Who will win the Central European Youth Pairs and Team Championships? Teams from seven countries came to measure their skills: Poland, Slovakia, Estonia, Norway, Hungary, Germany, and the Czech Republic. For the fifth year, the youth representatives had the opportunity to compete at the November youth bridge event.
This year enormous interest resulted in limiting the age of invited participants. Players competed in two categories: U16 and 17-25. A total number of 24 teams (over 100 players) tested the capacity of the Prague bridge club: 10 teams in the U16 category and 14 teams in the 17-25 category.
Youth players in the heart of Europe
The capital of the Czech Republic, Prague, is called “Heart of Europe” and is a perfect location for such events. The championship took place at the Prague Bridge Club, which, with its convenient location in the city center, offered participants the opportunity to visit the most famous historical monuments.
All captains and coaches deserve a big credit for organizing the youth groups. Playing online can be fun, but everyone enjoys meeting in person, forming new friendships, and building the future bridge community.
“The youngest pair of the competition were born in 2013.”
Adam Stachura and Antonina Chmielewska from team CKiS Swawina U14
The format of the championship has always adapted to the number of participants which is changing till the very last moment.
On Friday, November 17, the European Youth Pairs Championship kicked off with 26 pairs in the U16 category and 23 pairs in the 17-25 category. During the weekend of November 18-19, the program continued with the team event. On Saturday, we played the qualification of 7 rounds of 7 boards as a “Swiss”, and on Sunday we played a four-team A final for each category separately. The remaining 16 teams formed groups of four based on their ranking in the qualification and, like the finalists, played 3×10 boards against each other in their group. The top three teams from the A finals were rewarded with titles and trophies. The winners in the groups of four received medals.
Poland U16 White (left) and SLO-POL U24 (right)
“Can we spend the night at your place?”
Since most Czech bridge players live in Prague, many Czech bridge tournaments are held at the Prague bridge club. However, Havířov, a town in the very East of the Czech Republic, is considered to be the Czech youth center. It is not surprising that young players traveling to Prague look for overnight stays with local bridge players.
Planning is not the strength of the youth players. When I was asked by several players 3 days before the competition if they could stay at my place, I had to find a better solution. Thanks to the Czech Bridge Federation we arranged a hotel room. Yet, we needed someone to stay with them as a supervisor. Daniel Vachtarcik, the head of Havirov Bridge Academy, volunteered to share an 8-bed room with the kids, saying:
“If I survive this, I think I’ll survive everything.”
Milan Macura (Main organizer) and Daniel Vachtarcik (head of Havirov Bridge Academy)
I am still afraid to text him how it went since the Czech juniors like to spend their evenings with musical instruments and sing till the early hours.
Play with the champions on their road to victory
In the first final match, Czechia U23 faced the combined team from Slovakia and Poland (SLO-POL U24). The experience of all players promised good bridge.
From left: Adam Pyszko (South), Richard Gabriel (West), Zdenek Tomis (North), Emilie Sykorova (East)
Board nr. 3 of the first final match
The 2♠ opening is in the junior aggressive spirit – at least 5 spades. 3rd seat, Zdenek Tomis sitting North had no ambition to play a game, so he tried to make life uncomfortable for his opponents. Emilie Sykorova (East) bid 3♥ and her partner Richard Gabriel was brave enough to raise to game.
The lead was the ♠6 (top from 3, low from 2). Zdenek took it with the ♠A and returned the ♣A to get a ruff. Unfortunately for him, Emilie overruffed his ♥9 with the ♥10. Then declarer played the ♥Q which was covered by the King and ♥6 dropped from North. Would you cash hearts from top to drop both remaining trumps or would you cross to the East hand and finesse the ♥83 in South?
This was the trump combination left with the actual layout.
If your opponents open 6-card suits, playing the finesse seems to be better. Yet, Emilie knows the opponents and their style and she decided to play for the drop and made the contract.
On the other table, North didn’t push the opponents with the preempt and they have landed in a 3♥ contract. 10 IMPs for the SLO-POL team.
This deal is a perfect example that sometimes a preempt can help opponents both in the bidding and in card play.
Here is the full deal. All tables generated big swings on this deal, check all the scores here.
Team SLO-POL won the match 27-1 and had a great starting position of the finals.
Another swing deal came on board 7 of the same match.
Everybody vulnerable, partner passes in the first seat and your right-hand opponent opens 1♥. What is your bid with this hand?
Seems that this deal belongs to the opponents since we do not have many defensive values and a 7-card suit without an Ace. The 2♣ overcall should show interest to fight for a contract. It is correct to bid 3♣ as a preempt and make it more difficult for the opponents to find a spade fit.
The bidding continues with 4♥ from East and it your partner’s turn. What do you bid now with the South hand?
Your partner preempted vulnerable so he should have a good suit. You can expect a 7-card suit led by the Ace. You can cover all the heart losers and if you lead a heart or a diamond, you should have time to discard the spades if partner has more than one. Therefore bid 6♣ and hope for the best.
Two tables in the U16 final reached 6♣ and we do not blame West to double. Only one team ended up in a spade contract which is the best for EW line. And, nobody found the best defense against a heart contract that can collect 5 tricks if you manage to get two spade ruffs.
See the full hand and all the scores here.
And the winners are…
1. Michal Vodička – Boris Körös (Slovakia)
2. Mirkó Juhász-Molnár – Dénes Tökés (Hungary)
3. Emma Konštacká – Pavla Slováková
1. Bernard Kula – Jakub Bereza (Poland)
2. Jasper Vahk – Albert Pedmanson (Estonia)
3. Wojciech Wnuk – Janek Kot (Poland)
1. Poland U16 White (Klimiuk M.,
Stežala J., Michalski J., Stežala F.)
2. CKiS Skawina U14 (Chmielewska A.,
Mazur A., Mróz B., Stachura A.)
3. Warsaw U16 (Adamczak J., Miszczuk K., Trojanska M., Brzozowski M.)
1. SLO-POL U24 (Gabriel R.,
Sýkorová E., Pilat J, Nawrocki J.)
2. Norway U21 (Austad K.,
Austad M., Brogeland A., Osen E.)
3. Poland U21 Red (Bždziuch J.,
Luber J., Janik M., Šwiatkowski K.)
What about your point of view?
Once again, we managed to create a great friendly atmosphere. We could see that the kids really enjoyed the tournament. From our long experience, such events promote motivation of young bridge players and help to strengthen and expand the community.
What do you think of our efforts? Do you know of other youth tournaments we can recommend to our young players? Share your view in the commentary section below.