European Bridge Championships: Montecatini 2017

The monastery of Santa Maria a Ripa was established in the early sixteenth century when a group of devoted women living in the castle of Montecatini Alto decided to escape from the world and retire in prayer.

Escape is something that is also common to bridge, although sometimes not a success, as for the nuns of Santa Maria a Ripa. This board from the Round of 16 of the Open Teams at the 2017 European Championships is an example.

Auken led a spade. Michielsen won with dummy’s ace and ruffed the other spade low. She cashed the ten of clubs, crossed to dummy with a diamond to the ace, then drew the trumps and claimed 12 tricks.

At the other table things were a little different …

At this table, South had the lead. After Campanile double (Lightner double),Pszczola visualized the void in North hand and ‘escaped’ to six notrump. The escape was not good this time, down two on a spade lead for minus 500 and a loss of 18 IMPs.

So, if, after the championships, someone had needed to escape for some rest, an alternative way to experience Tuscany would have been to sleep at the Monastery of Santa Maria a Ripa, where the escape would have been low cost. Monasteries provide inexpensive lodging; sometimes they are even free, as several monastic orders take hospitality as one of their vows, along with poverty and charity.