Pranab Bardhan: 'Bridge is a game based on logic'

India’s Asian Games gold medal winners in bridge on Saturday said that their sport should not be treated as gambling, for it involves skills and not luck.

Pranab Bardhan (left) and Shibhnath Sarkar on Saturday won the men’s pairs gold in the debut sport of bridge in the Asian Games.   -  PTI

India’s Asian Games gold medal winners in bridge on Saturday said that their sport should not be treated as gambling, for it involves skills and not luck.

Pranab Bardhan and Shibhnath Sarkar on Saturday won the men’s pairs gold in the debut sport of bridge in the Asian Games. India has also won a bronze each in the men’s team and mixed team events.

“It’s game based on logic. It’s a mind game like chess, but more challenging. In chess, you play one on one. Here, you are playing with your partner, with whom you can’t speak during the match. You have to understand each other’s move. You have to judge, what I am thinking with my cards,” Bardhan, 60, said.

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“It’s definitely not gambling. Everybody gets the same hand (first set of cards), so no luck is involved. It’s up to you to respond to the situation,” said Bardhan, who has been playing with Sarkar as a team for the last 20 years.

Bardhan said that one must love and respect his cards. “The set that you have in your hand, will not come to you with the same combination again. You got to respect what you have. I always say you must love your cards, only then you can develop the game,” he said.

Sarkar said that it’s a game of young and the perception that only the old people play is wrong. “The Singapore team had young players. There are a lot of players who are in their 20s. It’s also not a sport for the elite. In West Bengal, you have all kind of people playing the sport,” said Sarkar, who is a teacher at Jadavpur University and a fan of legendary singer Kishore Kumar.

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Bardhan recalled an incident when he was to leave for Montreal to compete in a championship and he had to visit the passport office for renewal.

“He (passport officer) asked me, tum jua khelne Canada ja rahe ho (you are going to Canada for gambling). I told him 'you have not read my file properly'. He was an educated man, but still did not know, it’s a sport and not gambling. Sensible people would not think like that.”

Nirmal Rajagopalan, the honorary treasurer of the Bridge Federation of India, said that the officials were striving hard to dispel the negatives attached with bridge.

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“We are in touch with people to have bridge introduced at the inter-university games as a sport. We are also seeking a meeting with the All India School Board to have this game introduced at schools. The perception is changing and this medal will help further. There are at least 5,000 players registered with the federation,” Rajagopalan said.

Bardhan and Sarkar, who also won a gold at the Asian Championship last year, said that they did practice by playing against a computer at least two hours every day.