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TORONTO, ONTARIO — After days of besting opponents in intensely competitive bridge games, a Newtown Bridge Club team won the Grand National Teams Goldman Flight A at the 89th North American Bridge Championships. The American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) event took place in Toronto, Ontario, July 20-30.
The road to the championships in started in the spring. Team captain Barry Bragin joined with Weiling Zhao and the partnership of Mike Hess and Gary Miyashiro to form a Newtown Bridge Club team. Their goal was to compete in an April two-day qualifying event in Sturbridge, Mass., for the distinction of representing ACBL’s District 25 (the New England states) at the summer’s North American Bridge Championships in Toronto.
When the team earned first place in the Flight A division in Sturbridge, the four began planning their July trip to the national championships in Toronto. Knowing that success meant five days of competition, another pair, Susan and Michael Smith from Newington, was added to the team.
According to Mr Miyashiro, a frequent player as well as a game director at Newtown Bridge Club, the five-day event in Toronto was “a great experience but grueling.”
Play actually started on Wednesday, July 19, with teams from 25 ACBL districts competing for the top 16 positions. Each of the following days were knock-out competitions where the team played 56 bridge hands against one opposing team. At the end of each day the field was halved with only the winning teams continuing on to the next round.
The two final days, team matches were played at championship tables that have screens to prevent players from seeing their partners. Mr Miyashiro said it took a while to get used to the screens, but the screens also limited outside distractions and as a result the players could better focus on their game.
The Newtown team clearly focused on their game, winning the final day’s match 119-72, and the 2017 Grand National Team Goldman Flight A championship.
As Ms Zhao summarized the event, “We enjoyed the journey from the beginning to the end.” The club honored the group with a congratulatory banner at Edmond Town Hall.
North American Bridge Championships (NABC) are conducted by the ACBL and are held three times a year across the United States and Canada. A total of 13,289 tables of bridge players competed during the 11 days of the 2017 summer NABC in Toronto.
Newtown Bridge Club (NBC), the second largest bridge club in Connecticut, holds five ACBL-sanctioned duplicate bridge games each week at Edmond Town Hall: 12:30 pm Mondays, 10 am and 7 pm Tuesdays, 10 am Wednesdays, and 12:30 pm Thursdays. NBC also hosts a monthly Sunday Swiss team game. Bridge lessons are scheduled at various times.