Horn Lake, MS – Ushering the world of bridge into a new era, a team of six young men won the U.S. Bridge Championships (USBC) May 17 for their chance to represent the United States at the World Championships Bermuda Bowl.
At a time when the average age of players within the American Contract Bridge League is 67, the winning team has a mean age of 31. Teammates Dan Zagorin of Skokie, IL, Justin Lall of Dallas, Joe Grue, Joel Wooldridge, John Hurd and Kevin Bathurst all of New York City, is the youngest team ever to represent the U.S. in the Bermuda Bowl.
If bridge were like soccer, the Bermuda Bowl would be the World Cup. To a group of young men who first began caddying at tournaments, moved on to become top junior players, and then advanced to become professionals, there is nothing sweeter than representing their country on an international level by playing a game they love.
“I’ve done really well in junior events,” said team member Grue, “but it doesn’t even compare to this.”
In order to win the USBC, the team had to beat the reigning world champions, a team captained by John Diamond, and the Nickell team, who have dominated world bridge since the early ‘90s.
“It feels really surreal. I didn’t think our chances were quite as good coming in because I knew we would have to go through the reigning champions,” Bathurst said. “But it’s amazing. My teammates played very well and they deserve it as much as anybody.”
Looking ahead to the Bermuda Bowl, Grue feels confident in his team’s ability to perform well.
“The USBC have a really strong field. The two best teams in the world are Diamond and Nickell, and I’m not sure we’ll play opponents as strong as them in the Bermuda Bowl.”
The 40th World Championships Bermuda Bowl are October 15-29 in Veldhoven, Netherlands.
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.