fast approaching. They will be played from 24 June to 4 July.


In the small city of Herning, in the heart of Denmark, in the Jutland peninsula. So, far away from the capital Copenhagen, which is located in the Danish Far East on the eastern island of Seeland.

© herningfolkeblad photo: Tom Laursen

How many events?

The Championships consist of 4 categories: Open, Women, Seniors and Mixed. The Women’s and Seniors’ Pairs Championships will be held ahead of the Team Championships.

How many teams?

Nearly 100 in total! 30 in Open, 22 in Women, 20 in Seniors and 23 in Mixed.

Which format?

No qualifiers followed by KO matches as for the Bermuda Bowl. The Championships will be played as a single complete round robin with all teams playing each other in 16-deal matches. This exhausting marathon will last 11 days for the Open Championship and 7 days for the other categories.

© MCH Herning Kongrescenter Photo: HORESTA

What is the recipe for success?

In this kind of long-distance race, regularity is the watchword of the favourite teams. Being heavily defeated by a team seen as weak (there are fewer and fewer of them…) is a huge missed opportunity which comes at a big price in the end. When two strong teams face each other, a clear victory keeps a potential rival at bay and these match points “count double” so to speak.

Who are the favourites?

During the previous Championships in Madeira, the Netherlands and Switzerland dominated the Open, leaving far behind Norway and even further Italy and Poland. These teams should be leading the race this time again. The event turned into an absolute disaster for France, ranked 15th out of 30. The French team can’t do any worse and will try to qualify for the World Championships. To do so, they will need to finish in the top 8 and the battle promises to be intense.

In Women, again, two nations should outclass their opponents: Poland and Sweden. A few outsiders will be on the lookout: Israel, Germany, Denmark and of course France (they finished 5th in Madeira).

In Seniors, Poland, the current title holder, is tipped to win again. Denmark, Sweden, Italy and Israel will be on their heels. France disappointed with a 9th place only in Madeira, but their medal hopes are real this time as players with years of experience on the international stage will be lined up.

Finally, in Mixed, France is currently on top of the world. They are the big favourites but will have to keep an eye on their usual contenders: Romania, Italy, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Israel and Belgium.

Place your bets!



Hervé FLEURY npc
Wilfried LIBBRECHT coach


Donatella HALFON

Stéphane GARCIA npc
Wilfried LIBBRECHT coach


Bénédicte CRONIER
Philippe CRONIER
Vanessa RÉESS

Nicolas DÉCHELETTE npc


Philippe CHOTTIN
Dominique PILON
Philippe SOULET

Wilfried LIBBRECHT coach

The Women team © FFB
The Seniors team © FFB

June 26: departure day for Anaïs and me.

by Margaux Kurek-Beaulieu

The 56th European Team Championships organized by the EBL take place in Herning, Denmark, in the form of four different championships: Open, Women, Seniors and Mixed.

For my part, I’ll have the chance to represent France in the women’s category for the first time, alongside my partner Anaïs Leleu, and my teammates Donatella Halfon, Marion Canonne, Anne-Laure Tartarin and Carole Puillet. We’ll be accompanied by our captain Stéphane Garcia.

We’ll be playing from June 28 to July 4 as will the Mixed and Senior teams, while the players of the Open category have already had their cards in hand since Monday. This way, all teams will be able to finish at the same time, and we hope to celebrate a few French medals!

The three pairs of our team ended up leaving each on their own:
Anne-Laure plays in the Women Pairs organized by the EBL during the four days preceding our championship, and thus left on the 23rd, accompanied by Carole. Then Marion, Donatella and Stéphane fly out on Thursday 27.
Out of ecological awareness, we decided to take the train, which will also be my mode of transport for the Youth Championships in Poland in July. 🚂

Hence, we make the trip Paris-Herning over two days, spending the night in Hamburg. A very pleasant trip, leaving us plenty of time to brush up on the system over some chocolate brioche, and allowing me to stay in Germany for the first time.

June 27: arrival in Herning, at the championship venue!

by Margaux Kurek-Beaulieu

We set off from Hamburg towards Denmark and took four different trains, arriving in Herning at 2 pm!

After arriving, we went to the opening ceremony: presentation of all the nations that participate in the championships. Just before, we were able to applaud Alain Lévy, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the European Bridge League. He is the fourth Frenchman to receive this distinction, which is designed to reward individual players. Alain Lévy will be taking part in this European Championship in the Senior category.

Photo credit: European Bridge League

We then headed to the restaurant for our first team meeting of the week! We finalized our various defences against the foreign systems, defined the line-up for the first day of the competition, and discovered the Danish kroner: it’s great to have a 500 banknote!

Meanwhile, the French Open team is currently 11th out of 30.
The objective is always to be in the top 8 to qualify for the World Championships.

