The Curtain Came Down on Strasbourg ETC (News of 28 June)

Presentation Open Strasbourg

Funbridge has covered the entire 10th European Open! This article was updated as the competition progressed to bring you all the latest news.

After two weeks of fierce competition, the 10thEuropean Transnational Championships ended with a terrific performance of the locals Vinciguerra vs France Green in the last session. It was Thomas Bessis, Marc Bompis, Cédric Lorenzini, Franck Multon (Monaco), Philippe Soulet and Hervé Vinciguerra who captured the Open Teams title, the flagship competition of the event. The runners-up were Julien Bernard, Alain Lévy, Nicolas Lhuissier, Erick Mauberquez, Jérôme & Léo Rombaut. With two teams taking the top two places, France was at its zenith. Thomas Bessis already won the competition back in 2007. Ditto for Philippe Soulet who had the gold medal hanging around his neck at the inaugural edition 20 years ago exactly.

France on top of Europe

But they are not the only French heroes of the fortnight. France Seniors (Albert Bitran, Philippe Chottin, Michel Claret, Hervé Fleury, Jean-Pierre Rocafort and François Stretz) became the new Senior Teams Champions. Albert Bitran and François Stretz even won another gold medal in the Seniors Pairs ahead of two Polish pairs.

The French medal harvest started on Week 1 in the Mixed Teams. Turnips (Pierre Franceschetti, Donatella Halfon, Cédric Lorenzini, Quentin Robert, Anne-Laure Tartarin and the Swiss Hilda Setton) captured the title after an epic journey. +2 in quarterfinals, +7 in semifinals and +6 in finals… Note that Cédric Lorenzini left Strasbourg with two gold medals as the Bitran-Stretz pair. Among other results, the Rosenbergs were the convincing winners of the Mixed Pairs with an average score of 63.17%. The Open Pairs saw Sabine Auken and Roy Welland triumph. They became the first pair to win this event twice, having also won in 2013. The Women’s Teams was won by Tri Polar, a quadrinational team with the Italian Irene Baroni, Thomas Bessis’ wife. The Women’s Pairs went to the Turks Hatice Özgür and Dilek Yavas.

The French still in the spotlight

Finally, in the Open BAM, France Purple (Jean-Luc Aroix, Bénédicte & Philippe Cronier, Wilfried Libbrecht, Franck Riehm, Jérémie Tignel) took silver and Daisy Chain (Dennis Bilde, Pierre Franceschetti, Agustin Madala, Quentin Robert, Hilda Setton) bronze. Philippe Cronier is now the most decorated EBL male player with 8 medals, one podium away from his female counterpart, the Pole Justyna Zmuda. France is the top medal winner among European countries with a total of 146 European medals ahead of the Netherlands with 120.

It’s hard to say goodbye…

These two weeks of celebrations in Strasbourg were the occasion for players to get together, discuss and most importantly play their best bridge. Next stop: the World Championships in Marrakech in August.

Archive: 15 June 2023 by Mark Horton

The best deals of the tournament!

Mark Horton shares some of the interesting deals he saw being played at the Open, find out more below:

Breaking up is hard to do

The last round of the Open Teams Round Robin saw 1 over 2 face PSG. The match started in dramatic fashion:

Board 21. Dealer North. N-S Vul.


Bidding slowly to 4 ♠ allowed West to judge that a trump lead might be advantageous and Julien Gaviard started with the ♠3. Declarer won in hand and played the ♦10, West winning and returning his remaining Spade, thereby ensuring that declarer would not be able to ruff a losing Heart in dummy.

In dummy with the ♠A declarer called for the ♦Q, his idea being to discard a losing Heart. He would subsequently be able to discard another Heart on a winning Diamond after drawing the outstanding trump. When East unexpectedly ruffed the ♦Q there was no point in overruffing so declarer discarded a Heart.

