8 December 2020

It was known that the BBO portal (Bridge Base Online) was a substitute not very much in line with the game of bridge played at the tables. But something had to be invented if this pandemic closed us at home. And let’s say that that system has held up quite well in recent months with the many activities that have been carried out. Sample lessons included.

But now a new system is appearing in the panorama of fans. It’s called Real Bridge and it’s a streaming program that allows you to sit at a virtual table and play face-to-face like in clubs . Still on the computer, but with a camera and microphone.

Wow, you all say, we solved the problem then.

In part yes. The game that started a few days ago immediately made me think of Enrico , one of the young students of the Liceo Scientifico Grassi in Latina who attended my bridge club. Enrico, just seventeen years old and with a passion for the game, lives in a hilly village about thirty km from Latina. To make him follow the lessons and make him play with friends, his mother indulged this passion of her son, making an incredible routine to accompany him and then come and pick him up late at night. Every now and then he was hosted by his bridge teacher, Valter Vigna and Marilena , his wife.

Why did I mention Enrico? Because Enrico and all the other students could find a solution to their school and study problems thanks to this technology. And all those people who have moved away because they are unable to reach the clubs due to age, illness or many other reasons could get closer to playing.

After much hesitation, therefore, the Italian Bridge Game Federation (FIGB) has recognized the federal validity for tournaments organized on the English platform RealBridge.

In fact, the circular issued on November 24 states that “the FIGB recognizes on an experimental basis the Local Tournaments on RealBridge as officially valid as if they were Local Tournaments in presence; provides free of charge, in collaboration with RealBridge, all the support and collaboration necessary for training in the use of the platform and provides for what is necessary for the registration of rankings and for the assignment of federal points in the usual measure “.

Said so it seems like a turning point. But to understand better, we talk about it with Anna Greco, a very good player, who has always been very involved in the dissemination of the game and a candidate for national councilor of the Figb. She explains to me where the limit is. Although it is clear that from the player’s point of view this platform used by associations is liked because it gives the idea of ​​being in the club, “its limit is fiscal. In Europe as well as in the USA, online gaming has limitations. So much so that the world-class platforms use virtual currency that cannot be converted into money, but only spent. An Association, in fact, must always justify the inflow and outflow of money.

We as councilor candidates, together with other world federations, have been in talks for a few months with some bridge platforms to implement the game system with cameras. Real Bridge is currently based in the UK and as you well know there, online money play is free. That’s why the platform can cash out. At this moment, the Associations must be helped by the Federation in managing all these innovations. In fact, the questions that many presidents of the Clubs ask themselves are: how do we justify the payment of the platform? And how do we pay the prizes to the players? “

Yes, however, beyond all these legitimate corrections, Anna, Real Bridge solves many problems or not?

“Of course, Greco replies, the ideal would be for bridge to go where clubs don’t. And this system allows it. Just make some adjustments. The Federation must intervene by giving the necessary administrative assistance and create a card, as it is already in use in the United States, which would allow the recovery of card-holders and players, even those who have abandoned for various reasons. Do you want to have a club close at hand and be able to play comfortably from home? The ideal, therefore, is to create a double channel that allows everyone to play so as not to make anyone feel excluded “.

In terms of sociality, therefore, as far as possible, we have undeniably taken an important step forward. Among other things, Graham Hazel, programmer of the platform announces that among the many innovations there are European championships and other things concerning clubs and teaching. We are only at the beginning, he announces.

But beyond the problems that those in charge must solve , I also wanted to hear from our champions. I have already interviewed some of them ( and you can read the interview by clicking on their name ).

The question is: what do you think of this Real Bridge?

“I don’t know Real Bridge well, Alfredo Versace replies , one of the strongest players in the world. “But I saw that one evening Emanuela (Pramotton ed) was playing there. It looks very nice to me and could definitely be the new bridge. At least in 2021 – 2022 or until everything is resolved ”.

Bernardo Biondo , international bridge referee, teacher and great player, considers it socially useful , “but I still can’t give a clear opinion, because I’ve only played half a time. At first glance it seems like a funny novelty, even if a little bit “immature” and under construction “.

I also asked what he thought of this game from Norberto Bocchi, from Parma and winner of prestigious awards in Italy and around the world. “I can’t help you, he says, because I know little about it. However, real bridge is something else, in my opinion, both as a game in itself and as a socialization between people and as fun.

Could the great Fulvio Fantoni be missing The master of life as he is defined in the game world. Fulvio is currently the number 6 player in the world. However, he too has not yet experienced the platform, but adds: “I see that many are favorably impressed. I hope to be able to try it this week, also because someone asked me to transfer the online tournament lessons there ”.

Nice as always Marina Causa , teacher, player, champion and author of a system that everyone knows in bridge: “What do you want me to tell you? I haven’t set foot in it yet !!! But they all talk about it with enthusiasm! For me bridge will always be arriving at the club ten minutes early, having a coffee, saying goodbye and having a chat, then sitting down and playing. Nothing can ever replace all this, so … I’m waiting! “