The Presidents of SportAccord and the World Bridge Federation, the President Emeritus of the WBF and other officials from both organisations together with the Bridge Ambassadors and other bridge players from the Mind Games were invited to a middle school in central Beijing to play bridge with the students.
The invited players from the Mind Games were Bridge Ambassadors Fulvio Fantoni and Wang Wenfei; Claudio Nunes (all World Grand Masters) and Junior Internationals from England Sarah O’Connor and Sinéad Bird.
The bus trip afforded the two young players the opportunity to discuss bidding methods with World Grand Masters Fulvio Fantoni (the World #1 and Bridge Ambassador to SportAccord) and his partner, #2 in the world ranking, Claudio Nunes together with Women’s Grand Master and Bridge Ambassador Wang Wenfei.
The five are pictured right (from left: Wang Wenfei, Fulvio Fantoni,Sinead Bird, Sarah O'Connor and Claudio Nunes)
Sarah being a teacher was especially interested in seeing the students concentrating on their game and enjoying playing with the experts. The rest of the students played some hands among themselves, then many became autograph hunters, zealously tracking down the experts and officials to get their signature. Their enthusiasm was infectious and one group was relaxed enough to “hijack” the President of the World Bridge Federation and persuade him to play a hand or two with them, watched avidly by their peers. (see picture below)
t was once said that “with music, bridge is a universal language” – and this visit certainly proved the point. It is a medium that can join people from all over the world without any prejudice, where they can play in partnership or as opponents, without understanding each other’s language, but still find enjoyment, challenge and excitement.
And what other sport can you think of where a newcomer has the chance to play against one of the top pairs in the world as they can at bridge? To meet your heroes at the bridge table is a very special experience and the youngsters at the school certainly made the most of it.
On his return, Fulvio Fantoni remarked that he was delighted to see that one of his top tips for newcomers to bridge was being followed at the school – “Relax, enjoy yourself and never forget that bridge is a game”