The board of the ACBL Educational Foundation met during the Summer NABC in Chicago in August to select the 2015 King/Queen of Bridge. This honor recognizes a graduating high school senior for his or her playing record and overall participation in the bridge community, and this year, the Foundation was faced with some tough choices. An extraordinarily impressive slate of candidates was considered for the annual award, which carries a $1000 scholarship. In the end, the board announced the selection of 18-year-old Amber Lin of Edison NJ as the 2015 Queen of Bridge, a decision heavily influenced by Lin’s dazzling resume as a teacher of the game.
Lin learned bridge from her father, Howard.
“When I first started to play bridge, it was a lonely game,” she said. “The only person I knew who played bridge, was obsessed with bridge, was my dad, who taught me the game. Due to work schedules and school activities, there was never much opportunity to play during club hours, and I savored each regional and sectional we could go to, otherwise spending many of my bridge hours online.”
An opportunity to play the game with her age peers opened up when a local Chinese school began offering classes.
“My dad wanted to start a bridge class, though he didn’t have time to teach it, and we found a local bridge teacher to do the job, and I was to play the role of teacher’s assistant,” Lin said.
With the tenure of the bridge instructor shorter than expected, Lin was determined to keep the classes going.
“The summer before my sophomore year in high school, I took the Teacher Accreditation Program at the Summer NABC in Philadelphia. With my certification in place, I was ready to become the new Huaxia Edison Chinese School bridge teacher. I spent the rest of the summer detailing my lesson plans and gathering the proper materials.”
Lin even spent extra time translating the English-language material into Chinese for her students.
Lin was nervous about the potential hardships of teaching a group of children who ranged from third-graders to eighth-graders, “but soon I realized that I had not been prepared for how uplifting and enjoyable the experience would be. The excitement of figuring out a proper declarer play, signaling for a switch (and working!), and using newly learned conventions was contagious. I took them to local youth tournaments, and they were happily surprised to meet other kids in the area who also played the game. For three years now, every Sunday afternoon, teaching bridge has been the highlight of my week.”
Lin soon began teaching in additional locations.
“I started a bridge club at my high school, where a modest number of students gather every Wednesday morning to enjoy bridge and breakfast together. As I start my freshman year at Princeton University, I hope to continue teaching the kids at my Chinese school every week and spend more time working on my own bridge skills.”
Bridge continues to demand time from the very busy Lin who (of course) plans to start a club at Princeton.
“I’ve contacted the bridge club there to try to get a team together for the world trials and the collegiate bowl, as well as seeing if I can start classes for beginners.”
Lin also takes time to sharpen her own game. She is currently training to play in the Rona Cup, the World Under-26 Women’s championship, which will be held in Salsomaggiore, Italy, in 2016. First, however, her squad must qualify at the U.S. Junior trials in Atlanta in December.
“No matter where I end up in life, I can see myself always making time to play and teach bridge.”