Our WBF president Josť Damiani often states that the wonderful game of bridge can and is being used as a 'Bridge for Peace' between belligerent countries. On Tuesday night this principle was aptly demonstrated in the fourth round of the Transnational Mixed Team Championships, which facilitated the first ever sports confrontation between teams representing Israel and Palestine. Until this historic encounter, the people had never met in any kind of sporting contest.
The Palestinian squad, which gained valuable experience in the Open Series, gave a good account of itself against the powerful Israeli team, losing a low scoring match 12-18 VPs.
The Israeli team comprised Mr. Lilo and Mrs. Matilda Poplilov of Tel Aviv, Mr. Doron Yadlin from Petah Tikva, all members of the Israeli Open team, and Mrs. Ruth Levit of Givatayim, a star member of the Israeli Women's team.
The Palestinian squad comprises Dr. Alfred Toubasi, the playing Captain from Ramalla, Mr. Adnan Shakhshir of Nablus, Mr. Raja Hamarneh of Bethlehem, Mr. Shukri Laurence, Mrs. Aida Dajani and Mrs. Badira Ibses of East Jerusalem.
Both teams bid and played this deal identically:
Six Hearts was made at both tables. East was contemplating a sacrifice in Seven Diamonds, which would probably have been only three down, -800 against -980, but the vulnerability mitigated against such a bold move.
Without a club lead, declarer can set up the fifth spade, and escape for -500.
In a short interview, Dr. Alfred Toubasi, President of the Palestine Bridge Federation, revealed that the PBF was founded in 1995, and has some 100 members, coming from most of the main cities of the west bank, and East Jerusalem. The Palestinian team came to Maastricht, so as to be among the enlightened NCBO's of the World, and the President stressed that 'winning was less important'.
It is hoped that following this remarkable encounter here in Maastricht, that the Palestinian players will accept the invitation of their Israeli neighbours to compete in the Bridge Festivals in Eilat in November 2000 and in Tel Aviv in February 2001.