Fri, 07 Mar 2003

Bridge players vie for slots in national team

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Twenty-six pairs from nine provinces are vying for places in the national bridge team during the selection matches currently underway at the Frans Waleleng Bridge Center inside the Bung Karno Sports Stadium complex.

The preliminary stage is scheduled to run for four days from March 5 with 25 sessions to be completed.

Competition has been tight with nine sessions played in the opening two days. The pairing of Muhaimin and Tondi Lubis of Jakarta were leading rivals Tommy Rogi and Octa Wohon of North Sulawesi by a point, 162 against 161.

"The best eleven pairs from the field will qualify for the final stage where they will be joined by Taufik Hasby and Robert Tobing," Handojo Susanto, from the organizing committee, told The Jakarta Post here on Thursday.

As one of the top pairs in the national rankings, Taufik and Robert have been awarded an automatic slot for the final stage of the competition.

The final matches will be staged from March 10 through March 18 and will give the final rankings of the 12 pairs to decide on their eligibility for the team.

"The final matches will produce two pairs in grade A, four in grade B, four in grade C and two reserve pairs," Handojo said.

The grade categorization has been introduced for the first time for the promotion/relegation system for national players, and, according to Handojo, is aims bringing about regeneration.

The grade A pairs are eligible to join the training center along with two regular pairs from the national team: Eddy Manoppo/Hengky Lasut and Danny Sacul/Franky Karwur.

A training workout is scheduled for April. The best three pairs will be going to the Bermuda Bowl in Monaco in November. However, they will have to get qualify at the Pacific Asia Bridge Federation (PABF) Championship in Manila in June.

"The Manila meet will pick three qualifiers for the Bermuda Bowl," Handojo said, adding that China and Chinese Taipei should prove to be strong rivals for Indonesia.

The Bermuda Bowl, which is hailed as the most prestigious men's bridge event in the world, is held in a two-year cycle.

Indonesia advanced from the preliminary stage only to stumble to Norway in the quarterfinals at the 2001 tournament in Paris, France.