Silvio Sbarigia: What I think about Italian trials

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This year the Italian Bridge Federation organized trials for the World Mind Sports Games (ex Olympics). This is new. Trials for the Open National team have been organized only twice before: for the Montecarlo Olympic games in 1976, and for the Bermuda Bowl in Stockholm in 1970. In my opinion, trials in Italy are useless for the Open category, reasonable for the Women category, only if meeting certain conditions, and damaging for the Senior category.

Open category. In Italy there are in theory four world class pairs, but in practice only three because Nunes-Fantoni are playing for Monaco at the moment. Our three best pairs are four players of the Lavazza team (Bocchi-Madala, Sementa-Duboin) and Lauria-Versace. It is known that Lavazza won the trials and it is likely that she will also call Lauria and Versace to make up the six. This is not only a reasonable possibility but it would also be very welcome for the good of our national team.

In Italy we have three pairs who are way ahead of all others. Their expertise and achievements give them the right to play for Italy in this important competition. Organizing trials is a waste of time and money. It is only winking at average players’ hopes. Trials are a good idea where there are at least five or six high-level pairs, as it is in the US, France, or Poland. If many pairs have the same expertise level, trials are mandatory.

Women category. In this category in Italy we have at least five or six pairs at the same level, so trials are reasonable. Nonetheless it should be limited to two or four teams, as they do in France. Access to the trials should be granted only to players who have won some competitions and shown that their technical abilities are adequate to international competitions. Otherwise it would be again a waste of money and time. The two strongest Italian women teams won the trials this year, as expected. Again I see this as simply winking at average players.

Senior category. In this category the situation is rather complex. Our best players are spread in different teams, having different sponsors. Thus the winning team never features the three best pairs. Moreover the team who wins the trials often faces the problem of having a weak player as a sponsor. The sponsor has to play a certain number of boards and this brings in bad results. Creating a senior team is a tough task in itself because players are not young any more and there are problems related to their old age. The winning team often is not the best one, but the least worst…

The ideal strategy here would be to have trials between two teams of four players each, in this way the winning team gets the best pair from the other team. This system, called “mixed”, was used in 1976 when the European Champions 1975 (Sbarigia-Mosca, Franco-Garozzo) faced Burgay-De Falco, Forquet-Belladonna in a 120-board match. The three pairs that came out of it proved their strength by coming second at the Olympics in Montecarlo, in 1976.

Obviously all I can do is to cross my fingers for all our teams. I am sure that our Open team will make it to the podium. For what concerns Women, I think that the team who won the trials deserves to play for Italy and it is at the moment the best Italian Women team with a lot of international experience.


Silvio Sbarigia

(English translation by Laura Cecilia Porro)

March 12, 2012


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