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INTERVIEW WITH GIANARRIGO RONA,

 

PRESIDENT OF EUROPEAN BRIDGE LEAGUE, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF WORLD BRIDGE FEDERATION

 

September 2009

 

 

Gianarrigo Rona


What is the future of bridge?


Today we are in very complex position. Some years ago, when we were young, playing cards was favorite pastime of many of us. Now young generation practically stopped to play cards. They have much more temptations… Internet, online games, more serious approach to the studies and jobs, and so on. Now card games are mainly for older people.


We try to do as much as possible to change this trend – we are helping to introduce the bridge to schools, we support competitions for young people on many levels, and so on… But it is a long and winding road…


This problem is not far from my next question – bridge and TV – we can observe how TV broadcasting helped to the development of poker in last few years.

 

Can bridge follow the same way?


This is not so simply.

 

First – rules of bridge are much more complicated than those of poker. So, the spectator must be the player of certain level to enjoy watching the game. As far as I know, about 60 milion people in the world play bridge. How much of the will watch? 10.000? Maximum.

 

Second – bridge matches, or tournaments are long. Which TV station will give 4-5 hours to show bridge? And, for example, the final of Bermuda Bowl is three days long, and the whole championships are more or less two weeks. And the costs of broadcast – TV is very expensive.

 

And the third – how long can you watch the bridge? People prefer to play. I remember, from 70-ties and 80-ties, when in my club in Pavia we organized the matches of the local team against Blue Team, Chinese Taipei team, and some Polish teams, at the beginning the crowd of people was looking. But after 2-3 boards, 15-20 minutes, most spectators came to play.


The future of bridge broadcasts is Internet. I think that this is not a long time, when the media development will bring some fusion of the Internet and TV, where the Internet broadcast will be very TV-like. We can observe this progress also now. The more and more bridge events are online shown on BBO, and the broadcast is more and more attractive. Also technological broadcast enable watching at any place, for example on mobile phone.


What about the development of bridge in new countries and the small federations?


Problem is always the same. People… You must find right people at the right places. We are ready to support bridge in new countries. We can send the team of bridge organizer, of tournament director and bridge teacher for a week or two anywhere. They will show to the people how to work, how to carry the bridge event, how to manage the bridge life. But there must be people who want to do it, who want to be taught.

 

Those people should go further – when coming back to their communities, they should develop bridge in their cities, in schools, and so on. We are not able to engage full time professionals to keep them in some country for the year or two to start bridge there. It must be done by the local community. Here in Lithuania bridge players are lucky. There are persons, interested not only in developing themselves in a bridge, but also to develop the bridge all over the country.


The recognizing the bridge as the sport by International Olympic Committee helps it as in almost countries bridge federations can get some support from government, and it is easier in many aspects, for example to introduce the bridge into schools.


Bridge and Olympics – what can we expect?


Mind games in Beijing were a spectacular success. Our goal is to compete for olympic medals. I think that the future is four olympic events – summer, winter, paraolympic and mind games. It will be one of the subjects of the nearest meeting of International Olympic Committee where World Mind Games Organizations is strongly lobbing for it. If we achieve it, everything will become easier for all national bridge organizations.


And my last question – ethics in bridge.


Ethics in bridge is crucial. Bridge is the game of the rules, and who breaks the rules, must be out of the play. It is beyond any doubt. But it is not so easy. During my life with bridge I have heard many rumors, but strong evidence we could observe in only a few cases. Cheating in bridge is like doping in physical sport. But antidoping control is relatively easy. To prove the cheating is difficult. What can I say… No even one case of cheating will be put under the carpet, but also no rumors can be accepted.