So far the defence had been immaculate, but now East fell at the final fence. When his partner followed with the middle Diamond spot, Michel Bessis played a top Heart – the natural play but a fatal one, when declarer accurately ducked.

South could win the return of either a Club or a Heart in hand and run his trumps to reach this position:

Full Game

The ♠10 delivers a simultaneous double squeeze. West must unguard Clubs, and when the now redundant ♦J is discarded from dummy, East is squeezed in Clubs and Hearts.

The winning defence is for East to switch to a Club rather than a Heart. Then, when declarer ducks a Heart, the defenders can win and play a second Club, breaking up the squeeze.

Gheorghe Chipail had a magnificent +620 only to discover that his teammates had finished up in 5 Hearts doubled and conceded a penalty of -1700 which meant a loss of 14 IMPs. Although his team won the match 37-15, they failed to qualify by 0.28 of a victory point!

Mind over Matter

At any major championship with so many tables in play you are sure to hear about many spectacular deals. Here is something extraordinary from a hand from Round 9 of the Open Teams:

Dealer North. NS Vul.


The player on your right opens 1NT, his partner raises to 2NT and the opener advances to 3NT. Your lead?

Before you place a Heart on the table, you notice that your partner has doubled 3NT.

An unexpected double of 3NT is frequently played a request for partner to lead his shorter major (on one occasion, Omar Sharif made such a double holding five winning Spades but his partner Paul Chemla was void in the suit!) so East went with the ♠Q.

Board 21. Dealer North. NS Vul.


Open room:


The logic behind West’s double is immaculate. North-South have limped into 3NT marking partner with decent values, which one can hope will be favourably placed over declarer. The 4-1-4-4 shape suggests that suits will not be breaking.

The contract went three down – how many tricks do you think West took?

When the ♠Q was not covered East continued with the Jack. When that also held, East switched to a Diamond and declarer won in dummy and tried a Club to the 8, East winning with the 10 and exiting with a Diamond. Declarer won, crossed to the ♥Q and tried a Club to the King, but East could win, cash the ♣Q and exit with a Diamond, taking two Heart tricks at the end. That’s seven tricks, all taken by East!

You might be shaking your head at West’s double, but consider this: if you switch the position of the black Kings, declarer will still have no more than eight tricks. In the other room, East led the ♥4 against 3 No-Trump and declarer emerged with seven tricks and 12 IMPs.

3 No-Trump was reached at 104 tables in the Open Women’s event combined. You can guess how many times it was doubled…

Technical Variations

This deal from Round 7 offered up an opportunity for some classical play:

Board 10. Dealer East. All Vul.


It is not unreasonable to reach 6♥ with the EW cards. Suppose North leads the ♠A and continues the suit, forcing declarer to ruff. How to continue?

It is easy to see that if the Diamonds are 3-3 you will always score 12 tricks. Even if the Hearts are 5-0 you can score 12 tricks, as long as South has three cards in each of the minor suits. However, a 3-3 break is not that likely, and your first thought should be to look for something stronger.

If trumps are 3-2 and you ruff three Spades in hand you will have 12 tricks without needing the Diamonds to break. You will have successfully completed a dummy reversal, a technique that is frequently overlooked. Suppose at trick three declarer crosses to dummy with a trump, ruffs a Spade and then goes back to dummy with another trump intending to ruff dummy’s remaining Spade. North’s discard will be a nasty shock, but not necessarily fatal, as provided declarer can cash three tricks in each of the minor suits, the last two tricks can be scored via a high crossruff!

However, that is not the best way to set about things. Declarer should start by cashing dummy’s ♥AQ. If both defenders follow then declarer can ruff a Spade, cross to dummy with a Diamond, ruff the remaining Spade, cross to dummy and draw the outstanding trump. When, as here, the trumps prove to be 4-I declarer changes tack, employing another important piece of technique. Declarer should cash three rounds of Diamonds, making whenever the suit is 3-3 or when the defender who is short is unable to ruff.