The Open team with Thomas Bessis-Cédric Lorenzini, Jérôme Rombaut-Léo Rombaut and Pierre Franchescetti-Baptiste Combescure, accompanied by captain Hervé Fleury and coach Wilfried Libbrecht, who will also be my coach next week in the junior women’s team!

Photo credit: FFB

A deal from the Women Pairs narrated by Sofie Sjødal, member of Team Funbridge:

As East, I was declarer in 2♠.

I got the Jack of Diamonds as opening lead, which was overtaken with the King by North who played back a Club for my Jack and the Ace from South. The latter played another Diamond. North won with the Ace and played back a Heart to my Ace.

I now cashed my Ace of Spades and played a small Spade towards dummy. Fortunately, my opponent thought I had only two and inserted the 10 from Jack-10 fourth. That way I was able to see the bad break.

The remaining cards now were:

Now I played a Heart to my King and a Heart to ruff: South must discard something or ruff.
If she ruffs, I overruff to then play the Queen of Diamonds, ruff a Diamond and cash my Club trick. I can then play another Heart, and overruff if she ruffs in or ruff small if she doesn’t.

If instead, she decides to discard a Club, I ruff small, ruff the Diamond and cash my Club. Finally, I play a Heart to ruff / overruff.
At my table, she decided to get rid of her Diamond, so I ruffed, cashed my Club and played my last Spade to fell the Jack of Spades. I then ended by cashing the Queen of Diamonds and the 7 of Diamonds. »

The full deal:

June 28: the championship begins for us!

by Margaux Kurek-Beaulieu

Two playing rooms: the open room and the closed room. There’s also a “BBO room” for the tables that are transmitted on vugraph.

There are 22 teams in the Women’s, which leads to a total of 21 matches over seven days. We start the competition with a very good day: three wins against Germany (by 20 IMPs), Romania (29 IMPs) and Italy (8 IMPs). A good start that gives us confidence!

A deal from this first day, from the third match against the Italians:

My hand as South, green against green:

The player to my right opened 1 in third position. Since we don’t play that 3 shows Spades and Clubs, I overcalled 1♠. 2 to my left, 3♦ to my right and it was my turn again.
I decided to say 4♣, because I had a good chance of finding a fit and most importantly, it was not impossible that we could make a game: with the opening to my right, I had between three and four losers, and my partner may well have one or two cover cards!

My partner raised to 5♣, I got doubled by East and still made my contract easily after playing a Spade to the King. 550 in our column, thanks to Anaïs who evaluated her hand very well!

The full deal:

June 29: second day

by Margaux Kurek-Beaulieu

This time, we have four matches to play, and we start against the Faroe Islands.

My opponent and I, during this match

An interesting deal for bidding and play, from Anaïs’ point of view:

Sitting North, in first position, vulnerable against not:

Anaïs opened 1, her LHO overcalled 1♠ and opposite I bid 3♠, a Splinter, which shows four or five trumps, shortness in Spades and two key cards.
Despite the Ace opposite the shortness and the singleton Club, the hand doesn’t have enough extras to make any bid other than 4.

Over that, East said 5♣ and I passed, which shows in our system that I have no points in Clubs.
West corrected to 5♠. Anaïs, now re-evaluating her Club shortness as well as her points in Diamonds, decided to go for the small slam and bid 6.

Well done when you see the full layout:

After the opening lead of the King of Spades, Anaïs saw that to make her contract, she was not allowed to go wrong in Diamonds: she didn’t know if the Diamonds were 4-1, if East had a 5530 with three Diamonds… Fortunately, after Anaïs gave up a Club, East kindly played a Diamond, to our greatest pleasure!

We won the match by 47 IMPs, a big win that we had hoped for.

Next, we suffered our first defeat against the Israelis (-28 IMP), followed by a 34-IMP win over the Dutch. We finished this big day with a 3-IMP victory over the Icelanders. A good day despite a bad match!

So far, we’re third, as are the French Seniors, while the Open team is eleventh and the Mixed team fifth.

Photo credit: European Bridge League

Since this year, the French teams have had three different jerseys to play in, with each color of the French flag! Example with three players from the French mixed team: on the left Philippe Cronier, who plays with Bénédicte Cronier; in the middle Pierre Schmidt, partner of Joanna Zochowska; in red Vanessa Réess who plays with Laurent Thuillez.

June 30: the third day of the competition!

by Margaux Kurek-Beaulieu

Sadly, the day before, one of the Belgian Senior Team players, David Johnson, passed away, so we held a minute’s silence before starting the first match of the day, all standing in tribute to this great player.

During this day, we met the Belgians in the first round (+27 IMP), and then the Swedes (-5 IMP) and the Croatians (+13 IMP). We’re now in second place!

