Maria Teresa Lavazza talks about … (interview)

leggi in italiano»

Mrs. Lavazza… let’s talk about bridge. Bridge is one of the most important passions of my life. I got dedicated to it a lot. I don’t play any more but I have been responsible for the National Team for more than ten years with great satisfaction and success.

The European Championships in Ostend have been the last success indeed.

This Championship was marked by really many disputes. I had to leave a pair at home: the team – you know-  is made of only three pairs and I wanted Norberto Bocchi to play again in the National Team.   After the separation from Duboin, Norberto had not played in the National any longer. But I think he is worth it as he is a very good player. Beside I have discovered a new young talent, a great hope of bridge: Agustin Madala. He lives in Argentina but since his grandparents are Piedmontese he has got Italian citizenship. Therefore at only 24 I made him play in the European Champioships and I am glad.

But  how courageous of you in putting a 24 year old boy in no less than  the  Blue Team !

Well Agustin  has got a very big talent and a  great will to win. Besides  Bocchi chose him  as  a partner with my full okay. To keep on getting the success that our National Team has always had must   count on young men and on the possibility of turnover  not relying only on three pairs. Moreover I  cannot  work till kingdom come: I will work for the next World Championships and possibly the  next Olimpic Games  but I want to leave my successor a good inheritance  that is a team capable of being as successful as in the past.

Is the choice of having a young man in the National  an important drive for many boys who aproach this sport?

Sure. Anyway I would like to stress that choosing  Madala has not  depended only  on me. Bridge is a game of pairs and it was  Norberto who chose  this partner. Everybody is free to do what he likes and to  choose the partner he wants and  thinks  fit for his own characteristics of play. Furthermore I liked this boy who is  a very good player and it was ok for me, too.

But  The Fantunes have been excluded…

I had to leave  Fantoni-Nunes at home among unprecedented debates, but you see, as I have already told in other interviews  all the four pairs (Fantoni-Nunes; Duboin-Sementa; Bocchi-Madala; Lauria-Versace) are technically almost the same. I preferred to make  a choice favouring the  players’ friendship. I do stress I consider the technical level of the four pairs  more or less the same and that my decision has been driven by the wish to create a friendly atmosphere among the players: the melting pot is a very important element in a team. Therefore I have chosen a tight group.

Thus the exclusion of The Fantunes isn’t due to technical reasons!

I want to underline that The Fantunes are not inferior to the other pairs. We are talking of a couple that has always  played very well in the National Team. Besides they are two very disciplined boys. I have nothing to tell against them but there are things which do not depend on me. I don’t like to take to the National Team  two pairs who are not that close to each other and have had contrasts also inside the  Angelini Team.

You mean the contrasts between Lauria-Versace and  Fantoni-Nunes?


Msr.  Lavazza, you have been criticized for not having clearly justified your decision.

It’s not true. I have always spoken and explained my reasons also in  the Federal Council.  Suppose a pair cannot play for personal or health reasons: we must rely on three pairs but  we must have at least four good ones at the disposal of the National. Well we think that the European Chanpionships are  a training-ground to try since it is enough to be  in  the first six ones  to qualify for the World Championships. You know I wanted to try then.

So you say we have four pairs of very high technical level and more or less  the same but you have supported the melting pot and friendship among the players. Please clarify this point: do you mean the friendship  among the players or the friendship with you? I mean, do you have personal antipathy or  anyway  less simpathy  towards Claudio and Fulvio , who are from Rome and in the Angelini team, rather than the other invited players?

Certainly not! Who says such a thing is totally wrong. As a  Technical Commissioner I have never favoured my players that is the players who play in the Lavazza team. When I choose  for the National Team  I choose  what I think the best: I have shown it for many years. I have called up four players of the Angelini team for many years. I have never favoured mine but I have called the ones I  thought the best for the National. Today, since I think unjust to exclude  an excellent  player  like Norbeto Bocchi  I have decided to call him up for the European Championship. When I deal with the National I think only about the National never of my personal interest or the Lavazza Team.

Anyway at the Europeans of Pau you called up Mr.  Angelini in the National Team.

