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 first Olympiad.


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 Cup.


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, England



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 12C3.


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."

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