Diamonds only Sparkle Sometimes

With so many tables in play there is no shortage of interesting stories from the Open and Women’s Teams which got underway on Saturday. These two deals are from Round 3:

Board 22. Dealer East. EW Vul.

Full Game

Open Room


North led the ♠A so declarer could ruff and play Diamonds for a painless +1370. That was worth 9 IMPs against the 5 Diamonds doubled won with an overtrick in the other room.

6♦  was bid at five more tables. It made easily when North led the ♥8. At two tables North led a low Spade and when declarer ruffed in dummy, North could duck the first two rounds of Diamonds, win the next one and cash the ♠A for one down.

Only one player found the theoretically essential lead of the ♣5, Slovakia’s Karol Lohay, and he could then duck two Diamonds, win the third and lay down the ♠A. Dummy could ruff, but there was no way to get to hand to draw the outstanding trump. It was worth 9 IMPs when NS saved in 5 Spades doubled for -300.

In the Women’s Teams, the only pair to attempt 6 Diamonds were the Swiss Women, Vreni Waelti & Erna Cheng – it was a 13 IMP pickup against 5 Diamonds +1.

Board 25. Dealer North. EW Vul.

Full Game

This deal is for those who like to solve unusual problems – for sure it is a candidate for a Misbid These Hands with Me article.

The question is how did North-South sometimes come to play in a Diamond partscore? In the Women’s event, two pairs stopped in 2 Diamonds, another in 3 Diamonds. In the Open it was one in 2 Diamonds, two in 3 Diamonds and one in 6 Diamonds. Three pairs bid 7 Hearts in the Open, while Karen McCallum and Lynn Baker were the only Women to do so.

Archive: 14 June 2023 by Mark Horton

The Midas Touch

It was a significant day in Strasbourg, with no less than four titles being decided.

The final of the Mixed Teams Championship was a real thriller, the two teams remaining neck and neck until the end. Turnips (Hilda Setton, Pierre Franceschetti, Donatella Halfon, Quentin Robert, Anne-Laure Tartarin & Cédric Lorenzini) had just enough in hand to survive a huge Grand Slam swing on the penultimate deal to withstand the challenge of Otra Vez (Mayalo Bjoerk Heed, Simon Hult, Andrea Nilsson & Antonio Palma). The Bronze medals went to Robinson (Linda Robinson, Giorgia Botta, Emma Kolesnik, Adam Grossack & Zachary Grossack) and Edmonds (Katarzyna Dufrat, Jodi Edmonds, Michal Klukowski, Joel Wooldridge, Piotr Zatorski & Justyna Zmuda).

Team Turnip
Team Turnips
By permission of the FFB and Nicolas Poulain

Michael & Debbie Rosenberg were the convincing winners of the Mixed Pairs with an impressive 63.17 %, far ahead of Thor Erik Hoftaniska & Gunn Tove Vist and Maija Romanovska & Janis Bethers. The Seniors Pairs went to Francois Stretz & Albert Bitran (giving them a golden double following the Senior Teams!), followed by two Polish pairs Wlodzimierz Starkowski & Michal Kwiecien and Kazimierz Lichawski & Marek Witek.


A thrilling finish in the Mixed BAM saw Edmonds (Katarzyna Dufrat, Jodi Edmonds, Michal Klukowski, Joel Wooldridge, Piotr Zatorski & Justyna Zmuda) secure a ‘last board’ victory ahead of 54Fun (Nikolas Bausback, Lin-Huan Chen, Hong Ding, Ding-Hwa Hsieh & Adam Wildavsky) and Xanadu (Per-Ola Cullin, Espen & Helen Erichsen, Marion Michielsen, Diana Nettleton & Thomas Paske).

Final B of the Mixed/Senior Pairs was won by Tomasz & Barbara Gotard.

Palme d’Or for France Seniors

In the Round Robin phase of the 10th European Transnational Senior Teams Championship in Strasbourg, France Seniors (Albert Bitran, Francois Stretz, Michel Claret, Jean-Pierre Rocafort, Philippe Chottin & Herve Fleury) were always in a qualifying position, topping the table at various times before finally finishing third after winning 11 of their 15 matches.

