Horn Lake, Miss – Earning the American Contract Bridge League’s (ACBL) highest youth honor, Blake Sanders of Jonesboro, Ark. has been named the King of Bridge 2011. The honor is given out annually to a graduating high school senior and ACBL member who plays and promotes bridge. The award is accompanied by a $1000 scholarship provided by the ACBL Educational Foundation.

Sanders’ first exposure to the game of bridge came by way of his step-father, Russ Jones, and he began caddying at the North American Bridge Championships (NABC) in St. Louis during spring 2007. It was two years later at the summer NABC in Washington D.C. when Sanders played his first session with his step-father.

“I really started paying attention to the game in D.C. when my step-father was in the Mini-Spingold,” Sanders said. “We partnered for a midnight session and from then on I was hooked on bridge.”

At 18, Sanders has been playing competitively for just over a year and has already earned more than 250 masterpoints. While in school, Sanders played weekly at his local club and tried to play in one tournament a month. During the summer months he plays in a tournament nearly every week.

“You have to give yourself the chance to really learn and be competitive,” Sanders advises other youth players. “Even lower-level players can compete against the professionals at the NABC’s and it’s cool to get to play with and learn from the pros.”

First established in 1973, previous winners of the King/Queen of Bridge, such as Jeff Meckstroth, Bobby Levin, Brad Moss and Joel Wooldridge have all moved on to become full-time players and leaders in the game.

“I was really shocked to receive the honor,” Sanders said. “I hope I’ll be able to do as well as the former Kings of Bridge, and that the honor brings me as much success.”

About the ACBL
Indisputably the most challenging card game ever invented, bridge attracts players of all ages and walks of life — from Microsoft founder Bill Gates to tennis star Martina Navratilova. Founded in 1937, the ACBL is the largest bridge organization in the world, serving 165,000 members, 3,200 bridge clubs and sanctioning 1,100 sectional and regional tournaments annually. The ACBL’s three North American Bridge Championships each attract up to 5,000 players representing every state in the United States, Canada and about 20 other foreign countries. For more information about the ACBL, visit www.acbl.org.