22:23 24 OCT 2014 Elk Point, South Dakota GS Jade Barrett by GS Jade Barrett CsbNews.org correspondent
“To sing opera, one needs two things: the voice and the passion – and above all, the passion” – Andrea Bocelli
As seasoned bridge road warriors, my traveling companion, Dr Donna Lombardini and yours truly managed to land in Milan, catch the train to the city center, connect to Padova, meet our host – the exceptional Paolo Clair – who then drove us to our hotel in Abano Terme allowing us the opportunity to speedily check in, wash up and arrive just in time for dinner and bridge at the Padova Bridge Societa Sportiva Dilettantistica. Just another day at the office.
Of course we did need to board the high speed rail to Rome the next morning, but what is a little travel among friends? Adventures like this are both tiring and exciting, particularly when in the company of Paolo and myself, for at any moment of the day we are likely to take a side trip of 30 KM or so to find the perfect cake, espresso or salami. Life’s simple pleasures often come as a result of taking a risk or two.
Bridge comes naturally to people of this nature, the willingness to put our egos on the line in order to be provided the opportunity to successfully solve exceptionally involved problems. It is easy to look foolish in a game with octillions of variables, so the ability to withstand loss is paramount. The ability to forget is not to be understated.
So our event had its moments, both shining and calamitous, where our team, Team Heifer International, stood as high as 8th, and as low as 56th out of the 69 team field, settling at a respectable 20th when the smoke cleared and all was said and done. Our opponents were patient with me, as my Italian is dreadful when it is not nonexistent, doing their best to make me feel welcome. My partner’s efforts to speak the home language of the tournament were met with praise, and the joy of our counterparts at her successful attempts at communicating was refreshing.
The quality of the game was best online casino high, with each match a challenge to our abilities and I appreciated the skill levels of all our opponents. They also played with the strength and power of those who have a special relationship with bridge – unafraid of the opposition, regardless of their experience, while taking their poor results in stride. As you might expect, there were more than a few excited discussions, but that is within the normal course of events when passionate people play a passionate game.
The organizers made their best efforts to move the tournament along, and when the matches took somewhat longer than originally planned, they modified the start times to fit the tempo of the game – something that the ACBL does not do enough of. The flexibility of the Directing Staff is to be both congratulated and appreciated – these people rarely receive adequate credit for the jobs they do.
The Angelini was a fun event, played in the Olympic Stadium originally constructed in 1960, and while the venue was a trifle loud, the environment was cool enough on hot days, and when one needed to escape the crowd, a seat inside the arena itself was available just a few feet away. It was easy to imagine how the roar of the crowd could fill this space when the home town heroes score a goal (it is fun to imagine the same kind of cheering when our team makes a difficult slam). The contest itself was conducted over three days, with ten 8 Board Swiss Matches scored by the new 20 Victory Point Scale determining the 8 teams who would compete in the Knock Out while the rest of the field would attain their final placements through 5 more contests. I have always enjoyed this format, and wish that North America would occasionally run a similar schedule. The cash prizes add to the experience as well.
It is important for serious competitors to experience bridge in different areas of the world, for while the rules of the game are a constant, the styles are many and varied. The exposure to different approaches to the game provides stimulus for growth, something that the most accomplished players occasionally lack. The rewarding nature of bridge is a constant as well and with the highs and lows of the game driving the emotional state of the players both up and down, it comes as no surprise that those who live in the birthplace of opera take to our favorite sport as ducks to water, for we have all experienced the hand where during the play we are happy, then sad, then happy, then sad…the primary difference is nobody dies at the end.