On this occasion, I am happy to interview a WBF World Life Master and excellent player, Mustafa Cem Tokay, born in Turkey but today living in Rome.
Mustafa, -¿At what age did you start playing bridge?
I start playing when I was 20 years old, maybe 19.
When Norberto Bocchi interviewed you in 2013, you told him that Nafiz Zorlu was the first Turkish player who influenced you positively in your bridge and that somehow he was the reason that you are a passionate bridge player today.- What can you tell me about him?
Nafiz Zorlu is the reason why I decided to play bridge for living.
He is a legendary personality of Turkish bridge. He is a very talented and creative player that represented the Turkish bridge, very successfully, through many years in the international arena.
I played with him many years and we won a lot of turkish champshionships and also we had good results as teammates in the last years; we won The Vilnius Invitational CUP with Alfredo Versace; Nafiz partnering Nezih Kubac. This year in Montecarlo during the European Winter Games we lost the semifinal against the Zimmerman team, Nafiz again partnering Nezih Kubac and I playing with Antonio Sementa ( my regular partner).
¿Who was your first partner?
In the beginning I played really bad and I had many partners, my first serious partner was Nafiz Zorlu.
Mustafa, ¿What have been the most important bridge achievements of your life?
I won many things, I arrived to the Semi-finals or finals or just win, almost all the NABC championships I played with Antonio Sementa, we really play very good together and we obtain very good results.
In Europe I won many pairs and team events, I won the Vilnius invitational , I won the South American Open Teams Championship in 2014, I won the Copenhagen Invitational pairs with Alfredo Versace as my partner.
2 weeks ago we lost the Vanderbilt Cup final against the Lavazza team and 2 months ago we just lost the semifinal in the European Championship against the Zimmerman team.
I can write here many more successes but I don’t have any Bermuda Bowl so my target is to win one Bermuda Bowl with Sementa, Lauria and Versace.
If you were born again, ¿Would you be a bridge player ,again?
Yes! Of course…I would chose bridge again 100%. This game has unlimited possibilities and there is human feelings inside it so is a real passion for me.
-¿How many years have you been playing with your team: Antonio Sementa, Lorenzo Lauria, Alfredo Versace, etc and what about your expectations?
I think we start to play 6 years ago. And for the last 2 and a 1/2 years İ have been playing with Antonio Sementa as my partner. I played with Alfredo Versace quite a few times. Now we are playing for Francesco Angelini in İtaly and Europe, and for Jimmy Cayne in America. We have obviously big expectations. We want to win a Bermuda Bowl, the three of them have won one in the past, but İ never had this chance 😉 İ think that is my turn now.
¿Is there is a good rapport between everyone?
We are very good friends we also see each other when we don’t play bridge. They are all my great friends and İ think that İ am the same for them, especially Lorenzo and Alfredo. We study and update our system, and almost everyday we check technical solutions and we study what have gone wrong at the table. I am always going to be thankful to my great friends and teammates.
-¿How are you as a player?
İ think İ am a good player 😎
Sometimes a little practical, I have some problem to be too much aggressive in bidding but İ know that my technical level is very high and İ am good knowing about opps systems and habits at the table.
I still sacrifice a lot for this game, I continue study everyday and İ have a bridge file over 250.000 thousand pages, maybe more.
¿What do you expect from a good partner?
A good partner… this is really a hard question. First of all he should be a strong player. İ was lucky this last 5 years, because İ only played with Versace and Sementa, they are both like Lamborghini and Ferrari.
But also a good partner has to arrange a comfortable situation for his partner at the table. He or she should not make you waste your energy and feelings for stupid reasons. He should not take your power to fight with opps at the table.
He shouldn’t penalize you at the bidding for example for a light overcall you made, he should not dbl opps because of your light balancing bid, he should not raise you 2 times and make you pay 800… 🙄
There are millions of parameters to define a perfect pd, really not easy for this interview, but if you want to know who is the best partner I know…he is Alfredo Versace…Alfredo is the best partner in the world…he is the number 1. He always leads his pds to the perfect situation at the table and knows how to get the best profit from them.
Ramón Gómez, is one of our best catalan young players. He wants to know. In your opinion which pair has the strongest bidding system?
I think our system is one of the best but also Norberto Bocchi’s system (The Big Bang) is very nice. His system is one of the best.
