Source ACBL    Photo: WBF President Gianarrigo Rona, right, with WBF Youth Committee Chairman Ata Aydin.

For the second time in less than three years, a major world bridge championship is coming to the U.S. It’s the third World Open Youth Bridge Championships, scheduled for next summer in Atlanta.
The World Bridge Federation tournament will run concurrently with the 2013 Summer NABC and will start the day the 2013 Youth NABC ends in Atlanta (Aug. 3). The tournament will conclude a week later and will be played in the same venue as the NABC (Aug. 1-11).
“It’s going to be good,” said Joan Gerard, former ACBL President and longtime member of the ACBL board who retired last year. Gerard, a member of the WBF executive council, is organizing the tournament.
WBF President Gianarrigo Rona visited San Francisco during the NABC and met with ACBL executives to iron out some of the details of the cooperative venture. The ACBL board has agreed to help subsidize entry fees for players from Zone 2
(North America). Districts 6 and 7 will provide funds for meals for the players.
The tournament is open to players 25 and younger.
Rona said he expects players from around the world to show up in Atlanta. The first World Open Youth Championships took place in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2009. The second was in Opatija, Croatia, two years later. At that tournament, Rona said, there were players from all over Europe, Australia, Japan and South America.
Atlanta, he said, should attract players from Central America because of the proximity to the city, and there are hopes some will come from Africa.
The WBF president believes tournaments for younger players are important to the growth of bridge, which has been dealing with an aging membership for decades.
Promotion of the game to players in their teens and twenties, Rona said, is best accomplished by word of mouth. Hearing about the game from those who have experienced a tournament works better than other means of promotion.
“When the youths go home after the tournament,” he said, “they talk about their experiences. It’s a great way to develop the game.”
Gerard said the attraction of the youth tournament is the “chance to play in a world championship – a chance to shine.”
Rona said the friendships made at the youth tournaments last a lifetime, thanks to advances in technology that allow people all over the world to stay in touch. “It’s not like 50 years ago,” Rona said, “when you would meet someone and not see them again for 20 years.”
The tournament, he said, “is a chance for kids to meet with others who have different ideas and come from different cultures. This is a good event, and having it in the U.S. presents a good image for bridge and the ACBL.”
The opening ceremony of the youth tournament will take place right after the closing ceremony of the Youth NABC.
Competitors will start with pairs for three days, followed by teams play. That event will start with Swiss qualifying for a knockout phase. Non-qualifiers will start play in the third major event – Board-a-Match Teams. Teams eliminated from the first team event will be allowed to join the BAM, as will the semifinalists from the knockouts.
Rona was accompanied on the visit to San Francisco by Ata Aydin, chairman of the WBF Youth Committee.