2011 Italian Open Team Championships. Thursday, April 28 at 4.30 p.m. the starting gun for the Italian Open Team Championship will be fired. The most awaited event in the bridge calendar of Italy will be underway. The event will take place at the historic location of Salsomaggiore (Parma). Last year the two great traditional rivals of Italian bridge met in the final, Lavazza and Angelini, both having garnered 165 points. It wasn’t a memorable match, Lavazza deservedly won by 19-11 (35-16 imps) and gained the prestigious trophy.
Francesco Angelini lined up with Fantoni, Nunes, Versace, Lauria, and Giubilo. Maria Teresa Lavazza‘s team included Ferraro, Bocchi, Madala, Duboin, and Sementa. Great the performance of Norberto Bocchi, who in 2010 has racked up an outstanding record of personal success.
At Angelini’s home the first signs of the crisis loomed large. This was the last event that Alfredo Versace and Lorenzo Lauria played in Mr Angelini team. The real news that dominated the event was the exclusion of Fantunes from the Italian National Team that would be competing in the European Championships at Ostend. The resounding exclusion of Fantunes from the Italian Blue Team created disagreement inside Angelini’s team and had an unstoppable domino effect.
Alfredo Versace in his latest interview to Neapolitan Club said: ” I still feel a bitter taste for a divorce that hadn’t serious reasons to be. [...] That a player…a player who only has made this in his life – to play bridge – and who has played for Italy in the last twenty years, and who still do: Is this motive enough for breaking? I don’t think this is a valid cause. [..] The team (Angelini) had switched in another direction, it didn’t follow the Federation plans. When we have said <<No, we want go to play the European Championship>> it has created high disagreement inside the team.” ( Read full interview >>)
In the following summer, Versace, Laura and Giubilo have signed up with a new sponsor, Romain Zaleski. Claudio Nunes and Fulvio Fantoni have taken up residence in Monaco in order to play along side the Norwegian pair, Helness and Helgemo, to represent the principality of Monaco under the leadership of Pierre Zimmermann. The agreement between the Bridge Federation of Monaco and Pierre Zimmermann was announced in January this year. If the project goes through, as many suggest it will do, Fantunes will say goodbye to Italy ( and maybe to the Italian sponsor Angelini?).
However, this year promises to be a great event. There are three teams that have a credible chance of winning. The reigning champions, Lavazza, the new kid on the block, the Zalescki team, holders of the Italy Cup, and the Angelini team, which will include a certain Mr Garozzo.
Zaleski’s team will play under the banner of the ‘old’ Canottieri Roma Club. The non-playing captain will be the Italian Olimpic champion Silvio Sbarigia. This tactic will allow such lumineries as Alfredo Versace and Lorenzo Lauria alongside Valerio Giubilo, Riccardo Intonti, Mario d’Avossa and Zaleski himself to play in excellence class in this prestigious tournament.
Angelini’s team is still being tested but are expected to announce thefollowing formation: Francesco Angelini playing with Federico Primavera. Fulvio Fantoni and Claudio Nunes, and finally the ‘new’ pair, Benito Garozzo and Leonardo Cima. The BBOers in these days can see Benito and Leonardo practising on an almost daily basis. It is tremendously exciting for kibitzers to see the bridge colossus that is Benito, still playing in an almost flawless fashion, transmitting his bridge knowledge with the same passion as he did half a century ago.
Mrs Maria Teresa Lavazza will field the same team that won the trophy last year. Along with Guido Ferraro, the four players from the championship winning side from the Europeans, Bocchi, Madala, Sementa and Duboin. The same side that won the event, ‘Citta di Milano’ in December.
For the many fans of Italian bridge who will not be be able to attend the event, you can watch every bid, every card, and all the results on Vugraph, courtesy of Bridge Base Online (BBO). We await the gladiatorial event with relish!
2011 Italian Open Team Championships: Salsomaggiore (Parma) 28 April – 1 May.
Gianluca Gentili e Laura Camponeschi