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2010’s Europeans – Italy vs Croatia reported by Tonci Radelja

 RR 19th round, Italy vs Croatia:Bridge Vugraph at its best! Before last round Italy was 2nd and sure of qualifying. Croatia was 12th, 10 VPs behind Walles in 9th place and last qualifying spot. Because of carry over Italy couldn’t care less about the outcome of this match. Unless Croatia scores big victory and qualifies!

So, Croatia was in need of maximum victory (converted in IMPs that is 48) and other teams, in 9th, 10th and 11th position playing around draw! Not very likely to see. Or, is it not?

One thing i was sure of was – we are going to see inspired plays/bids by croatians.

Bord #1 resulted in +3 IMPs for Croatia after Sementa misdefended against 4 spades and croatinas took a save in 5 diamonds.

Bord #6 was first blood. Madala’s choice of not leading his suit against 3NT proved to be costly. But Italy fought back immidiately. +15 after Bocchi-Madala took advantage of playing garbage Stayman .and found 4-3 spade fit. Croatai leading 6 IMPs at that point.

Bord #9 saw Bocchi-Madala trying for slam and going down in 5 spades.

On #13 Duboin had to make „last guess“ and choose wrong. On #13 Tasla-Staničić had a fine relayish biding to excellent slam and for the 2nd time Croatia was in big lead by 30 IMPs. Still 18 to take.

Bord #16 gave another 8 IMPs after Duboin-Sementa couldnt find their best fit and went down one too many. Croatia leading 36 IMPs. Is big surprise coming? Lets check running scores. Well, they areusually late few borads but still good indication. Wow! Croatia is 9th with same number of VPs as Walles. Adrenalin took over but … On #17 Tesla went down in an ice cold 4 spades where average result was 13th tricks! Huh.

By that time Duboin-Sementa and Borevković-Zorić were done and I took a glance at the remaining 3 boards and saw some potential. Meanwhile, on #18, Croatia lost another 5 IMPs and the score was +36 IMPs for Croatia.

Amazingly, at both of the last two boards, croatians took the right view both in bidding and play and scored aditiaonal 22 IMPs. Great 25:5 victory for small country. Congratulations coming from all over the place, especially my Italian BBO friends..

And running scores table was a real joy. Croatia sitting in 9th position leading by 1 VP. Though, not all the matches were over. Everything now depending on right teams taking right or wrong views on boards #19 and #20. We awaited in fear and hope and … the miracle did not happen. All 3 (wrong) teams scored heavily ont those boards and Croatia went back to 12th place.

But, it was Vugraph presentation at its best. Croatians are going back home proud of their 1st class appearance against one of the best teams in the world. Italy is on its way to … i wish them … becoming the new (old) European champs.

Here is the link to Vugraph session of this exciting match:

 Tonci Radeja

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