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The Dublin files (1)

Dublin (Ireland), June 30th, 2012

Monaco wins the 2012 EC (Elisatbeth van Ettinger)

During the European Bridge Team Championships BTCC, the WebTV project co-produced by and NeapolitanClub, have broadcast quite a few live talkshows from Dublin. We made shows with bridge personalities like Maria Teresa Lavazza, Giorgio Duboin, Krzysztof Martens, Thomas Bessis, Tom Hanlon, and many others. Check this link. For your convenience below you find the text files of a couple of interviews as well. 


Giorgio Duboin (June 20, 2012 live from Dublin)
On Wednesday 20th of June 2012, immediately after the match Italy-Netherlands, Italian ace Giorgio Duboin was interviewed live on BTCC ( Channel) from Dublin, where the European Bridge Championships were held.

Giorgio, as usual, we start with our five dilemmas. We give you two words and you have to choose one of them. Home or travel?

I would like to be at home but my lifestyle is to travel all year round. I enjoy being at home with my family, son, and beautiful cat.

As to festivals, Deauville in France or Gold Coast in Australia?

Gold Coast. I cannot play Deauville anymore because I am involved in the US Nationals in the same period.

England or The Netherlands?

I just lost against The Netherlands, so in this moment I prefer England!

Bocchi or Sementa?

With Bocchi I built one of the best partnerships in the world, which lasted 18 years. With Sementa I do not think we can be as good as we were with Norberto, but life changes and in this moment I prefer Sementa.

Support doubles: yes or no?

Definitely no. The Italian style does not have support doubles. Doubles are to show better hands.

Which is your best success?

Two cycles in my bridge career. When I was a junior - I started playing in the national open team when I was 23-24. Later, for about ten years there was a period in which I did not take part in competitions and in which I did not have success. After 1997 the best period of my career started. I won the first European, and six more, three Olympic games, one Bermuda Bowl, Nationals in US, and many tournaments in Europe.

Last month we had an interesting experiment. Brink and Drijver, the best Dutch pair, played in the Italian Championships for the first time but did not have success. Why?

I did not play against them. I do not think our Championships are tough but probably they found the atmosphere distracting: too much good food, and too many crazy Italian pairs.

Where do the IMPs come from?

I think the most important part is the bidding auction, mainly in competition, but also one-sided. Now the level of bridge is very good around the world so it is hard to score IMPs as declarer or defender. IMPs come from bidding.

Do you need a very artificial system to achieve this?

I play a very natural system, you do not need a very sophisticated relay-system. The most important thing is to know what each single bid means.

Do you have a general policy on leads?

This is a question that everybody used to ask: the Italian style is to lead as passive as possible. But with some exceptions, maybe very aggressive once every twenty boards.

Krzysztof Martens (June 22, 2012 live from Dublin)

Krzysztof Martens is one of the greatest players in the history of bridge and now coach of Monaco, who won the European Championships in Dublin.
Krzysztof, as usual, we start with our five dilemmas. We give you two words and you have to choose one of them. Home or travel?

I like to be home but I travel too much: this is a problem. My wife accepts it, for the moment it's 60% time out of home and 40% at home. It is not enough but everybody accepts it.

Polish club or 4-card majors?

I think we have to play two systems depending on vulnerability, more conservative when red, very distractive when green, I am a fan of two systems depending on vulnerability. If I have to pick I choose 4-card major because Polish club is a bit archaic.

You played with Geir Helgemo in 1997 and you did very well...

We played super natural and we won the Politiken Top 16 in Copenhagen, playing only Stayman and Blackwood.

Coaching or Playing?

I like both, they give you a different satisfaction, if you are coach of the champions it is a pleasure to help them in systemic and technical things. But I am a player, I won three European championships. I am a player in the first place, a coach secondly.

Club de France or Team Orange?

I know both, I was a coach of the Dutch team many years ago, I know all the Dutch players: I prepared the structure of their systems, I enjoyed the job with the Dutch for two years. Now I also like Club de France because it has improved my French. However the French do need a coach because they play a little bit too conservatively without enough activity; I hope that during the past six months I changed their mentality. I like the French style but for example when I arrived six months ago they needed count in every hand in every suit, but this is a wrong habit. Now they changed a bit. For example, Quantin opened 2D multi on xx KJ9xx xxx xxx. He won the hand because they found the heart lead against 3NT, everybody else led the king of spade, they could beat it only because of the active opening (Bompis, his partner had Aqx of hearts; ed.)

