Follow the European Youth Team Championships taking place in Oslo, Norway, with Milan Macura from 4 to 11 July!
Milan Macura is the captain of the Czech team sponsored by Funbridge. He is familiar with Funbridge. You can watch the weekly videos of his challenges against Argine in our Videos section.
Throughout the Championships, Milan will share the highlights of the event as well as interesting deals. His summary of Day 7 is already available.
DAY 7: The final match of the European Youth Team Championships
The European Youth Team Championships is over and we can congratulate to the winners: Sweden in U26, Netherlands in U21, Poland in U26W, and Israel in U16.
It seemed the winners were sure one round before, but the last match proved that you have to fight till the end. You can watch the emotions and good plays of the last round in the video Netherlands vs England. Teams were not only fighting for the medals, but also to qualify for the World Youth Team Championship in 2020.
Here are the final rankings, 8 teams qualify in U26, 6 teams in U21 and U26W and 10 teams in U16.
While Sweden won by 12 VPs, with 6 boards to go, the margin between the top 2 teams was less than 0,5 VP. Sweden scored 21 IMPs in the last two boards assuring the gold while Netherlands had to tremble for their silver since Germany was beating Israel. At the end, Germany lost their match by 3 IMPs and Netherlands by 8 IMPs. This was an important board in the broadcasted matches:
While all other teams reached a slam in ♣, ♥ or NT, only Netherlands and Slovakia stayed in the game and France tried a grand slam and went down. 11 IMPs for England assured them qualification for the World Championships instead of the Czech Republic who lost against Italy by 3:29 IMPs.
Board 14 was not the last, how will you declare 3NT after the ♥10 lead from South when you under a big pressure?
You are happy that opponents didn’t lead a spade and even happier when you lead a small club to the ♣K and the ♣J drops from North. Can you see the danger or do you take your 9 tricks easily? Yes, you can count 5 club tricks, 3 hearth tricks and ♠A, making 9 tricks. But, what do you do when opponents take the ♣A and play on spades? Your hearts are blocked and you don’t have a quick entry to East for cashing the last heart.
So, you can choose the same play as Guy Mendes de Lion from the Netherlands. Scoring already one club trick, you can play a diamond from the dummy towards the ♦K. If North jumps, you can score 4 diamond tricks, 3 hearts and one in spades and clubs. If the diamond loses to the ♦A in South, you can still finesse the ♦J in North making 9 tricks. Indeed, this is a far better play in theory, but loses in practice since the whole board looked like this:
At the end this was the board which decided England will qualify for the World Championship while Czech Republic has to wait if there will be a spot left after another WBF zone team resigning. If Germany scored 11 same as Turkey or Austria, they would have won the Silver medal.
We can find many boards like this and there no IF in sports. Sweden deserves the gold medals and these players deserve the admiration of Europe in the prestigious U26 category: Ida GRONKVIST, Simon HULT, Johannes MATSSON, Johan SAFSTEN, Axel SELVEN with their NPC Tom GARDS and coach Daniel GULLBERG.
In U21 category, there were only 10 teams to compete for 6 spots for the World Championship. Poland was leading before the last 4 matches, but they had a terrible finish scoring only 16 VP in 4 matches, ending without a medal.
On the other hand England scored almost 56 VPs and climbed from 5th place to the bronze medal.
France lost the second last match against the winner Netherlands 0:20 and it seemed to be over, but they have won the last match against Poland 18.97:1.03 to secure the silver at the end.
The winner was Netherlands with 20 VPs ahead. Congratulations to the players: Xavier FRIESEN, Ronald GOOR, Dieter GOUDZWAARD, Oscar NIJSSEN, Tim VAN DE PAVERD, Tobias WESTERVELD, Ruben BUIJS (NPC), Berend van den BOS (coach).
The Under 26 women category was dominated by the women from Poland. Although they have lost 3 out of 4 matches at the beginning, they didn’t lose a single match since then and secured the gold almost one round before the end.
Hungary winning their last 6 matches deserved to get the silver medal. They are the only team which does not come from the leading European countries, having only 2 teams at the Championships – in U26W and U16 category. The Netherlands ended up on the 3rd place which is surely a disappointment for them since they were leading after the first round robin. They have lost 4 out of 5 matches at the end.
Congratulation to the Polish women for their great performance: Zofia BALDYSZ, Joanna KOKOT, Dominika OCYLOK, Monika SUCHODOLSKA, Joanna ZALEWSKA, Anna ZAREBA, Rafal MARKS npc, Zuzanna MOSZCZYNSKA coach.
The youngest category U16 welcomed 18 teams to Stokke, Norway. The reasons why this category is rising in popularity are the youth projects started several years ago and the financial help of 1,500 EUR by the EBL. The condition for this support is that the players will share their experience on social networks and will further promote bridge in their home countries. Hopefully every country will realize how important is to focus on the young bridge players. As a member of the EBL Youth Committee, I am very happy that we helped starting the youth projects with the Youth Coach Seminars. It is not just the population which is increasing, but also the quality of the young players. New technologies and software like Funbridge help to improve the quality of players. Some of them play several thousand boards per month which won’t be possible in the clubs.
I have taken the selfie with the youngest player of the Championships Tuana ALTUN (9 years old) and her father and captain of the U16 Turkish team Tuncay ALTUN. This team ended up at 9th place and qualified for the World Championships. The last qualifier in the U16 category was Greece which sent only one team to Norway.
The fights for the medals were very close. Poland leading almost the whole championships lost 3 out of their last 4 matches and because of a disputable 5 VP penalty to the team for playing a Multi convention in defense over 1♣ opening; they ended up without a medal.
England lost only 3 matches out of 17, but with the average of 14.35 VP per match, they have taken only bronze medals. This average will be by far enough to win any other category. Only 5 VPs better was team from Denmark which also lost only 3 matches, but the highest one was only by 13 IMPs against third England, but they have defeated the winners.
Israel won the U16 category with an impressive 15.11 VP average and lost only 2 matches against Denmark and Sweden. They have proven that the youth program in Israel works very well. It was Gilad OFIR and Moshe MEYOUHAS (on the left on the picture below) who have presented their project in 2015 in Tromso which hosted the first European Championships in U16 category.
Congratulations to Lavi BATZIA GREENBERG, Noam BERGER, Ido MOSKOVITZ, Daniel MSIKA, Ofek SABBAH, Tal SAMOELOV, Danny LOONSTEIN (NPC).
The biggest disappointment goes to Italy which didn’t get a medal while having 3 teams in Norway. May be missing the team in the U16 category shows the trend – you have to start young to become a champion, at least in the junior category. France participating with 4 teams won only one silver medal in U21 category and their U26 team even didn’t qualify for the World Championships. For such a strong bridge country this is surely not enough.
Bulgaria, Slovakia, Scotland, Austria, Ireland, Portugal and Finland sent only one team in the U26 category. On the other hand the leading nations sent 4 teams: the Netherlands, Poland, Israel, England, Norway, France and Turkey. Norway didn’t score a medal, but they have 3 teams qualified for the World Championships. Turkey have a great potential with their new youth program and have still one year to practice for the World Championship in U16 category.
It has been a great Championship and as a captain of the Czech team, I have enjoyed it very much, although we didn’t qualify by a very small margin. I have enjoyed the live streams and later commenting the offline matches and I would like to thank to all players and coaches who helped me creating the videos for the followers. I am sure that the next one will be even better and I hope I will be there to bring you news, boards and even more live streams. Many thanks to Funbridge for supporting this event and the Czech team.
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