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Proud to Be Canadian

Born and raised in Toronto, I bleed red and white.  I love hockey and Tim Horton's as much as the guys playing in this year's CNTC Final.  A point came in my life as a bridge player where I needed to make a difficult decision.  Canadian pro bridge up until recently has been virtually non-existent.  Since bridge doesn't have corporate sponsorship or prize money, the primary way one can make a living through bridge is to be hired to play.  A majority of top Canadian players elected not to go this route, holding regular jobs, meaning they were out of practice when it came to playing the CNTC.  This problem led to the departure of two recent world champions, Fred Gitelman and Geoff Hampson, to the USA.

The major question people ask (or think but don't ask) me is: What's the big deal about one paycheck that would make such a difference in your life?

The answer is that it's way more complicated than that.  By declaring myself eligible to play in the US team trials I become a far more desireable teammate for the cycle.  The cycle begins each year with the Spingold at the Summer NABC, continuing with the Reisinger in the Fall and the Vanderbilt in the spring.  Those three tournaments play a major role in the seeding of the US team trials. Teams that are comprised solely of Americans can earn byes to the later stages of the trials through their NABC results.  So when an American sponsor is planning to play in the US team trials, they look to hire Americans.  Furthermore, if a world-class American player starts to look for a new regular partner, they have a strong incentive to play with an American.

At the end of the day, I love my life in the United States and I have a wonderful American daughter.  I don't regret my life decision to move to the United States to play bridge.  After my family, professional bridge is the most amazing thing that has happened to me and I am very thankful for all of the sponsors out there who love the game as much as I do.  I know I'm doing what I love because if I had the money I'd be hiring teams myself.

With that said, one of the greatest moments of my life was standing on the podium in Sydney, Australia and singing along to "O Canada" as I received my bronze medal.  I hope one day that pro bridge thrives in Canada as it has these past few decades in the USA, giving Canada an opportunity to keep their pros above the border. It's still my dream to one day represent Canada again and help them to win that elusive world championship title.

I leave you as I began, with the second of my two favorite Molson (created by the family of the late Mark Molson) Beer commercials.  These two videos do a great job of expressing how I feel about my country.

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