International Bridge Champion Has Roots in Capracotta

Sharon Sozio Osberg is an internet pioneer, but it’s the game of bridge that is her passion.  She’s a world-class bridge champion and has instructed Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and other well-known personalities in the art and challenges of the game.  What’s more, Sharon has a direct link to Capracotta through Burlington, New Jersey, where her grandfather, Giuseppe Sozio, immigrated in 1903 with his brothers, Francesco and Antonio.  This city, along with nearby Florence and Bristol, Pennsylvania, comprised a welcoming portal for many immigrants from Capracotta. Joe Paglione, leader of the Capracottese community in Burlington, suggested that Amici di Capracotta contact Sharon. What are some facts about this famous star? Let’s ask Sharon herself.

Amici di Capracotta: Good afternoon. We’ve been reading about your success in the world of championship bridge, and we’re proud to know that you have roots in Capracotta. How does your history with the paese begin?

Sharon: Hello. I learned about the town from my father and his siblings. It was through them that I developed an attachment to Capracotta. In college I even studied Italian.

Amici di Capracotta: What stories have family members shared about Capracotta? What did you learn?

Sharon: My family didn’t speak much to me of Italy until my Aunt Jennie made her first visit to Capracotta sometime in the 1960’s.  She came back full of stories.  My father accompanied Aunt Jennie back to Capracotta in the early 70’s. When they returned, I learned of the difficult years in Capracotta and why my grandfather and his brothers made the tough decision to immigrate to the United States, where it was a challenge to put down roots, at least at first.

Amici di Capracotta: You’ve been quoted as saying, “Bridge is my world. Everything in my adult life is a result of bridge, one way or another.” What championships have you won?

Sharon: My ranking is World Grand Master. Twice I’ve won the Women’s World Championship. I’ve also won five national championships, most recently partnered by Bill Gates.  I’m considered an amateur, not a professional, because I don’t earn my living playing bridge. These days, especially since Covid struck, most of my bridge playing happens online with Warren Buffett as my partner.  We play a few times each week.

Amici di Capracotta: That’s quite impressive. How did you get started in bridge?

Sharon: My family played cards. There was always some kind of card game going on in the house, but bridge wasn’t one of them. Quite by accident, my bridge career started one day when I was a junior in college. A game in the dorm was short a player. I didn’t know the first thing about bridge, but it was better than studying, so I sat down. That was my first bridge game, but already I was hooked! If I had started playing my first year in college, I don’t know if I would I have graduated.

Amici di Capracotta: Capracotta has become an important destination for Italian and international tourists. It’s really a pearl of the southern Apennines. For example, this summer Capracotta is hosting book launchings, outdoor concerts, mountain sports, and presentations on: Italian history, drama, and local foods. An exhibit of local artists just closed that was very successful. You are a Capracottese of note. Have you considered a visit?

Sharon: I would love to go visit my roots! Capracotta sounds wonderful.

Amici di Capracotta: I’m sure the town would be very happy to see you. We appreciate this opportunity to learn more about you and your connection to the town of your ancestors. Thanks so much.

Sharon: You’re welcome.

Benjamin Lariccia