Following Michał Wróbel's impressive performance in the Bridge Olympic eSports Week, another Polish bridge player, Rafal Gardzielewski, has recently won the Summer 2023 NABC Robot Individual. In this article, we go into Rafal's life, his love for bridge, and his successful strategies in robot games.
Rafal is a 57-year-old sales manager from Poznań, Poland. He lives with his wife, three children, and their lovable dog. "My family is most important to me, so I never have too much time for playing bridge," he mentioned.
Regarding his recent victory in the NABC Robot Individual, he said, "It's nice to receive congratulations from friends and even my wife, which was a pleasant surprise!"
When asked about his interest in participating in the event, Rafal expressed his genuine enjoyment of playing with GIB (Ginsberg's Intelligent Bridgeplayer). He elaborated, saying, "I spend more time playing with GIB than playing in real life. It's quite entertaining to participate in ACBL tournaments and compete in American competitions despite being halfway across the globe."
He also shared the lesson he learned from robots. He emphasized the significance of staying focused and approaching each board with a fresh mindset. "Like GIB, I treat every board as if it were the first one. I maintain my concentration and avoid dwelling on previous losses," he said.
Rafal opened up about his tournament preparation, revealing that he dedicates time to daily practice in team matches. "I play Zenith almost every day and sometimes a 55% robot tournament. I also play numerous matches with friends worldwide," he revealed.
He also provided useful tips to those who want to play in robot tournaments, stating, "First, understand GIB's conventions. It took me over a year to realize discard signals aren't commonly used by GIB." He added, "Second, be patient. Even experienced players need time to adapt to GIB's behavior. In a 55% tournament, I recall when my friend, an expert player, and I played, and I won with 91.67%. Despite being players on the same level in real life, the difference was significant when playing with robots."
When asked about his bridge journey, he shared, "I've been playing bridge for almost my entire life. It all started when I was around 10 years old, playing with my parents. Over the years, I actively participated in the Polish Extra League and had the opportunity to compete in various tournaments." Furthermore, Rafal achieved notable rankings in the Polish Pairs Championships, including 4th place last year and 10th place this year.
Rafal also regularly practices on BBO, he enjoys various games and features. "I play 20-40 boards daily, including Zenith and IMP matches. I also take part in ACBL tournaments." When reflecting on robot games, he expressed, "Despite the robots' weaknesses, playing with GIB is enjoyable. I love the 'daylong format', allowing me to play whenever I have spare time."
Outside of bridge, Rafal loves spending time with his family and their beloved dog. He also has a passion for volleyball. With enthusiasm, he shared, "Despite my age, I continue to play volleyball regularly, and my team now includes younger players as well!"