The Italian Almanac

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Bill Gates

Italian News - June 13

Microsoft founder Bill Gates was eliminated from the World Bridge Championships in Verona after just two days of play on Monday, despite being paired with a former tournament winner. As in the last championships in Toronto in 2002, the bridge-mad software tycoon failed to make it through to the final stages of the competition, in which 182 couples will battle for the title. But he appeared to have retained his enthusiasm for the game, saying he intended to stay in Verona a while longer to watch the world's top players in action.

"It's a beautiful game. I'm staying because there's more I can learn," said Gates, who has filled one of the city's top hotels with his staff and bodyguards. A self-described bridge addict, Gates says the game requires logic and offers mental challenges similar to his day job as head of software giant Microsoft. He revealed that his software experts were working on a sophisticated bridge programme for personal computers. Gates reportedly plays many games online, even though he admits a computer still cannot play well enough to really test him.

Despite his disappointment in Verona, the Microsoft chief insisted that he would recommend his hobby to anyone because playing it was almost like an education in life. Since taking up the hobby in the late 1990s, he has surrounded himself with world champions and takes any opportunity to play the game's masters.

Gates took part in the mixed pairs tournament, managing to persuade twice world champion Sharon Osberg to partner him at the card tables. The championships, which started at the weekend and run until June 24, have attracted some 4,000 players from 70 countries.