Lille here we are! August 22th


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August 22: Lille is already empty, very few of us are still here, and it feels incredible when you get to the Palais and it looks empty. Today was a definitions day…the final for the Ladies and Senior category.  I arrived early at the Grand Palais, the escalator did not work today..again… so I waited patiently for the definition that was announced in both categories, because yesterday two teams had taken a significant advantage. In Ladies the winner is England the actual European Champion and Hungary is the champion in the seniors, is its first bridge world title in his history. Bravo!

In the afternoon, the WBF President Gianarrigo Rona presented the awards in both categories and the BAM, later he  presented a World Grand Master diploma to Nevena Senior, as a curiosity I want to let you iknow that she played with a teddy bear throughout the tournament and she was it in the awards ceremony (watch the video). After this ceremony I had a cup of tea with my friend Jason Hackett (he is using a permanently a «boina» on his head (see photo),  he is likely to visit Argentina again soon. At night was the fellowship dinner for the event staff . The site chosen was the right one and the menu was delicious all accompanied by wines of those … I shared the table with Gildana Caputo, Silvia Valentini, Jan Swan and Robin Fellus, they also help me with the languages, I have an arrangement, they teach me Italian and I teach them Spanish. Before the desserts… were given some commemorative platelets, unexpectedly and without any warning I received one of them, it was exciting! I want to express my enormous gratitude to two dear friends for the constant support I receive from them: Ernesto d’Orsi of Brazil that is almost like my dad, and Gianarrigo Rona. Thank you both, so much for your support and for your friendship. This was all for today, tomorrow ends the Open and the Transnational and the end of the end the closing ceremony. Finito.

PS: Many changes are planned for 2013, some of them will be published shortly after the respective NBO receive them, what I can advance is that one of them affects the VP scale…

August 21:  Today was a cludy day. Breakfast early, I shared the table with Paulinha David, Tubiska Mello, Amilcar Maghalaes and Heloisa Nogueira, who were leaving to Paris, when they departed I left for a not so crowdy Grand Palais. Together with the Open, Ladies and Seniors finals and the match for the bronze medal, yesterday were played the last two rounds of the BAM classification stage where only the first fourteen teams arrived to the finals.  It happened that the fourteenth place was a tie between three teams, two of them with South American players, Virginia Chediak and Carlos Pellegrini in one of the teams and Diego Brenner on the other. At last Virginia and Charly team won. Good luck tomorrow for both of the!
BAM: (Board to Match) in Argentina we dont organize this type of tournaments, but is prety well known in the world,  The Reizinger Cup is a prestigous example.

At night I was invited to dinner with Leda Pain and Gabriel Chagas, we depart 20:30 to a dreamed restaurant. As soon as we sat at a table in the garden, Gabriel ordered a delicious champagne rose with french cheese. As we enjoyed the champagne and the atmosphere, arrived Gianarrigo Rona (President of the WBF), Morella Pacheco, Maria Cecilia d’Orsi, Ernesto d’Orsi and Franco Gusso who shared the next table, full board!. After finishing dinner, I went to my hotel and… early to bed… I missed a little bit my nights at the palais of beer.
This was all for today.

August 20th:  Today was a day of definitions in the Open, Ladies, and Seniors and in the Transnational…the note…. Sweden defeated the favorite, Monaco, so the winner of the final between Poland and Sweden will be for the first time the winner of a WMSG (former Olympics).The day was more than pleasant, but the escalator does not work, another bad day for the fatties, and increasingly more noticeable exodus…the huge halls are almost empty.In the evening I dined with Morella Pacheco and Franco Gusso in the «Brasserie André» which is the favorite place for the bridgistas, and as a curiosity I want to tell you that was eating Alain Delon, and although a little older and with almost all white hair he continues booting sighs among women.Then I went to «The Palais de la Berre». Among those present were Geir Helgemo and Thor Helness on one side and the Ireland team on the other.  Although they had to play the playoffs against each other, for the bronze medal, they show a lot of camaraderie like we live in South America.For my part I shared my table since it was gigantic with Robin Fellus (ITA), GEO Tislevoll (NZ) and Geir Helgemo (MON), and do not ask me what language we spoke, luckily always near is Carlotta Vernier officiating us my interpreter when I do not understand something. Thanks Carlotta. These moments can be experienced only thanks to bridge!. At 12:00 o’clock pm the place served the last drink and then we all parted renewing our vows of friendship, and hoping to meet again…who knows in what tournament.Tomorrow begins the finals where Poland is the favorite to win the gold medal, my opinion is that the Swedish team has the same chance that the Polish. In the Ladies category Russia faces England, being the first large favorites, in the  Seniors USA faces a surprising Hungary.  Tomorrow we will see.