I did it because the players insisted on calling him up. When  I say players I mean the ones of the Angelini team,  not the ones of the Lavazza team who to tell the true were worried about playing the Europeans with Francesco Angelini. Let’s say they asked me to make this favour and I made it. It was a trouble because Angelini left us in the middle of the competition and he has hated me since then even though I was the only one who took him to the Europeans, and I think nobody else would have called him up.

What about those Europeans?

First of all Angelini behaved nonsensically: He left  in the middle of  the championship after nine  sessions  in  the preliminary round. He went and left us five: An inperdonable behaviour for a player who wants to enter the National. It was crazy. We qualified in the last round thanks to Bocchi and Duboin  who were  together for the last time and who played majestically.

Your relationship with the other important sponsor of the Italian bridge have  gone wrong since then. Haven’t they?

It was not my fault! Look It’s Angelini who hates me.

Mrs. Lavazza you keep on telling Angelini hates you.

That’s right.I Took him to the National Team and he left.I took him to Pau as otherwise he would cause troubles to Lauria and Versace: He didn’t want them to play in the National I gave him this chance and I kept my promise. I think I behaved correctly with him.

Mr. Angelini now would like to make a selection but you do not agree.

I am against selections especially for the European and World Chanpionships. Look at France: They make continuous selections and don’t move. I only  agree on making selections for the Olimpic games.

I would like you to tell more about the relationship with Fulvio Fantoni and Claudio Nunes. Isn’t  there any antipathy towards the Roman pair?

Absolutely not. On the contrary I have always been friend to them. In the National Team they have always acted correctly. Now we shall make the selections for the Olimpic games and we shall choose the best ones.

So when you say you have chosen for the Europeans according to the agreement of the group, you mean the relationship of the players and not  possible events of conflict with you.

Sure, personal contrasts among them  not with me. I mean contrasts inside the Angelini team  I knew about.

Have you ever  witnessed any of these contrasts?

No. Never. I knew there were contrasts. I took a new pairs (Bocchi-Madala) and it was a great responsability. Since I was introducing a new couple I wanted it to be supported by a very friendly atmosphere. There had never been any contrast between the Lavazza team (Bocchi-Madala, Duboin-Sementa) and The Fantunes nor between The Fantunes and me.

So you  respect and like the Roman couple?

Right. They cannot deny it. They have always behaved well in the National and I think I have done the same with them. I have  always tried to do my best for the National. I repeat. I wanted to take  Norberto Bocchi back to  the team and taking the responsability  of calling up a  boy performing in public for the first time like Madala, I wanted a climate of friendship around them and above all lack of contrasts: I wanted the team to be calm and untroubled. And it was.

Let’s talk about Norberto Bocchi.You wanted him in this National, didn’t you?

Correct. Bocchi is very strong. He  played with Duboin for 20 years and  it was not easy for him to create a new pair.

But why did they leave?

Often the pairs finish. There were also other reasons:  Norberto changed his life. He moved to Spain with his wife. See, they left in friendship and are still friends. The point is hat Bocchi was without  a partner while Giorgino soon  found a new partner in Antonio Sementa. When Norberto told me he wanted to try again with Madala I was very happy:  I told him I thought he had all the rights to enter the National Team again.

About the pair Duboin-Sementa. How do you think they performed? Maybe a little below the expectations? Two absolute champions who playing in a pair seem the weak link in this National.

In Pechin Duboin-Sementa played in a way I would define “ starlike”. It’s not enough a year or two to make a couple. Sementa is a very good player but doesn’t have an easy temper; It isn’t easy to  combine with him. I think they will become a really good pair.  At the moment they have ups and downs.

Then you will confirm this couple for the World Campionships.

I cannot tell anything about it: I  have got a year to take a decision. A year to evaluate, look at the results of the players, then I will decide. I have  to give  the formation for the Bermuda Bowl in June. There is plenty of time. To evaluate and decide.

Then nobody is sure of  the role in the National Team, right?

Correct. The tern hasn’t been chosen yet. I decide at the very last moment.

Are all the four pairs  involved?

Sure. Let’s see the way they will play this year. Their agreement. There are so many things to evaluate.

Could you tell me something about the  just concluded Championships in Philadelphia ?

