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Handicapping the 2012 European Team Championships

The 2012 European Team Championships started today in Dublin, Ireland. National teams from around Europe are competing in 3 events: Open, Women, Seniors. Unlike the Bermuda Bowl, the format of this event is a Round-Robin qualifier followed by a secondary Round-Robin (with carryover) amongst the top half of the field. I have played against many of the people in the Open, so I’d like to give my thoughts on how I’d handicap the field:

Of the 34 teams in the field, ITALY is my pick to win. They have just done it too many times to not give them their due respect.

My next pick may be a bit of a surprise: POLAND for the silver. I have a good feeling about this team. Their front four, consisting of a young superstar pair (Buras, Narkiewicz) and the time-tested great pair of Balicki/Zmudzinski,can beat anyone at any time.

MONACO, featuring ex-patriots from Norway and Italy. Despite the star power of this team, I see a disappointing (to them) bronze in their future, because I am so impressed with the Italians and the Poles.

The defending world champions THE NETHERLANDS I have ranked 4th. Picking this team to not medal is not easy. I just feel like this isn’t going to be their event.

ISRAEL is HOT HOT HOT, coming off a victory in the Transnationals in Holland and other recent outstanding results. I would not be at all surprised if they medal in this event with their blend of talented youth and the ultra-experienced Herbst brothers.

Finally, SWEDEN. The talent on their team is such that I would never be surprised if they win the gold medal in any event they play. They have some new alignments and I’m not sure they will gel enough to medal but a top 6 seems likely.

The teams that I give the best chance to challenge my favorites are, in alphabetical order:

  • Bulgaria
  • Denmark
  • England
  • France
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Russia

All of these teams have the talent to find themselves on the podium.

These are my picks; how about yours?

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