Bridge, heart, caring.

October 9, 2009 at 9:20 am 8 comments

I was reading an interview with supergrandmaster Alex Morozevich in which reference was made to a particular game he recently lost.

Rohrer: In Biel you played – and eventually lost – a sensational game against Vachier-Lagrave, which included some incredible positions. After the game, were you just completely disappointed or did you feel rewarded for having played such a great game?
Morozevich: Every defeat is a small lesson; You can take it from a philosophical point of view. During the game, I was in an all-in mood. After the game, though, I did not feel good, and I didn’t have the impression that it had been a great game – lots of sparks and desire, but very poor calculations. In general I never give an additional meaning to a game. Following the defeat against Vachier-Lagrave I lost interest in my last two rounds, but after a lucky win against Ivanchuk, suddenly in round 10, I had the chance to win the tournament. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to beat Caruana. So after the last game I felt sorry for those people who wished I would win. I’ve received hundreds of SMS, e-mails with thanks and consolation from all over the world.

It made me wonder if there is anybody in the world in bridge who would inspire such feeling, or is it that because bridge itself is a more trivial game – a hand cannot possibly inspire the emotion that a game of chess does – this reflects upon the players as well.

If there is a player in bridge who might be compared with Morozevich is it Zia? And if so, does this next question and reply pertain to him also:

Rohrer:You are widely thought of as a creative, unconventional and unpredictable player …
Morozevich: Unpredictablility and unconventionality add up to an old image which dates back almost 15 years. And for that time, my experiments were okay. Compared to then, I play a totally different game today. Unpredictable? They link this to my results, though I have been among the top players for many years now. I am quite a universal player with a classical approach. True, I play a little bit more aggressively than other players, try to win with both colours. But nowadays I play normal openings. And in these, I found new ideas at a very early stage. I am one of the few who always tries to invent something new, and one of the main fashion leaders in chess at the present time.

Is this Zia? Is the Zia that has finally won a world championship the same Zia as twenty years ago or has he grown and matured as a player whilst still keeping to the sense of Morozevich’s attitude to the game? There must be people reading this blog who’ve followed Zia for a long time. What do you think?


Entry filed under: thoughts on bridge.

Careful does it. Answer. Play problem

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jill  |  October 9, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    in my opinion, with BBO augmenting the dimension of bridge as a spectator sport, passion and empathy for bridge gladiators is on the rise. After watching the ANC finals, for example, I felt moved to contact the losers with an attempt at consolation which of course can never heal the wound. On an exhilarating note, after seeing Andy Hung bid 6NT in stead of 6 of a major following a lightenerish double of a blackwood response on BBO, and then to make it when 6 of the major went off at the other table, the commentators, a thousand kibbitzers, and I were all shouting hip hip hooray. I think the game has the capacity to inspire, particularly in this spectator arena. with improved technology in future, if the presentations were to be further enhanced as with those of poker, on television, there’d be more famous bridge brats, heros and legendary contests for us all to recall.

  • 2. Ben Thompson  |  October 9, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    I think the “emotional inspiration unit” is the bridge match, not the bridge hand. The comparable chess elements would be the game and the move respectively.

    Is the ebb & flow of a bridge match more or less emotionally intense than a chess game, and for whom? Hard to say. They’re scored and resolved differently. In bridge, the players typically can’t see the score, but the online audience can. I think there’s plenty of opportunity to get excited about a bridge match, and exciting bridge players.

    • 3. cathychua  |  October 9, 2009 at 2:27 pm

      ‘I think there’s plenty of opportunity to get excited about a bridge match, and exciting bridge players.’ But do we? Really? When was the last time you contacted somebody who’d just played a game that knocked your socks off and told him how heartbroken you were that he’d lost?! Or any such equivalent? The trouble is that a bridge match is made up of a group of small units some of which will be plain petty. It seems like a game of chess can be moving like anything else artistic that is grand in scale – a book or a movie, maybe – whereas I doubt bridge is ever like that. Alas.

      • 4. Ben Thompson  |  October 9, 2009 at 3:14 pm

        “The trouble is that a bridge match is made up of a group of small units some of which will be plain petty”

        But many chess moves are uninteresting as well.

        To debate the artistic merits of bridge versus chess … shall we debate the artistic merits of Romanticism versus Cubism? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

      • 5. khokan  |  October 9, 2009 at 4:23 pm

        I can’t comment on the artistry of chess, but the modern style of bridge is a lot more clinical than the bridge of yore, At the top level, by far the biggest influence on match outcomes is the bidding. However, even in the bidding, there are far fewer inferential actions than before, rather than those totally dictated by system. This certainly has the effect of making bridge less “artistic” than it used to be. Having said that, there are a number of players who produce non-mainstream actions that are great to watch, including: Zia; Meckstroth; and Lauria. In Australia, we’ve got Richman, Seamus and Burgess among others.

  • 6. khokan  |  October 9, 2009 at 10:11 am

    I had a couple of sessions playing with Zia back in 1988 in the Expo Teams in Brisbane. Even back then he was very focussed and made a point of discussing system in some detail before sitting down to play. I found him to be very disciplined in his own way. In the final, Zia and Seamus played one of the best sessions I’ve seen of controlled aggression, against Martel and Stansby, overcoming a large deficit to win the teams. I find Seamus’ game to be very similar to Zia’s in this regard.

    Looking through Zia’s hands in The Bridge World, his comments on Master Solvers Club, and other match reports, I can see that he hasn’t really changed that much – he’s still incredibly discplined and a great thinker about all facets of the game.

    It’s incredible that Zia’s managed to maintain his enormous enthusiasm for bridge over such a long time and I was really happy to see him finally win a world championship. He is truly one of the game’s nice guys.

    • 7. Bill Jacobs  |  October 9, 2009 at 11:21 am

      Funny you mention the discipline. My one “social” communication with Zia happened after he had opened 1NT with AKQxxx in hearts and nothing much else in the final of the 1981 Bermuda Bowl.

      On the deal, his partner, with huge minors, showed them, and then at some point cue-bid 4H. I got to ask Zia whether he considered passing 4H (which in fact would not have made anyway – they eventually went down in a minor suit slam).

      He said: “I really really wanted to, but just couldn’t do it”. So it would seem that within the constructs of his creativity, there is a strong thread of discipline.

  • 8. phil markey  |  October 9, 2009 at 9:50 am

    i got to play zia over about 12 boards 3-4 years ago – he arrived with a largely female entourage of 7-8 and i was in the mood to dislike him

    unfortunately he was a very charming guy who had more fun than anyone i know playing bridge who isnt italian – the entourage was ignored as he enthusiastically chatted about everything he knew about australia and australian bridge – he happily looked like an idiot in a couple of hands taking a big position and being wrong

    in short he lived up to the reputation – hard to imagine he would convert to captain sensible


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