France became the first U31 World Champions

The French delegation came to Veldhoven for the second year in a row. But this time, for the World Youth Team Championships. We arrived with high expectations for three of our teams: U26, U21 and U26W. The first were reigning European Champions and the other two Vice-European Champions.

But the very good news came from the French U31 team. They had nearly grabbed a medal at the first European Championships in this category and made up for it by winning the first World Championships with a revamped team. It consisted of Raphaël Basler, Mélic Dufrene, Pierre Bedouet, Colin Deheeger, Romaric Guth and Luc Bellicaud.

Having been very close to them, I can tell that the atmosphere and Hervé Fleury’s captaincy have played a big part in their success, at least as much as their bridge level and seriousness at the table.

Hervé Fleury and Team France U31

However, the competition hadn’t started very well…

The competition hadn’t started very well, with -0.18 VPs after their first match. That’s not common! But they remained serene despite headwinds and qualified for the knockouts quite easily, finishing 5th with over one match clear of the rest. Here is a board from a very important match against the favourites, Poland:

Dealer North. None Vul.

Veldhoven U31 full hands

The same 4♠️ contract is played by East in both rooms. In the closed room, the French pair Bellicaud-Guth cashes their two Clubs and declarer can no longer make his contract.

In the open room, the Polish player sitting South cashes only one Club and returns the Queen of Diamonds. Colin Deheeger is not asking for more to win: the King of Diamonds takes the trick, then King of Hearts. He gets back to the dummy with the Ace of Spades to cash the Ace of Hearts and discard the losing Club. And now… the secret weapon! Declarer runs the 10 of Diamonds. If South had won with the Jack, Diamonds would have been established and Colin Deheeger would have probably managed to lose one trump only. But here the 10 was ruffed in South and the opposing side cashed only two trumps (that ruff and the Queen) as well as one Club only. This board contributed to a major win against a very strong team in the round robin (28-21 IMPs). The U31 team faced them again in the quarterfinals and it turned to be their hardest match before they did better in the semifinals and final.

To take the gold, the French defeated Belgium who never made up for their poor start in the first two segments (the French led by 45 halfway). Our U31 won the final by 159-136.🥳

Joys and sorrows in other categories

The French Girls had a very tight final against the favourites, Poland. They were defeated by 11 IMPs only after a 56-board final. As a captain, I’m proud of their journey because they were the youngest participants and finished second in the round robin before taking the silver medal. Our U26W team had two players aged 15 and 16! Ninon Bens (15 years old) and Eulalie Bonin (16 years old) played a lot and greatly contributed to the good results achieved by the Girls.

Team France U26W

The French U21 finished third in the qualifying stage (out of eight teams who went forward). But they lost by just 14 IMPs against the eventual winners, Denmark, in the quarterfinals. I could see the huge disappointment on their faces after the defeat. Most of these players have reached the age limit in this category and will have to fight to get a place on the U26 team this winter.

In the two remaining categories, U26 and U16, the French teams didn’t reach the knockout stage (from the quarterfinals). Of course, their journey cannot be compared. The U16 had been drafted, so this competition was meant to be an opportunity for them to gain experience. The U26 teams are the showpiece event of the championships. All matches are complicated. And our French team, despite being the defending European Champions, couldn’t make it. They didn’t play as well as last year, but they were also unlucky.

All podiums


🥇 NETHERLANDS. Youp CARIS, Pim DUPONT, Oscar NIJSSEN, Stefan THORPE, Tim VAN DE PAVERD, Sibrand VAN OOSTEN, Agnes SNELLERS (captain) and Wubbo DE BOER (coach).

🥈 SINGAPORE. Heng GAO, Linus LEE, Xue Heng TEO, Timothy Jian Zhong WU, Nuoyi XU, Bryan YANG, Jiening XU (captain) and Shen Ting ANG (coach).

🥉 POLAND. Jakub BAZYLUK, Krzysztof CICHY, Maciej KEDZIERSKI, Tomasz KIELBASA, Kacper KOPKA, Blazej KRAWCZYK and Marek MARKOWSKI (captain).


🥇 POLAND. Milena GRYZLO, Magdalena KAPALA, Ewa MORAWSKA, Maria NIKLAUS, Dominika OCYLOK, Joanna ZALEWSKA and Rafal MARKS (captain) ;

🥈 FRANCE. Constance BELLOY, Ninon BENS, Eulalie BONIN, Clara BOUTON, Margaux KUREK-BEAULIEU, Wilhelmine SCHLUMBERGER and Wilfried LIBBRECHT (captain).

🥉 NORWAY. Kaja BREKKE, Thea Hove HAUGE, Thea Lucia INDREBO, Agnethe Hansen KJENSLI, Ida Marie OEBERG, Sofie Grasholt SJODAL, Sven Olai HOYLAND (captain) and Kristian ELLINGSEN (coach).


🥇 DENMARK. Nikolaj HAMMELEV, Christian LAHRMANN, Andreas ROLF-LARSEN, Aron TYLVAD, Daniel TYLVAD, Nikolaj Alexander ZEEBERG and Jan JORGENSEN (captain).

🥈 USA2. Michael HAAS, Michael HU, Samuel PAHK, Rory XIAO, Jonathan YUE, Arthur ZHOU and Aaron SILVERSTEIN (captain).

🥉 ISRAEL. Or MANZUR, Ido MOSKOVITZ, Daniel MSIKA, Ofek SABBAH, Yonatan SLIWOWICZ, Snir ZUR and Danny LOONSTEIN (captain).


🥇 FRANCE. Raphaël BASLER, Pierre BEDOUET, Luc BELLICAUD, Colin DEHEEGER, Mélic DUFRENE, Romaric GUTH and Hervé FLEURY (captain).


🥉 INDIA. Wrik CHAKRABORTY, Swarnashish CHATTERJEE, Pritam DAS, Souvik KAR, Sayantan KUSHARI, Sagnik ROY and Shibnath Dey SARKAR (captain, coach).


🥇 POLAND. Aleks BUKAT, Szymon GRABALA, Kacper KISIELEWSKI, Milena KLIMIUK, Jan LUCZECZKO, Jakub MICHALSKI, Roland LIPPIK (captain) and Marcin KUFLOWSKI (coach).

🥈 USA2. Daniel BALOF, Jack BOGE, Claire CAO, Ethan DERMAN, Avery SILVERSTEIN, Jeffrey YIN and Kent MIGNOCCHI (captain).

🥉 USA1. Andrew CHEN, Charlie CHEN, Kayden GE, Eric XIAO, Jeff XIAO, Brian ZHANG and William WATSON (captain).

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