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In The Beginning

by Peggy Kaplan

Entries completed on partner’s back. Laughing and squeals; jumps and smiles. These are the sounds of excited youth players as they prepare for their morning competition in the Rook Pairs.

As we wait for the event to start, Christine Koebke of Apopka, Florida introduces herself. She is at the Orlando NABC with son Mitchell. Mitchell is already an “old hand” at duplicate. His career began in fourth grade; bridge has been a big plus in Mitchell’s life.

Christine tells me about Bea Ronski and Jill Lundberg. Jill’s grandson is in the youth program, and both women are actively involved in recruiting and teaching students at Bear Lake Elementary. Joyce Riemersma, teacher of gifted students, has been instrumental in the bridge lives of Bear Lake students.

Players set up their bidding boxes and ready their card holders. (Yes; some of the competitors are still so young, their hands are not quite ready to handle 13 cards!) As play begins, the room quiets from horseplay to serious concentration.

Honors for the Rook Pairs go to Rashaad Hooks and Isaiah Kirk of Sarasota with an impressive 62% game. Siblings Olivia Edstrom and Kristofer Edstrom of Apopka capture the second spot, with Alex Brits and Madeline Wheaton and Camile Gros and Julia Steffy tied for third. Trophies are awarded, pizza and pop is consumed; a super time is had by all!

This is just the beginning. Be sure – in today’s Rook Pairs are the stars of tomorrow!