Neither cop, nor vigilante – a bridge director is a discrete presence who is indispensable for a well-running tournament. He is above all a lover of laws and equilibrium. And a fine psychologist.
A discreet presence
“The good director is the one you don’t see. He is there when you need him but does not put himself forward.”
Thierry Beineix, national director for fifteen years
Directing problems are 5% of our job. The rest is human”, describes Jean-François Chevalier, technical director of operations within the French Bridge Federation, director and former national head of directing. “The first quality of a director is to have good contact with the players, to know how to listen to them.”
Michel Bessis agrees with this line of thought. For the champion, there is nothing worse “than a director who is too present.” And he adds: “If the director is standing behind me, watching me, while I play a difficult hand, I want to hit him!” The image is strong but it illustrates well the difficulties that directors may encounter.
The director, a conductor ofan orchestra
Whether he has the grade of director for club level, regional, federal or national level, a director is the leader of the orchestra. He is responsible for the rhythm of play, the regularity of the deals and the overall smooth running of tournaments and competitions. He is also at the origin of their organization (apart from national competitions): he defines the conditions of participation, schedules, format and deals. And publishes the results after play is over. Finally, he is responsible for part of the general mood.
“Bridge is a passionate game that generates reactions. You have to watch out for the general playing conditions, for noise, howls, quarelling between partners… ”, specifies Henri Defranchi, who has been directing for more than forty years and has made this passion his job.
“What is important at the end of the competition is that people are happy to have participated and leave satisfied. Even at the highest level,” emphasizes Jean-François Chevalier. This mission of conviviality is even more present in the clubs where ensuring regular attendance is of the essence.
His hobby is the law, the rules. “Each level corresponds to a certain number of laws, we do not address everything from the start”, explains Thierry Beineix. Fifteen years ago, when the Limousin committee was created, he trained to become a director. “I never imagined going any further,” he recalls. But meeting director Philippe Lormant pushed him to persevere. “He really made me love directing and being a director. I went through the successive stages, federal director, then national director. Today, it’s been fifteen years.”