Texan Aces in semifinals

R. Jayaram

Chennai: Gopal Venkatesh’s Texan Aces, which put up a remarkable rearguard performance during the European Open bridge championships in 2007 to bag the Silver medal, is playing top class bridge in the fourth European Open now being played in Sanremo, Italy. In a 129-strong, best-in-the-world field, the team has reached the semifinals.

The other semifinal teams are Vito of Bulgaria, Netherlands White and Herbst of Israel. Almost all the top class players of the world representing teams from USA, Italy, Russia, Germany and Britain have been eliminated in this prestigious World class tournament.

Sluggish start

Although Texan Aces (Gopal Venkatesh, J.M. Shah, S. Sunderram, P. Sridharan, B. Prabhakar — all of whom are former Chennai IITians — and Rajeshwar Tewari, the IITian from Delhi) topped its group in the initial round robin stages, it began the Swiss ‘A’ rounds sluggishly.

Picking up speed in the last two rounds where it collected 44 out of 50 victory points, it was in the 22nd position in the round of 32 knockout stage.

The team had sweet revenge against Poland to whom it had lost in the Swiss rounds, in the round of 32; it then prevailed over a strong Bulgarian team via a four-board tie-breaker. In the 28-board quarterfinals played on Tuesday, it trounced Lengy from Israel by a margin of 42 imps.

The semifinals, also of 28 boards, will be played later and the 42-board finals will be played on Wednesday.