Zimmermann goes to Dublin

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The team of Pierre Zimmermann will represent Monaco at the upcoming European Championships in Dublin (Ireland). Mr. Zimmermann, a Franco-Swiss sponsor, hired two of the world finest pairs to play on his team: Geir Helgemo and Tor Helness from Norway and Fulvio Fantoni and Claudio Nunes from Italy. Pierre Zimmermann and his partner Franck Multon (France) is the third pair. For a long time the issue of residency was an obstacle for the European Bridge League to okay the entrance of Zimmermann and company.

Zimmermann’s plan for Monaco has been known since last December: Helness, Helgemo, Fantoni, and Nunes became Monaco citizens in order to represent the country in the 2012 European Championships and qualify to the World Championships in 2013. The only obstacle is the EBL’s rules, according to which Zimmermann’s teams citizenship requirements are not fulfilled.

Citizenship – Zimmermann’s plan is made public by BIN “Bridge i Norge” (Bridge in Norway, translator’s note), which on the 14th of December 2010 publishes an article entitled “The Helgeness will play for Monaco”. Helgeness stands for Helgemo and Helness as Fantunes stands for Fantoni e Nunes. Tor Helness depicts the outline of a very clear project: He and his partner have taken the residence in Principality of Monaco  and within two years (from 2012) they will play for Monaco national team with the Fantunes. Claudio Nunes e Fulvio Fantoni have just applied for residence there. (read more >>)

Official statement – On 3rd of January 2011 Monaco Bridge Federation announces in an official statement the deal between the sponsor Zimmermann and the country: “It is with great pleasure and pride that the FMB announces the signing of a long-term partnership with Mr. Pierre Zimmermann. Within this agreement, a top-level team, Fulvio Fantoni and Claudio Nunes (numbers 1 and 2 in the world-ranking at the moment), Geir Helgemo and Tor Helness, Pierre Zimmermann and Franck Multon, will represent the FMB at the next European and World Championships“.  But a note of the communique stated: “The ad hoc Committees of the European and World Federations will have to confirm their approval for the representation of Monaco by the Zimmermann team“. (read more >>)

Poll – On 14th of January 2011 Bridgetopics.com organizes an online poll. The poll was presented in this way: “As from 2012 Monaco, a country with no bridge history, will be one of the favorites to win prestigious titles in events such as the European Bridge Championships, the World Mind Games and the Bermuda Bowl. In that year two of the best bridge pairs in the world will have reached the status of official residents of Monaco. Bermuda Bowl winners Tor Helness and Geir Helgemo from Norway together with the number one and two players in the WBF ranking Fulvio Fantoni and Claudio Nunes from Italy will form a team representing the bridge dwarf. The third pair is Franck Multon (France) and sponsor Pierre Zimmermann (France/Switzerland). In order to qualify as residents of Monaco. Zimmerman has rented separate appartments for each of his players”. (read more >>)

The far-away dream – On 22nd of June 2011 Pierre Zimmermann is interviewed by Patrick Jourdain, in Poznań’s European Championships’ bulletin. In the interview Zimmermann himself acknowledges what problem could obstacle his plan: the citizenship requirement.  “I believe all six of us have fulfilled the conditions of residence necessary to represent Monaco in the 2012 WBF World Championships. We all have Monaco citizen cards beginning with residence in December 2010. There is a slight difference in wording between the EBL and WBF regulations on residence which means there is a question mark over our participation in the 2012 EBL event. Obviously we would prefer two years before 2012 to mean 2010, rather than 24 months before June 2012. The oddity is this. The 2012 Europeans are the qualifying event for the 2013 Bermuda Bowl. Can it make sense that we would be eligible for the 2012 WBF event as Monaco but not eligible for the 2013 event?” (read more >>)

In Poznań Jan van Cleeff talks to both Zimmermann and Rona, president of the WBF. Zimmermann states: “The Monaco-Z team playing the 2012 European Championships is now a distant dream.” (read more >>)

Rona leaves the door open – However Jan Van Cleeff also writes in his article: “Rona hopes that at this years’s World Championships in Veldhoven the WBF will be able to harmonize the relevant rules of all zones in order to avoid juridical conflicts. If he succeeds to that the door is still open to Monaco Z”. (read more >>)

Aubry’s “no”- In Veldhoven the rumors about Zimmermann’s eligibility to take part to the European Championships are contradictory. Aubry seems to be sure, his statements are written in the official bulletin during the World Championships (29th October 2011): “Aubry said the Zimmermann team is not eligible to play for Monaco in the European Championships in 2012. The decision on this issue was taken during the Open European Championships in Poznan, Poland, last June.” (source>>)

The IBPA bulletin – The International Bridge Press Association bulletin (December 2011) spreads the news that Zimmermann has not been allowed to take part to the European Championships: “Monaco Z Rebuffed – The European Bridge League, in their meetings in Veldhoven, has declined to alter its qualification rules to allow the Zimmermann team (Pierre Zimmermann, Switzerland-Franck Multon, France; Tor Helness-Geir Helgemo, Norway; and Claudio Nunes-Fulvio Fantoni, Italy) to compete for Monaco in the next European Closed Team Championships, originally scheduled for Greece in 2012. Had Monaco Z been allowed to compete in the Europeans, they would have been eligible, under WBF rules, to compete in the 2013 Bermuda Bowl, if they qualified (top six in Europe). However, as things stand at the moment, they will presumably compete in the 2012 World Bridge Games, the 2013 Transnational Teams and the 2014 Rosenblum”.

Bocchi was right – Apart from EBL’s official statements, Norberto Bocchi is sure that the opposite is going to happen, as he states in the interview he gives to Neapolitan club from Veldhoven (published on 3rd November 2011): “I think that, today, any level Bridge pursues personal and economic interests. If the law in force would be obeyed to the letter, the Zimmermann Team couldn’t access to Europeans Championship, but I think it will be found a solution for them and therefore they will be allowed to play. […] Obviously, I exchanged a few words with people who deal with the case and I know that there is some work in this direction.”. And when we asked him in which percentage he assessed this possible participation of Monaco-Zimmermann to the next European Championship, Bocchi answered “99%”. (read more >>)

Conclusion? – On 30th of March 2012 EBL changes its rules to take part to the European Championships, making them the same as the WBF rules. The new rules will come into effect on the 1st of April 2012, date in which the registration for the Dublin European Championships opens. On the 24th of April Monaco Bridge Federation  registers its team in the Open category: Fulvio Fantoni (Monaco), Geir Helgemo (Monaco), Tor Helness (Monaco), Franck Multon (Monaco), Claudio Nunes (Monaco), Pierre Zimmermann (Monaco), Jean Charles Allavena (Monaco) not playing captain, Krzysztof Martens (Polonia) coach.

On 25th of April Mr Maurizio Di Sacco (EBL & WBF Championships’ General Manager) sent this note  “Members of Monaco Team are being sieved by the Credential Committee who states. An official decision is to be expected but not necessarily soon”.

On 26th of April Mr. Jean-Charles Allavena ( (President of Monaco Bridge Federation) sent this note: “the Credential Committee of the EBL has taken the decision, and sent me a mail to communicate it: the six players are allowed to play for Monaco”.


April 26, 2012

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