The tournament takes us to Australia, Gold Coast, the city on the Atlantic Ocean beach. Usually it happens at the end of February of each year and lasts for a week. In 2009 this tournament hosted Yeh Bros Tournament and many famous bridge players could be met there. I made to participatein this tournament a year before that.
At this time foreigners from such far countries as Latvia were welcomed in Bulletin. This tournament is a big one, more than 300 pairs playing in open pairs and more than 200 teams in open teams category having also novice, restricted and seniors categories.
The venue place is wonderful – The Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre is specially designed for such kind of events, therefore conditions of playing can be described as fabulous. I would call Australia the land of the sun and happy people, and indeed me and one of my favorite partners – Karlis Rubins – were met like old friends. Organizers helped to find teammates for us - Siegfried KONIG and James WALLIS and they were just great people. They showed us around, even took for a ride to some farer places. Also I want to thank personnally Toni Bardon and Kim Ellaway for their hospitality. So, be sure, if you decide to come, you will not feel there lonely.
The real problem of getting there from Latvia (or any else in Europe I suppose) is…getting there We spent a lot of time flying from Riga to London, then from London to Sydney (with a stop in Bangkok) and then from Sydney to Broadbeach. Time differences was also substantial – 8 hours, so it is a good idea to come a couple of days before. Even better idea is to come for more than tournament`s week and to travel in Australia. Unfortunately, I was an ordinary employee in a bank and could not afford to take longer vacation, on our way back we spent only one day in Sydney, and it was all about Australia L. But the next year other Latvian pair came to this tournament and they did travel for the whole week after the tournament, which is a right idea. Anyway, back to the story.
I was looking for the cheaper ways of getting there as road to Australia is expensive. However, that means, I was taking extra responsibility. All 3 flights I booked were from different sources, not complex like Riga - Broadbeach. Riga – London were carried out by Ryanair, London – Sydney by British Airways (you can also look for Blue Virgin or Quantas – Australian airline),but the easiest was to buy ticket for final journey Sydney – Broadbeach. I did it in the Internet, just found local airline and printed out the tickets.
It was convenient to book hotels in the Internet as well. Of course, tournament organizers offer agency, which helps players in finding the accommodation. Now they already have some certain hotels to offer. I took my own way, spent two days browsing possible accommodation with the view to the ocean and finally found a nice flat for moderate price; 10 minutes walk from the venue and 5 minutes – to the ocean.
At the very first day we came, our teammates invited us to the party, but it was too much after 24 h hours of flying, unfortunately. Next day a pair tournament started and it was a real challenge for me to play bridge when my organism has to sleep sweetly! 1st session was a disaster and be prepared it will be. Fortunately, next days I did better, this allowed us to qualify for the final B and to win it in the end. Very fascinating, taking into account, that I am not the bridge player of high class (my partner was ). We got nice prize – a plate with the names of all B final winners starting from 1973 (if my memory is not lying). In teams we did not do as good as in pairs but it was a lot of fun as our teammates were good and funny guys!
In the whole this trip was the best trip ever – living with the ocean view, playing bridge, having fun at the parties, meeting happy people, seeing kangaroos and koalas, taking pictures of famous Sydney Opera. I would highly encourage everyone to go to Gold Coast Congress!