France retains Olympiad title


FRANCE retained its Olympiad Bridge Open team title in a start to finish victory over Indonesia in the final of the World Bridge Team Olympiad, which ended on Saturday in Rhodes. Alain Leavy, Herve Mouiel, Christian Mari, Marc Bompis, Henri Szwarc and Frank Multon were winning the fourth title for their country.

It was a second Olympiad title for Leavy and Mouiel, who were on the 1992 team in Salsomaggiore, and also for Mari and Szwarc, who played in Valkenberg in 1980.

The USA regained the women's team title, which the Americans previously won in 1980 and also in 1984 in Seattle. Lynn Dens, Gail Greenberg, Juanita Chambers Shawa Quinn, Gillian Blachard and Irina Leyitina proved too strong for China.

The inaugural world mixed team championship in which transnational teams were permitted to enter was won by a Great Britain/ Iceland combination, Heather Dhondy, Arne Jorgensen, Elizabeth McGowan and Bjorn Eyesteinsson.

A record 72 nations took part in the Olympiad, which saw the emergence of the Far East as a power in bridge. Russia also came to the fore, qualifying for the quarter finals for the first time.

The professional approach adopted by some of the eastern nations makes it difficult for wholly amateur teams like Ireland to compete. The Indonesian team, for example, got government support to train full time for a year before this event.

Ireland's team of Ray Brennan, Paul Scannell, Tom Hanlon, Hugh McGann, Gay Keaveney, Rory Timlin with non playing captain, Niall Toibin, drew two and lost 15 of their matches to finish 16th of the 35 teams in their qualifying pool.

It was a disappointing finish for the Irish, who had hoped for a top 10 placing. However, the team played some outstanding matches, including an 18-12 win over goldmedallists France, a narrow 14-16 defeat by silver medallists Indonesia and a 24-6 win over quarter finalists Poland.

Ireland got the most difficult group in the draw - the one which produced three of the four semi-finalists. The Irish team finished well, winning six and drawing one of the last eight matches. Had they been able to produce that form over the entire 35 rounds they would have been third in the group.

Ireland's mixed team of Pat Walshe, Grainne Barton, Neil Kennedy, Ann Gillen and Niall Toibin finished a creditable 18th of the 86 participating teams.

The mixed event was run on the "Swiss Movement" in which the teams at the top of the table are drawn against each other round by round, subject to the condition that a team may not meet an opponent whom they had met in a previous round.

Tenth World Bridge Team Olympiad: Open teams: 1, France; 2, Indonesia; 3, Denmark. Ireland 16th in Group A. 71 teams competed.

Womens team: 1, USA; 2, China; 3, Canada; 44 teams competed. Ireland did not participate.

Mixed teams: 1, Great Britain/Iceland; 2, USA; 3. France. Ireland 18th. 86 teams competed.