The Senior team all arrived in Opatija yesterday afternoon and evening. The group from Manchester were late, but made it eventually, after the rest of us had gone to bed. I have been in Croatia for eight days. If you want to believe I was here early to check out the playing facilities and make sure the hotel chef was going to prepare suitable English fare, I won’t disabuse you. For the rest of you, I have been enjoying a beautiful country … Dubrovnik, Split and Plitvice, a stunning National Park with wonderful lakes and waterfalls. (The last sentence was sponsored by the Croatian Tourist Board.)
The England Senior team is the one that won the trials way back in January. Seniors bridge in European and World Championship really only started in 2000. David Price and Colin Simpson are making their seventh appearances for the Seniors. This is a sixth Senior cap for Paul Hackett, a fifth for Gunnar Hallberg and John Holland and a first for David Mossop (who has come back to England after representing Switzerland for a number of years). This is my third time as non-playing captain.
The team is primarily playing for the European Championships, with medals awarded to the first three teams. In addition the top six teams will qualify for the World Championships in Chennai (formerly Madras) in 2015. There they will play for the d’Orsi Bowl, the Seniors equivalent of the Bermuda Bowl and Venice Cup.
The England team, with Ross Harper in place of David Mossop, won the D’Orsi Bowl in São Paulo in 2009. (They actually came sixth equal, rounded down to seventh, in the European Championships in Pau, but were first reserves and went to Brazil when a team dropped out.)
Today is a day of preparation ... player registration, a captains' meeting to discuss various regulations and procedures, and the opening ceremony, which will be attended by the President of Croatia (not the President of the Croatian Bridge Federation - although no doubt he will be there too - but the top man in the country).