Bridge players brace for national championship

Competitors tighten teamwork for May tournament

The Vancouver Bridge Centre hosts Unit 430, an American Contract Bridge League team. Photo by Austin Everett
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Reported by Austin Everett

Like for many other sports, competitive bridge players need stamina, concentration and strategic skills, says the proprietor of a local bridge centre. More specific to the century-old card game, played in teams of two, is the need for high-level communication.

Members of the competitive Unit 430 from the Vancouver Bridge Centre, are currently training for  upcoming tournaments—including the 2019 Canadian Bridge Championships in Burnaby, May 4-12. Winners will go on to represent Canada on the world stage.

Preparing for nationals means contract bridge players must ensure they are in total sync with their partners.

Unit 430 vice-president Nick Stock, who will be competing in Burnaby, said in contract bridge it is crucial that players know, trust and communicate well with their partner.

“Preparation is really being sure you enter the tournament with a partner or team,” Stock said.

Bid to win

Bridge is a two-on-two card game where players bid and win “tricks,” which are plays within a set. One of three ways to win a trick is by playing the high card.

Bidding in contract bridge is done at the beginning of a set, and allows partners to cryptically exchange information about the strengths and weaknesses of their current hand.

Jane Gray, a Langara alumni who is now retired, said bidding with a partner during the game is similar to double sets in tennis.

“You have to understand each other’s bidding so you can try to defeat the opponents as much as possible,” Gray said.

Stock, who has won six club trophies, said training is necessary to stay sharp and play against the many rivals he will soon face in the upcoming tournaments.

Ken Lochang, proprietor of the Vancouver Bridge Centre, said people all over the world are invited to compete in May’s national championship.

“It’s fun, and quite prestigious to win the national games,” Lochang said.

Unit 430 is part of the American Contract Bridge League, which schedules many tournaments across North America. Winners of the Canadian Bridge Championships will go on to represent at the 2019 World Team Championships in Wuhan, China.

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