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Moreover / Playing her cards right
By Gal Karniel
World bridge champion Migry Zur-Campanile explains the secret of her success.

Saturday morning, Ra'anana: Cards. Through a smoke-filled foyer, the 40 or so best bridge players in Israel entered the unimposing hall of the Israel Bridge Club in Ra'anana. Now they are sitting around 10 tables according to a compass card: north, south, east and west. A board divides the table diagonally and prevents the partners from making eye contact. It's pouring rain outside. Inside there is an expectant buzz.

At one end sits the only female player in this set. She has red frizzy hair and bright eyes and wears a soft angora sweater with a cat applique. Migry Zur-Campanile, world champion, is smoothly making her way into the Israeli team to the next world bridge championships, to he held this June in Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands. The board lifts halfway. The hands exchange cards across the table. The calls of "1 diamond," "2 clubs" are the only way to know what's happening with your partner. The board descends and the game begins, the cards passed from side to side on a small tray.

"It's a wonderful game because it poses a challenge, it's smart, it has intellectual interest and it's also sociable," Zur-Campanile says.

Late the next evening, in a course for competition players of the Kikar Hamedina Bridge Club in Tel Aviv, she stands next to a blackboard and tries to teach the language of the game to about 80 people, most of them women toting designer bags and sporting platinum hairstyles. One of the people in the class is her father. "I learned to play bridge at home, from my parents," she says. "I played from the age of 14, but I was told that I had to go to school, too."

She forsook the game for a guy with a motorcycle. Then they were married, they left Romania and immigrated to Israel, but here the motoric charm wore off and with it the marriage, and Migry went back to the game. "It's a combination of qualities to be a good player. It's not just that I am terribly smart. I'm smart, but there's more to it than that. There's also memory, analytical ability, a little psychology."

She won her first Israeli championship in 1981. In 1996 she won the world championship for individuals at Corsica and in 2000 the world championship for mixed teams. There are no monetary prizes, but the Israeli national anthem is played. "In Britain, the woman who won the championship got an invitation from the queen and was awarded a title. Here in Israel I got invited to the President's Residence and we received bourekas and juice, had our pictures taken and went home."

These days she plays a lot via the Internet, which is how she met Pietro Campanile, her third husband, an Italian who lived in Britain and moved to Israel, because of the sun in the streets of Tel Aviv and because of the difficulty in bringing her cat Ricard into Britain, under whose name a popular column appears in the magazine "Bridge News."

Ricard came to Migry as a gift from a young man who replaced her second husband, a computer man by profession. "I decided to keep his surname, Zur, and anyway Migry Campanile sounds like the name of a Romanian worker." She has no children. It's all a matter of order of priorities. "The day-to-day satisfaction this game gives me lasts forever. I'm lucky - I get up in the morning and ask myself what am I doing today, and smile."

Zur-Campanile. Smart, but there's more to it than that. (Daniel Tchetchik)

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