Join Bridge Winners
#ZEROTOLERANCE Open Barcelona 2019

  Hello everyone, my name is James (28) I am a italian bridge player born in Madrid and this is what happened to me and my partner Maria (23) for refusing to play against Fantoni.

(letter to Michael Gromöller)                            

                                             Barcelona 18th Feb 2019


Dear Michael,Firstly wanted to let you know that it is always a pleasure to bump into you around the world! This time it was lovely getting to meet your partner Gladiator. Having said this I was very happy when you approached us for the Barcelona Fantoni-Nunes case and I will try to expose all the of the facts from what happened to us at the tournament and ending in a more general view of what’s going on in the bridge world today.

My partner Maria Myllaeri and myself met as juniors in an event in Paris many years ago (when I was still a junior), then I lived in Finland for a brief moment of my life and we got to play together and enjoyed it a lot. After many years and keeping in touch amongst each others we decided to play the Open of Barcelona even though it wasn’t a teams event.

On the starting day just before arriving a friend of mine texted me claiming that Claudio Nunes was playing. In the beginning I believed he must have confused him with Fulvio Fantoni but when we actually saw the players list we saw that both of them were playing at the tournament!

During the first session after a couple of deals I saw that Fantoni would play against us at our table so I decided to call the referee and as the previous year (even if we didn’t play against him) I was completely ignored by the board and organisation and by the president of the AEB, I knew deep down there was nothing to do.

When the chief of referees Luc Soudan came to our table I told him that this player was going to come and that we refused to play against him for obvious reasons; he said it was ok, that he understood me perfectly and that he wasn’t going to direct this tournament again in his life!

When the couple in question Fantoni-Vinciguerra arrived I explained them in Italian, that it wasn’t for any personal reasons but that they should understand us and find normal the fact of us not wanting to play against them, all of this in the most discreet way not to create any scandal for the event. Fantoni was upset and angry, his sponsor/lawyer didn’t say anything and the referee came and told us the that consequences would be that he would adjust both boards to a Avg- for us and an Avg + and maybe review them. Session’s over and we had scored a 61%!

The day after when we review the scores we see that our 61% had been transformed to a 57% and checking our scorecard they had adjusted them to 0 for us and Avg + for them without giving us any notice. When I approached the director and asked him what happened he claimed to have spoken to textually “very important French referee” and had taken the decision and on top of this I was being sued (Hilarious! - for what wasn’t disclosed) not stating any article or laws of bridge he had applied. I obviously asked for a committee and he said it was ok that he would organise it and get back to us.

However double checking with the EBL their ban as players is held until April of this year, even if the CAS ruled in their favour and the FIGB took back their sentence and I was asking the president of the AEB Jordi Sabaté who wasn’t able to give an answer (if he isn’t who is?).

On the third and last day, we go back to Jean Luc Soudan (chief of directors), and asked him when was the appeal going to be because the tournament would end that day and he told me that he had decided to reject our right to appeal. Why? Because I want to. That’s interesting.

We asked him if the players Claudio Nunes and Fulvio Fantoni were registered in an NBO firstly he denied it stating he didn’t know and then admitted that they were registered in the ACB (Catalan Bridge Association), I knew about Fantoni but not Nunes. When my partner asked the director what day he decided to adjust the score he wasn’t able to give an answer. No comment.Afterwards we got from other sources that actually the score was adjusted but appeared as an all pass giving us a 7% on the first board and a 100% and this was appealed by Fantoni-Vinciguerra (no kind of notice given whatsoever). Why so much secrecy and shame if you are right and/or if you apply the laws of duplicate bridge in a rightful manner?

When Claudio Nunes and his partner went to get the price they got boooed by a number of players and immediately some Italian players approached me and insulted me, the lawyer Enrique Morera Guajardo who defended them against the EBL on 2016 publicly threatened me with prosecuting me and when I asked him what were the charges going to be he stated “Whatever I want” (can you see the similiarities between whatever I want and because I want to, pretty sure they studied in the same school).

Then Aldo Gerli told me he was the partner of Claudio Nunes and that he felt offended and we became friends discussing things over a beer and actually he admitted that he was expecting a much worse reaction by the field and that he played only as a favour to a friend.

