Big-time international bridge will be back in India after a break of two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic when the country hosts the 19th HCL International Bridge Championship in Gurugram from October 11.
The six-day championship will be held at Hotel Hyatt Regency, Sector 83, and will have around 950 participants from across the world.
Some of the renowned players that would be participating in the event will include Zia Mahmood (Pakistani-American), Craig Gower (South Africa), Rob Stephens (South Africa) and Kiran Nadar (India). Held under the auspices of the Bridge Federation of India, the championship will offer a total prize purse of Rs 22 million, one of the highest offered in any bridge tournament to date.
The tournament will be held in two main events -- 'Team of Four Gold' and 'Team of Four Silver'. In the pairs event, the championship will include 'Open Pairs', 'IMP Pairs' and 'IMP Pairs Strata II', the organisers informed in a release.
Speaking about the upcoming championship, Kiran Nadar, an internationally acclaimed bridge player, gold medalist at the 5th Commonwealth Games and 2018 Asian Games bridge Medallist, said, "I welcome all the players who are joining us from all parts of the world to compete and bring alive the unique excitement of bridge game.
"The HCL International Bridge Championship is our flagship initiative in sports, and I have seen it grow, year-on-year in terms of scale, participation, prestige, and competitiveness. Bridge is a cerebral game, a brain stimulator that keeps players alert and agile. Participating in high-pressure championships such as the HCL Bridge Championship requires players' focused concentration for many hours, it's challenging. I wish all the players joining us the very best," she added.
Format of the Tournament and other details:
The Team of Four Gold event is open to all. The qualifying round consists of the Swiss League of 10 Rounds of 10 Boards each on the first two days. As part of the Swiss system, in each round, one team plays against another for several hands with the North/South pairs playing against their opponent's East/West pairs. The top 16 teams after the Swiss League will advance to the knock-out stage. The knock-out matches will be played over 4 sessions of 14 Boards each. The play-off for the 3rd position will be played over 3 sessions of 14 Boards each. Winners will be awarded the 'Naresh Tandan Trophy'.
Team of Four Silver Event is open to Indian bridge players -- participation of foreign teams in this event is subject to clearance by the Technical Committee. The qualifying round consists of the Swiss League of 10 Rounds of 10 Boards each on the first two days. The top 16 teams after the Swiss League will advance to the knock-out stage. The knock-out matches will be played over 4 sessions of 14 Boards each. The play-off for the 3rd position will be played over 4 sessions of 14 Boards each. Winners will be awarded the 'Mohini Tandan Trophy'.
Open Pairs Gold will start on the third day of the tournament and will be played over four days. There would be three eliminations consisting of three sessions of 18 Boards each. The top 26 pairs from the Elimination-3 round of MP Pairs along with two sponsored pairs will qualify for the MP Pairs Gold final, whereas pairs ranked 27-52 will play in the MP Pairs Silver final. The rest of the Elimination-3 qualifiers will be seeded to the IMP Pairs final. The Open Pairs Final will be played over two sessions with the Barometer Howell movement (28 Pairs, 54 Boards). Winners will be awarded the 'Neena Bonarji Trophy'.
IMP Pairs is a two-day event. The elimination round consists of three sessions of 18 Boards each on the fifth day. IMP pairs final will be played over two sessions of 24 Boards each. Non-qualifiers will be eligible to play IMP Pairs Strata II.
The HCL International Bridge championship did not take place in 2020, owing to the pandemic. It was organised virtually the following year in 2021, with the same level of participation as its previous editions.
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