Support doubles yes or no?

Yes, I recommend them very strongly, but I am really against support redoubles. For example 1C-p-1H-X-XX. In that situation it is much more practical to show strength with a redouble then to show three card support for partners major suit. If they bid too actively they have to pay, a redouble should show strength and invite partner to double: very often you get 1100 or 800.

You write books and founded the Martens academy, tell us about this project.

It is a great project because I have a long experience as a coach (I started in 1999 coaching Israel). I have 2000 pages of material and I try to prepare the project for the highest level. Many tell me my books are too difficult but the books will be well selling in twenty years because the level will be higher. I have written 15 books so far, I am preparing three new ones now. One of them is on professional slam bidding, 150 hands from the championships played by fifteen professional pairs. I cover all parts of professional slam bidding. Still the professional level is not good enough, I can see mistakes at slam level even here in the Championships. We need more agreements. The base of the bidding is important for the slam zone.

When did Zimmermann ask you to be the coach of Monaco?

I started about one year ago. I thought Hegelness and Fantunes did not need a coach, but that is not true, every body needs a coach. They were playing in their routine but from time to time we have to change mentality. For example, Hegelness changed their openings at the two level. They used to play natural weak in three suits, but it is too easy for opponents, especially green against red. It is like putting the ball in the middle of the court. Now they changed. They play Multi when red and both majors when green, and they have many variations.
Also they used to have an eight-page long system, now it is forty pages. They accepted many new conventions, for instance - and I was surprised – how to show your length by transfers. After 2/1, 1S-2D-2H-2N is forcing, after which 3C shows diamond support, 3D shows 5-5, 3H 64, 3S bad fragment in clubs, 3NT 5422. The advantage of this is that you can support partner at the three level and you have a good entry to the slam zone, you can show your void and singletons. Helgemo and Helness accepted this after the first discussion. It is fantastic, they were playing completely natural, they now have sequences such as 1H-2H-2N as forcing.

Zimmermann and Multon accepted many changes as well. I also tried to correct Fantunes but they have special agreements. It is difficult to help them because they have special structures and philosophy. It is my role to help everybody, after the tournament I prepare reports with interesting hands, my comments and recommendations, my solutions and probably it will help the players to improve.

You give a lot of importance to bidding, Duboin is on the same wavelength and thinks that IMPs come from bidding.

Yes I agree, it depends on the level. If you analyse Monaco-Italy you cannot find a hand that Helgemo made and Duboin went down, it almost never exists. The advantage is only in the bidding, especially you must be better than a professional pair. During this championship I have not seen many technical mistakes, but a lot of bad judgement in the slam bidding. I am really surprised that so many slam hands are not at a good enough level.

Let us talk about one disaster, 7C doubled, with the ace of trumps missing.

It was a silly mistake, it is either a misunderstanding or misjudgement. I think it was a concentration issue, Claudio Nunes bid too quickly. If he spent one minute he would not have bid it. This is the problem: when the hand is quicker than the mind.

What about Fantunes system: do you think it should be changed?

I propose to change with Hegelness or Zimmermann-Multon because they have space to change, especially gadgets and competitive bidding, but Fantunes have a dangerous system for them and for the opponents. If you open at the two level natural 10-13 of course you no have space to find the better part-score, but better chance to find best game. Their 2D is very pre-emptive, now opponents have to risk at the two level. They create chaos, sometimes they pay because they play a wrong part-score, but sometimes they play 2H when opponents have 4S on. Chaos created by system is important if you win more than you lose, and Fantunes win much more than they lose.

About your coaching: is this the end of your playing career?

I do not know. I hope I have a chance to play in high-level competitions with my partners. We have open championships. Probably I cannot be coach and player at the same time. Some ask me: are you a better coach then a player? Honestly in the world there exist a hundred very good professional players, then let's say I am one of the 100. In the world there exist only two high-level coaches, Eric Kokish and me. Others are very good, but not good for professional players. Of course I am a better coach than player because there are not that many good coaches in the world.

Monaco is in very good shape: you have the best players, the best coach... still you may lack one element, how about the physical part of the sport, do you make physical exercises to avoid those lacks of concentration?

No, I don’t see that as my role. Of course I have some players who have a very good physical form. But the main point in bridge is psychological form. You must be in a good mood otherwise you cannot play under pressure. If pressure comes players make more mistakes, pressure is more important than other things.

Produced by Laura Camponeschi, Laura Cecilia Porro and Jan van Cleeff.

Part 2 willl be published soon.


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