The last Spingold was won by a new team, Bridge24 (Kalita-Nowosadzki, Jagniewski-Gawel), who achieved this great result after beating (amongst others) team Nickell (Nickell-Katz, Meckstroth-Rodwell, Lewin-Weinstein) and Gromov (Bocchi-Madala, Gromov-Dubinin, Buras-Narkiewicz). But what is Bridge24?
Bridge24.pl is a new Polish initiative, which involves some of the best Polish players, and some very talented and promising juniors. According to its founders, bridge24.pl is a long-term project, which aims at investing its money wisely, with the only purpose of promoting bridge in all its aspects and supporting the development of the players involved. The number “24” in the name refers to the 24 hours of the day, thus emphasising that the authors want this project to run for a long time. In the minds of its organizers, this project fills a gap left open by the Polish bridge federation (PZBS). The PZBS could not invest enough money in this kind of project, which kicked off thanks to the support of some prominent people, like Tomasz Sielicki (a very important Polish manager, who is a chess and bridge player), Igor Chalupec (former CEO of Orlen, one of the biggest Polish companies and deputy finances minister of the Polish government), and the efforts of all the players involved.
The website bridge24.pl offers a wide range of services to its users: people can ask to play with the champions, ask bridge questions, receive coaching, and partnership mentoring. The website is at the moment available in Polish and English and can be reached at bridge24.pl or bridge24.net. After reading the players’ biographies (at http://bridge24.pl/en/team), you can ask a question directly to a player of your choice (at http://bridge24.pl/en/p/zapytaj-eksperta).
In addition, the youngsters involved in the project get the following deal: they receive a scholarship, paid every month like a stipend, and they take part in BBO coaching sessions three evenings a week (two pairs play one against the other, under supervision). The coach uses Vugraph archive deals, so that the pupils can compare what they did to what the champions did. At the end of each session, the players have to send a written analysis to the coach, and adjust the system if necessary. When the youngsters go to tournaments, bridge24.pl pays for travel and board expenses, accommodation, and entry fees.
Let’s read the words of Marek Wójcicki, PR manager of the project, and website administrator: “In Poland a professional project has been set up with the aim of improving the bridge of a group of players (the list is still open). This project will support a group of players – starting from superstars like Buras, Narkiewicz, Kwiecień, Pszczoła, through well known players like Kalita, Nowosadzki, Gaweł, Jagniewski, Chmurski, and ending with some juniors from Wroclaw silver team – Bielawski, Niajko and Tuczyński. The goal of the project is the following: ‘Our main goal is to build a stable system, to secure a group of top and promising players the appropriate conditions to dedicate most of their time and activities to bridge. This project does not address only the top players, but also hopes to give a similar opportunity to the best young players. We will also try to make bridge more popular, more recognized, and to use its potential to engage people of the third age, disabled and socially excluded.’ More details on the website: www.bridge24.pl “.
I think this project is really interesting and novel, and its best feature is, in my opinion, the fact that it involves young players. It gives them visibility, a chance to become known and to make bridge known, to improve, and to show the world their already remarkable expertise.
Laura Cecilia Porro