Senior Teams
Team France Seniors
By permission of the FFB and Nicolas Poulain

In the quarterfinals, they defeated Les Mousquetaires (Guy Beniada, Hervé Vincent, Alain Lévy & Federico Goded) 162-73. That earned them a semifinal against Dutch Senior Team (Willem Gosschalk, Leonhard Hofland, Bas van der Hoek & Willem van Eijck) which they won 110-78.

Palme d'or

In the final, they faced one of the favourites, Milner (Reese Milner, Hemant Lall, Zia Mahmood, Nafiz Zorlu, Jorgen Cilleborg Hansen & Steen Schou). They made a terrific start, taking the first set 48-4 and the second 37-19 to lead 85-23. The inevitable counterattack saw their formidable opponents win the penultimate session 10-46 to reduce their deficit to 26 IMPs.

The very first deal of the last set saw the French team stop in game in the Closed Room while their opponents bid a slam in the other room that required declarer to negotiate a trump suit of K84 opposite QJ765 for one loser.

The vast audience following events online could see that East held the singleton Ace and when declarer guessed to start the trump suit by playing a low spade to dummy’s king he had to go one down. That effectively swung 26 IMPs, settled any butterflies, and enabled the French to take advantage of their opponents increasingly desperate attempts to manufacture points. They took the final set 56-8 to secure a fully deserved and emphatic victory, 151-77.

The bronze medals went to Dutch Senior Team and Zimmermann.

Archive: 12 June 2023 by Léo-Paul Hoffmann

Follow the competition on … Twitch!

Strasbourg showpiece event started nearly one week ago. When they are not playing, participants can kibitz tables with prestigious players to learn more about their favourite game. How? Twitch now gives you the possibility to watch the best games live.


Patrick Chalard and Frédérique Torrin are the ones who tried to find out more about this technology during the Covid outbreak. Launched in 2011, Twitch offers a live streaming service. Made for video games and other gaming content, the Californian platform has become a genuine bastion of entertainment for the younger generation. The chat, a section where you can post live comments, allows you to interact with the streamers directly.

Willing to promote their passion through live commentary of bridge games, our two passionate fans have created the FFB Twitch channel ( and are in charge of broadcasts which are later added to the FFB digital library. In Strasbourg, they show what goes on behind the scenes and interview top players at the end of the day.

The two broadcasters have settled on a winning formula in sports commentary: a duo. A technician and an entertainer to make the show. Pierre Saporta and Christophe Grosset have been chosen to commentate on Strasbourg games. They make a complementary duo, explaining deals and what is at stake. Thanks to a camera filming the participants, it is possible to see how the players react to the bidding or surprise twists.

Régie Twitch

“If you had told me about Twitch before Covid, I would have asked what it is.”
Patrick Chalard-

European Open

Despite that this project of tournament live streaming is still quite new, Patrick Chalard and Fréderique Torrin attract over 1,000 daily viewers. Now fully-fledged broadcasters, they have at their disposal an equipment that is just as impressive as that of the biggest streamers. Remote-controlled cameras, an interview area as well as a multiplex designed to allow viewers to watch several games simultaneously… Their broadcasts are available 24/7 during Strasbourg Open. Go check it out!

Archive: The Week Ahead 8 June 2023 by Léo-Paul Hoffmann

The Soldiers of the Shadows

No-one knows who Formula 1 mechanics are. They are part of this big family of soldiers in the shadows working on the single-seaters. Their input is as important as F1 A-listers but they always remain behind the scenes and their role is sometimes overlooked. There are hard-working soldiers in bridge too. They attend all tournaments and championships, but hardly anyone notices them. In a room away from the public eye, they are working in the greatest secrecy.


