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Who Represents Which Country at European Championships?

I was very surprised to see Monaco win the European Team Championship — not the least when I noticed the line-up they fielded:

  • Nunes-Fantoni (I thought Italy)
  • Helgemo-Helness (I thought Norway)
  • Multon-Zimmermann (I’m not familiar with this pair, but I thought France)

I do not kibitz a lot of bridge on BBO, but I did tune in for a couple of matches. In selecting which table to watch, I noticed “Nunes-Fantoni” and decided to watch them — except I thought there had been a BBO mix-up when I saw the country as Monaco!

I was sufficiently curious that I did a bit of web browsing and found the following on the  European Bridge League (EBL) bridge site:

For the first time ever, MONACO, or a team from a small country, man­aged to win the prestigious European Open Teams champion title. This was thanks to that top French, Italian and Norwegian players re­lo­cated to the tiny principality, thus gaining the right to compete in the top European competition as representatives of their new country.

Now don’t get me wrong, clearly anyone can go to live wherever desired (provided the country is accommodating). My wife and I lived in Costa Rica for 8 years, where we had Costa Rican “residency status” and I was fortunate enough to be on the Costa Rican open team in the the 2004 World Bridge Olympiad (a separate story and the bridge experience of my life-time!).

However that particular line-up, rather than the odd player taking up residency in a country, struck me as a bit odd.

Can anyone enlighten me as to what is going on?


Jim FoxJune 25th, 2012 at 02:20

I believe one or both of the French players is sponsor for the other two pairs.

ZoranJune 25th, 2012 at 05:54

Pierre Zimmermann is a sponsor and his team has been played many time in NABC events.
Bridge Topics printed a story about his “Monaco” project. You can read it here, in two parts:

JRGJune 25th, 2012 at 10:49

Thank you Zoran for the information. I’ll read both pages.

Thank you as well Jim. I had a feeling it was something like that.

PaulJune 27th, 2012 at 01:15

The difference in Monaco’s case is the visible and direct influence of the sponsor.

We have seen players change countries before and the USA is one of the main beneficiaries, pinching many of the top Canadians. How long before American sponsors follow your route and invade Caribbean countries, along with their professionals, to play in world events?

Even in Dublin, we also had Madala, who has played for Argentina, in the Italy team.

I must admit that I prefer the FIFA (soccer) rule – once you have played for your country at “open” level, you cannot represent any other.

But the Olympics have a similar residence rule. It is not just bridge.

Lurpoa BegijnJune 28th, 2012 at 02:24

Please, don’t confound Sport and Flags !
That is what the media are imposing on us: Bread & Games.
Have you seen what happens in that sport where 22 guys run after a ball.

Sport is about Beauty & Development of Human Culture. It is Universal.

Please, stop waving those blood-impregnated banners.

Lurpoa BegijnJuly 4th, 2012 at 08:10

No this comment was not addressed to you, JRG. As you say:” clearly anyone can go to live wherever desired”.

Regrettably, this is not accepted, nor by most of our co-citizens, and certainly not by our governments.

No, I was denouncing that repeatedly discussion on the rights of the players to play for a particular country or not. My argument: SPORT is UNIVERSAL !

I want to take the opportunity to denounce the media who will be keeping score about the number of medals won by each Country during the London Olympics. This is against the Olympic spirit: Flags and hymns should be banned from all Olympic stadiums.

Libby Stoker-LavelleJuly 10th, 2012 at 03:29

Where in Costa Rica did you live, John? I’d like to hear the story of the “bridge experience of a lifetime”!

JRGJuly 10th, 2012 at 04:27

Hi Libby,

We lived in the mountains, north-east of the capital (San José). Our house was (is) at 1,800 meters which meant we had a temperate climate year-round. It did, of course, get pretty wet during the rainy season! We had about an acre of land and I loved the garden… especially as we could afford a full-time gardener (but not, unfortunately, here in Canada 🙁 ).

My most enjoyable, and memorable, experience was playing with P.O. Sunderlin as my “screen-mate”… what a gracious and pleasant man. We came close to winning the match (but, not surprisingly, didn’t). The experience of a lifetime was to play for a week in a world championship (from which you may infer we didn’t make it past the round-robin stage). It was hectic (I was elected team captain).

One of the things that came as a surprise (it should have been made clear in the regulations before we arrived to play) was that each team had to provide its own official scorer (who could not be a playing member of the team). There were some volunteers (provided by the Turkish bridge organization), but spouses ended up being pressed into service as well. Quite a few teams ended up being caught off-guard by that.

Libby Stoker-LavelleJuly 17th, 2012 at 03:53

What a great opportunity, John! Your garden must have been incredible. I lived pretty high up – in Quito, Ecuador at 2850 meters – literally breathtaking for the first month or so!

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