Contract Bridge For the World
Mila came to the United States from Russia five years ago and has settled in New York City. She has developed Bridge Union, a video blog website that promotes bridge, especially to younger players and non-players. Mila is a board member of the Greater New York Bridge Association (GNYBA), one of two units in District 24, and is a lifetime member of the ACBL Goodwill Committee.
While growing up in Russia, I had a hard time in school. I couldn’t concentrate well while studying and therefore had a hard time retaining information. In college my math professor introduced us to bridge. I was very interested and when I came to America I started taking bridge lessons and reading bridge books. Then something magical happened…I started to learn easily and gained confidence. Now I can learn anything I want. I am the developer of the website, www.BridgeUnion.com, and I am currently developing an interactive website where you can learn bridge and play mini bridge online.
From my personal experience I know that bridge will help youngsters improve their minds by developing their ability to concentrate and to problem solve. Of course, learning should be fun and not exhausting. So I decided to start organizing youth bridge programs and tournaments.
On Sunday morning, May 22, 50 youngsters attended a youth bridge tournament at the Manhattan Bridge Club in NYC. The youngsters came from NYC, New Jersey, Long Island and Westchester County. We hired a bus and Barbara Clark brought in 20 children from our neighboring District 3, along with some parents and teachers. Everyone received a T-shirt with a sample ACBL convention card on it. Hopefully the children will wear them at their school so other non-bridge playing students might get curious. The tournament was divided into two events, a regular game and a mini-bridge game. We even broadcast on Bridge Base Online with 200 kibitzers watching. We awarded trophies and medals to the high finishers. There were many give-aways including ACBL bridge cards to everyone, bridge software, including Bridge Master 2000 and copies of “The Cardturner,” a new novel by Louis Sachar.
We served breakfast and pizza for lunch.
The event was even more successful than I envisioned. The youngsters had a great time, the parents (and grandparents) were impressed, the gifts were well received and the pizza was excellent. I’m now planning on holding many more of these events.
So many people helped with this event. Special thanks to: Al Levy, District 24 Director, who raised most of the funds needed thanks to generous sponsors; Vicki Campbell, ACBL Marketing Director, for her support; Jeff Bayonne and Zeus Arias, for allowing us to use their facility; our director Christopher Rivera; Kent Mignocchi who generated the hands and play analysis for the regular game; photographer James Jorash; Uday Ivatury and Fred Gitelman of BBO who supplied copies of Bridge Master 2000, Audrey Grant version, and GIB, as gifts; and many others who handled registration, pairing, food and more. Also thanks to our sponsors who donated money and prizes, Bridge Union, the Manhattan Bridge Club, Bridge Base Online, District 24, District 3, the ACBL, GNYBA, Nassau Suffolk Bridge Association, Long Island Bridge for Youth, School Bridge League.
Preparation: After having secured funds, and a site, I created a special invitation page on Eventbrite.com, and sent out e-mail invitations to everyone I knew who involved in youth bridge. Parents, players and schools could register online in advance. The word spread and we even had an ad on BBO during the USA trials.
I have more than 100 photos and a video of the youth tournament. Anyone can see the photos at: www.bridgeunion.com/photo/albums/youth-bridge-tournament-in-new
Here is some feedback I received in emails:
Jack Sage, WoodHull Huntington School, NY:
Mila & Al,
Thanks for your leadership. Our group had fun. The kids were thrilled at their first tournament experience. Thanks again for all your work and the real love you put forth for all of us.
Barbara Clark wrote:
Congratulations on the awesome tournament today with over 50 kids participating. It was so well organized with separate sessions for mini bridge and regular bridge. There were many adults to assist. It was an incredible experience for the kids. We were excited to win third place in regular bridge and first and third places in mini bridge. Thanks for the trophies, medals, prizes, transportation and refreshments. We look forward to your next tournament. You are to be commended for planning and getting sponsors for this impressive event. It was good to see so many interested parents with their kids. We were also proud to have our teachers there to provide their support.
Pamela Venable, MA, CSW, School Counselor Oakwood Avenue School:
I would like to extend my thanks to you from Orange, New Jersey- Oakwood Avenue School and Park Avenue School. Today proved to be a wonderful experience for our youth. We hope to be able to participate in similar events in the future. We appreciate all that you were able to do in order to make this day become possible. When we met last summer you spoke about the possibility of our students participating in an event in Manhattan and you made the "possibility" a reality. Thank you for a job well done.
Denise A. Harlem, Ed.D. Technology Coordinator, Park Avenue Elementary School:
You did an excellent job organizing the tournament. The students had a great time and were so happy on the ride home. Some of our students won and are feeling incredibly proud of themselves!
I have no suggestions for improvement. From my perspective, it ran flawlessly.
We are looking forward to our next opportunity to participate in a bridge tournament you organize.
Thank you from all of us.
Rose Ann Kloph, parent:
My son’s played in the NYC bridge tournament yesterday and had a great time.
Kitty Stanton, parent:
Congrats on a very successful day with the kids!
I think that was a really smart idea to have the mini-bridge tournament....get the kids used to the duplicate environment right away! :)