Bridge for Peace...Alvin Levy
I just returned home from the World Team Championships in Estoril, Portugal, where I serve as an ACBL representative on the executive council of the World Bridge Federation.
“Bridge for Peace” is a motto being promoted by the WBF. Starting from the opening ceremony on October 22, through the exciting finishes of the three major championship events, and ending with the closing ceremony and medal presentation on November 6th, the bridge activities were a moving and exciting experience and demonstrated that the motto might be real.
The tournament was officially opened by Jose Damiani, president of the World Bridge Federation, along with the Mayor of Cascais, the president of the Portuguese Bridge Federation, the vice-president of the Sport Institute of Portugal, and the chairman of the Estoril Tourist Board. The 66 teams (22 in each event) competing in the Bermuda Bowl, Venice Cup and Senior Bowl were introduced. Each team, most dressed in team uniforms, was given a warm round of applause. It gave all who attended a feeling of world unity and mutual respect, and if the message is carried forth, a small step in the direction of world peace.
The bridge was exciting. The USA had two teams in each competition. In a close finish, Italy beat USA I for the Bermuda Bowl, reversing the result of the last Bermuda Bowl two years ago. USA II won the bronze medal. In the Venice Cup, our USA I team just missed a medal, finishing fourth. In the Senior Bowl our USA I Senior Team won the gold medal. In the Transnational Teams, where teammates are not confined to be from the same countries, two USA players where on the gold medal team and all six players on the silver medal team were from the USA.
Congratulations to our winning USA players and congratulations to the game of bridge for bringing so many people from so many countries together for a friendly competition.
Journalists from around the world were present and reported the results. The Portuguese had copy in their papers every day.
Interestingly, the first gold medal didn’t go to a human. Wbridge5 (France), a computer-bridge program, or “robot” defeated four-time defending champion, Jack (The Netherlands) for the title of world computer-bridge champion. As organizer of this annual event, I found this group of software developers from around the world refreshingly cooperative. The final 16 boards were broadcast on BridgeBase Online to an audience of over 1,300 spectators, and at a time when most in the US were asleep. See computerbridge.com for a complete description and results.
Our junior players have a separate world championship at a time of year when school is out. This past summer there were 18 junior teams from around the world competing for a world junior title in Australia. Our USA team won and are featured on the cover of the November issue of the Bridge Bulletin. We should be proud of our young players as they trained hard and showed great team spirit.
World championships help to promote our game and hopefully result in its growth and popularity, as well as make all who play proud to be called bridge-players.