“What’s To Become of America’s Talented Youth?”
Above is the title of Chapter 23, starting on page 259 of The Lone Wolff. Again this is a solid joint collaboration by The Wolves but narrated here by me (Judy) at the risk of placing it on my own blogsite and endangering the dropping of Pendergraph Pending to a more obscure location.
I labored over five years re-writing, editing and proofing for acceptance by Master Point Press before TLW hit the shelves. One of my pet chapters was about the youth of Zone 2 and last night, in one of the most thrilling finishes in ACBL history featuring Diamond v. Meltzer, America’s youth (though now probably considered middle aged) prevailed over the favorite. The star-studded losing team in the finals of the 2010 Spingold being played at the New Orleans NABC consisted of two ACBL Hall of Famers (Berkowitz and Sontag), two world class foreign title holders (Fantoni and Nunes), and a grown up top notch player, Kyle Larsen (whom I still remember as a promising youngster winning the Teenage Pairs with my good friend Bonnie Brier) partnered with a much improved spirited sponsor, the likeable Rose Meltzer.
Proudly rising to the occasion in a spellbinding ending which came down to the last two boards of a sixty-four board match were: John Diamond and Brian Platnick; Fred Gitelman and Brad Moss; and Eric Greco and Geoff Hampson. The margin of victory was exactly three IMPS. These six young lads played a very large part in the writing of Chapter 23. All (except Eric Greco who didn’t join the junior program until 1999) were part of the original group.
As Bobby begins his chapter on the youth …
”In the very late eighties I turned my attention to the plight of the Junior Players. The USA had been fielding a Junior team internationally for a few years, but up until then, and continuing – a pretty sad commentary with such a plethora of rising stars.”
He goes on …
“I conceived and created a Bridge Aptitude Test. It was presented in a format somewhere similar to the LSAT (the aptitude test used for law school admissions) and afforded me great insight into their talents, resourcefulness and problem-solving abilities. It amounted to picking their fertile young brains. From my simple idea of pretesting the candidates, the process took off. The exams were monitored and the venues were set up all around the country, wherever interest in serious bridge among the Juniors surfaced. My two best students were a some-time partnership, John Diamond and Brian Platnick, both from the D.C.-Virginia area. On a potential perfect score of 99, both John and Brian exceeded 100 on the strength of extra credit gained from on-point answers and suggestions that showed initiative (never prompted or considered by me).”
Just for the record, of last night’s six victorious members, Fred Gitelman and Geoff Hampson originally played under the Maple Leaf and the other four were representing the United States. I even recall the Trials being played at the Alexis Park, in Las Vegas fifteen years ago where I kibitzed a match in which Norman and Edgar were pitted against Eric and Geoff – and although the youngsters lost, Norman remarked to them what a bright future they had and that the bridge world would soon be standing at attention singing their praises. What great insight he had, as evidenced by the recent victory at the Reno Open Swiss Teams and last night’s Spingold squeaker!
Chapter 23 details much more about the training preparatory to the Junior Trials (and its eventual much improved results) as well as a practice weekend that Bobby arranged. Jimmy Cayne and his troops came down to Texas and stayed and played at an upscale Dallas hotel, affording these talented Juniors a healthy workout against his big guns. What a super way to learn in a prearranged setting and followed up by discussions based on a standard called The Aces Technique. A great learning method via the graciousness of the Cayne Team putting the youngsters to the test – topping off the weekend at Mr. Kuo’s famed Royal China, the designated site for many years where The Aces held frequent Victory Banquets.
There is so much raw material out there just waiting to be developed. It would be unbelievably beneficial if the American School Systems promoted our game, following the examples exhibited by many European and Asian nations – but alas, that has not yet come to pass.
Condolences to the disappointed Meltzer Team whom everyone thought had it sown up as the BBO viewers were about to shut down their computers and turn in for the night.
And – to the amazing Diamond Team – our heartiest congratulations! You made America proud once again!