Winner of the Bermuda Bowl once, Brazil has history in bridge

SportingIndia|02-Oct-2015 16:08

CHENNAI:   Meet a Brazilian and not talk of football straightaway is unthinkable. So it was seeing Fernando Cysneiros, the Brazilian captain of the d Orsi bridge team and his team-mate Leao Roberto Machado De Carvalho. “Did you watch the Brazil-Germany match in the last World Cup ?” was the first question from Carvalho.

When told nobody misses a World cup match in India and particularly Brazil, he turned around feigning to leave!  “I think I will have nothing more to say,” in mock seriousness.  Such was the hurt that he carries over his country’s woeful defeat. “The Germans pitied us and did not beat us by 15 goals or so,” Carvalho of that disaster which no Brazilian could ever forget. Football  is in that bad shape in Brazil, he said, with exodus of good young talents to Europe seeking good money.

Football is in their blood but Brazilians are also wonderfully sports-loving people as both Fernando and Carvalho were to describe.  However bridge is not among the top rated sports in Brazil. “Why , the Federal government itself do not recognize it as a sport,” they said.  Yet, there was no shortage of followers or players though over the years the numbers have dwindled to around 2000 full time players, mostly located in Rio and Sao Paulo.

“We used to have bridge and chess columns in the papers earlier and that helped in the sport getting some exposure. Those good days are gone.  Hence there is struggle for financial support. We mostly dig our own savings and personal contacts to raise the funds for participating in such events like the World Championship now here,” Carvalho, a science teacher by profession, said.

“For this Indian trip to the World championship we had to raise anywhere between $6000 to $10,000 each. It is not easy.  Not all could. That is why the best Brazilian pairs are not here. But the love of the sport is still the motivation,”  they said with Fernando adding that “this year the man on whose name the dÓrsi trophy is named died and he was a Brazilian. He was  a former President of the Word Bridge Federation and top bridge administrator. We are playing in his memory.”

Despite the small number of bridge players, Brazil has a history  in the sport.  It was the Bermuda Bowl winner in 1989 (held in Perth) and one member of that team Gabriel Chagas is part of the current team in Chennai.  Besides Brazil has come in the top three more than once. It still is the leading team in Latin America. 

In Chennai too with six rounds to go, Brazil is in the sixth place and as the two players put it, “we hope to come into the top four at least.”  The problem  in Brazil now is, as Fernando explained, was the players are much scattered. “We do not get to practice together much.  We two in fact joined just for this event. There is much to be done to make bridge better organized. We are hoping that things will improve.  Assurances have come.”

Enjoying their India stay, Carvalho, who also teaches bridge is thrilled to have found an Indian (Goan) who provided him material that links bridge with Sudoku. “I think this will make teaching children bridge through Sudoku an acceptable proposition. You do not need cards.  I plan to promote this when I go back,” he said of his new finding.  The Brazilians are happy that will surely take back a newly gained knowledge and memories of a “beautiful country of kind people”   no matter what happens for them in the Championship. 

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