Norberto Bocchi’s interviews (1): Fredrik Nystrom

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Even though Fredrik is quite young, it did not take him long to become a popular world class player. Certainly Sweden’s success in Lille’s World Championships (previously Olympiad) made him even more popular. His playing abilities are widely acknowledged, especially by Italians: when we have questions on how to bid a hand that requires rigorous bidding logic we do not hesitate to ask him.

I must admit that Fredrik is one of the few we would trust on these matters. At the table he is always very nice to his opponents: I do not know how he behaves with his partner after the game. His bidding and playing techniques are very good. His bidding style his aggressive to the right point: I do not think he belongs to the Swedish school which is a bit crazy (in a good way)! If I have to find a negative feature, it would not concern bridge technique: he always looks like a good boy, and sometimes he does not scare his opponent enough.

I do not know him very much as a person, but from what I see he looks like, so to say, a medieval noble man, who would kiss the ladies’ hands to greet them, and wish his respects to the gentlemen. I met him many times at the table and he never had any complaints about bridge or behaviour, and this is really rare in our world.



Norberto Bocchi – Dinner at El Bulli (one of the best restaurants in the world). You want to spend a memorable evening with three people (family members are not allowed): who would you invite?

Fredrik Nystrom – To have the best time I would just invite some of my best friends. For example, Frederic Wrang, Leif Bremark and Dan Zagorin.


NB – Dinner at El Bulli (one of the best restaurants in the world). You want to spend an awful evening, quarreling with three people (not family members): who would you invite?

FN – Mona Sahlin (Swedish politician), Marcus Birro (Swedish/Italian, known from blogging and on Swedish TV and Victoria Silvestedt (known from modeling and TV) I get irritated when I think of them.


NB – Felix Baumgartner jumped from a height of 40000 meters in order to establish a new record, but maybe also because he is a bit mad. If you had to do the same, what would you think: a) when you are about to jump, b) when you start flying at 1300 km/h, c) when you land (if you are still alive)?

FN – A. Wow, I can’t wait to jump! B. I feel so alive! C. Can I please do it again?


NB – Can you tell me a brief and funny joke?

FN – An Australian expeditioner is in on the North pole and finds an old bottle. He opens the cork and out comes a genie. The genie says “thank you for setting me free, you may have one wish”, “I miss home says the Australian, can you please build me a high way straight through the earth to Australia?” The genie says “Oh…that is really difficult, isn’t there anything else you want?” Hmmm says the Australian “Can you explain to me how women think?” The genie says “How many lanes do you want on your high way?”


NB – Having sex, eating, and sleeping are the three most pleasurable activities in life. Mark each of them out of ten.

FN – Eat 10, sex 10, sleep 10.


NB – Let us talk about bridge: which are in your opinion the five best pairs? You can mention them in random order

FN – Very hard, I think on different days there will be a different answer. Some of the best pairs are Helgemo-Helness, Fantoni-Nunes, Bocchi-Madala, Lauria-Versace, Meckstroth-Rodwell, but I could mention several more that are in the same division.


NB – Tell me which convention changed the history of bridge in general, and which convention changed bridge in the past ten years.

FN – I am too young in bridge to know which convention changed the history of bridge, maybe the take out double? Just a guess. I don’t think there is a convention that has changed the bridge so much in the last 10 years.


NB – I know your partner is the best, but if you had to change him who would you pick and why?

FN – Agustin Madala. He is one of the absolute best players, young and very nice.


NB – We used to play a more disciplined bridge, now bridge is full of conventions and very aggressive, nearly a gamble. What is the next step for bridge, in your opinion?

FN – The game will always evolve. If people will become too aggressive then everybody will learn how to take advantage of that. The bidding will get better and better so I don’t think the conventions will stop.


NB – Bridge has many rules, some of which are old or anachronistic. In order to update our fantastic game which rule would you erase first and which change would you introduce?

FN – I am not sure, I don’t like that some pairs are trying to hide how they lead and signal in the defence, but I am not sure what changes you can do to prevent that.


NB – Do you believe in God? If yes, which religion do you belong to? If not, what do you think happens after we die? Do you believe in afterlife?

FN – No I don’t believe in god. I don’t think anything happens when we die, but it would be nice if I was wrong.


NB – I am especially scared by cancer and poverty: what do you feel about these two tragedies? What are you afraid of?

FN – Cancer is awful and everybody has many friends and family who have died from it. I will die from something so I am not more scared of cancer than anything else. I have never experienced poverty so I don’t know what it really means. It is very hard for me to be scared of something I don’t fully understand. It is painful to see people in poverty, but I know many rich people that are very depressed so money does not make you happy. I am not scared by it so much. Things I don’t understand scare me and religion scares me the most.


NB – The seven deadly sins: pride (excessive desire to be superior to others, to the point of disregarding laws and others’ lives), greed (excessive pursuit of material possessions), lust (excessive sexual desires), envy (being discontent towards someone’s wealth), gluttony (excessive desire to eat), wrath (uncontrollable feeling of anger), sloth (spiritual and physical laziness, especially in helping others). Tell me two sins you most definitely do not commit, and two that tempt you.

FN – There is no sin I definitely do not commit, I have committed them all in some way for sure. The sins most far away from me would be envy and sloth. The most tempting ones are lust and gluttony (maybe not a big surprise if you see my answers on question number five).


NB – Money, money, money…How important is it? How much does it help in attaining happiness? Don’t you think rich people have a duty to help the less lucky ones?

 FN – Money provides you with comfort and freedom to do what you want to do. It is not the way to happiness. I do think the rich people have a duty to help the less lucky ones.


NB – We all have values, they guide our lives. At the top of our scales of values we all have: love, family, honor, bravery, friendship, and respect. Add one value to this noble list and tell me: which is the most important for you?

FN – I would add kindness. It is very hard to put one before the other. One thing that is important to me is that you respect everybody, no matter who you are, where you come from or what you look like.

NB – Muchas gracias, Fredrik.


Adios y hasta muy pronto



December 14, 2012

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