Join Bridge Winners
WBF Press Conference - Statutes, I.O.C., Fair Play & Future Venues

'Gianarrigo Rona gave a summary of recent events in the bridge world. He started by thanking the members of the Championship Committee who had done a fantastic job in organising this event, which he considered successful. The venue was very nice, although the distances were a bit long.

Regarding the participation, the numbers were acceptable, except for the women teams. Many women prefer to play in the open competitions, so maybe a different format needs to be found for this event. Bringing back the knockout to 64 teams (last used in Biarritz in 1982) had turned out to be a good idea. Perhaps adding another day to the qualifying might make the formula even better....

...At the WBF congress earlier in the week, new statutes and by-laws had been confirmed. They were now more modern, according to the Olympic charter and following the ideals of democracy and transparency. From 2020, three members of the Executive Council will be elected by the Congress (the others being, as now, appointed by the zones). The president would not be able to serve more than three terms, and an age limit of 80 would be imposed on the members of the executive. A strong structure which will guarantee the future of our sport.

Regarding the Olympic Games, Rona told the conference that bridge had just made its debut as part of a multi-sport event: the Asian Games. The players stayed in the athlete village, together with participants in other sports, and they walked in the opening ceremony. This is a very important evolution and the hope is that there will be a repeat. This is very likely in Beijing in 2022, and talks are going on with the organizers of the European Games. The dream of getting to the Olympics themselves received a boost when it was announced that the IOC had recognised e-sports, certainly even less of a physical activity than bridge, but carrying a lot of financial assets. Ideas are being put forward of separate games for "sports of attention" and the period between the Olympics and the Paralympics is suggested for such an event. The IOC recognises 73 International Federations and the WBF is proud to be one of them.

The president opened the floor to questions, the first of which came from Marshall Lewis. He wanted to know how the WBF intends to defend the integrity of the sport after the recent decisions of the CAS. David Harris replied that we need to comply with the rules of the CAS, even when these seem contrary to our expectations. The WBF has introduced a clause into our disciplinary code which would compel the CAS to appoint an expert (taken from the list of top 20 World Grand Masters) that would aid the tribunal who might not understand the complexities and specific needs of the sport of bridge. We will continue to talk to the CAS. 

Barry Rigal wished to know if the WBF would advise the member countries on how to write rules based on probability, not certainty for convictions for cheating. David Harris replied that the CAS uses the concept of "comfortable satisfaction", which is somewhat between the standard in criminal cases and the one in civil matters. 

David Harris commented on the case of the German seniors. They had been successful in an appeal to the German legal system, not because they were judged innocent, but because of procedural matters. Since then, all participants need to sign a declaration stating they must go through the process of arbitration. 

Elisabeth van Ettinger, speaking also on behalf of Jan van Cleeff, wished to know developments in the matter of Fantoni-Nunes. Rona answered that they had been declared innocent by the CAS, and so their sanctions have come to an end. They would also be free to play together, but they had previously declared that they would not do so. David Harris pointed out that all championships, world and zonal, were conducted on a basis of invitation. Potential participants needed to be declared in good standing by their federations, and the Credentials Committee had the final say.

Katie Thorpe picked up on that point. Speaking as a player, she wanted to know how she was going to find out if players would be accepted or not. She would not wish to spend a lot of money to go to a World Championship, only to find out, once there, that she would have to play against people she considered unacceptable. David Harris answered that the Credentials Committee could only deal with requests as they came in. Gianarrigo Rona added thatit would be illegal to publish beforehand a list of people that would not be accepted by the credentials committee. 

Per Jannersten wanted to know what the WBF plans were about electronic play. The President replied that for the near future, the cards were still safe, but that play on tablets and even on the Internet would be looked into. He announced that a new Committee, headed by José Damiani, would be looking into e-bridge, including special regulations and laws.

Bob Jones stated that Olympic participation is only a dream and that other sports and IOC members are happy to see that our sport has to deal with cheats. Gianarrigo Rona replied that other sports have many more problems than ours, with doping, betting and match fixing. The CAS deals with 1000 cases a year, only one of them about bridge. The high-level commission, instituted after Chennai, has only seen three cases in three years, and all of them were quickly dismissed.

To close, the president talked about future events:

Next year, the Youth Open Championships will take place from 20 to 28 August in Opatija, Croatia.

The World Team Championships (Bermuda Bowl and others) will be in Wuhan, China. The original venue (Sanya) proved unavailable. The dates are not completely fixed but would be after September 15th (so as not to clash with the Basketball World Championships) and before October 15th. The final dates will also depend on Chinese holidays and vacation periods. The event will be enlarged to 24 national teams per series, playing a full round robin followed by quarter- and semifinals, and a final, all over two days (96 boards). A fourth event, for national mixed teams, will be added to the Bermuda Bowl, Venice Cup and D'Orsi Trophy.

In 2020, the World Bridge Games will most probably be held in Turkey, likely in Istanbul.

For the 2021 Bermuda Bowl, discussions are under way with Marrakech, Morocco.'

Pages 4 & 5:

Getting Comments... loading...

Bottom Home Top