French through and through!

July 1: Day four

by Margaux Kurek-Beaulieu

The day starts well with a delicious breakfast
at the library next to our hotel.

The three nations we had to face this Monday were: Greece (-3 IMP), Spain (+31 IMP) and Switzerland (+45 IMP).

One deal from the match against Spain:

Anaïs opened 2, multi, and East ended up playing 3 No-trump. My lead. I didn’t really have any tricks, my only chance to beat this contract was to find my partner’s major and hope that despite East’s likely stopper in her suit she would have an entry to then cash her established tricks.  

With two Spades and four Hearts, I suspected Anaïs had the Spades! I therefore led the Ace of Spades and a Spade.

The full deal:

After winning her King of Spades, East needed to try the Club finesse to have any hope of making her contract. That way, Anaïs was able to cash all her Spades!
3SA -2 while in the other room – despite her partner’s 2♠ opening that took away the guessing game about the major – South preferred a neutral lead, which let through the contract.

July 2: we have a good lead over the third and get closer to the Norwegians!

by Margaux Kurek-Beaulieu

We started against Estonia. A bid and play deal to begin with, for South:

Anaïs opened 1NT and East passed. I found that I was two points short of transferring to Spades and then inviting with 3♠. That being said, I can imagine hands where you can make game with a maximum hand opposite. I chose to bid a “Golden Misère”, starting with a Stayman and then saying 2♠ over 2♦ or 2.

Over 2♣, West overcalled 2. I balanced with 2♠ as planned, and Anaïs now bid 3 to ask if I had the stopper. I bid 3♠, hoping she would understand that I had a six-card suit and a hand too weak to invite at the 3-level. Shen raised that to 4♠.

I thus played 4♠ on the lead of the King of Hearts. Well, I was allowed to lose only two Hearts and a Spade. After taking the two Hearts (East discarded on the second), West switched to a Diamond. I went up with the Ace and cashed three rounds of Clubs to discard the two Diamonds.

I ruffed a Diamond to get back to my hand so that I could ruff my third Heart in dummy. Then I played the Queen of Spades, ducked by East. I had to get back to my hand to draw the remaining trumps. I played another Club and saw that it was East who had four. I now knew the entire distribution: to my left, 7♥, 2, 3♣ and consequently only one Spade, which already fell on the Queen. On my right, 1, 4♦, 4♣ and therefore 4♠.

I thus ruffed with a small trump, keeping KJ9 in Spades against her A87 to only lose one trick in the suit.  In the other room, the bidding went 1NT-Pass-2-3-All Pass. We won 8 IMPs!

The full deal:

A funny deal from this match:

As South, I played in 3 Diamonds, bothered by the pre-empt (we have 11 tricks).

After I took the lead of the Queen of Hearts with my King, I played the Diamond King to give up the Diamond Ace and a Club trick. West won and continued with a Heart for dummy’s Ace. Ha! Now there could be a way to avoid losing the club trick. I crossed to hand with my Ace of Spades and cashed all my trumps, squeezing my opponents: West, who had to discard before dummy, could not keep her Heart, a high Club and her Jack of Spades doubleton. And East could not keep a Club and the guarded Queen of Spades.

When I played the last trump, I had ♠K10 2 in dummy and in my hand, I still had a Spade and my 3 of Clubs. As West had kept the doubleton Jack of Spades and her Heart, she had to discard the small Spade. I therefore discarded dummy’s Heart.
East, who still had Queen-doubleton in Spades and the Ace of Clubs, has chosen to keep the Spades and discard the Club. And there was the twelfth trick, won with my stiff 3 of Clubs!

We won the match by 30 IMPs and were very happy. For the second match of the day, we played against Turkiye and came out 17 IMPs ahead.

A very nice deal played by my teammate Donatella Halfon during this match:

“West led the 5 of Spades, and I ducked twice. On the third Spade, which I won with the Ace in dummy, West discarded a Diamond. I then played a Club to my Queen, taken with the Ace by West who played back a Club. I thought that the Club return located the King of Hearts to my left, so I drew all the Clubs and Diamonds and exited with a Diamond so that she had to lead away from her Heart King.

3 No-trump just made after a beautiful endplay not found by the opponent in the other room, well played to her! 

We ended the day with a big win over Ireland (40-1 IMPs, the only IMP lost being solely my fault), which widened the gap with the third-placed team.

