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Fountain of Youth

by Peggy Kaplan

When we think of the "fountain of youth", we think of something to keep us young. Bridge surely does that! The game challenges our mind, keeps us sharp and alert - and the social aspect of bridge is also helpful to feeling spry.

Yet, there is another "fountain of youth" for bridge: young people who are learning and loving our game. One such youthful gentleman, Ben Kristensen, played at the Gopher Regional with his dad, Curt Kristensen.

Curt kindly introduced himself and Ben to me at the Gopher - then filled me in on all the progress Ben has made with his bridge game. At age 9, when Sunday school teacher Marilyn Norenberg told Ben about bridge, he received a green spiral notebook from the ACBL filled with introductory tools. Ever since, Ben has been reading and studying our game.

Ben competed in his first tournament in May 2009 in Hayward, Wisconsin. Last year, he attended the Youth NABC, and plans to head to his second NABC in New Orleans this July.

Most of Ben's tournament play has been with his dad, though several bridge friends in Duluth (The Kristensen's home) have been nurturing Ben, including Dan Sershon, Lee Steinmeir and Larry Uttley.

Ben is home schooled, and enjoys piano, math and - of course - bridge! In addition to his school work and bridge studies, Ben even finds time to mentor his younger sister, Ruth, age ten, for the last six months! Ruth even played one day at the Gopher, too.

Ken Bayliss and RoxAnn Klugman, pictured below, played with Ben and Kurt on Monday in the 299er Swiss. "We had a great time," Curt reports. "Ben did earn over 17 masterpoints in his five days of play," Curt adds. "But focusing on his love and learning for bridge is more important."

With that kind of attitude, we can be confident that Ben's "fountain of youth" will be something to behold!