Recently, I travelled to California and played in the Saratoga Sectional. While there, I got a personal look at the amazing job being done by Silicon Valley Youth Bridge (SiVY). SiVY offers free after-school bridge classes, clubs, events, and other opportunities for youth to play bridge and improve their skills. Their results are astounding: since 2013, SiVY has enrolled nearly 100 youth players in the ACBL and greatly increased youth turnout at local tournaments.. Many sectionals are lucky to have one or two players under age 26 -- this one had about 30 junior tournament players, and 20 more playing casual bridge.
Most of them played in the 299er pairs, with almost all the E/W pairs being SiVY players. There were so many that SiVY President Debbie Rosenberg shared a fun thought with me. How cute would it be if the lone N/S SiVY pair said to the few non-SiVY E/W pairs: “It’s so nice to see older people playing.”
First round of the afternoon 299'er game
Facing camera Natalie Huang, playing with partner Calix Tang.
To right, smiling, Jonathon Youngquist, partnering Natalie's twin brother, Nathan Huang.
They not only came to play, but to learn. SiVY has a mentor program where interested kids can partner up with good local players and learn more in depth. I overheard ACBL Junior Nate Munger, who was mentoring Bryan Tan, talking about how important it was to focus.
Bryan Tan and Nate Munger in Silver Rush pairs.
In between sessions, I had time to go over hands with a group of them.
Around the table, starting from Steve's left:
Jonathan Yue, Natalie Huang, David Zheng, Olivia d'Arezzo, Cornelius Duffie, Nathan Huang, Sarah Youngquist
Standing off to side: Jonathon Youngquist
As you can see from this picture, the kids are sponges and learning as fast as they can be taught. David Zheng and Jonathan Yue played in the flight A pairs in the Morning and I was taking questions from them. They had their convention card open on the table and I saw some “interesting” scores like -1150, -850. What amazed me was when David said, “I really want to go over board 6. We were -140 against 2♥ and I think we should have beaten it.” Wow! Afterwards, they proceeded to have a 60% game and a section top in the 2nd session Open Pairs. Look out, Meckwell!
I was thrilled to hear that two of the students I met, high school seniors Cornelius Duffie and Olivia d’Arezzo, were the 2016 winners of the memorial trophy in honor of my father, Art Weinstein. My Dad taught bridge to many people in his life, but he particularly enjoyed teaching young people.
Olivia d’Arezzo and Cornelius Duffie holding the Art Weinstein Memorial Trophy
While the kids were wonderful, this couldn’t have been done without a lot of support and help from Debbie, tournament director Will Watson, and their team of adult volunteers. Whatever SiVY is doing needs to be replicated elsewhere so more young people can enjoy our great game.
Plus... it's free!