Field trip

Roman Nett, left, Brendan Dufty, Ruddock Smith and Aidan Samwick are the most enthusiastic bridge players at Hanover (NH) High School.

The I/N room in Franklin Hall B was teeming with youth and enthusiasm Tuesday morning. A group of 15 teens from Hanover High School in New Hampshire came for the first of three days playing at the Philadelphia NABC. People were excited to see them.
“It was just beautiful!” director Carolyn Pinto said. “They were just lovely to have. And I was proud of our players for making them feel welcome.”
The group, which ranges from freshmen to seniors, came as part of the school’s March Intensive Program, teacher Michael Morris said.
“It’s like non-academic learning,” said Roman Nett, 17.
“Once a week in March, we have the opportunity to go somewhere and apply what we’ve learned,” said Brendan Dufty, 18. “The group of us decided we wanted to go to Philadelphia and play bridge.” The tournament dates lined up perfectly for the school’s schedule.

Meg Snyder, left, Meredith Morhun, Marion Umpleby and Lily Clarke are friends who brought each other into the school bridge club.

There’s a wide range of bridge experience among the students, Morris said. Some, like Roman, have been playing as long as four years, and others only three months. Sisters Meredith and Natalie Morhun didn’t join the school’s bridge group and start learning the game until after this tournament had been chosen as one of the options for the March program. “We didn’t know what bridge was,” said Natalie Morhun, 14.
They were pleased with their selection. “It’s not tedious learning,” said Meredith Morhun, 16. “This is our whole friend group. We all like each other.”
Because their school bridge club isn’t sanctioned, all of them started the day with zero masterpoints, though all had joined the ACBL before they arrived. Two pairs from the group earned some Tuesday, including Meredith and partner Meg Snyder, who started playing three months earlier in September. They were third in the 0–5 strat of the 49er game for 0.92.
The boys who placed, Aidan Samwick and Ruddock Smith, were much more excited about their results and 0.47 masterpoints. “A general rule is, if you bid wrong, you should also play wrong, because that’s how we came in fifth,” said Aidan, 16. “World champions, look out. It should only take us a couple months,” he joked.

Emilee Lenning, left, Johari Ajwang, Natalie Chapman, Grace Ashton, Natalie Morhun, Charlotte Johnson are part of a group of 15 high school students from New Hampshire playing in Philadelphia.

Hanover is where one of the ACBL’s precursor organizations started. According to the Encyclopedia of Bridge, the ACBL traces its roots to the founding of the American Auction Bridge League in Hanover NH in 1927. Ten years later the ABL, which had dropped auction from its name, merged with U.S. Bridge Association to form the ACBL.
While most of the students learned bridge at school, a few got a head start at home. “My dad is pretty into bridge,” Roman said. About six years ago, he bought Eddie Kantar’s “Bridge For Dummies” and learned on his own. After learning bridge from their dad, Roman and his sister, who has since graduated, started the school’s bridge club.
Director Judy Cotterman said the students had great table manners. “I liked the way they interfaced with the adults,” she said.
At the end of Tuesday’s morning game, the students had a decision to make. Should they stay and play in the afternoon, or go sightseeing and come back this morning? “Who wants to stay?” Morris asked. Brendan and Roman’s hands shot up, but they were decisively outvoted. Maybe by Thursday the others will be ready to give two sessions a try.

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