Bridge Notes: Ireland qualifies for world open team championship

Irish women’s team gets agonisingly close to qualifying for the women’s championship

Ireland has qualified for the world open team championship in Marrakesh, Morocco, next year. Tom Hanlon, Hugh McGann, Nick FitzGibbon, Adam Mesbur, John Carroll, Mark Moran with non-playing captain Gráinne Barton secured Ireland’s place by finishing sixth in the European championship which ended in Funchal in Madeira on Wednesday.

The Irish settled into the top six following a round-10 victory over Switzerland and briefly held the bronze medal position when they defeated Spain in round 17. Thereafter, they never looked in danger of not qualifying. This was the best performance by an Irish team since five of the same squad took silver in Warsaw in 2006. It should be noted it was the country, not the current team players, that qualified for the world finals. The Irish Bridge Union could select different players for Marrakesh but that is unlikely.

The Irish women’s team Teresa Rigney, Diane Greenwood, Joan Kenny, Jeannie Fitzgerald, Rebecca O’Keeffe-Brown, Gilda Pender and non-playing captain Paul Porteous went agonisingly close to qualifying for the women’s championship when they finished ninth, one point and one place short of target but ahead of such strong sides as the Netherlands, England and Italy.

Following a round-six win against Poland, they hovered between eighth and 10th places until the end and beat such strong sides as the Netherlands, France and Denmark. In the final match against Iceland, neither side succeeded in gaining an advantage as the Irish fought for that elusive point. They may yet be offered tickets to Marrakesh. Should a team from any of the World Bridge Federation’s zones fail to take up its place, then the Irish women will be called up. Given current travel problems and high costs this is a real possibility.

Ireland’s seniors and mixed teams had disappointing tournaments in Madeira and were never in contention in their respective competitions.

World championship qualifiers: Open: 1. Netherlands; 2. Switzerland; 3. Norway; 4. Italy; 5. Poland; 6. IRELAND; 7. Israel; 8. Belgium. Women: 1. Poland; 2. Sweden; 3. Israel; 4. Germany; 5. France; 6. Denmark; 7. Turkey; 8. Norway. Seniors: 1. Poland; 2. Denmark; 3. Sweden; 4. Italy; 5. Israel; 6. Belgium; 7. Norway; 8. Netherlands. Mixed: 1. France; 2. Romania; 3. Italy; 4. Denmark; 5. Germany; 6. Poland; 7. Israel; 8. Belgium.

The annual general meeting of the Contract Bridge Association of Ireland will be held at the Clayton Silver Springs hotel, in Cork, on Saturday.