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Bobby Wolff. WHY BRIDGE AND NOT POKER?


 by Bobby Wolff on July 16th, 2010

THIS IS ACTUALLY A COLLABORATION BETWEEN THE WOLVES BUT BECAUSE OF TECHNICAL REASONS WITHIN THE BRIDGEBLOGGING.COM SITE AND THEIR FREQUENCY RULES, THIS JOINT BLOG IS GOING TO APPEAR UNDER MY NAME ONLY AS WE DON’T WANT JUDY’S TIMELY “PENDERGAFFE” TO BE DROPPED FROM IT’S PROMINENT SPOT.     Bobby Wolff

There appears to be a contentious argument brewing on the world bridge scene and while the two parties participating are on very friendly terms, they, at this point in time, appear to be clearly on different sides of the fence.

In order to solicit formal and sincere responses from all of you who are reading this, we will handle the possible contretemps in the following way:

1.  We will offer no official or suggestive position on this possibly very important subject until next Monday afternoon, including no evidence, reasons or anything else which could be construed as leading the witness.

2.  In the meantime, we would like to present the facts as we know them so that we can solicit your opinions, based on information – not our convictions.  Whatever, this is definitely an up in the air subject, not previously thought about, but possibly a crucial and opportunistic one to consider involving the far-reaching fate of our game.

Here are the facts …

1.  Jose Damiani, the sixteen year President of the WBF is retiring at the end of the Philadelphia World Series of Bridge tournament to be held this October, stepping down in favor of Gianarrigo Rona, President Elect of the WBF.

2.  While leading the WBF toward Olympic (IOC) recognition we (bridge) are currently part of the International Mind Sports Association (IMSA).  The 2008 Bridge World Championship in Beijing, China was held under the formal banner of IMSA and was conducted in a regal, respected, disciplined manner which echoed the increased world wide acceptance of our beautiful game and its fierce competition.

3.  At a recent meeting of the Executive Committee of the European Bridge League (EBL), Jose informed the Council of the decision of the IMSA to accept the International Federation of Poker as a member of IMSA.  He explained the basis of inclusion of Duplicate Poker as a mind sport and the potential financial benefits that might accrue to the other Mind Sport Organizations.  At that time, the Executive Committee of the EBL expressed its resistance to these proposals.

4.  A brief history background for you:  Jose has worked long and tirelessly to establish bridge within the International community as a positive activity which can benefit young and old alike and contribute to the aims of the Olympic Charter.  The recognition that was afforded by the IOC, in accepting the WBF as a sporting organization, has enabled many Bridge Federations to receive support from their National Olympic Committees and obtain acceptance within the wider community and, most importantly, within educational establishments, which is of utmost importance.  Without bridge in the schools, we have little chance of survival.

5.  According to the EBL, poker is an activity which is banned in many countries (possibly only Europe) and is not regarded in positive terms by most people.  It is directly associated with gambling and the negative connotations that is inevitably linked with such activity.  It is (again according to them) not linked with being a sport.

6.  The EBL does not believe that allowing bridge to be linked with poker will be beneficial to our good standing in the community.  Further, they believe that any links with poker will cause serious damage to our reputation and place in jeopardy all that Jose and the WBF have strived for and accomplished.

7.  They further believe that there are significant risks to our recognition by the IOC if an umbrella organization such as IMSA pursues its own attempts to achieve recognition as a sporting organization.  They also believe that it is not in the best interests of bridge for it to be subsumed into an umbrella organization which is then seeking recognition by the IOC.  Instead they do believe that it is imperative that the link between the WBF and the IOC is a direct relationship between those two bodies.

It  has become clear that the EBL is against the WBF promoting poker or duplicate poker as it now is being described as a partner in IMSA.

Those of you who have carefully read the above and feel qualified to offer a personal opinion, please do, but only after considering the following:

1.  In a world organization such as the WBF, there will always be different opinions, based on heritage, culture and perceptions which will certainly influence decisions.

2.  Poker, as is obvious to all of us on this side of the Atlantic, has made significant and successful inroads into the highly competitive TV world which has undoubtedly encouraged sponsors and much greater interest in that game’s promotion for all to see and feel.

3.  The EBL’s opinion is undoubtedly heartfelt by them as to what is best for the future of worldwide bridge and our relationship with the IOC.

4.  Obviously the eventual position of what the WBF decides to do or at least starts out to do may or may not have a significant effect on bridge’s continued world promotion and popularity as well, of course, as on our relationship with the IOC.

5.  All of the above information is totally based on seeking opinions, points of view, and possibly other   pluses and minuses we have not considered which could easily affect our eventual decision.

6.  There will be a meeting in New Orleans at the upcoming Summer National bridge tournament at the end of next week, scheduled between Jose and the ACBL’s WBF representatives to discuss what has happened and what views to take.  Time is very much of the essence and we would really like to hear your gut feelings about attempting to gain the recognition for bridge that  poker has achieved!

7.  If nothing else, this preliminary discussion may serve to educate many thousands of bridge players world wide on the internet the difficult and perhaps extremely important judgments which, in turn may serve to dictate the always cloudy long term direction of bridge itself.

Please let us hear from you by joining in and feeling free to contribute to our purposes which is both Bridge for Peace (Worldwide) as well as the Game for a Lifetime.

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