Laura Camponeschi: Mr Cronier, what is the long term impact of the possibility of playing bridge online?
Philippe Cronier: The possibility to practice online anywhere in the world, at any time seems to me a huge improvement. The pandemic restrictions forced us to this and we have to make the most of the circumstances: it is a big opporrunity for bridge.
We are moving in a new area, using new technologies, stimulating the interest of younger players. Before the pandemic, we all knew, especially the pros, that bridge was in danger. We needed to reinvent ourselves, and using online technologies is one of the ways. Not the only one, as we also need to demonstrate to our governments in Europe that bridge is a major tool of personal development, as Asian public powers already know. This will be a very important step.
RealBridge and your website are an improvement compared to other offers. I’m happy to be a part of it, although a very small one. This is why I was very pleased to accept Alfredo’s invite to register a French team in this tournament.
LC: Which are the most important sponsors on the European Bridge scene and what can they achieve in the near future?
PC: For years, European bridge has been lucky to get the support of very important sponsors, first and foremost Maria-Teresa Lavazza. I would like to take this opportunoty to pay her a sincere and respectful tribute. Madama Lavazza loved bridge. Thanks to her, high level bridge changed, it improved: she enabled players to work on their bridge, and to build new, professional partnerships. Naturally, she also played a role in the Italian competitions. As Alfredo said in a previous interview, it would be avery good if Mister Vinci decided to follow her footsteps.
A good sponsor is one who leaves their mark on the game. Some have been active for a long time, for instance the Vaïnikonis: Vitas giving life to bridge in countries where it is not so easy to develop it; and Erikas sharing his professional skills – and money as well – through a wonderful website to help the whole bridge community. Moreover, Pierre Zimmermann decided, as he said, “to give back to bridge a little of what it has given to me” not only by building a very strong team – of course, that’s what he enjoys – but also by organising great tournaments in Europe (e.g. Winter Games and Cavendish) and being always on hand to help. I cannot mention everone who supports competitive bridge, such as Romain Zaleski, Janette de Botton, or late Antoine Bernheim, our European Bill Gates. I am sure bridge will continue to attract the interest of people like them in the future. Thank you, sponsors: we need you, every day.
LC: You have recently been nominated as memebr of WBF Investigation Committee: What results do you think the committee will be able to achieve?
PC: Inside the WBF, I heve been (perhaps too quietly) Chairman of the High Level Players Committee. In this role, I was nominated as member of the new WBF Investigation Committee. This Committee was introduced by the new Disciplinary Code (you can read it on the WBF website) whose aim is to manage problems occurring in various bridge events, especially online.
The Disciplinary Code is a very important document, according to one of the Executive Committee members – and I echo this view. It took time to publish it, as we needed to check all legal matters and consult with lawyers. Finally, we got there.
We can now tell everybody: the WBF is here, we will deal with problems concerning bad behaviours and cheating online, as we have always done for high level face to face bridge. If anyone witnesses suspicious or illegal behaviour, we will take the complaint seriously and address it. If we think we need to investigate, we will instruct the case using appropriate tools. We will also, of course, give the right to the defendants to present their case too.
The members of this Investigation Committee have been appointed by the Management Committee. Nobody refused the nomination and all stated to be honored to be chosen.
Amongst the investigation tools I mentioned above, the expertise of great champions is very useful. If they accept to join us when their skills are needed, we will be happy to welcome them. But I must add that the WBF alone and no one else is responsible for decisions on matters of discipline and sanctions.
May I add one last comment, Laura. Since his inauguration, Joe Biden has been encouraging Americans to be united in those difficult times. This injunction resonates strongly with me: currently the bridge world is navigating on troubled waters. It is time to tell to all bridge players: be united, forget our disagreements, think of our common purpose: make the pleasure of bridge great again !
Laura Camponeschi for Peace&Bridge
Originally posted at Peace&Bridge 1st Invitational Bulletin #7