Interview with Italian champion Toni Mortarotti (second part)

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Today we’ll talk about Toni Mortarotti the player. Do you feel like discussing the breakup with Buratti? The partnership broke up in 1987. I have excellent memories of that period.We enjoyed ourselves for many years, then returning from Venice where we had won I told Buratti that I no longer felt like playing so much. Even in that period I had a heavy workload, bridge was just an offshoot of my other activities.


What work obligations did you have?


Construction activities and auto sales, I was a Fiat dealer for twenty years: bridge was also my relief valve to forget about the 126 built in Poland!


So your partnership broke up because of your work?


Not only that, there was also a bit of boredom. But for Buratti it was a good thing, when he no longer played with me he was convened by the national team, probably because I didn’t have good press and I voiced criticisms of the bridge world, which in my opinion were correct.


As a bridge player in any event you have won quite a lot …


On the national level yes, I never won a world championship but then I never lost one either since I never played in one. And I never played in the European championships.


On an international level the result you probably remember with most pleasure is Monte Carlo 1985.


At Monte Carlo they really “stole” the title and it bothered me a bit. Out of ten rounds, we were ahead for nine. But the results weren’t exactly crystal clear above all in the final round.


Unfortunately in bridge sometimes there is behavior which is not exactly sporting ..


At one time bridge ethics were objective, then slowly they became subjective: now no one cares a damn about them. On this subject I remember an article written by Pierre Schemeil about a defensive technique. Schemeil, who was a great bridge writer and my good friend, had a column in Bridge d’Italia, “Test your talent”. In one article, I don’t remember exactly if it was in 1985 or 1986, he explained a technique to let your partner know if you have a singleton and not a doubleton in a suit. In the comment he said that you could possibly not use the technique he explained, but just pause significantly, as normally happens. And he concluded saying more or less, in this case the Tournament Director will accompany you to the exit and you can go and play roulette, since you obviously have made an agreement with the croupier.


I’d like to involve you in the so-called “Fantunes affair”. You know our blog has collected different opinions about their exclusion from the national team. What do you think about this “excellent” exclusion and the polemics that have arisen?


I don’t see why there should be polemics: since a Technical Commissioner exists as an institution, it is his or her right to decide. One thing should be emphasized though: If the Technical Commissioner fails, he should hand in a “real” resignation and this should be accepted. Even Perroux if he had erred, would have resigned.


If you were the technical commissioner, would you have left out a proven and winning pair like the Fantunes?


I wouldn’t like to be the technical commissioner: I wouldn’t like to have to choose.


At this point will the Fantunes be also excluded from the world championships?

This will depend on the results of the team at Ostend, above all on the climate created within the team. I think that the Technical Commissioner, aside from classification and rank which really don’t count much, should first of all be concerned about the team spirit, that there is good rapport among the players. Two single players playing with each other, are not the sum of their ability; equally it’s not certain that the pairs get along well with each other.


What do you think about the new pair Bocchi/Madala?


I wouldn’t say it was exactly a “new” pair. Madala has been playing for years in the Lavazza environment, therefore he has a good rapport with Duboin and Sementa as well as with Bocchi. Evidently these elements were considered in selecting the team. To avoid polemics perhaps playoffs should be held as Francesco Angelini has always requested, and rightly. In any event if the first two pairs of a team had a high result, the quality of the third pair would not be important. The pairs Versace/Lauria and Sementa/Duboin are the ones which can bring about victory or defeat of a team. The third pair convened on the other hand, is still young as a pair to demonstrate anything. Duboin, Sementa and Versace are excellent players and Lauria is not as old as some believe. If you have these four players the third pair has no influence; whether they are Bocchi/Madala or any other couple of any name, changes very little. The fundamental thing is that a respectable, or even perfect harmony is maintained in the players’ personal relationships.


So will you give us a prediction?


When these four players are present, their opponents can do very little. But there are many factors to be considered. For example the formula of the championships is quite stupid and evidently created by people who don’t know what bridge is. I’ll explain. You play a match in a round where the value of your result gives you your qualification. But this result is considered at the same weight as another match in the following round, where the value of the result is completely different. Let’s imagine that I play against France and a tie score is enough to qualify me, but I absolutely can’t lose by a large margin: evidently I cannot risk when playing. Then however I find that the tied score which was fine in order to qualify, loses me 10 points on an average in the following round. Idiocies thought up by people who should do something else, for example, crossword puzzles, and leave bridge to the bridge players.


To conclude Tony I would like you to explain your most recent project at Bormio to our readers: will you talk about it?


Gladly. We organized a week of bridge and vacation in Bormio from August 22 to 29, at the Palace Hotel. Steve Hamaoui (who in spite of his name, is Italian) and I will hold a training course, lessons in the morning and afternoon, and tournaments in the evening. The lessons will be at different levels of play and cover different topics.


Good luck for your projects Tony, see you soon.


I expect you in Torino at my club.


On my way!

read the first part: click here! 

translated by Carol Sims


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