Bardhan, Sarkar win gold in bridge

India's Pranab Bardhan and Shibhnath Sarkar with their gold medals after winning the bridge competition at the Asian Games in Jakarta on Saturday. PTI

Pranab Bardhan became the oldest man in Indian contingent to win a medal at the Asian Games as he joined forces with Shibhnath Sarkar to clinch gold in men's pair event of the bridge competition on Saturday.

The 60-year-old Bardhan and his 56-year old partner finished the men's pair event with a score of 384 as they edged out China's Lixin Yang and Gang Chen, who finished with 378 points after five round of competition.

Bridge made its debut at the Games, this year.

Indonesia's Henky Lasut and Freddy Eddy Manoppo finished third with 374 points to claim one of the two places on the podium along with Hong Kong's Mak Kwok Fai and Lai Wai Kit, who had 373 points.

Another Indian pair in the fray, Sumit Mukherjee and Debabrata Majumder finished ninth with a score of 333 while Subhash Gupta and Sapan Desai ended at the 12th position.

"I could not sleep last night and ate only fruit in breakfast. It's tough, the blood circulation shoots up with tension, we beat China and Singapore, it's a great result for us," said an elated Sarkar, who is a teacher at Jadavpur University.

Bardhan, who had a construction business, said, "Bridge is more challenging than chess. It's the most competitive indoor game. It's definitely not gambling. Everybody gets the same hand (first set of cards), so no luck is involved. It's up to you to respond to the situation," said Bardhan who has been playing with Sarkar as a team for the last 20 years. 

Sarkar said it's a game of young and the perception that only the old people play is wrong.

"The Singapore team had young players. There are a lot of players who are in their 20s. It's also not a sport for the elite. In West Bengal, you have all kind of people playing the sport," said Sarkar, who is a teacher at Jadavpur University and a fan of legendary singer Kishore Kumar.

In the mixed pair, India's Bachiraju Satyanarayana and Kiran Nadar finished fifth to miss out of a medal after scoring 333 in the final.

Another Indian pair in the fray, Rajeev Khandelwal and Himani Khandelwal finished at the seventh spot with a score of 329.

In women's pair event, Hema Deora and Marianne Karmarkar ended their campaign at the seventh place with a score of 349.

India finished third overall with one gold and two bronze medals.

India had won a bronze each in men's team and the mixed team events. 

Nirmal Rajagopalan, the honorary treasurer of the Bridge Federation of India, said the officials were striving hard to dispel the negatives attached with the game.

"We are in touch with people to have bridge introduced at the inter-university games as a sport. We are also seeking a meeting with the All India School Board to have this game introduced at schools. The perception is changing and this medal will help further," Rajagopalan said.

"There are at least 5000 players registered with the federation."

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Bardhan, Sarkar win gold in bridge

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