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      Dr Donna Wood and I have been competing - remarkably unsuccessfully - for the past ten days at the European Bridge Championships in Montecatini, Italy. It would have been a beautiful place to visit, I am certain, had the temperature ever dropped below 38 (100.4F) during the day. Due to a scheduling conflict, the playing facility became a giant, fully-enclosed white tent, complete with occasionally adequate air-conditioning, water stations that were never cold despite their electrical cords being plugged in and only a 90 second walk to the restrooms that required a walk through a fairground without grass or trees. Do not let the smile fool you, our tough as nails Dr Donna was melting from the heat.

      And I was not fairing much better.

      In other words, just another semi-annual European Open event.

      We did have the opportunity to meet new friends and catch up with old ones, (Arianna and Donna work together at World Championship events regularly) and as always, that is one of the great fringe benefits of our company's journeys throughout the world of bridge.

      Italian Professional and Yabberz member Paolo Clair and I also managed to eat our way from Florence to Montecatini Alta and back.

      We stayed at the Hotel Tonfoni, a quaint, family owned albergo in the heart of the city (49 Euros a person including breakfast, dinner with wine and - mercifully, air-conditioning), which was the saving grace for our trip. We love Italy, but not at this level of warmth coupled with 90+% humidity.

      As I write this we are on the path to Dublin to see Thomas Mac Cormac and the Irish Junior Team that are training with the Great American Bridge Tour - and we are certain that the weather will be a touch bit cooler on the most beautiful island on Earth.


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