Source: Silicon Valley Youth Bridge Newsletter

Since 2014 SiVY Bridge has offered a week-long summer camp each year. The Camp gives new players a chance to go from no bridge knowledge to their first tournament in less than 20 hours, while also giving young people with some bridge knowledge a chance to improve their game with the assistance of more accomplished mentors and teachers.

This year, from June 24 through June 28, the sixth annual SiVY Bridge summer camp was held at IFES Hall in Mountain View. Camp sessions lasted from 1 PM to 5 PM, with breaks for snacks and non-bridge activities. From 5 to 6 PM, campers were free to stay for casual bridge play. Formal lessons were interspersed with time for supervised play. On Friday afternoon, Camp ended with a duplicate tournament. Trophies and prizes were awarded for first, second, and third place.

The campers were an enthusiastic group of 26 youngsters, from fifth graders through tenth graders. Five were quite experienced and had competed in duplicates. Nine were complete beginners, including a few who had never played any card games at all. The rest had some familiarity with the rules of the game but not much experience.

Reasons for Participating

Beginners came to Camp for a wide variety of reasons. Sophia and Liam, a brother and sister who live in Grass Valley, and their cousin Thomas, who lives locally, were signed up by their grandmother.

Audrey and Ethan are twins and the grandchildren of the late Hamish Bennett. Hamish is remembered not only for his great skill at the game, but also for his dedication to mentoring younger players and his graciousness at the table

Michael is a sixth grader. He wanted to learn to play bridge because his dad plays.

Austin is 13 years old. His brother Max was one of the first SiVY youth when the organization began 6 years ago. Max persuaded Austin to try the game.

Ajay is in high school and wanted to learn the game so he could participate in his high school bridge club. He played in the tournament with Aman, a student at the same high school who is in the bridge club and was a table helper at Camp.

Rena came to Camp because her good friend An is a regular SiVY participant. An’s two older brothers, Quan and Tiep, also play bridge.

For Quan and Ryan Camp was a chance to work on their partnership in advance of playing together at this summer’s Youth North American Bridge Championships in Las Vegas.

The more experienced players signed up because they already enjoy playing bridge. The campers’ evaluations suggest that the inexperienced group left Camp with the same feeling.

Camper Evaluations and Comments

The camper evaluation forms were highly positive. All but two said they liked Camp “a lot,” and the other two said they liked it “a little.” Most said they “would” or “maybe would” come again next year if they could. When asked what they liked best about Camp, about 75% said “playing bridge.” Most of the rest liked “snack” or “breaks” or “non-bridge games” the best.

One common theme in the responses was that campers preferred to play randomly dealt hands. A surprising number mentioned “lesson hands” or “pre-dealt hands” as what they liked least about Camp. They just want to shuffle and play!

When asked how to make Camp more fun, most campers said “nothing.” A few suggested making Camp longer.

Tournament Results

Campers showed amazing focus and concentration during the tournament. Several of the adults present commented that they were quieter than most adult tournament players. The levels of sportsmanship and camaraderie were also high. No heated criticisms of partners were heard.

The first through third place winners of the tournament were:

    • North/South:
      Pair Pct Score Rank MPs
      3 69.13 62.22 1 0.35 Max – Alan
      1 56.94 51.25 2 0.25 Ryan – Scott
      2 56.61 50.95 3 0.18 Austin – Michael
  • East/West:
    Pair Pct Score Rank MPs
    3 69.88 62.89 1 0.35 Myles – Willow
    1 59.83 53.85 2 0.25 Quan – Madison
    5 46.47 41.82 Jacob – Liam

None of these partnerships were practiced, as the “advanced” players were all asked to pair up with someone less experienced. For example, Willow Tock played with Myles Zhang, an entirely new partner for her. Willow described Myles as “more experienced than I am.” When asked what she had learned at Camp that helped her win the tournament, she mentioned learning Stayman and Jacoby transfers, which had helped her and Myles bid several hands to good contracts.

Third place both directions were beginner pairs who had just learned bridge for the first time at Camp. North/South were Austin and Michael and East/West were Liam and Jacob.

Happy Campers