The Evolution of Small Federation Bridge
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The Evolution of Small Federation Bridge

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The Road to Tallinn: A New Dawn for ESFG

As anticipation builds for the next European Small Federations Game (ESFG), marked details set it apart from its predecessors. The upcoming edition is scheduled for October 25 to 27, 2023, at the Original Sokos Hotel Viru in Tallinn, Estonia. Already, 15 of the 21 eligible countries have registered, promising a vibrant, competitive atmosphere.

The eligibility criteria have expanded, notably increasing the maximum membership threshold from 500 to 750 members. This change paves the way for broader participation, providing more National Bridge Organizations (NBOs) with the chance to vie for glory on the European stage.

Moreover, the stakes have never been higher: For the first time, the winner of the ESFG will gain a coveted spot in the Champions’ Cup 2024, making this not just a stand-alone event but a pathway to greater recognition and competitive opportunities.

A Journey Through Time: The Legacy of ESFG

The European Small Federations Game (ESFG) has come a long way since its inception in 2007 in Monte Carlo, Monaco, under the chairmanship of Jean-Charles Allavena. He remembers the first edition fondly, mentioning that it surpassed expectations in both participation and atmosphere. “However, it became clear that the ESFG could serve as a stepping stone to larger European and global tournaments, especially for newly established National Bridge Organizations (NBOs),” Allavena adds.

List of Previous Editions and Winners

202214thLarnaca, CyprusSERBIAFinal results
202113thVilnius, LithuaniaUKRAINEFinal results
201912thNovi Sad, SerbiaROMANIAFinal results
201811thBudapest, HungaryLATVIAFinal results
201710thMonaco, MonacoGeorgiaFinal results
20169thDubrovnik, CroatiaHUNGARYFinal results
20158thProtaras, CyprusESTONIAFinal results
20147thJurmala, LatviaLatvia 1Final results
20136thKosice, SlovakiaCZECH REPUBLICFinal results
20125thTalinn, EstoniaEstoniaFinal results
20114thSan Marino, San MarinoLUXEMBOURGFinal results
20103rdPtuj, SloveniaSLOVAKIAFinal results
20092ndVilnius, LithuaniaLITHUANIA 2Final results
20071stMonte Carlo, MonacoBULGARIAFinal results

Peter Belcak, the current chairman of the Small Federation Committee (SFC) of the European Bridge League (EBL), emphasized the critical role the ESFG plays in the bridge community. “There is a great deal of solidarity about ESFG. NBOs can send, year after year, teams to a representative EBL event and pay basically just for the players’ transportation and accommodation,” he said.

Conclusion: A Legacy of Community and Opportunity

As the European Small Federations Game (ESFG) looks forward to its next edition in Tallinn, Estonia, the sense of community and solidarity continues to grow stronger. Both past and present chairmen, Jean-Charles Allavena and Peter Belcak, speak to the vitality and necessity of this tournament in empowering small federations.

The event goes far beyond just the games; it’s a platform for exchange, an opportunity for smaller federations to learn, grow, and share. It represents a commitment to equality, proving that bridge is a sport where everyone can compete at the same level, regardless of their federation’s size.

The recent changes to eligibility criteria and the expansion to include a position at the Champions’ Cup for the winning NBO reflect an ongoing commitment to increase the stakes, improve standards, and create more inclusive opportunities.

In a world that increasingly appreciates the power of community and inclusivity, the European Small Federations Game stands as a shining example of how sports can bring people together, leveling the playing field and offering a fair shot to everyone.

As preparations are underway for the upcoming edition in Tallinn, there is a palpable sense of anticipation. The ESFG has proven itself to be more than just a tournament; it’s a forum for personal and collective growth in the world of bridge. Here’s to the promise of another exceptional event and to the continued success of a tournament that has come to mean so much to so many.

Some statistics

A total of 414 athletes from 25 different countries have participated over the 14 editions of the games. Of these participants, 64 were female.

Gianfranco Fazzardi of San Marino, Sven Sester of Estonia, and Henri Fissore of Monaco are the most frequent players, each having competed in 12 editions. In the female category, Nathalie Frey of Monaco leads with 9 editions, followed by Maurizia Ritiani and Antonia Pecci of San Marino, who have each participated 8 times.

Estonia and Latvia stand out as the only countries to have won the event twice. Lithuania, Cyprus, and Monaco have each hosted the event on two occasions.