Deng Xiaoping's Pastimes
Deng Xiaoping learned to play bridge from a friend in 1952, after which the card game became his main recreation after work. In his later years, bridge became an important way for him to keep his mind sharp.
When playing bridge, Deng became so completely absorbed he seldom spoke, neither did he want any disturbance. For a time, he played every Sunday, from 3:00-6:00 p.m. and 7:00-10:00 p.m. The hour break was for supper and there was no time wastage.
Deng was the founder of bridge game in China. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), bridge playing was forbidden as it was seen as a kind of bourgeois entertainment. In July 1978, however, some senior members of the bridge circles in Beijing wrote a letter to Deng Xiaoping, expressing their hope to develop bridge activities in China. Deng approved and the game took off. In 1979, the first national bridge contest was held. Then in 1980, the Chinese Contract Bridge Association was established, and later became affiliated to the World Bridge Federation (WBF).
In December 1981, with his contribution to bridge development in China, Deng Xiaoping was awarded the Goren Personality of the Year award by the International Bridge Press Association. He served as the Honorary Chairman of the Chinese Contract Bridge Association from July 1988 and, on February 26, 1989, Deng was awarded a gold medal by the WBF. In June 1993, WBF Chairman Bobby Wolff visited China, and granted Deng WBF's highest honorary award, to thank Deng for his efforts and contribution to the bridge game in China and the world.
Swimming in the Sea
Swimming in the sea was Deng's favorite sport. Every summer, he took his family to the seaside, regardless of the cold weather and surging waves.
When he got older, his medical staff did not like him to swim in the cold water, for health reasons. But as soon as they arrived at Beidaihe, a seaside summer resort in Hebei Province, Deng was eager for swimming. He asked his medical staff about the water temperature again and again. Not willing to disappoint him, the medical staff had to allow him to swim in the sea. Though the time allowed was no more than half an hour, each time, Deng would swim for longer periods.
In 1992, 88-year-old Deng Xiaoping came to Beidaihe for the last time. At first the doctors strongly opposed him swimming in the sea. This saddened him as he knew that he would be saying goodbye to the sea for the last time. Finally, the doctors relented and allowed him one final swim. It was to be his last.
Watching football match was Deng's life-long hobby. During the 13th World Cup he did not miss any of the over 50 matches. His assistants recorded the matches he was not able to watch in the evenings, and were made to promise they would not give him the results until he had seen them.
Being With Children
Deng Xiaoping loved children very much. Everyday before he got up, his daughter-in-iaw took his grandson to his bed, where he would play with the child. His grandchildren were the only ones whom he allowed to break his no-disturbance policy while playing bridge.
On his birthdays, his grandchildren sent him handmade gifts, which he would proudly display on his office desk.