Thanks to many for a successful World Youth Open Bridge Championship
in Atlanta, Georgia, USA

By Al Levy, Chair of the Organizing Committee and Onsite Coordinator

As a member of the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) Board of Directors and Executive Vice-President of the World Bridge Federation (WBF) Executive Council I was in a good position to coordinate the World Youth Open Bridge Championships (WYOBC) held in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.  So when my good friend Joan Gerard suddenly passed away in April I agreed to take over as chair of the Organizing Committee and also act as onsite coordinator knowing that her shoes (and she loved her shoes) would be hard to fill.

I write this in the spirit of Joan Gerard and expect that it is also the sentiment of the WBF and all who attended, expressing gratitude to everyone who helped make this championship so successful.  The success could be seen in the players’ concentration at the bridge table, in their friendship in the players’ lounge and meals at the Best Western, in their excitement at the many special attractions (Georgia Aquarium, Olympic Park, World of Coca-Cola, Braves ballgame game and Hard Rock Cafe) and in their enthusiastic congratulations at the closing ceremony.

The ACBL was an enthusiastic supporter and co-host.  The ACBL Board of Directors donated funds outright and the ACBL management made additional funds available toward much of the onsite tournament expenses.  The ACBL CEO, Robert Hartman, extended every available resource and Jeff Johnston, ACBL Director of Operations, made sure all the set-ups, technical need and space requirements were met. The ACBL also contributed half the entry fees for ACBL members and the United States Bridge Federation (USBF) donated the other half, which encouraged more players to take part.  

My special thanks to Bryan Delfs, ACBL liaison, who not only helped with the pre-championship preparations but spent his time with the championship as BBO operator and enthusiastic spectator.

The USBF made a substantial donation to the WYOBC.  President George Jacobs and the board of the USBF not only supported the championship but supported the training of most of the USA players with the help of Joe Stokes, Debbie and Michael Rosenberg and Suzi and Stan Subeck. 

Al Levy (left) and George Jacobs (right)     

The USBF, along with many other National Bridge Organizations (NBOs) is now preparing for next year’s championships, the World Youth Teams Championship to be held in Istanbul, Turkey at the Koc University from 13th to 23rd August, 2014 - click here for more information about this event            

Much appreciation to Chris Compton who was greatly influential in bringing the games to Atlanta and was the chief fundraiser which greatly supported this championship.

Barbara Heller planned all the dinner meals at the Best Western, lunches at the food court, special events including the visits to the World of Coca-Cola, the Georgia Aquarium and dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe (pictured right).  All this for all the participants, their coaches and all the WBF staff of 20 was paid for by ACBL’s District 7 and the Mid-Atlantic Conference.  District 9 also made a contributed toward these activities.  Kelly Schroeder acted as ‘Den Mother’ single-handedly running all the meals and most of the activities as well as overlooking the players’ lounge at the Best Western which was stocked with Coke (donated by Coca Cola) and snacks all day long.  I must also thank Jessica Lynn, my contact at the Best Western, who took special care to make sure our needs were met, allowed outside catering and welcomed participants not staying at the Best Western to have their breakfasts for free.

WBF president, Gianarrigo Rona (left)
and EBL president, Yves Aubry (right)
at entrance of World of Coca-Cola where 150 players, coaches, staff and officials visited

With the input from many, including my wife Beverly, I selected the T-shirts and Back-Packs.  I can tell from all who wore the T-shirts and were not seen without their Back-Packs that we picked well.  Two books were distributed to the participants, one donated by The Bridge World and the other from Audrey Grant and Eric Rodwell.  Bridge Master 2000 bridge software was given to everyone who won a medal or cup.

My warmest thanks to my wife, Beverly, who acted as one of the photographers and chief volunteer, handling the distribution of registration gifts, T-shirts and book give-aways.

Pictured right:
Beverly Levy sitting in front of the scoring screens,
issuing T-shirts to the participants


Al with participants from the Shanghai Teenage Bridge Club in their T-shirts and back-packs

Tickets for great seats to the Braves ballgame were donated by Turner Broadcasting.  The transportation and food at the game was donated by The Common Game.  The Friday evening ballgame ended with music by a well known local band and a great fireworks show, which we stayed for.  I organized the event and declared myself a magician as we returned to the Best Western with all 140 that we left with as well as a few that we picked up at the game, and made it back at 11:30 pm exactly five hours (that we paid for) after we left.  It was reported the next day that many of youngsters had a hard time falling asleep because of the excitement of the day.          

At Turner Field, Section 121

The technical end of the championship was headed effectively by WBF officials Maurizio Di Sacco, Operation Director and Fotis Skoularikis, scoring manager (and software guru) and ably assisted by Manolo Eminenti.  Head WBF Tournament Director Dimitri Ballas and assistant Marc van Beijsterveldt handled the constantly changing movements and kept the games running smoothly.

The WYOBC Daily Bulletin had excellent stories, photos, hand analysis, results, and daily schedule thanks to the work of David Stern, Phillip Alder and Murat Molva.  Much thanks to ACBL’s Bridge Bulletin editor Brent Manley for his coordination of the publishing of the WYOBC Daily Bulletin which was placed as the four center pages in the NABC Daily Bulletin.  

David Stern and Marc van Beijsterveldt at front table;
Fotis Skoularikis, Maurizio Di Sacco and Dimitri Ballas at back table

Of course congratulations to the WBF, and in particular, WBF president, Gianarrigo Rona and the Youth Committee chair, Ata Aydin, for their vision of youth activities.  The WBF believes it is important to promote youth events as well as supporting educational programs.  Onsite, for the WBF president’s office the real work was conducted by Marina Madia, secretary, and Silvia Valentini, who coordinated the opening and closing ceremonies.  As Opening Ceremony MC, I asked USBF president George Jacobs and ACBL Chairman of the Board Sharon Anderson to welcome our guests.  They graciously accepted and gave very uplifting welcome messages along with the warm welcomes by Gianarrigo and Ata. 

I must single out the group from the Shanghai Shengxing Teenage Bridge Club.  Thirty players (fifteen pairs and five teams entered) with each team having a npc and a coach.

They dressed for every occasion, with special uniform dress for the opening ceremony and individually beautifully dressed for the closing ceremony.

The highlight of this year’s championship was the entertainment by this wonderful group.  The song they sang on stage at the end of the opening ceremony was magnificent and can be viewed in photos and video.  This was surpassed only by their entertainment at the closing ceremony which met with a standing ovation.


Final Farewell at closing ceremony                    

I feel especially attached to the Joan Gerard Youth Award, as I suggested the revival of the Youth Award, which stopped with the closing of the WBF bridge camps in 2006, and then had it named after my good friend and long time devotee to youth bridge, Joan Gerard.  I congratulate this year’s winners.  Their photos and bios will soon appear on the WBF website along side past Youth Awards winners.

Links for other pages to do with the Championships are :

Most of the photos were contributed by David Stern, Murat Molva and Beverly Levy.  Please don’t miss the wonderful videos by Mario Chavarria Kaifmann, especially the one on August 5. click here

The WBF website has such great stories, photos and videos, all appearing on a daily basis, thanks to Anna Gudge, who worked around the clock to make sure all the Atlanta happenings were published in a timely manner.  The content was supplied by our Bulletin staff and the scoring was supplied by Fotis.

Congratulations to all for a fine show.