The Azzurrina from San Lazzaro di Savena (Bologna)
is a World Champion in the Women U-26 Individual
“The apple never falls very far from the tree” is sometimes said. In Bridge, there are numerous examples of children who have followed their parents’ passion. Is our sport not extraordinary in this? Mums and dads have experienced the priceless emotion of sharing a tournament or even a Championship with the person they love most in the world. And sometimes even to get on the podium together, as happened to Giuseppe Failla with his son Andrea or to Monica Cuzzi with Leonardo, while Marina Causa and Tony Mortarotti transmitted their didactic charisma to Andrea, who like them is an authentic “Cupid of the Bridge” (bring a skeptical and listless human to Andrea’s table and in thirty minutes you’ll find him transformed into a child at Disneyland).
Other times, however, the opposite happens and the offspring, for a matter of principle, ends up hating the game so loved by parents. This can happen when the Bridge has led Mum and Dad away from home to play tournaments, or due to issues of character, or simply because of the unpredictable folds that take place. In short, it also takes a bit of luck. But, if you are looking for advice, the right people to ask are definitely Francesca and Andrea Dalpozzo, who made the en plein: their daughters Eleonora, Valentina and Federica are ultra-passionate. If it not were for the fact that they had “only” three daughters, they could aim to break the Rimstedt record, the Swedish family that “baked” as many as four champions.
Valentina, the second daughter of Dalpozzo, this summer has brought Italy and her family even the pride of a world title. At the Youth Championships that took place in Opatija (Croatia) won the gold in the Women Individual under 26.
How did you start playing Bridge?
I started playing Bridge thanks to my father when I was 13, he was the one who organized an under 18 course.
Did you like Bridge right away?
The first year I was not particularly taken by this sport for various reasons, but then, after being involved by the Federation and by Ruggero Venier among the “kids” (National under 16, ed) it was all downhill!
What do you do in life? And what would you like to do “when you grow up”?
I attend the fourth year at the scientific high school. I still don’t have very clear ideas about my future.
Do you have other hobbies besides Bridge? Which?
I really like watching football with my dad … always Inter strength!
You come from a family of bridge players, what is life like with this shared passion? Are there rivalries among your sisters about the Bridge? Is there any “steady bridge pair” between your sisters or do you alternate? Who is the strongest?
It’s nice to have a shared family hobby because you can all talk about each hand together. There is not much rivalry between us three sisters, but a lot of respect and desire to learn and improve together. Federica and I play together as a couple, because we started right away, but I don’t mind playing with Ele every once in a while. I can’t say who is the strongest, certainly Fede and I have more experience, but even Ele, although she started later, she is working hard to improve.
What do you like about Bridge?
I really like the group that was created between us guys, we are very close and we are always available if someone needs something.
Tell us about the world championship in Opatija. Did you expect a result like this?
Opatija was such an experience, unfortunately I played badly in the final of the Pairs Championship … the team went how it went … then it arrived the Individual. I wasn’t thrilled to play it because it was something completely new to me, I’m used to play almost always with Federica or Gabriele (Giubilo, ed), but then it turned out to be fun. I would not have expected to win, especially after the first round, in which I did 46% …
Can you tell us in detail the progress of the Championship?
As I said before, the individual was a climb, I started slowly and then I was always constant at 60%. At the end of the first day I was in the first positions, but I didn’t have many thoughts. The last day was very heavy, when you leave the room and discover you are first and you still have to play two 16-boards sessions, you get a little anxious. I realized I won when I was going down the stairs after finishing the last round and saw Margherita (Chavarria, ed, coach of the under 26 women’s team) expecting me. It was an incredible moment!
What factors do you think brought you to victory?
I think I went so well because I had no expectations and I was quiet at the table every time something strange happened.
What’s your best memory of the Opatija World Cup?
I have two more beautiful memories, the first is Margherita’s embrace as soon as I came out of the room, I think I’ll never forget it in my life. The second one is the embrace and words of my sister when she came out. Although she didnt win, she was very happy for me, and made me experience an incredible emotion, I never expected it.
Is there any funny or particular anecdote that you remember from the Opatija World Cup?
Before the last round of the individual I was going crazy, it was eight days that we played from ten in the morning to eight in the evening and I started to complain about how my partner had played a hand. Margherita came to me and screamed at me: you are first … dont break the…go to play! It calmed me and so I played the last session really calmed (even if, as many can testify, my legs wouldn’t stop shaking from the first board!!!)
Where do you keep your medal?
I keep the medal on a board in my room, next to the other medals and cups.
In general, what is your best memory in Bridge?
I think when last year my sister and me came second in the Italian Women Pairs Championship, it was the first important result on a personal level.
And what is your worst memory instead?
The worst memory was at the Opatija European Youth Championships in 2018, when after having passed the qualifications from third in the standings, during the final we gave up (two sessions of 25 boards with a half hour break are really heavy) and we went down to sixth position. Despite the good result it was the first Championship I played in the women’s under 26 series, so it was very heavy not to have reached the podium after three perfect days.
How do you imagine your future in Bridge?
I hope to continue to improve because I still have much need of it and then I also hope to consolidate my couple with my sister and the team with Eleonora and Sophia (Capobianco, ed), because together we find ourselves very well.
In your opinion, how could you do to involve more of your peers in Bridge?
I honestly do not know, but some young instructor who can introduce them this sporty and show them that there are many young people in this world that are passionate about bridge.
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