¿What about Monaco’s first Winter Games? I think you played the quarter finals against a good friend, Juan Carlos Ventín. What can you tell us about that quarter-final match against Ventin’s team?
We beat them. Antonio and I played the first two sets without making a single mistake and they could not recover in the third.
This is a question for you from Juan Carlos Ventin:-¿ Do You miss Istanbul nights with wonderfull places as Queen, now that you ‘are living in Rome?
Sure İ miss İstanbul a lovely city but İ go there almost every 1-2 months, İ have many friends and also my family. Mmmm…İstanbul nights… yes probably İ miss them 😆 but Roma is a beautiful city İ really love to be in İtaly, and İ will leave in İtaly for the rest of my life.
And since Juan Carlos asked you a question, now I want you to define Juan Carlos Ventín as a player and as a person?
Juan Carlos Ventin is not easy to describe. A great player, a real gentleman and an incredible good friend. You can’t easily find that caliber people in our bridge society, they are eally very rare. İ always enjoy to play with him and İ believe we will have many chances to play also from now on.
Mustafa, you’ve said you’re writing with Lorenzo Lauria a new convention – Can You tell us more about it?
I am trying to convince Lorenzo and I think I am very close to do it, I want to change our system. This will be a surprise if it happens and is too early to speak about this.
All İ can say is that it is possible that we have big changes in our system in 1 year. Also Lorenzo wants to write a book about our system to let young players to learn our logic. İ am helping Lorenzo about all this subject.
Your partner Antonio Sementa, I know he is one of the best players in the world -¿What can you tell me about him?
Antonio Sementa: İ told you in this interview that he is like a Ferrari. He is a big talent, he is a very strong card player and a true champion and a real winner. Usually people do not realize his technical bidding level, for me he is the strongest in this matter.
What’s your next tournament?
İ have to go to Turkey for training to play the Turkish National teams one week and then we will play the İtalian Open Championships in Salsomaggiore then we have the İtaly Societary Cup and in Washington the Spingold Cup. And probably more events which İ don’t remember now.
Your thougts, about the new Bocchi-Brenner partnership in the Lavazza team?
There is not much to say about Norberto. He is my great friend and a champion with very big experience. Diego is a very talented player and also very special person. İ remember many times when he played us guitar and we enjoyed it a lot. I am very happy for my friend Diego that he was able to win the last Vanderbilt, some weeks ago. İ hope they go for long time together.
Can You tell me a funny bridge story?
We have many funny moments, but I remember from Montecarlo this year I had this cards: x x A Q J 10 x x x x x x x
Antonio passed, my RHO opened 1 and I bid 1NT (true psyche ) we sent the tray and the tray came back with a Double by my LHO and Antonio 2 ( Transfer to 2 ). My RHO asked me what 2 meant, and I explained him and I passed!!!! We sent the tray and I saw my LHO pass very quickly because he was happy, he thought we had a misunderstood and I heard Antonio complaining from other side of screen. He went crazy probably cause he had 10 points with 5 spades.
After he saw the dummy things changed, we scored 2 just made and our teammates in the other table scored 3NT plus 1. It was very funny to watch Antonio so crazy when he saw that I passed over his 2, anyway it was not the first time I saw Antonio like that…
And do you have some bad time to remember too?
İ lost against the Nickel team 2 times in America by 1-2-3 imps or very close difference. One of them was with a appeal committee decision. Which İ still think that it was really a bad decision; Ok nothing to do about this now:). And second worst is this cheating scandal in the last months, İ feel very bad about all this stuff.
Have you played the Barcelona Open? Do you think to come to play it in 2017?
I never had chance to play the Barcelona Festival, I think Alfredo played it 1 year ago , I love Barcelona perhaps we can come… who knows.
Yes!!! I remember I made pictures and questions to Alfredo Versace and he was very attentive and kind to me. If you decide to come, the Catalan Bridge Federation will be delighted to welcome you and then we can do a photo! 🙂
Mustafa, -Are You married?
No I am not married.
If you were to ask any good woman player to play with you some mixed pairs o teams event, -¿Who would you select?
I can say Marion Michielsen by far.
You will teach your future children to play bridge?
I don’t have kids hehe…
jaja But perhaps in the future you will have many -¿If this is the case, you will teach them?
Of course I will do it 🙂
Thank you very much Mustafa, you have been very kind and I wish you to win the Bermuda Bowl very soon!