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Asian Games: Pranab and Shibnath Overcome Gruelling Tests to Give India Record Equalling Gold

Of all disciplines you would have imagined, it was bridge that helped India create history and win a record equalling 15th gold, thanks to Pranab Bardhan and Shibnath Sarkar. 60-year-old Bardhan and 56-year-old Sarkar finished on top after scoring 384 points in the final.

Abhimanyu Sen | News18 Sports

Updated:September 1, 2018, 7:27 PM IST
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Asian Games: Pranab and Shibnath Overcome Gruelling Tests to Give India Record Equalling Gold
Of all disciplines you would have imagined, it was bridge that helped India create history and win a record equalling 15th gold, thanks to Pranab Bardhan and Shibnath Sarkar. 60-year-old Bardhan and 56-year-old Sarkar finished on top after scoring 384 points in the final.
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Of all disciplines you would have imagined, it was bridge that helped India create history and win a record equalling 15th gold, thanks to Pranab Bardhan and Shibnath Sarkar. 60-year-old Bardhan and 56-year-old Sarkar finished on top after scoring 384 points in the final.

Bardhan, in fact, became India's oldest gold medallist from these Asian Games. “Standing on the podium and watching the tri-colour at the top and singing the national anthem is by far my proudest and happiest moment,” Shibnath Sarkar told News18Sports from Jakarta.

Sarkar, unable to control his emotions at the time further said, “I would like to dedicate this medal to my late mother. Over the years, whenever I felt down or had not played well, she was always ready with words of encouragement. I want to say to her - Ma! Look! I have won! I have won gold!”

After the completion of the two day long grueling final rounds, the gold medallists were as tired as they were elated. They finished the first round of the final at the top of the standings, and continued their dominance through the second day on their way to the coveted gold.

“For now we just want to go back home. This competition was different from what we are used to, which made things tough for us,” Shibanth noted.

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How do you play bridge?

In bridge, or contract bridge, all the cards are dealt from a standard 52-card deck.

Two players from each of two teams sit opposite each other across a table and through a bidding process (auction) agree to win a number of tricks.

Suits are ranked upwards - clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades and no trumps.

If they achieve the number of tricks agreed at auction they win the game but if not, they lose.

The team with the highest number of games wins.

These are the basic rules. At higher levels, the game includes bonus points, complex dealing and other rules.
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Over the two days of the Men’s Pair final, Bardhan and Sarkar had company in terms of Sumit Mukherjee and Debabrata Majumdar, the other Indian pair who finished ninth. The third pair of Subhash Gupta and Sapan Desai finished twelfth.

Each pair was required to play over 55 boards during the course of the two rounds of the final. 25 on the first, and 30 on the second. “When we played in India we weren’t used to playing for such long hours, and initially it affected us a lot as the brain would tired,” Sarkar says. “But once we found our rhythm we were confident of doing well.”

The Indian team went into the Asian Games having played mostly 12 or 16 boards which would then total to two and a half hours of brainstorming. But in Jakarta, the teams were subjected to tiresome 20 board or 20 plus board contests that saw them playing for more than three and a half hours.

Debasish Roy, the non-playing captain-cum-coach, unfortunately could not be present for the final day, was confident his players would do well even though the scoring system was different. “The sudden change in format saw the players get very stressed and mentally tired because Bridge is a game of science. But I told them they have to buck up and do well. I scolded them about concentrating and keeping calm,” he said.

In the final, India was up against the likes of China, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei and Singapore.

“Once we beat China and Indonesia, we were more or less sure of winning a medal, but it was the win against Singapore – they are tricky customers to deal with – that really made us believe in the tough stages,” Sarkar said speaking about the final.

India finished with a total of three medals in Bridge, which was a part of the quadrennial showpiece event and finished third on the standings for the sport.

“I think this win means a lot for the game of bridge in India. It will help attract a lot of newer and younger players to the game,” he said.
| Edited by: Abhimanyu Sen
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