Student bridge team qualifies for North American championships

A team composed of Adam Grossack '14, Hang Yang '14, and Zhihao Liu '14 and graduate student Ryan Hickey has qualified for the 2011 Summer North American Bridge Championships.

Twenty-five teams participated in the online 2011 Collegiate Competition qualifying event on Feb. 26. The Brandeis group was one of eight to qualify for the championship round, which will be held in Toronto July 23 to 24.

Other teams participating in the qualifying event included Harvard, MIT, Stanford, New York University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Chicago, Swarthmore, Hamilton, University of Toronto, Princeton, University of North Carolina, William and Mary, University of Texas, Dartmouth, Caltech, UCLA and Berkeley.

Teams that qualified will receive free airfare, three nights' hotel stay and an expense stipend.

Grossack,19, is the World Champion of individual bridge players 21 and under after winning an international tournament in October 2010 in Philadelphia under the auspices of the World Bridge Federation. He was the only American to win in all of the "under age 27" and "under age 22" events. A New York Times bridge column featured Grossack's championship win.

Three years after his first big tournament win in 2003, Grossack became New England's youngest Life Master at the age of 14, an achievement few adults attain. As a high school senior he was awarded "King of Bridge" which included a college scholarship.

Hickey, Yang and Liu were well-acquainted with the game, and received coaching from Grossack in a form called duplicate bridge, which is used to minimize the luck factor in competitions.

Grossack formed the Bridge Club at Brandeis during his first semester and serves as a mentor and teacher to members. He says the club "drew a reasonable crowd of beginners and players who knew the game."

He recently called his regular bridge partner and friend, Lew Gamerman, to help coach the bridge team at Brandeis. He says that Gamerman "is an experienced, strong player who has a lot to add and contribute to both good bridge and good team chemistry." Their strategy together is "to play good, fundamental bridge."

Grossack says that, "junior bridge players have a tendency to play very aggressively and that often leads to overly-ambitious contracts and a very aggressive game." He and Gamerman have trained the team to play solidly and to be wary of aggressive opponents.

Grossack and the Bridge Club currently use Usdan cafeteria for games; they are looking for a more private setting with square card tables.

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