February 08, 2003
The next generation

Yesterday, I played in the 2003 Houston Regional Bridge Tournament. One tradition of such tournaments is the Midnight Zip Knockouts, which is a team event that takes place after the evening session. As the name implies, it's intended to be played at a faster rate than regular events. Tradition also demands that it be played in a casual, loosey-goosey fashion - I know quite a few people who won't play in a midnight zip event unless alcohol is involved. At one point last night, the director was exhorting slowpokes to get a move on by saying "Faster, people - this is no time to be playing bridge!"

Now, as old age has taken its toll, I've generally given up on playing in midnight events. I need my beauty sleep more than I need a few cheap thrills. Last night I made an exception for two reasons: One, the evening session started and finished earlier than in years past, allowing the Midnight Zip to commence a bit before 11 PM. Two, and more importantly, I was asked to be on a team with Morgan Compton.

Morgan is the not-quite-eight-year-old daughter of Chris and Donna Compton. Chris is a professional player and national champion. Morgan started learning bridge about a year ago. She had just gotten her ACBL membership card, and had been promised the opportunity to play in a real event at this tournament. Since Chris has professional obligations and Donna has returned to work as a tournament director, the zip was the best chance. Chris was to play with Morgan, while my partner (Binkley, as it happens) and I would be at the other table.

Amazingly enough, the first match ended in a dead tie. Normally, that would force overtime, since this is a knockout event, but not in this case because there were a non-power of two number of entries. So we got to play a second match, and this time we lost by one point (that's International Match Point, or IMP, in case you're curious; they're calculated from the difference in scores of each hand at the two tables). I'm pleased to report that Morgan and Chris got to play a number of hands, and she did very well.

Tournament bridge is, sadly, a game played by mostly older folks. It's been fifteen years since I started playing tournaments, and I'm still one of the youngest players at any given event (though not nearly as much at the Nationals). It was really cool to help a member of the next generation get her start, and I look forward to the day when I can say to her what so many others have said to me over the years: "Oh, it's so nice to see young people playing bridge!"

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 08, 2003 to See, I do have a life! | TrackBack