TIANJIN, July 10 (Xinhua) -- The Feng sisters have played bridge for two decades, but they seldom pair up. But once they paired up at the National Games here in Tianjin, they were awarded with a podium finish.
Elder Feng Yun and younger Feng Xia, from northwest China's Gansu Province, won a bronze medal on Saturday in women's group of bridge event at the 13th Chinese National Games.
It's the first time they competed in a national tournament, and the first time they played as a pair after a row on the sport years ago.
The sisters were attracted to the card game in 1990s, but they soon suffered a disappointing defeat when they paired up in a competition.
"We had different opinions on the result, so we blamed each other for the failure," Feng Xia recalls, "We were so mad at each other that we refused to go home together after the game."
Since then they have never played as partners.
"We are sisters, so we don't conceal our feelings from each other. We might say something thoughtless after a game, but we would watch our tongue when pairing with other players," said the younger sister.
"I'm quick-tempered, and playing bridge makes me feel calmer," she added.
But the fight neither hamper their relationship nor hinder them from playing bridge. Their chance to pair up again came as bridge was included in the National Games as a mass event for the first time since 1986 as China is striving to promote the less popular sport.
To compete in the hard-earned national event, they decided to team up. To their surprise, they got the second place in the preliminaries in Gansu and thus qualified for the National Games.
"I'm already in my 40s, so I didn't expect that I could take part in the National Games," said Feng Yun.
Gansu Province has less than 100 bridge players and the provincial team is regarded as a weak team in China. To prepare the Feng sisters along with two other players for the tournament, the provincial sport authorities provided them with special training area. Their fellow bridge lovers in Gansu also helped them practice.
Their efforts were paid off. In the round robin stage, team Gansu defeated the host Tianjin to reach the semis. Then they lost to Beijing but beat team Chongqing, winning a precious bronze medal at last.
"Bridge is not popular in Gansu, but the team proved to be fantastic," said Wang Wenfei, world title winner and gold medalist in the Tianjin tournament.
"Competing with excellent players in this tournament has helped us improve our skills. When we go back home, we'd like to share our feelings and experiences with other bridge players in Gansu," said Feng Xia.
"I hope our bronze medal would help attracting more people to play bridge in Gansu," said Feng Yun.