Poland’s Michal Klukowski and Michal Nowosadzki of Poland scored a double in the first two major events at the 49th annual Israel Bridge Festival, currently under way (February 20-26) at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds. The two Michals teamed with two young members of Poland’s Bridge 24 squad, Katarzyna Dufrat and Justina Zmuda, to take the Mixed Teams. Second were Israeli women’s internatonal Matilda Popilov, who first gained international recognition playing for Bulgaria as the former Matilda Lorer, playing with Nevena Deleva (now Senior). Other members of the team were her husband, Lalo Popilov, and Clara and Natan Hetz. Another Israeli squad — Ilan Bareket-Nathalie Saada and Ruth Arami-Rami (Kasius) Scheinman — finished third.
Klukowski-Nowosadki, this time playing together, topped Saturday’s two-session IMP Pairs. Kasius Scheinman was second this time, paired with another Israeli veteran, Motti Gelbard. Third went to Eran Assaraf, a former member of the Israeli Schools and Youth Teams that won European and World medals, playing with relative newcomer (and low-ranked player) Noa Almaro.
The Poles narrowly missed a third win in three consecutive days when Israelis Haim Geva and Tal Tau won the Mixed Pairs, ahead of Hadassa Kramer-Moshe Benishti and Irena Chodorowska-Jan Chodoroski. The winning Israelis cumulative score in the two-session event added up to 62.85%, compared to 62.31% for second and 62.27% for the third-place Poles.
Israel’s top international stars were due to return in time for Tuesday’s Swiss Teams and the Open Pairs on the days that follow, after an impressive showing in Moscow’s Slava Cup over the weekend. Lotan Fisher and Ron Schwartz continued their hot streak with a second-place finish on the Vitas team in the featured teams, while their teammates on the Israeli team that won the Europeans and World Mind Games (Ilan and Ophir Herbst, Alon Birman-Dror Padon) finished first in the consolation for the six teams that didn’t make the semifinals (making them fifth overall). Speaking of sizzle, Udi Friedlander-Inon Liran remained red-hot, solidifying their claim to a place at the top by adding the Slava Cup paris to their gold medal at the Sanya, China Worlds last year.