August 19th : Today was the hottest day of the summer. I left early and had breakfast at the Grand Palais. The escalator was not working, that was the excuse to organize a climb races divided by age and weight, very funny, at noon the ladder began to function again.
At 11:30 pm I did an interview with Maurizio Di Sacco, chief of the technical organization of the event and then went to eat with Agustin Madala. After lunch we took the last beer in the hotel and said goodbye. The event is ongoing and as Agustin,  most friends have already embarked on the way home, and I am left alone.
At night we shared dinner with Nadia Bekkouche (DIN), and then to the center established by the bridge players here in Lille, «Le Palais de la Bierre» … Today was special, I joined a table with bridgistas from 6 continents. When we arrived Tislevoll Geo (NZ) and Michaels Ware (NZ) were already there, so we headed straight to their table, attaching another table within five minutes came the angels of the hospitality desk Vernier Carlotta and Grazia Coppola accompanied by Eldad Ginossar (ISR), immediately Leslie Amoils (CAN) and Vicent Demuy (CAN), coupl minutes later an Irish and a Chinese player. So there were people from North America, Europe, Oceania, Asia and Diego Brenner and I from South America, five continents. Suddenly passed by Batcho Mayanda with his partener from Botswana, and they two sat down with us, I thought how great was to see how bridge join people from all over the world. We drink and hear a lot of amazing and funny anecdotes and experiences from bridge players all over the universe.  I dont want to forget  to emphasize the great performance of Juan Carlos Ventin (ARG) and his teammates that are going to play tomorrow the World Transnational Mixed team quarterfinals . Phampa Congratulations!

August 18: Today was a good hot day with a burning sun: about 37 Celsius degrees. I had breakfast early in the morning and left for the Grand Palais, «un altro giorno sensa scala mechanica» another bad day for the fatties, after walking 10 or 12 blocks, depending on where one is staying… up that ladder … interminable!.
 The quarterfinals were defined today with some surprises: Sweden defeated USA and Ireland defeated Russia, our meninas from Brazil lost to Poland and finished in the fifth place, congratulations to the entire team of Brazil ladies, so long since South America did not meet such stages!!!. Furthermore, our Italian friends had a day to forget, they lost the quarterfinals for only 1 IMP, against the strong Polish team led by Balicki and Smudzinsky, maybe next time.
At night I went to dinner with Robin to a Chinese restaurant, where I enjoyed a duck I had not eaten since Beijing 2008 and then went for a beer…Among the first to arrive were Tonje Brogeland (NOR), Nadia Bekkouche (DIN) and Adelle Gogoman (AUS), also Geo Tislevoll (NZ) and Alberto Benetti (ITA), the Canadian group came later led by Leslie Amoils, Diego Brenner (Brazil) and the Italian team finally arrived.
We drunk  some beers and 12:00 pm the last drink served, all of us were dragged by the Italians, some walking and others on the famous «Flecha Nera», to an Australian pub to hear the heaviest rock imaginable. But this story deserves a separate chronic.
At 3: am came the sad farewell… kisses and hugs, we all agree to meet soon, maybe some in the next NABC in USA or in Sanremo for the European Open, or Bali (IND) for the next world championship. For Diego, Agustin and me our next appointment is in the first week of September in Bahia (BRA), where I will be reporting the legendary Brazilian Open Championship. That’s all for today, tomorrow promises to be a tough day for everyone. Will the escalator work?
Heard en passant: Garzon…can you get me a San Pellegrini water?. 

August 17: Today was a summer day with more than 34 degrees, breakfast a little later than usual because most of the Venezuelan delegation who shared all these mornings went sightseeing, a shame, I miss Jose Maria Valdes.
Todaly everybody had a hard day, Las Meninas from Brazil are losing against Poland, one of the  favorites to win the ladies category, however I hope that we all keep our thoughts positive and we send them our best wave, YES meninas you can! !
Arriving at the Grand Palais we found that the escalator was broken! and to get to the playground, we all we had to walk upstairs…endless. Bad day for faties and for smokers.
I want to highlight the kindness with which we deal every day in the hospitality desk presiding by Silvia Valentini, assisted by Gildana Caputo, Gracia Coppola y Carlotta Vernier, the latter an amazing polyglot who speaks several languages including Spanish that surprises me… Here skateboards operate at full (see photo), it is common to see Carlotta glide through the halls of the Grand Palais at full speed.
In the afternoon I had a coffee with Debbie Hyatt, who acted as the Argentina Open team couch. The professionalism and the efficiency with which she carried out his work is something that we Argentines are not used and we need to incorporate urgently. Today I learned a lot from it. Thank you Debbie! hopefully next year we can count on you.
In the evening, at 8:00 o’clock we get in the «Flecha Nera» (that how everybody calls Alfredo Versace’s car) to eat with Nadia Bekkouche and Alberto Benetti, one option was to go to Calais and the other the old town, we finally decided on the second option.
We parked and started walking up until we saw a place that looked nice and we sat at smoking tables, at the next table was the Nickell team (USA), and you could  hear bridge asll around, five minutes later arrived Franco Gusso with all the Venezuelans that are still here. A few minutes later came Agustin Madala and Norberto Bocchi who shared our table. At the end I took the time to say goodbye to Jonathan Hantos he heads back to Caracaa in the morning. 
I ate an amazing salmon accompanied with butter rice, all delicious, then we went to the meeting place for all bridge players here in Lille… «Beer Palace. » There we shared the table with Antonio Sementa, Alfredo Versace, Adele Gogoman from Austria and other prominent bridge players … can you can imagine what we talk about? … 
This year I met new friends but I want to highlight two of them: Christina Lund Madsen of Denmark and Leslie Amoils of Canada which are two of the nicest people that one can find on and off bridge.  Today was a tough day for everyone, so hopefully tomorrow, both Brazilian Meninas and my Italian friends, reverse  today’s results. I am begining to miss Buenos Aires and especially my dog…Morena.
This was all for today.