First of all our team was not complete as Madala cannot enter the States yet. He  made a stupid thing: He entered a casino with the documents of one of his friends because he was not old enough.

When will this problem be solved?

We tried everything but in the USA they are very  strict. Five years must pass. In two years he will be able to enter the States again. He made a childish act and is paying for that. So he couldn’t come to Philadelphia and Ferraro played with Bocchi.

Let’s go back to the performance of the team in Philalphia.

We didn’y play well. We were eliminated at third knockout. Without any doubt I think if I had had Madala, we would have reached better results. Consider Bocchi played less and he didn’t have his usual partner. The Diamond Team, the winner of the Rosenblum Cup,  is a very stong team. Had we been  the whole team I can assure you, it would have been a beautiful competition.

An now  a few words about the Club Team Italian Championships who have taken our breath away up to the end.

I must tell  a thing. I think it is  absurd to let three foreigners play. It seems to me it is against the rules.

Do you know that the Varese Team appealed against it?

Yes I do. Let’s see how it develops. It doesn’t matter who won or lost. I insist on the irregularity of the presence of three foreigner players in the Club Team Italian Championships.

You won, even though the results have not been approved yet, playing a fantastic rescue.

We played very well but we were also lucky. Our opponents made two or three bad mistakes. But when you win for a matchpoint  there is  a lot of luck. At a certain moment we were less 70 points,  then we moved up and everything was all right. A great luck!

They have been beautiful Championships. Just a spot for many bridge fans: not seeing Lauria and Versace at work.

Once again it  was up to Angelini who didn’t want them to come and play in the National, so as a consequence there was the breaking off between Angelini, and the pair Lauria-Versace who found out they couldn’t play the Club Team Italian Championships. Now they are not with Angelini any longer, they play with a new sponsor who is a very nice person: Mr. Zaleski. Look it was a nonsens to think they would come and play with me. I have my own team.

Isn’t there any chance for Lauria-Versace to play under the colours of the Lavazza team maybe for the    next year  Club Team Italian Championships?

Well Lauria and Versace now are playng with Zaleski with whom they have a contract for  two years, and with him they will play the next Italian Championships.

Mrs. Lavazza I refer to the Club Team Italian Championships. You could  play together in some way; There are no number limits in the formation of the players.

 Alfredo might come with Zaleski who is his partner. We, Zaleski and me, might also play the next Club Team Italian Championship together. We might  talk of it, I have good relationship with Zaleski  and  I don’t exclude exchanges of players or cohoperation. But now it’s too early totell anything.

As far as Zaleski is concerned what do you think about the entry in Italy of this third important sponsor who breaks the duopoly Lavazza –Angelini?

Zaleski has always been a great sponsor, has always had a great passion for bridge. I think  his entry in Italy is right and D’Avossa and Intonta who are a young pair  will play with him bettering their possibility to grow.

Apart from bridge you have many interests, you carry on business. I would be glad  if you could tell something about  the ADISCO of which you are the President  of the Region.

I’m involved a lot in the association that takes care of the children suffering from  leukaemia, we are organizing many activities.

The last one was  the very peculiar auction occurred on the 18th May, a charity auction  patronized by Sotheby’s   where there were no objects but particular and unique experiences such as playing a tennis game with Adriano Panatta.

I  thank you for such a question about the ADISCO because it is  important to make the public aware of such a problem. As I told you before it is  a commitment  which I devote myself together with my daughter Francesca who is regional vicepresident. We are very active on this field. It’s tiring but gratifying at the same time.

The motto you chose for that activity was “The dreams can come true staying together”. In a spot of your coffee you spoke about a dream too:” A man can be measured according to his capability to dream”. A question comes to my mind : a woman like you, beautiful rich successful, who has had a lot in her life,  has still  a dream to realise?

At my age my thought  is entirely for my family. That my five beautiful grandchildren be always fine. I like being a grandmother very much. Well I tell my dream is this: I hope they can improve and live well. I love my family very much. We are very close and I wish the same for the future.

So our talk ends up here. I thank you for your helpfulness.It has  been a real pleasure.

The same for me thank you. It’s ‘been a pleasure for me meeting you.

by Laura Camponeschi

October 19, 2010

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