Annie is in charge of duplicating boards for the various championships organised by the French Bridge Federation. In the medical room of Strasbourg Exhibition Centre, she spends her days preparing the boards that will be used in all FFB tournaments. Hundreds of packs of playing cards are passing through her hands and two trusty dealing machines.


To that end, Annie receives hand diagrams from Director of Competitions Jean-François Chevalier. Then she makes sure that the hands that will be sent to the tables are correct.

“If there’s any mistake, it’s all on my shoulders, you see… That’s why I love what I’m doing!”
– Annie

Well aware of the heavy responsibility that weighs upon her, Annie doesn’t let anyone into her area. “She’s like Cerberus”, says Jean-François Chevalier walking past the door of her office without daring to open it. When she is not travelling, she works in a much more spacious office at the FFB premises in Saint-Cloud. There she prepares the boards of all their national tournaments. The boards are generally pre-dealt, labelled and classified two months in advance.

Annie did not really choose the job. She was attending a tournament in Lisbon as a bridge enthusiast in the 1990s when she ended up giving organisers a hand. She has since become the French reference in her field.


Archive: The Week Ahead 2 June 2023 by Léo-Paul Hoffmann

Strasbourg is waiting for its champions

From the 3rd June, Strasbourg will be taking on the role of European bridge capital. Until the 17th, the European Bridge League will be organising the 10th International Bridge Open in the Exhibition Centre of the Alsatian capital. Situated in the north of the town, this space of 24,000 square metres will be the epicentre of bridge players for two weeks.

Woman is playing bridge

In the Open, all levels are represented. Over the course of the event, 8 tournaments have been planned by the European Bridge League. The differences in level between the players will sometimes be huge, which means that an amateur could very quickly find himself up against the European elite. There is no skill limit imposed on these tournaments: only age or gender might prove prohibitive for signing up. Furthermore, every tournament winner will receive masterpoints in the European rankings.


At the same time, other competitions organised by the French Bridge Federation will be taking place, starting with the Internationaux de France from 6 to 11 June. Unlike the European Open, this competition requires a minimum level of play to enter (based on Masterpoints won on the EBL circuit). For the curious, the competition deals will be kibitzable, meaning that it will be possible to watch them via live video and benefit from expert commentary. The FFB will also be providing a bridge initiation stand supervised by a team of patient teachers.

The first weekend will be reserved for the youth competitions with participants who qualified in regional schools’ tournaments. As a partner, Funbridge is covering this first European Open competition.

Staff et Vincent Gallais

Team Funbridge will participate in the competitions with a team formed in the image of the event: transnational. The aim will, of course, be to win the gold medal.

The jewels of Strasbourg

Cards on table

The capital of Alsace, which is very open to tourism, offers a multitude of activities for those who wish to stretch their legs. As a warm-up, you can stroll through the “Little France” quarter; there, you will discover the idyllic setting of a town that has remained firmly anchored in its own time.

In the centre of the town, Strasbourg’s Notre-Dame Cathedral is its figurehead. Classed as a historical monument and world heritage site by UNESCO, it attracts tourists from all four corners of the world. Its viewpoint, accessible to the public, stands at a height of 66 metres and offers a clear view of the Alsatian landscape. As well as its shining exterior, the cathedral houses a jewel of technology. Strasbourg’s astronomical clock, constructed in the 14th century, has undergone several renovations over the years; but its functionality remains intact. Every day before midday, the clock puts on a show for its spectators by activating its automatons. The attention to detail and intricacy of the mechanism make it as impressive an accomplishment as the cathedral that surrounds it.

A bridge-themed urban rally will be held across the town. Discover the area by diving into a unique adventure which will enable you to discover Strasbourg and its history. On your trams, get set, go!

Stay tuned!

Our team of journalists are present at the Strasbourg championships, so this article will be updated regularly as the competition progresses.

Don’t hesitate to come back and check this page in a few days…news may appear!

What did you think of this article? What would you like to know about the Strasbourg International Open?

Article translated into English by Funbridge

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