Writing this farewell note is a difficult and sad task, Guido was one of the most loved people in the world Bridge family and today all who knew him are suffering his loss. For those who did not know him to much and for all of those who want to keep remembering him, here is an interview I had the honor to make to him in Beijing during the first World Mind Games (CHI) 2008:
During the Beijing WMSG, I had the opportunity of spending some time with Guido Ferraro, who was selected several times to join the national Italian bridge team, the super famous «Blue Team». I found him to be extremely polite, knowledgeable and lots of fun. Many thanks for your time, Guido.
How did you start playing bridge?
I was twelve. One day I went to my father’s house when he was having a bridge lesson with a teacher and I watched… when they finished I told my father I wanted to learn. At the time I used to play tennis and there was rubber bridge at the club. I started playing with my dad as partner. At 14 I played my first tournament in addition to the junior championships, and at 17 I partnered up with the star of the Torino tennis club, Italo Santiah.
That same year I was invited to join the «Lavazza» team, a selection to play the common market tournament, and I classified to play in the Italian official team, we lost in the quarter finals.
In 1980 I continued with «Lavazza», my partner was Giorgio Belladona for three years, and as a junior I played with Giorgio Duboin. It was a great team.
With the junior team in 1984 we lost against France, by individual match, almost at the end we were way ahead, but we lost the
last two matches 24 to 6 against France and Denmark. a tragic experience, our partners were Vittorio Golfarelli and Norberto Bocchi.
What happened afterwards?
The following year I moved on to men’s but was not selected to play in the official team.
Until 1999, when I played with Dano Defalco and we won the European Championship. After that we played the Bermuda Bowl and lost in the quarter finals against the U.S. by 5 IMPs after discounting a carry-over of 13.
In the year 2000 you played in the team that won the Olympics… what can you tell us about that?
In 2000 in Maastricht we won the first Olympics against Poland by 11 IMPs after making two consecutive doubled contracts. That year we also won the European tournament in Tenerife. In 2002 we lost the semifinals of the World Championship against Norway by 5 IMPs and I retired.
But that retirement has not been final… Lately you have teamed up with an Argentine player… How did you start playing with Agustin Madala?
I met him at the Paris World Tournament in 2001, he played for Argentina when he was only 15… We watched him play and realized he was very good. When we were chatting I told him bridge was his calling… And at 17 we invited him to join the Lavazza team as my partner.
Can a player at 17 reach that level?
Yes. His carding was already perfect, only his bidding needed improvement. The truth is he studied little but understood everything. My role was to prepare him to play with Antonio Sementa.
We played very well together in the Japan tournament which we won very easily. In Amsterdam we played and easily won the White House. Playing excellent bridge.
We also played professional in the U.S. with a sponsor.
Which bridge book would you recommend?
Forquet’s book «Play bridge with the Blue Team», I think it’s the best bridge book of all times.
To me he was the best player ever, even today Pietro plays very well, I play with him twice a year.
At present, who do you think is the best player?
Right now the best players are: Jeff Meckstroth of the U.S., Alfredo Versace from Italy and Marcelo Castello Branco from Brazil…
What can you tell us of Castello Branco?
When I met him I was impressed… not only by his talent and regularity at the table, but he makes no mistakes playing the cards, his carding is wonderful…
What is your favourite convention?
I like natural bridge, I think all conventions are bad, I don’t have a favourite.
What would you advise youngsters that want to dedicate themselves to bridge?
Try something else. It is very difficult to be a pro, you see the best 10 making lots of money but behind them there are hundreds just surviving.
Besides you not only have to play well, you need a marketing backup promoting you and that’s very difficult…professional bridge is pure marketing!!!
The life of a pro is very hard, if I had children I would tell them to play sports, and choose another career.
Now that you are retired again, what would you like to do for bridge?
Right now I would like to coach but outside of Italy…I would like to work in South America…
Why South America?
I like the weather and more relaxed lifestyle in South America… and especially the women…
How do you see the future of bridge?
Right now bridge is a seniors’ game, the young play poker rather than bridge… When I was 14 there was none of that, technology is killing bridge.
Another reason is that the federations lack a comprehensive promotion policy…
In Italy bridge is taught at school, but it doesn’t work out because the bridge instructor is the geography or math teacher and it is impossible to believe that anyone who doesn’t know bridge can teach it.
What do you think of the Italian method of appointing the selection?
That it is tops!!! Except for a year (1998) we have always had a Captain doing the selection, which guarantees that we always have the best possible team. Our experience proves it.
At present Maria Teresa is the only one selecting, and if you look at the results, it’s the best way.
What do you think of the seniors category?
Competitive but more relaxed and much more fun. I have 11 years to go… By 2020 we already have a program with the same team, Golfarelli, Duboin, Bocchi and myself.
Is there any cheating in bridge?
I’m not sure, most of it is legend, there were only 5 or 6 pairs in history.
Which hand keeps you awake at night?
In the Bermuda Bowl quarter finals, I missed a card, I had QJ2 of trump but I didn’t see the 2.
Nickel played the A and K and I discarded the J and Q and all of a sudden the 2 appeared, and we lost by 5 IMPs; the hand cost us 12 instead of giving us 11 IMPs and a swing of 23 IMPs… What do you think?. Many nights I don’t sleep.