Andy Hung
Andy Hung
This year, the Australian Youth Bridge Championships was a special one. It was the celebration of the 50th anniversary Youth Week, which goes to show how far the ABF Youth Bridge program in Australia has come along, and how much we are grateful from the support of the many volunteers and sponsors that help keep this program alive. It may not seem like it, but this game of Bridge that we all love to play, is currently dying a slow death. With the membership (all around the world) decreasing year by year, the only way that this game will live on is if we try to get the attention of the young players to learn this awesome game. One very dedicated youth player, who is no longer with us sadly, did everything he could to spread the word. He was a kind and a bright person, who also happened to be a fantastic swimmer as he regularly competed in the Australian Swimming Nationals. His most famous bridge (swimming?) moment occurred minutes before a race in the 2006 Australian National Swimming Championships. As he was introduced in his lane (covered by FoxSports) he held up a sign saying ‘Learn Bridge’ to share his enthusiasm and promote the game. People were confused, and thought he wasn’t taking his swimming competition seriously. After the race, and swimming a Personal Best, he was interviewed by Nicole Stevenson who asked him about the sign and heard all about his passion for bridge (We love and miss you, Leigh!). This year’s Youth Week was convened by Laura Ginnan and Justin Howard, with Matthew McManus as the Tournament Director, and they all did a fantastic job. To commemorate the 50th anniversary, the ‘younger’ exyouth players were invited back to play in the Youth Teams, and furthermore, all past entrants to the Youth Week were invited back for the Hall of Fame celebrations, to compete in the Youth Pairs which was the qualification to form the annual Cliff Wake team. The Cliff Wake Challenge was slightly different this year, with four teams participating in a 2-board semi-final knockout, and a 4-board final knockout – both scored as BAM (Board a Match). The eventual finalists were team HENBEST (Max Henbest, Lauran Ginnan, Justin Howard, Peter Hollands), who were also the winners of the Youth Team Championships (by 0.72 VPs!), against team CLIFF WAKE (Griff Ware, Daniel Geromboux, Mike Doeke, Will Jenner-O’Shea). The beauty of BAM scoring is that a score difference of 10 is not considered as a ‘flat’ board. Witness it from Board 4 of the Cliff Wake Finals: In the Closed Room, Justin opened a 15-17 1NT (upgrading from the good 5-card suit), and eventually declared in 3 after Mike showed hearts and a minor, with Max bidding 2NT (Lebensohl). Mike led the A and continued with the K, and a third heart which didn’t give Justin a useful discard. He now led theQ from dummy to tempt a cover, but the oldest trick in the book did not catch Will as he played low, and Justin overtook with his ace to play another club to Will’s king. Will now switched to the 2 which looks innocent enough, but Justin had no choice but to play low which was good enough to force out Mike’s ace (i.e. if Justin played the J, he would have no way back to dummy except via a diamond ruff, but then this would give up on the diamond finesse). 4 losers meant +110 to HENBEST. In the Open Room, Griff and Daniel revived their old revised ACOL system (trust me, you would not want to look at the system card as there’s not even a single blank space), and Daniel opened 1. Laura overcalled 1, pass from Griff, and Peter attempted to declare in 1NT (BAM scoring, and all). Griff balanced with 2, and Peter’s 2ended the auction. Griff led his singleton diamond to Daniel’s queen,A, then a diamond ruff ensued. TheQ was returned to the king and ace, and a club back was ruffed by Laura who then cashed the A and noticed the drop of the J. Laura now tried to cash the J and it was ruffed by the Q, but it didn’t matter as she discarded a spade from dummy, a trick she would’ve lost anyway as both KJ were offside. Down one was good for – 100 to HENBEST, and when compared to the other table’s +110, a difference of +10 meant this was a board win for HENBEST! Unfortunately, team CLIFF WAKE could only claim one out of the other three boards, so HENBEST took the Cliff Wake title.

Winners of the 2018 Australian Youth Week

Youth Pairs: Matthew Smith – Jamie Thompson Youth Teams and Cliff Wake: Lucy Henbest, Nathan Mill, Peter Hollands, Justin Mill, Laura Ginnan,Max Henbest NZ/U35 Butler: Jarrad Dunbar – Charles McMahon AUS U25 Selection Butler:
1: Jamie Thompson – Matthew Smith 2: Tomer Libman – Andrew Spooner 3: Francesca McGrath – Renee Cooper (winning the 3rd/4th Playoff) 4: John McMahon – Nico Ranson (Reserve)
Congrats to Jamie-Matt, Tomer-Andrew, Francesca-Renee for making the 2018 Australian Junior Team. The main targeted event is the 2018 World Youth Team Championships held in Suzhou, China, in August.
Jamie Thompson, Matthew Smith, Tomer Libman, Andrew Spooner, Francesca McGrath, Renee Cooper
L to R: Jamie Thompson, Matthew Smith, Tomer Libman, Andrew Spooner, Francesca McGrath, Renee Cooper