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My way – Norberto Bocchi’s Column (no. 7): No Divorce is Looming

Posted on 09 October 2012

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Bridge Personality of the Year Award 2012 – Last August the International Bridge Press Association (IBPA) awarded Maria Teresa Lavazza the Bridge Personality Prize of the year 2012. This award acknowledges once more her world-wide fame. The award has been accompanied by this note: “When legendary Non-Playing Captains are discussed, only two names will be mentioned, both Italian: Carl’Alberto Perroux of the Blue Team and Maria Teresa Lavazza of the eponymous Lavazza Team”. This award celebrates the success of Italian bridge in the world and makes us all proud. I take the chance to thank the IBPA for this award and the lovely words that came with it.

 
Rumors and free market – I came across a small article in the section “News and Views” of September’s IBPA Bulletin, written as usual by John Carruthers. It says: “We heard from three sources (none of them the principals!) that Duboin and Sementa are finished as a partnership and that Madala/Bocchi will play for Argentina in the future.”. I would like to shed light on this and hush up these ill-founded rumors. For what concerns Duboin-Sementa I can assure you that they do not intend to split up, for now. We all still remember their excellent performance in their first tournament together, Beijing Olympics 2008. After that they developed their friendship and got rid of their respective reverential awes. Their game undoubtedly has ups and downs. However what is their limit? They are very good technically speaking: they do not lose points, but do not manage to gain many. They are like a football team which is very good at keeping the ball and dominating the field, but cannot score goals. Anyway, they intend to keep working together in order to improve. No divorce is looming.

For what concerns rumors about me moving to Argentina I would like to be clear. I do not intend to go play for another country at the moment, even though Madala and I have received many offers. We should put this into the wider bridge context. The Monaco case is a dangerous precedent and the change in the eligibility code seems to make it easier for pairs to move from one country to another. What happened to Zimmermann shows that the residency criterion is looser than in the past. I personally find it hard to believe that a famous professional such as Pierre Zimmermann – which has continuous commitments elsewhere – really spends six months a year in Monaco. And there are other members of his team who have family or other businesses elsewhere… Apperantly nowadays it is easier to represent a new country then it used to be. The same applies to sell a pair to the highest bidder.

As many know I have an Argentinian passport (my mother was from Argentina) and for Madala and me it would be really easy to start playing for Argentina. However passport and residency are not a real obstacle anymore: it could be just as easy for us to accept an offer from any other country. This concerns not only us but also other international pairs. The flexibility shown in the case of Monaco opens the door to fake residency (that nobody checks) and opens up the possibility to a trade of players. I stress that in Bali you will see me defend the Italian flag. And the same applies to Lauria. His fans can be reassured and his opponents are warned!

Privileged Class – I have always thought that professional bridge players belong to a privileged social class: we make money from an activity that we enjoy. We work little and gain a lot. We visit nice places and meet nice people. We manage to keep a good life style for ourselves and our families. I often think about this, in these times of international economical crisis. I am aware of how lucky I am. I believe that if we all shared this awareness, the bridge world would be better. We need more honesty and friendship between players, and we need to be more open to our public which follows us so passionately.

One thing is to be competitive, which is essential to the game, a different matter is to take cheap shots. I tell you of an episode that should never had happened. We were playing in an international tournament, when a player revoked. The fact was clear, but when the director came to the table the player denied and his partner supported him. And I am talking about world class international players. Such behavior is not ethical and demeans our game. I would not want such people as friends and I would rather not meet them at the table.

Precisely because we live on a happy island, we should not try to make money at all costs and try to put a price on each aspect of the game, we should be kinder to one another and to the public. I wish I saw more sportsmanship, rather than players pursuing only their own personal and economical interests. Because we owe so much to bridge, we should all give something back to bridge and its fans, in terms of fairness and availability. When one has already a lot, he should not try to get even more with shady or political manoeuvres to damage others. We should strive to promote our sport, and to involve youngsters and amateurs of all skill levels and ages. I would like to see more players like Zia Mahmood, who are able to turn bridge into a more dynamic, more pleasant, more attractive and sociable sport. I would like to see less players who only care about their own income. One day I would like to see that the love for bridge overcomes the love for one’s own pocket.

Lille World Bridge Game – I would like to end with my sincere congratulations to Sweden, who won the World Games  in Lille (August 2012). I like this team which counts on young and clean players, who play  honest and good bridge. Well done to them all: Krister AHLESVED, Peter BERTHEAU, Per-Ola CULLIN, Fredrik NYSTROM, Jonas PETERSSON, Johan UPMARK. Every time I see a young team reach the highest step on the podium I make my peace with bridge: positive and optimistic thoughts come to me, with hope for the future of the game I love so much.

Adios y hasta muy pronto

Norberto

***

October 9, 2012

(Translated by Laura Cecilia Porro for Neapolitan Club)

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One Response to “My way – Norberto Bocchi’s Column (no. 7): No Divorce is Looming”

  1. alex.adamson says:

    Re column 7: Norberto, another very interesting article.

    I hope that you continue to play for Italy for the rest of your career. I come from Scotland – a country that will probably never challenge for world championships. If Scotland were even to get a medal in the open category it would be an immense achievement that Scottish Bridge could feel very proud of. We would have all seen the players develop through our clubs and tournaments. However if Scotland got a medal by fielding a team of top professionals who had been bought from other countries it would mean nothing.

    It is like the difference in football between the Champions League and the European Championship. In the former the top clubs search the earth for the best players and field teams of superstars: I find it hard to care which one wins. In the latter the players in a team come from one country and try their best for that country for as long as they are good enough to be selected. There is a feeling of national pride and achievement when they win.

    Bridge is moving towards the situation where national teams are more like clubs. While the Monaco example is extreme, for many years top players have moved to America to further their careers and a consequence of the trials cycle has been that many of them have chosen to become citizens to make themselves attractive to sponsors. While I do not want to rule out all flexibility I think that this is to be regretted and I hope that the authorities will consider this situation deeply and come up with ways to limit the amount of movement between nationalities.


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Norberto Bocchi

 

The great Italian champion Norberto Bocchiwill contribute articles on a regular basis to Neapolitan Club. Norberto will refer in his column ‘My Way’ to political issues which may arise in the bridge world and sometimes he will describe interesting hands. Read Bocchi's column»   Read Bocchi's interviews»

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SILVIO SBARIGIA is a pharmacist; he was born in Rome and lives there. He has won the European championship in 1975 with legendary Blue Team, runner up at 1974’s and at Olympic games of 1976.  Sbarigia is member of Neapolitan Club Technical Commettee. His bridge problems aren’t difficult; just we need to think on a plan and to avoid the instinctive playing. Bridge quizzes by Sbarigia »

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