Poland out to prove a point

SportingIndia|08-Oct-2015 16:16

CHENNAI:  As ironies go this has to be something special.  A team that was on the horns of a dilemma on  whether to withdraw from the competition upon landing in Chennai for the World bridge championship now stands at the doorstep of what would be big honour  of winning the  Bermuda Bowl for the first time.

That has been the experience of Poland which is playing Sweden in the final but it could well have not happened had the team withdrawn on hearing from the Credentials Committee  chairman of the WBF, Yves Aubry that ‘one pair’ in the team cannot play since there have received ‘material’ (read allegations) against them of unfair play in the European qualifying phase. 

“Balicki and Zmudzivksi form one of our experienced pairs and we could not believe this was true. We sought the material but could not get to see it. Subsequently I could lay access to that and on examining thoroughly I found nothing wrong.  In fact the material only confirmed the two players’ innocence not cheating,” said  Jassem Krysztof, an English-speaking member of the side on the shock happening.

“Our Federation took the view that we should not withdraw and take part without the two players. Initially we clung on around 4 or 5 in the ranking but soon we were allowed to take two fresh hands Gawrys and Klukowski. And I tell you they have been by far our best pair thus far ,” Jassem said on how Poland destiny took a different turn.

Like some other European nations, Poland too does not have a big bridge base.  “Bridge popularity was more in the 1940s and after the war. That interest is slowly waning because today it is a computer world of games and other entertainment and youth are more into that,” he said. 

Still currently the standards have been enough to give Poland some key wins including the last in the 2014 in the World bridge series in Sanya city in China when the country won the world open title for the Rosenblum cup. Some of the players from that team is doing duty in Chennai. 

Jassem said one way how the Polish players gain experience and sharpness in skills is by regularly playing the sport in USA, the best place for bridge because it was so widespread there and sponsors are easy to get.

On the way Poland progressed and the last minute hiccup in the semi-final against England,  the experienced player and a University Mathematics and Computer Science Professor, said “yes we led right through until that last board where a sudden reversal shook us. But we managed to edge England . We could have lost too,” he said of those final moments. 

But the drama did not end there, he said. “We were about to celebrate our little victory in our rooms when he heard that a review had been called in one particular board where there was a ‘slow bid ‘and a ‘slam’  from our side. So the result was held back pending this review. As it happened an hour later, we were told that all was well,” he said, adding with a laugh that “we went back for a re-start to our celebration.”

This is only the second entry into the final for Poland and whatever happens from here, this much is clear, as Jassem would  say, “we are out to prove that Poland does not need any extra help to win a big honour,” alluding to the unhappy happenings earlier.  What will be the reaction back home if Poland wins, perhaps government will give a day’s holiday?  “No, I do not think. Bridge is not like football , you see,” he quipped with a smile.

    Tags :