by Ram Soffer for the 47 th Israel Bridge Festival Bulletins
The participants of the Israel Bridge Festival, as well as the Red Sea Festival, are already accustomed to see Maurizio Di Sacco as the head of the staff of directors. I took the opportunity to have a short talk with the man who has become one of the most senior TDs in the world and “the mind behind the organization” of the most important championships.
When did you start to play bridge?
I started in 1980, at the age of 19. I have won three Italian championships and represented my country in three world
championships. In Geneva 1990 and Albuquerque 1994 I reached the finals of the World Pairs Championships. I played every year in the Italian Premier League till I quit playing in 2002.
Meanwhile you started to advance on the ladder of tournament directing.
In 1987 I received my first license as a director. Then I became national TD in 1991 and EBL TD in 1996. The Rhodes Olympiad 1996 was the first important international event where I served as TD. Later I became Italian Chief TD in 2000 and EBL Chief TD in 2006. This was the highest rank available at the time. I am also WBF Chief TD.
In recent events you are no longer an ordinary member of the staff of directors.
Right, I have been the general manager. I take care of the whole organization, all the details, starting my work months before the event. I deal with the equipment, the programs and the network. In fact, I am the mind behind the organization.
Does the organization of recent championships involve a lot more electronic stuff?
Yes, the whole thing started in 2007 after I wrote a project titled “paperless championship”. We started using Bridge Mate as early as 2005. The players like it much more this way, and we are going to have more of it in the future.
In addition to those activities, you have been recently promoting bridge vacations in Italy.
I am working together with the “Solo Italia” company. They have already sponsored the Red Sea Festival some years ago. We invite players from all over the world to the main bridge festivals in Italy, and we are organizing new events, with few bridge competitions and a lot of vacation.
How popular is bridge in Italy recently?
Unfortunately, competitive bridge is on the decline. Participation is decreasing every year, but social bridge is very popular, and our bridge vacations are doing well.
How many players are registered in the Italian Federation?
We have about 23,000, out of a population of about 60 million.
This means that in Israel we have a higher membership, relative to the population size.
Yes, Israeli bridge is organized very well, and you are also doing extremely well in youth and junior championships.
Do you think that Israel can occupy a permanent place among the leading nations in bridge?
I believe that you need some big sponsors. Currently this is the big advantage of teams like Italy and the Netherlands. Their players are paid a very good salary (about 150,000-200,000 Euros per year) in order to concentrate on playing bridge. That’s why they have become so strong. I believe that with this kind of sponsorship Israel could do just as well.
Let’s hope so. Thank you very much, and have a pleasant time in Tel Aviv!