Wales at the European Team Championships
Plovdiv, Bulgaria 10-21 Oct 2003
by Tim Kett
Looking at the bare results, this trip will have to be seen as a major disappointment as Wales not only fulfilled their seeded position of 37th out of 37 teams, but did so by a clear margin, losing all 8 of the matches played. Whilst I cannot avoid that overall conclusion there were still several positives to report and interesting tales to tell.
Team spirit remained high throughout and nobody stopped giving of their best at the board. I genuinely think we were unlucky not to pick up a few more points than we did and everyone tried hard to keep going positively despite our very public struggles.
The five players all enjoyed the chance to play against top-quality opposition and will have benefited from the experience. Hopefully there will be plenty of learning points for all concerned; both for this particular set of players and future Welsh squads.
There were no major difficulties with the organisation of the trip – flights, connections and hotel accommodation all went to plan, although the limitations of Bulgarian cuisine were clearly felt after the first few days ! The WCU had sent money in advance for all the major costs and no problems arose on that account.
Plovdiv was a very interesting and historic city to visit, and we all took advantage of the opportunity to explore the Old Town area and enjoy the lively (and extremely cheap !) café atmosphere.
We started the tournament itself with the news that the Armenian team had failed to arrive and the organisers were not prepared to either send home Bulgaria ‘B’ or summon up a Bulgaria ‘C’. All of which meant that once again we had an odd number of teams in the tournament and as lowest seeds we would receive the Bye in round 1. Very frustrating – I have written a separate item / proposal on this subject for consideration by the WCU