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UW students win chance to compete in top North American bridge competition

The bridge team at the University of Waterloo on July 5, 2024. (CTV News/Spencer Turcotte) The bridge team at the University of Waterloo on July 5, 2024. (CTV News/Spencer Turcotte)

A group of University of Waterloo (UW) students will join other universities across North America, to complete in a prestigious bridge competition later this month.

The local team is excited as this card competition could be compared to the “March Madness” of post-secondary bridge tournaments.

The Collegiate Bridge Bowl takes place in Toronto, as part of the 2024 Summer North American Bridge Championships.

The four-person UW team won a qualifying tournament in the winter which meant they were awarded a travel package that will cover their expenses.

“So our team competed against a host of other university teams, maybe 20 or 30,” said team captain Olivia Laufer.

Here’s the catch – the bridge bowl will be in-person but they qualified by competing in sanctioned online college tournaments.

“I think taking away the face element and just the human element definitely takes away from some part of the game,” said Martin Zhao, a bridge player on the team.

Most of the players on the UW team have a computer science background and they’re ready to take the competition head-on.

“There's a lot of repetition and trying to find patterns,” explained Zhao.

Their program majors aren’t the only similarities.

“All of us were actually on the Canadian bridge team for the Youth World Championships happening in 2016 and 2018,” said Max Cheng, a team member. “Then somehow by chance, we all graduated high school and went to Waterloo.”

The group is also part of the reason the bridge team at the university was reborn.

“Waterloo had a bridge team back in early 2000s maybe. And this is the first bridge team we've had since then,” said Laufer.

Teams are competing for scholarship money, which includes $10,000 for the top team and $3,000 for the first place pair.

For the UW team, winning isn’t the only thing on their mind.

“I'm just excited to be able to go and compete against other college students,” said Laufer. “The average member of the American Contract Bridge League is in their late 60s. So I don't get as many opportunities to play against people my age.”

The American Contract Bridge League is the largest bridge organization in the world and has been around since 1937.

According the league, their championships can each attract up to 6,500 players from all over the world. Top Stories

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