Only a few days to go before the European Winter Games, Monaco is preparing for one of the most prestigious events of the 2016 calendar, with a guaranteed prize money of €150.000. I got in touch with Jean-Charles Allavena, president of the Monaco Bridge Federation, to find out more.
Jean-Charles: how is the preparation going?
Everything is going well: our technical team, led by Patrick Chalard and Gainluca Barese, is working hard and the Fairmont Hotel now has a very good understanding of how bridge events work, since the 2015 Cavendish, which was our first big bridge event organised in this venue. Organising the European Winter Games is not very different from organising a Cavendish, so I think we will be ready just in time.
How many teams will take part? Are you happy with the number and level of participants?
We have 50 teams signed up to date, and I think we will reach a total between 55 and 60 teams. When we launched this project we were hoping to have a higher number of participants, but we are not complaining. We had some issues with the dates because the Norwegian National League and important tournaments in Switzerland and Tunisia are running at the same time. Furthermore, the calendar is full this year, since many NBOs are running selections for the European Championships in Budapest. We were probably quite late in advertising our project and this has had a negative impact on teams outside Europe. Lastly, the difficult international financial situation does not help. However, this is only the first edition and we are not worried.
We have created an event in a beautiful location, with an interesting prize money and I am sure that after this year, those who took part will spread the news with other players and in 2018 we will have more participants.
We are very pleased with the level of the teams who will take part and there is no doubt that these Winter Games will be a true European competition.
Will you play? With whom?
I do not know yet! It is not easy for me to deal with the organisation and play, there is always someone with an urgent problem, sometimes real, sometimes silly! So it is not easy for me to stay focused and play well. But it will be a pleasure to play with friends to make up the numbers last minute. For instance in the 2012 Cavendish I played because we needed an extra team to have an even number of participants…we lost to Zimmermann only by a few points…All in all, I could give it another go!