Women’s ranking:

Open ranking:

Mixed ranking:

Seniors ranking:

July 3: penultimate day and silver medal almost guaranteed

by Margaux Kurek-Beaulieu

First match of the day against the host country: Denmark. 
We had a noteworthy grand slam that was played and made in both rooms:

We won the match by 12 IMPs, thanks to a beautiful defence by Anaïs:

I opened with 1♣ and repeated my Clubs at the 3-level, while the opponents bid and raised Hearts to the 4-level. Anaïs led the 6 of Clubs.
Declarer ruffed in dummy and then let the Queen of Hearts run to Anaïs’s King. To beat the contract, we needed three more tricks. Anaïs played a Spade away from her King, to my Ace. I played back a Spade to the King and ruffed a Spade. If Anaïs had played a neutral defence, the declarer would have made her contract easily.
4 -1 thanks to an active defence!

The next match, against the Polish, was won by 25 IMPs. An important match, given that the Polish ladies were not far behind us! 

We finished this penultimate day with a big win over the Hungarians (+54 IMP), which virtually assured us the silver medal! Nonetheless, we’ll have to apply ourselves tomorrow if we want to catch up with the Norwegians, who are still in the lead, with a margin of 8 VP! 

Some interesting deals from this match:

My hand as South:

None vulnerable, West opened 1♣, Anaïs overcalled 1♥, East passed and it was my turn. Despite my six-card suit in Diamonds I said 1, otherwise it would be too complicated to describe my two-suiter without forcing to game (I only had 12 and my partner might have overcalled with only 7 or 8 points), I also had ugly Diamonds and Ace-King of Clubs, so there was little point in showing my Diamonds. 

West repeated her Clubs at the 2-level, and Anaïs raised to 2. For this bid, she often has four cards in the suit and less than opening values because with four cards and more points she would make a cue-bid, whereas with only three cards she would prefer a support Double.
East then bid 3♣ and it was back to me. I didn’t know if I should force to game or make a game try, and if so how. I ended up choosing to bid 3, so that Anaïs would know that she had to devalue a possible King-Queen of Hearts whereas her hand would be stronger if she had something in Diamonds. With the King of Diamonds doubleton, she thus said 4♠ despite her 9 points. 4 Spades just made after a good judgment by Anaïs!

The full auction:

The full deal:

One last good decision by Anaïs:We are non-vulnerable against vulnerable.

After a 1 opening by East, I doubled for take-out and Anaïs had to decide what to do. She very rightly passed, which allowed us to pick up a heavy penalty. In the other room, on South’s Double, the Hungarian sitting North preferred to bid her Hearts and they ended up going three down in 3♠.

A good last match for Anaïs and me, as tomorrow we’ll be cheering on our partners, who will play both, the match against England and then the match against our direct rivals, the Norwegians. A final match that promises to be decisive! 

Anaïs and I, accompanied by Zoey, Donatella’s daughter,
who came to cheer on her mom and all the French teams! 

July 4: the medal!!

by Margaux Kurek-Beaulieu

We followed both matches live on BBO.

We won the first one by 30 IMPs, putting us within 10 VP of the leaders! We did the math: we needed to beat the Norwegians by 21 IMPs to win gold. We believed in it!

Despite a victory over the Norwegians, we finished 1.5 VP behind them. But we’re very happy with our silver medal, especially as this is the first Women’s Championship for Anaïs and me!

The other teams have all fulfilled their objectives:the Seniors won the bronze medal, the Mixed team came second like us, and the Open team managed to qualify for the World Championships! This is the first time that all four French teams have qualified.

Women’s ranking:

Anne-Laure Tartarin, Margaux Kurek Beaulieu, Marion Canonne, Carole Puillet, Donatella Halfon, Anaïs Leleu, capitane Stéphane Garcia.

Mixte’s ranking:

Nicolas Dechelette, capitaine, Philippe et Bénédicte Cronier, Laurent Thuillez, Joanna Zochowska, Pierre Schmidt, Vanessa Réess.

Senior’s ranking:

Alain Lévy, Hervé Vinciguerran Philippe Chottin, Marc Bompis, Dominique Pilon, Philippe Soulet, captain Guy Lasserre with a thought for Michel Abécassis.

Open’s ranking:

Léo Rombaut, Baptiste Combescure, Cédric Lorenzini, Thomas Bessis, Jérôme Rombaut, Pierre Franceschetti, captain Hervé Fleury

Photo’s crédit: French Bridge Federation

I had a great week in Herning, there was a lot of solidarity between the French teams, and within our team, everything went perfectly. We may not have won, but we certainly have the nicest team!

Thank you to Dona, Marion, Anne-Laure, Carole, Stéphane, Wilou and my great and awesome partner Anaïs. Can’t wait to get back out there together!

Now it’s off to Wroclaw, Poland, to play in the European Girls’ Championships with another great team: Clara, my partner, and Wil, Constance, Élise and Zoey. Again accompanied by Wilou, we’re going to try to get back on the podium! 

What did you think of this article by Vincent Labbé and Margaux Kurek-Beaulieu? 

Share your view in the Comments section below. 


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