Interview with Italian Champion Carlo Totaro

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Personal memories and lucid analysis in the the words of Italy’s champion who speaks about victories achieved and no, bridge and his wife, the Italian Federation and the Fantunes Affair clearly and spontaneously. 

Hello Carlo, I must first thank you for agreeing to participate as guest star at Monday night BBO Italy  tournament : I hope you enjoyed … I always enjoy when I play Bridge!

 You are the winner of the Italian Championship mixed pairs with your wife, Maria Pia Bordignon …

Yes, I have been playing with my wife for thirty years. We just met at the table, at the bridge club of Bassano del Grappa. It is just the table that has struck the spark.

Not that long ago that you are entered in competitive bridge, right?

Until a decade ago, I rarely played bridge. And just for few years I practices bridge to hight level: I obtained the best results with my wife. We have been invited to many European competitions, and together we took part in many international events.

In fact , you’ve never been a professional bridge player, the bridge has always been just a hobby for you and not your work, but all champions with whom I had occasion to talk about you, mentioned you as a very strong player.

As I said, up to ten years ago, rarely played, then I have proposed to join the t Romanin Team of Padova and then I have dedicated myself to the competitiveness, so i it was a fairly late and casual entry to the competitiveness world.

You’re a mathematician: does this help you in this game, or better, does this characterize your bridge style?

It ‘ s clear that mathematics help me to solve certain situations on the table, and maybe I can do calculations quickly enough and, before others, decide what is the better percentage way, but this is not what determines or runs out of my game. My feature is rather to adapt to all the teammates very easily.

About teammates, in BBO you often paly with Constantin Lung (BBO berynger nickname) with which you have just won the Intercity League: How did this partnership?

This partnership was just born in BBO. We play a basic system with few natural convention to be more competitive. Constantin has a game quite similar to mine: he is a lover of natural system and avoid anything too sophisticated. He’s a player who looks a lot like me: we understood the game of each other and, what counts most, we trust each other.

But you prefer to play the mixed pairs , right?

No, it’s true I really play very little. I have two companions: my wife in the mixed and Paul Clair in the Open. I repeat, I have never been a professional player.

Yet, not to be a professional, you have behind a respectable palmares. Which moment of your career bridge player remember with more intensity? Perhaps the ultimate victory that have graduated you Champion of Italy?

With my wife we had already finished second twice, and for a blow we could not win. About this first post in 2009 I am especially happy for her, that probably takes a lot more of me to the bridge. There is an episode that I remember but with regret, because of Maria Pia. We were in Tenerife in Spain for the Europeans, and after all the first qualifying stage, my wife and I were third: we were sailing very well and I felt that it could be the right year for a major achievement. The day before the semifinal unfortunately Maria Pia has incurred a bad fall that cost her hospitalization … and obviously we could not play any more. So we lost to misfortune, perhaps, our most gluttonous occasion.

Before this year, the champions of Italy went right to the World Cup, but this year has changed the recruitment system for Philadelphia: do you want to talk about?

Certainly. Personally I have always advocated the system of selection for the formation of international representations. But we must distinguish between pairs competitions and team competitions. In team competitions the coach weight is quite important: although the bridge is played in pairs team spirit weights much, and only TM can create it. So the TM must decide which couples are likely to be the best team. In pairs competitions natural selection has always been the national championships.

So before this year the best releases from pairs championships were held for representatives of international competitions, this year the recruitment system has been changed, how?

Before were convocated couples who won their championships. It ‘s always been so and it was the logic of things: the Italian league was the natural selection. This year, the Italian Federation has decided that it will not send the winning pair of national championships, but there will be another selection by the results of simultaneous tournaments.

How do you rate this selection?

I think tha’s something really ridiculous … The national championship is already a tough selection, then what’s the point?

And what then are the reasons that led the Federation to make these choices in your opinion?

My opinion is that for economic reasons. To send a pair in Philadelphia costs about ten thousand euro to the Federation: this system of recruitment through the simultaneous tournaments allows the Federation to collect fifty or sixty thousand euros, probably what they need to support expenditure. I am convinced, from a technical standpoint, there is no reason to make this selection on the basis of simultaneous tournaments when couples already have been nominated by national championships.

At this point Carlo and Maria Pia Totaro what will do?

I could go to Philadelphia to play under a foreign flag, though I don’t like it very much. And then we need the authorization of our Federation.

About selections … what do you think tabout so called Affaire Fantunes?

I refer precisely what I said before: in teams competitions is always very delicatet he role of the coach. It is not always true that the three stronger couples are able to form the best team. If you put together the three best world pairs, you do not always have the strongest team in the world. In patterns of play of each pair has in fact great weight the team spirit: a couple decides his playing style according the confidence in that the othetr pair is playing in the other room. Team spirit is the only thing that keeps the connection between the three couples and that it is without doubt duty of the coach.

Then do you believe the choice of TM Maria Teresa Lavazza ( Fantunes exclusion) is dictated by the priority to create a positive team spirit?

Yes, I think that the exclusion of Nunes and Fantoni can be determinated by problems between teammates. And the Italian Team has been  composed on the basis of these considerations. Likely to create team spirit, Lavazza has opted for the Bocchi-Madala instead of Fantoni-Nunes.

How much do you credit the rumors of bad relations between Fantunes and Versace-Lauria?

I think that is true, because no one of them denied. What I complaint in this matter is precisely the lack of transparency, which also gives rise to rumors. If federation or TM were given timely explanations,  those directly involved could have responded. Even the President of the Federation Tamburi open letter, written in response to many requests received, is unsatisfactory: not responding to nothing. And then the problem has sent to the World Cup: who will be selected and why?

And what about Bocchi – Madala?

Pretty good, although they are a few years playing together, it seems to me a good couple. Certainly it would be unfair to compare them to Fantunes who emerged from years of tested association. I hope no Italian ‘fan’ will be against Italian Team at Ostend : I hope that we will be all together under Italian flag and every complaint will disappear.


 by Laura Camponeschi


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