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Victim of the Day – Jan Kamras

Victim of the Day – Jan Kamras

By In 46th World Bridge Teams Championships On 20th August 2023

What is your age, where are you from, where do you live and are you single? (asking for a friend…)
I’m a 42-year-old mind in a 72-year-old body, from Gothenburg/Sweden (where it rains from the side, not from above), living on Gotland/Sweden or Tel Aviv/Israel (depending on the weather) and I am single.

What is your professional background and current position?
University degree in Economics, worked in international commodity trading and now full-time president and CEO of the WBF.

How do you feel about the championships so far?
Well, I lost my luggage, which is apparently still in Paris. Bad for me, but good for the audience who didn’t have to listen to my 6 pages long speech, which is still safely hidden in my luggage.
Apart from that some players told me this is the best venue ever. So far so good.

What were you like as a child?
Well – it is too late for you to ask my parents (I can give you the contact details of my sister if you want proof  :)) but I believe I was very laid back, almost lazy. Around sixth grade I got a B in “Orderliness” (getting an A was almost automatic) since I never brought the right books, never did my homework. The Olympic Games in Rome took place while I was in class and I brought a small transistor radio with an ear-bud, and for two weeks I had no idea what we studied. It’s a miracle I graduated!

What interests do you have outside of bridge?
Wine, particularly from Burgundy. That is the topic of a constant argument with Eric (Laurant) who clearly has no clue about wine since he prefers Bordeaux.

Tell us something you are really good at and really bad at.
I think I am good at analysing and evaluating the pros and cons of proposals and actions. I am bad at a lot of things but let’s limit it to three: I am not politically correct, I hold grudges, and I tend to procrastinate until the very last moment (but then I’m fast).

What motivated you to become the president of the EBL and now the WBF?
a) I was never good enough of a player to reach the top, but still was very keen and wanted to stay involved in international bridge
b) I was quite critical of how these organisations were run (or seemed to be run) so, rather than complaining (on unnamed discussion boards :)) I decided that one can only change things from the inside.

Tell us your most memorable moment from a bridge tournament.
Getting a compliment from Tony Forrester (yes – you heard right) on the bidding of Johan Upmark and myself at table 42 (!) of an international Swiss qualifying event when we reached slam by basically natural, quantitative means by diagnosing that we each held the singleton King in our partner’s AQJTxxx-ish suit.

What do you see as Bridge’s biggest challenge right here and now?
The dwindling number of tournament players, of course exaggerated by the Covid pandemic. Everyone else you ask will give you the “politically correct” answer – “getting more youngsters to the game”. Of course that is one challenge, but not the only one. Why not first pick “the low hanging fruit”? 45–55-year-olds who have nothing better to do when the kids are out of the house should not be so hard to convince.

What has been the worst defeat in your life so far?
Hm… the only defeat I can think of is when you beat me at arm wrestling in a bar in Wuhan in 2019.

Tell us about an experience that had a significant impact on you as a person.
Not a personal experience but a story my father told me. My father and his partner had finally been selected to represent Sweden for the 1960 Olympiad after having won the Swedish Team Championships three years in a row. Early on they were lined up against the world champions from USA. As complete unknowns internationally my father didn’t want the stars to think he was intimidated, so he ventured a green-vs-red overcall of 1 Spade on AKJT and out. All was well until his partner competed to 3 Spades over 3 Hearts, was doubled and went for 300 against 140. That was enough for the NPC to bench them for the rest of the tournament!
This felt so unjust that fairness in all aspects of life became a main focus for me.

How would your wife have described you in 3 words if she were still alive?
Opinionated, judgemental, sentimental.

Who would you like to partner, kiss, kill between Eric Laurant, Jose Damiani and Gianarrigo Rona?
I can’t kill Eric since he is the one I can partner on occasion when we are both at some NABC or other event. He’d probably also run away if I kissed him. I’d kiss Gianarrigo since he is Italian and does a lot of “baci” and “abbraccio” so probably wouldn’t mind (well, Chippi might). By default I’d have to kill José, with a bonus being that I wouldn’t have to listen to how great online bridge is all the time.

Who would you like to nominate as a future Victim of the Day in this bulletin?
Antonio Riccardi. He is retiring after 38 years as chief tournament director after these championships. I would like to know who has been your favourite and least favourite EBL/WBF president? 😊

About the Author

Christina Lund Madsen
Christina Lund Madsen