La Grande-Motte: a reminder of summer

Festival La Grande Motte

The 47th International Festival of La Grande-Motte was orchestrated masterfully by Christiane Barnabé, supported by a swarm of volunteers and a team of exceptional directors (Jean-François Chevalier, Yves Azoulay, Éric Bourgeaux and the local director, Jean-Pierre Cédelle).

Post-Covid, the festival is struggling to regain its normal number of players. It has to be said that it suffered this year from the absence of several international-level pairs, who were playing at the World Championships in Marrakech at the same time. However, the management team spoils festival attendees by offering a whole range of tournaments and catering some to pairs that do not contain any player ranked in the first series of the French national ranking system. Their self-sacrifice will eventually pay off, especially since La Grande-Motte and, more generally, la Petite Camargue are ideal destinations for having a final sunbathe before returning to bridge.

Play in full swing

Marc Mus, the man of the festival

Lionel Sebbane and Marc Mus

Catherine and Marc Mus decided, a few years ago, to put a slight brake on competitive bridge in order to indulge in bridge for leisure more frequently, notably at festivals. Nevertheless, they lost none of their skill level, as may be witnessed by their results this year again at La Grande-Motte and in particular, those of Marc, who collected two titles and two silver medals.

When I asked him for a deal to symbolise this success, his modesty led him to highlight his partner, Lionel Sebbane, in a deal from the Open Pairs.

Donne 1

The bidding sequence:


West’s second double is once again take-out, with a very strong hand, which led East to convert the double into penalties. The deal is just as interesting in the defence as it is in the declarer play. West, thinking North-South to be in a mess and about to suffer a heavy penalty, cashed the Ace and King of Clubs and then, seeing his partner show an odd number of cards in the suit, cashed the Ace and King of Diamonds and played a diamond to Dummy’s Queen. Lionel Sebbane, as South, did not let his luck pass him by: he discarded a heart on the Queen of Diamonds, played a spade to the 9 (East’s pass revealing a hand with trump length), a heart to the King, spade to the 8, Ace of Hearts and a heart ruffed; then, he finished with a final finesse in Trumps. Making nine tricks in 3 Spades Doubled gave them a score of 99% on the deal. The defending side committed the error of giving away a third entry in diamonds to the dummy. The correct defence, after two rounds of clubs, is to play the King of Diamonds so that Partner gives count in the suit, whereas cashing the Ace would be asking for an attitude signal (to see whether East held the King or not); as it happens, West would then know that playing a diamond would give Declarer the contract and should play a club.

Sarah Combescure: the calm successor

Against La Grande-Motte’s old sea dogs, the young Sarah Combescure and her partner, Michèle Marché, were able to hoist the mainsail in the Open Pairs tournament, only to fall into second place, a few hundredths of a percent away from the winners.

Sarah Combescure and Michèle Marché

Sarah proved herself on several deals, including this example. What is the lead you would have selected as West with the following hand?


Against the contract of 3 Hearts that was bid on this sequence:


Sarah knows the classics and chose to lead the 3 of Spades rather than her singleton diamond. With four good trumps, it is preferable to lead from your length in the hope of forcing Declarer. Here is the full deal:


As it happened, the technique did not, in theory, pay off, as Declarer can make ten tricks no matter what the lead. In practice, the traveller for the deal shows, however, that 83% of the players in South made ten or eleven tricks on the lead of the singleton diamond, whereas only 50% of them were able to do so on the spade lead, as reading the layout of the opponents’ hands was then more complicated. In the long run, this significant improvement made all the difference, as was the case for Sarah and Michèle.

The prize list


  1. Fabien Lacroix, Dominique Maurin, Philippe Poizat, Jérémie Tignel
  2. Bernard Cabanes, François Duffour, Éric Gautret, Marc Mus
  3. Catherine Mus, Hélène Zuccarelli Trajman, Lionel Sebbane, Romain Tembouret
La remise des prix
The prize-giving

IMP Pairs

  1. Éric Gautret – Lionel Sebbane  139.4
  2. Maryse Saada – Henry Boucher  115.8
  3. Jennifer Mourgues – Romain Tembouret   98.6

Open Pairs reserved for the 4th, 3rd and 2nd series

  1. Robert Ligny – Charles Makinadjian   63.54%
  2. Christine Bonnet – Pierre Bonnet  58.78%
  3. Monique Poot – Jean-Marie Bergonier 58.78%

Mixed Pairs reserved for the 4th, 3rd and 2nd series

  1. Floriane Fournier – Guy Trigatti   61.78%
  2. Monique Poot – Jean-Marie Bergonier  59.80%
  3. Janick Derasse – Frédéric Daumas   56.06%

Ladies’ Pairs

  1. Dominique Da Ros – Hélène Zuccarelli Trajman  67.98%
  2. Gilberte Dalle – Marianne Sinègre  61.92%
  3. Michèle Isoard – Marina Saman  61.37%

Gentlemen’s Pairs

  1. Alain Bertrand – Marc Mus  64.56%
  2. Lionel Sebbane – Romain Tembouret  64.04%
  3. Pierre Fougerouse – Jean-Paul Kremer  63.42%

Grand Mixed Pairs

  1. Arlette Frey – Régis Lesguillier  64.57%
  2. Sylvie Dumon – Marc Mus  62.15%
  3. Renata Saporta – Pierre Saporta  60.99%
Fin de compétition
Fin de compétition !

Grand Open Pairs

  1. Lionel Sebbane – Marc Mus  62.44%
  2. Michèle Marché – Sarah Combescure  62.32%
  3. Landry Andréa – Jean-François Kieffer  62.27%

Things to see in La Grande-Motte

La Grande-Motte’s beach
Grande Motte
La Grande-Motte’s architecture
The golf courses
Palais des congrès
The Congress Palace

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