Michał Wróbel, the first-ever Bridge Olympic eSports Week International Champion, has captivated the bridge community with his recent achievement. He was born in Swidnik, a small town in Poland, and now lives in Warsaw, the country’s capital.
At the age of 14, Michal discovered bridge, inspired by his grandfather's love for the game. Since then, he has been on a journey of self-improvement, fueled by his dedication and a thirst for knowledge. "My greatest bridge experience was the meetings with my grandfather" says Michal. "He was a great bridge enthusiast, and thanks to him, I have been playing for so many years and still love the game. Unfortunately, he's no longer alive, but I continue the family traditions." he adds, cherishing the memories of playing bridge with his late grandfather.
Michal's bridge journey has lasted over 20 years. He mentioned that joining the ESKOM Warsaw team was a turning point, "At first, I had to accept losses, but over time I started winning tournaments and playing in higher and higher leagues," shares Michal. "If you really want to develop and achieve success, then work and commitment will always bring satisfaction."
Aside from his personal achievements, Michal actively contributes to the bridge community in Poland. He coaches both adults and young players, including the Polish national under-21 team. "Bridge is a great game that allows you to establish long-term relationships between people and develops our imagination," says Michal, highlighting the importance of fostering connections through bridge. "I have been coaching the Polish national under-21 team for two years now, and we will be present at the World Junior Championships in Veldhoven this year."
Michal has a professional career in banking. However, he has made the decision to focus solely on bridge-related activities, including coaching and playing in major tournaments worldwide. "I love teaching and passing on knowledge, making people smile and happy," shares Michal. ”From October, I will only conduct bridge courses and perform as a player at the most important events in Poland and the world," he explains.
Recently securing the top position on the international leaderboard in the Bridge Olympic eSports Week Champion, Michal felt surprised and thankful. "I honestly didn't expect this," he admits. "I treated online games as practice and didn't impose any pressure on myself.”
"The story is quite interesting. I was playing in a live bridge tournament during the Final Phase of the event. I almost forgot to play but thankfully, my colleague reminded me just in time! I realized I had very little time left to participate. After playing 50 hands live, I quickly played all of the 8 final tournaments of 8 hands each." he shares. "After finishing all the tournaments, I went to bed unsure if my provisional score of 75% would be enough to win. To my surprise, the next day I checked BBO and found that the official announcement had already been made, declaring me as the winner.”
Preparation for tournaments is vital for him. "My strategy against robots is simple yet effective: never give up easily. Making bold bidding decisions is crucial in Matchpoints scoring. Additionally, having a strong gameplay and taking calculated risks are key factors”, he explains. “When faced with the choice of losing a contract or taking a risk for a better result, I always opt to play a full turn. Statistically, this strategy has rewarded me with more good records than bad ones.”
After winning the competition, Michal received congratulations from his Polish colleagues. "Maciej Hutyra, my friend, then invited me to join the Slow Horses team for the World Championships in Marrakech. The team includes talented players like Maciej, Tomasz Sielicki, Jeremi Stępinski, and Dariusz Kowalski", he explains. "Thanks to their support, we have formed a strong and enjoyable team. Without Maciej, my trip to Marrakech would have been just a trip."
When asked about his future goals in bridge, Michal expresses his desire to train and inspire others. "I plan to train youth professionally throughout Poland, conduct courses and classes for adults, and play bridge as much as possible myself. The most important thing in all this is to always look at the other person, and not just at yourself."
While Michal thrives on the challenges presented by high-level bridge competitions, he acknowledges the importance of maintaining concentration. "Concentration is a very important element," he emphasizes. "During the game, I don't occupy my head with other matters."
Michal mentioned that he regularly practices on BBO to prepare for live tournaments. He enjoys playing both casual table games and team matches. "I also prepare training tournaments for youth and practice daylong games with robots. Personally, I like to play matches the most, I think team competition is the most interesting." he shares.
"Playing with robots can't be compared to playing with people, but I personally enjoy it a lot and I like to brainstorm and outsmart the bots," he says. "It also allows me to practice my gameplay and practice certain maneuvers on a regular basis. I recommend playing with robots as one of several elements of bridge training."
Michal also offers valuable tips for players trying the robot games. He advises getting familiar with the system that robots play because it will be easier to achieve good contracts. "It's always worth clicking on the bids to see their meaning", he adds.
"It's also important to practice the game regularly, as it helps you be better prepared for various types of plays." He recommends using the Bridge Master, solving puzzles, and working on gameplay problems for skills improvement. Michal concludes by emphasizing the importance of confidence, stating, "If you want to be successful, you must not be afraid of your opponents because bridge is such a beautiful game where many players have a chance to succeed."