Meet Sanya, from BBO operations

This month we had a chat with one of our lovely colleagues, Sanya. She joined BBO Operations just over a year ago and has been a valued member of the BBO team ever since. She’s always busy, working, volunteering and hosting bridge tournaments. Just wait to hear where she lives – what a dream!

When did you discover online bridge and BBO?

I used to play spades, and when the site where we loved to play closed down, Dustin Stout (Dustinst22 on BBO and multiple USA Spades Champion) challenged us “spaders” to learn bridge. He introduced us to the excellent Gitelman software and BBO.

I was immediately hooked, and was lucky to be accepted to BBO’s Intermediate and Advanced Club, IAC, (even though I was absolute novice) where I’d watch lessons from Shep (Shelagh Paulsson) and Hondo77 (Howard Schutzman). I found it amazing that these and other teachers offered their skill and expertise to anonymous players from all around the world, patiently and for free.

If you’re looking for friendly games and want to improve your bridge, you’re very welcome to join the BBO IAC club too. All you need to do is register with your BBO username at http://iac.pigpen.org.uk or send a message to IAC.at.BBO@gmail.com

On BBO, what do you like to play?

I actually prefer hosting tournaments and teaching events to actual playing. I love to witness how players improve, to observe the friendly and instructive play & discuss sessions run by mentors. It’s amazing how bridge, available on BBO, was precious to so many when the pandemic hit us all, helping them keep to keep some social contact and not feel all alone while isolated.  

What should be done to bring more people into the game?

Bridge is not game for the masses, in my humble opinion. It requires dedication, study, tolerance, and partnership understandings. If one does not have those qualities, they better choose some solo game, as Mahjong or Mortal Combat.

Many take bridge as a “rich folks’ game” which is not true as anyone can learn and enjoy the play without going to a fancy club which they maybe cannot afford.

Generally speaking, Bridge should be promoted more, after all it is one of the best brain exercises. It should be included in high school extra activities.

What else do you do in your spare time?

Volunteering. Ever since I was a kid when we were encouraged to join the Red Cross, first collecting coins for different causes, then spending time with elderly people who lived alone, and later helping young delinquents in their school tasks, I enjoyed helping those that needed it. Currently, I am in administration of a small animal non-profit charity that takes care of about 400 stray cats (https://www.agacatcharity.com), and I often help other animal charities and events organized by “Banco Alimentar”, where one can donate food for homeless people and for abandoned animals.

If you could choose a superpower, what power would you like to have?

I’d clean the oceans and remove all social injustices everywhere in the world. And make sure that animals can live freely in their natural habitat, without us humans spoiling and ruining it all.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Ah, it’s hard choosing just one, so here’s my top 3:

  • In order to get, you have to give
  • treat others the way you want to be treated
  • be careful with what you wish for, you may just get it.

Can you explain what you do in simple terms?

When about a year ago I joined BBO team, I was very fortunate to be admitted into a team with the best boss ever, Diana Eva, Director of BBO Operations. We work with Virtual Clubs  affiliated to numerous National Bridge Organizations, as well as independent clubs and hosts. We give them support for the games they organize, tournaments and team matches, and assist well known world star players in their lessons offered on BBO.  I adore BBO’s Festivals where tons of players can enjoy various game formats for the whole weekend non-stop.  I just love working at BBO, and enjoy daily contact with so many different people from all around the world. No matter how different, we all have one passion in common – the game of bridge.

What would your perfect week look like?

Most of my weeks are already close to perfect! I live in an amazing place, overlooking the beach, in a peaceful but fun town with over 320 days of sunshine per year. I love my work and and am so grateful to be involved and have responsibility within the animal charity. I love being busy and always having something to do, with the luxury now and then to sleep in till noon!

What about travelling? If it wasn’t for travel restrictions where would you visit?

I grew up in Serbia, which was part of a beautiful country, Yugoslavia, that was sadly destroyed. I was in my early 20s when the wars started, and I didn’t want to be part of it, so I took off. Being just a student at that time, with no money, it wasn’t easy to put down roots. I tried several countries in Europe, before I finally found the perfect place. And that’s where I live now – the Algarve, in Portugal’s south province. If I could, I’d  take a long trip around both North and South America.

Are you a music lover and do you play an instrument?

Of course, is there anyone that is not music lover? : ) But I don’t play an instrument, nor would I recommend anyone to listen to my singing!

Let’s talk about your family. Could you tell BBO’s reader something about them?

Our world is our home, and every human in it is our family, every animal in it is our pet. These are my babies, Lobo & Sirio.