In February 1995, thanks to funding by the then minister of Tourism, The Hon. Michael Refalo, Malta held its first international bridge tournament at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta.There were players from a dozen countries present and very generous sponsorships from the local tourist board and various local companies meant that there was a substantial prize fund.
Players like Zia Mahmoud, Bob Sheehan, BrianSenior, Munir Ata Ullah, Nevena Deleva, Mark Horton, Tony Sowter, Dimitry Volkov and Elena Martova took part, but the overall attendance was disappointing.
The Kinnie Swiss Teams was won by
1. Sowter Horton Senior Deleva
2. Mahmood Sheehan Coyle Ata Ullah
3. Volkov Martova Tebin Bizet
Since then, thanks to Margaret Parnis England and Mario Dix yearly festivals have been organized under the auspices of the MBAwith varying success.
It is pertinent to note that in some of the festivals the Maltese acquitted themselves very well and achieved results beyond expectations. In 1996 Gilles Queran a leading French and European champion together with his wife Veronique brought about 240 Swiss and French players to Malta and kindly invited the locals to take part. Happily some good scores were recorded by the Maltese players with Francis Consiglio and Victor Attard Bondi placing first out of 100 pairs in the open tournament. The same pair did well placing 5th in the Open Pairs. The Maltese team comprising of Mario Dix Francis Consiglio Joan Consiglio Stephen Borg won the Swiss Teams event.
Our greatest accolade was when Malta was chosen to host the 44th Generali European Bridge Champion ships in 1999. This event held at the Radisson Hotel St. Georges proved a great success with 37 countries taking part.
At the farewell dinner Bill Pencharz, the EBL President presented a commemorative plaque to the MBA President .
Mrs. Margaret Parnis England received the silver medalof the EBL, and Mario Dix received the bronze medal, for their work in connection with the organization of the championships.
For the record Italy won the Open Teams, Great Britain the Ladies Team, and France the Senior Teams.
In 1997as in previous years there were a number of celebrity internationals including the German ladies Karen Ceaser and Pony Nermerth others included Rob Sheenhan, Mike Horton as well as strong players from Belgium, Estonia,Iceland, Italy and Russia which gave the game a truly cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Rob Sheehan and Mario Dix won the mens Pairs while the Teams Event was won by Elio Loteta Sergio Zolata Lucio LaPiano and Saverio Margotta
The Maltese team of A.von Brockdorff N.Marlin F. Consiglio J.Consiglio did well to place fifth.
In 1999 the Maltese Pair of F.Consiglio and V.Attard Bondi were runners up in the Open Pairs to Rob Sheenhen and Tom Townsend Junior champion. Another local pair A. Ganado and G. Miceli won the Mens Pairs.
However the highest achievement for Malta was obtained when the local team consisting Albert Sacco, Marie Farrugia, S. Gottschalk and S.Ardelean won the main event of the tournament, The Open Swiss Teams.
It is unfortunate that a lot of records have been lost and also over the ensuing years both International and local players started to dwindle and interest was very much on the wane. It was a misfortune that finally the festivals had to come to an end.