The evening ended up meeting Erik Sælensminde and Morten Olsen completely unexpected and we had a couple of beers together, smoked a couple of cigarettes all discussing about bridge ethics.However funny enough they told us that as soon as they dropped out I’m not sure if they asked for a refund of their inscriptions but that the AEB (on a weekend) sent them an email telling them they would refund their inscription fees if they signed a paper denying to have participated in the tournament.

This is what happened to us as a bridge partnership who said NO!

However, the interesting things are yet to come....

Firstly of all let’s get some facts together.

Last year in the Barcelona Open tournament Miquel Trapé (ACB president) played with Fulvio Fantoni as a partner.

It obviously started a thread that exploded and players were upset and then sued for their statements (public defamation) and had to take back what they had said. Same lawyer, same procedures.

When Yves Aubry (ex EBL president) was contacted he was attending a NBO’s officers seminar and told everyone that even if the CAS had approved them for playing in events, the EBL stood firm to it’s decision of keeping them banned until the 9th April 2019 and in reciprocity all the NBO’s.

Miquel Trapé posteriorly stated that he didn’t know about the scandal (maybe you should change job?) etc. etc. and said the following thing in reply to Yves:

5.- In any case, the ACB, and I indicate that exclusively for clarification purposes, is not an NBO assigned to the EBL and that does have that quality since this quality is held by the AEB.

They have created a bridge Tortuga Island...and a bottle of rhum!

So they took the decision to make them play, they abide to the law, and they are not an NBO that is part of the EBL/WBF so I please ask to Jan Kamras (EBL) and/or Gianarrigo Rona (WBF) that if that is the case and their final position they should review all the players that have participated in international events due to the fact that they didn’t comply with the requirements of being part of a recognised NBO in order to play at these venues over the years (since 1994).

If the case is the opposite so that the ACB is actually part of the AEB, then the fact that banned players played in the past two years when they weren’t suppose to (before their hearing on December 2018) as stated:

Barry Rigal, President of the International Bridge Press Association (IBPA) asked Yves Aubry, EBL President, for a clarification and Aubry answered the followings:

“I received the official position from WBF confirming the EBL one.The suspension by FIGB is in effect (TAR rejected the request made by Fantoni/Nunes to suspend the FIGB decision and the entire matter will be discussed at the hearing of next 18 December).The suspended member cannot participate any activity organised or patronaged by FIGB and its Associations and cannot participate any competition outside Italy and organised or patronaged by their own Bridge Federations recognised by the EBL/WBF.Those who breach the above rule is automatically prosecuted and is liable to sanction up to the life-banning.”.

Players list:

On the other hand anyone who has some time can read the CAS report that finally stated that there were not enough deal’s to prove the point a part from the “Bridge Expert” who had enough deals to prove that they were innocent and was handpicked to defend them.

Funny that the ACBL hasn’t lifted the ban (for life) and I can’t see any intention of retracting from it.

The FIGB ban was lifted because the damages asked to the Italian NBO were of 800.000 € and there was a small but not small enough chance of loosing it (intimidation). If this would be shared with the bridge community I’d be happy to contribute with 80€ my partner too and I am pretty sure it wouldn’t be difficult to find other 9.998 players who would do the same.

As Boye stated a couple of days ago: 1) you need to admit it 2) do your time

and once you payed your debt with the bridge community it’s ok to come back but if this doesn’t happen the damage done not only directly to other pro’s because they lost prices, sponsorships, etc....but the damage done to the future of bridge: youth!

What you teach them is you can make a lot of money in bridge, it doesn’t matter how you achieve it (any means admitted) and if you get caught nothing happens.

This is a calling to the bridge community all around the World.

Do not stand to intimidation

Do not stand to any wrongdoing.

Do not be the silent acceptor.

We all pay the price for looking the other way.

We need to stand together.


Would love to end this letter with a quote from Edmund Burke:“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”

Thank you for your time.

All the best,

James Heathcote Sapey & Maria Myllaeri (clean as f...)

Getting Comments... loading...

Bottom Home Top