Duplicate bridge players from all over southwestern Ontario and northern Michigan, including the Canadian champions, were in Chatham-Kent to pit their card playing skills against each other on the weekend.
They played at the third annual American Contract Bridge League sanctioned sectional bridge tournament held at the Active Lifestyle Centre on Merritt Avenue.
Club Chair Gary Robertson, who helped recruit teams to the tournament, said the club was especially pleased to have John Carruthers and Katie Thorpe in the tournament. The two are multiple Canadian championship winners and have represented Canada at world tournaments.
Thorpe started playing bridge while studying at McMaster University, and was introduced to duplicate bridge in 1970. Between 1984 and 2016, she won the Canadian Women Teams Championship (CWTC) 10 times, the 1990 Canadian Open Pairs Championship (COPC), and the 2015 Canadian Senior Teams Championship (CSTC).
Thorpe represented Canada 12 times in World Championship team events, winning a silver medal in the 2000 Women Teams Olympiad, and two bronze medals (1988 Women Teams Olympiad and 1989 Venice Cup).
Carruthers is an accomplished player, writer, and administrator. At the time of his induction in the CBF Hall of Fame in 2015, he had played for Canada at the World Championships 14 times. He had also served as the non-playing captain for 12 Canadian Open, Women and Junior teams.
Robertson said the club also has the distinction of having three players with 10,000 plus points, putting them in among the top 40 duplicate bridge players across Canada – David Baker, Alice Andersen and Bill Andersen.
On Saturday, pairs competed against each other in the John Verkaik Pairs game in hopes of winning silver, red or black points towards a prestigious “Life Master” designation. On Sunday, 31 four-player teams competed against each other hoping to be named overall winner of the Maple City Bridge tournament.
This tournament is hosted by the Maple City Duplicate Bridge Club and is also used as an opportunity to raise funds for the Active Lifestyle Centre.
“John Verkaik, a duplicate bridge player himself, ACBL sanctioned bridge director and local philanthropist, leads our efforts to solicit corporate charitable donations. He also plays a major role in the fundraising efforts taking place right at the tournament,” said tournament chairperson Lee Easterbrook.
He added that this tournament also serves to encourage and promote duplicate bridge play in this area.
“Participation in such intellectually stimulating activities by our senior population is known to play a role in reducing risk for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia,” he added.