|11th World Bridge Olympiad,
Maastricht, The Netherlands
Tuesday, 31 August 2000
Still playing after
all these years
When she and her teammates
made their way to Turin, Italy, in 1960 to play in the World
Teams Bridge Olympiad, Josephine Morcos was terrified. She had
never competed in a world championship, and it was the first
time the United Arab Republic, for whom she was playing, had
chosen a ladies team.
"We were trembling," Morcos
recalls. "It was very exciting."
Morcos and her teammates
far exceeded expectations, winning the women's series in the
Forty years later, Morcos
is still competing at the world level, representing Egypt in
the 11th Olympiad. She has played for Egypt every year since
her debut in 1940, winning the zonal championship three times
along the way.
One of her biggest fans
is Omar Sharif, who has represented Egypt many times, including
this year, as a member of the team in the 1st Senior International
Sharif has, in fact, recruited
Morcos twice in the past to play on his team in the Open series
- in 1968 in Deauville, France, and in New Orleans, USA, in
1978. Both times the team was four-handed.
"Josephine is a wonderful
player," Sharif says.
Morcos, who lives in Heliopolis,
in the Cairo area, was taught bridge by her husband, Youssef,
in 1943. "He taught me while we were engaged," she says. "He
told me, 'You must learn bridge. Otherwise we will not have
a happy life together.' "
Youssef, Josephine recalls,
"is a good teacher. You learn easily and he lets you like it."
After her husband returned
from World War II, they began playing together in the club at
Heliopolis, winning most of the time and enjoying the game immensely.
"We played for years and years," she says, "and have never quarreled."
How rulings are given:
By David Stevenson,
What happens next? If
it is a mechanical matter, the Director reads the Law to the
players and that is that. However, suppose a judgement ruling
is involved - what next? The Floor Director takes all the facts,
tells the players to proceed with the next board, and disappears.
Now the ruling is discussed
among the Directors, and a decision is taken by consensus. The
Floor Director does not decide on his own: in fact, on rare
occasions he may actually disagree with the final ruling. If
there is a lot of bridge judgement involved in the ruling, the
consultation will include some uninvolved players. This is especially
the case if a weighted assigned score is considered under Law
After the Floor Director
finds out the consensus ruling, he communicates it to the players
involved and tells them that they may appeal. If they do so
it will be heard in peaceful surroundings in front of an Appeals
Committee of between three and five people.
The Committee does not
re-consider the case from the start: their job is to review
the Director's ruling, and one question that a Committee should
always ask the appellants is "Why do you believe the Director's
ruling to be wrong?". The Floor Director usually presents the
case to them, but occasionally there is another Presenting Director,
usually when the Floor Director cannot be spared from other
duties [for example, if there are two appeals and he is the
Floor Director for each].
When I write up an Appeals
case, I want to show who the Floor Director is. He is important
in my view because he is the person who gets the facts when
they are fresh, using his skill to make sure he knows exactly
what happened, and usually presents them to the Committee.
However, Bill Schoder
[Kojak] does not agree: "At this time I am unhappy with any
specific Director being named because people who do not understand
the process will assume the ruling is his. I may have a different
view in future once the process is generally understood."
Josephine took the to
game instantly and displayed real talent. "I have a mathematical
mind," she says, "and we always played against good players."
Morcos says the ability
to concentrate has been the key to her success. She acknowledges
that her concentration is not what it once was, "but I still
play the hands well."
When she and partner Aida
Choucry played in the Olympiad in 1960, they never had any idea
their team might win, but their non-playing captain, Italian
Sergio de Polo, had different ideas. "He pushed us and told
us to forget the mistakes."
With one match to go,
Youssef told the team that they could win and another team lost,
the championship would be theirs - and that's what happened!
In Maastricht, Morcos
is playing with Sophie Sarwat, a champion swimmer as well as
a bridge expert. With two victories on Tuesday, Egypt moved
into contention for a berth in the knockout phase of tournament.
For Morcos, bridge is
a family affair. Both her daughters and their husbands play,
and she has ideas about future generations of the family. "I
hope," she says, "that my grandchildren will play."