August 16: Today was a happy day! Breakfaste as usual very early and left for the meeting of the IBPA (International Bridge Press Association) that was made at 9:30 am in the morning in the auditorium on the fifth floor of the «Grand Palais».   This year the awards have a special flavor for me. There are 6 awards each year and one of the most important is: «Best auction of the year» and the prize went to Alejandro Scanavino y Felipe Ferro from Argentina by a hand reported by Ana Roth and me. Note that this is the first time a junior couple wins this prestigious award.
As far as bridge is concerned, all Southamerican are fans of the Meninas from Brazil, which is the only South American representative that continues playing the event. Brazil Women won their match against Austria and passed to the quarter-finals, where they will have to face Poland, Fuerza meninas!
At night I went to dinner with Agustin Madala and Alberto Benetti, and as always in these championships, there is a night that is perfect… and tonight was that night!. We chose to eat in a Chinese restaurant (excelent) and when we finished we decided to go for a few beers, we reached the square in front of the train station Lille-Flanders and sat in one of the bars that have table outside.
Soon a close table was occupied by the South African team ladies and then the next by the team from Canada, after 5 minutes came the Italians, Versace, Sementa, Duboin … the Ladies from Denmark!!!
Couldnt stop laughing all the way, I want to highlight one of the characters of the Night: Leslie Amoils of Canada, who with his sympathy and humor made us laugh…. then at 12:30 we went to sleep.
August 15:  Today at 10:00 pm started the R16 in the Open and Ladies categories, it was a good warm day with 33 degree heat, luckily the air conditioning of the Grand Palais worked perfectly, but not the escalator, bad day for the fatties! we had to walk up the stairs all the time.
Las Meninas Brasileras, after winning a few IMPs on the first set had a very bad second set, were down by 42 IMPs, being able to recover 17 IMPs on the last set of the day and finished -25 IMPs, however tomorrow thay have 48 boards to recover and move on, hey meninas all South America backs you!
After starting the second set some young staff members put together a ping pong table in the middle of the room (see photos), they improvised a network and lets play!!!, I played a littlewith them but there was a Chinese girl that destroyed us  all.
In the afternoon we met at the hotel of the Delegation of Venezuela to toast farewell, all promised ourselves to play the South American Championship next year in Angra dos Reis…while we were enjoying somo coloraditos
At night was the annual dinner of journalists organized by the IBPA (International Bridge Press Association) at the famous Restaurant in Lille «L’Ecume des Mers.» This dinner is the camaraderie of bridge journalists around the world where we gather to socialize. This year I was fortunate to share the table with Silvia Valentini, Marina Madio y Gildana Caputo that made my night…reall fun.
The menu was: «Salade aux Pois Gourmands of Homard, Filet de St Pierre then Roti, risotto to the Roquette and Praline Biscuit dessert, Fraises, Framboises et Chocolat Blanc»
How about?
Very good! but I miss my home made stakes, and french fries …
Tomorrow morning at 9:30 am is the ceremony for the 2011 annual awards and I want to mention that there are good news for South America …
Apostilles: Every day at the Hospitality desk they put 3 kilos of candy (delicious… chewable…) when I arrived today a few Ladies were filling up their pockets with both hands a TD passing by asked them why they  didit take all,  the ladies got very angry!

Heard in the corridors: Sometimes choice is a trap from which there is no escape, just ask Monaco that chose Canada.
Until tomorrow all and do not forget to ask for our Brazilian Ladies in your prayers.

August 14th: Day of definitions. Today dawned cloudy but we enjoyed a rather pleasant temperature all day.

Brasil Damas: Paula David, Leda Pain, Agota Mandelot, Sylvia Mello, Isabella Vargas y Heloisa Nogueira

As always breakfast early and to the hotel of my friends from Venezuela Jose Maria Valdes, Paolo Pasquini and Franco Gusso. It was a day of great expectations for two South American teams since both Argentina and Brazil were playing a place among the top four in their areas, unfortunately none of them classify,  so the Brazilian ladies are the team that will represent South America in the next stage. Starting tomorrow we are all Brazilians!
I was about to get me to ride a skateboard (photo aside) but I was afraid to because of my weight.
  At noon I ate a sandwich with my Brazilian brothers, I walked back to my hotel (about 10 blocks) to upload some pictures, I forgot to return the credential and I could re-enter, so I had to go back to the hotel…bad luck! 30 blocks…
At night I was invited to dinner by the Venezuelan delegation, as they celebrated the birthday of  Paolo Pasquini wife and luckily I could forget the bad times that I had left because of the results. Venezuela thank you very much!
This was all for today.     Want to read previous days Click here