John Carruthers is a Canadian top player and a well-known bridge writer. He is the currently Editor of IBPA (International Bridge Press Association) Bulletin. In issue of February 2011 John Carruthers devoted his editorial to the Zimmermann’s project: “One thing is certain - he writes- regardless of how it’s resolved, it’s going to be an interesting story”. As his article offers some interestings points of reflection, we have decided to publish here the full text.
There has been, in our view, an astonishing and significant development in the world of bridge. To see what it is, read the communiqué from the Bridge Federation of Monaco (FMB). (click here to read the communiqué)
The development is that the FMB proposes to enter the team of Pierre Zimmermann (Switzerland)-Franck Multon (France), Tor Helness-Geir Helgemo (Norway) and Claudio Nunes-Fulvio Fantoni (Italy) as their representative in future European and World Championships. No financial or logistical details were revealed. Upon first reading the communiqué, I thought this was a terrible turn of events.
Part of the mystique of World Championships is that it is country versus country and to read that Iceland won the 1991 Bermuda Bowl or China the 2009 Venice Cup is exciting. Less so to read about Team Smith beating Team Jones, no offence to Smith or Jones. Do you remember who won the any of the transnational Rosenblums, for example? We do remember, however, that Poland defeated Brazil in the first (1978) Rosenblum, before the advent of Transnationalism.When I shared the FMB communiqué, without comment, with a few people whose opinions I respect, they agreed with my initial assessment.
One said, “It’s like buying your own island, only cheaper.” Then I had second thoughts, seeing it as nothing more than another incremental step along the continuum of increasing professionalism in World Championship bridge. The genesis occurred in the early days with Ely Culbertson and his ‘professional’ teams and bloomed with Ira Corn and the Dallas Aces in the 1970s. Now we have sponsors winning
World Championships with players from different countries on teams bearing their own names rather than Italy or the USA. Is this so different? One does wonder, however, what the European Bridge League and World Bridge Federation will do about this. There are, after all, residency and in some cases, immigrant and/or citizenship requirements to represent one’s country.
In the past, we’ve had Bob Slavenburg (Netherlands) representing Morocco, Buratti-Lanzarotti (Italy) playing for Spain, and lately Zia (Pakistan) on the USA team. They all had at least residency in their adopted country, if only temporarily.
Hovering in the background of this incident will be the spectre of the International Olympic Committee.
I daresay that their advice and opinion will be sought. If the WBF still has hopes of seeing bridge in the Olympics in the near future, how it handles this issue could, if not put it there, permanently impair its chances of that happening. From here, this issue looks like the first major challenge of Gianarrrigo Rona’s tenure as president. One thing is certain, regardless of how it’s resolved, it’s going to be an interesting story.
If you want to know more about John Carruthers you should read the article by Ross Taylor: “An interview with John Carruthers”.