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Cincinnati Kid Crowned King of Bridge

The ACBL Educational Foundation has named John Altman of Cincinnati OH the 2013 King of Bridge. The King (or Queen) of Bridge accolade recognizes a graduating high school senior’s overall participation in the local bridge community as well as the accumulation of masterpoints.

Altman began playing bridge when he was 12 years old, but notes that he had been playing cards since before he could count.

“I learned my numbers from playing cards with my grandma,” he says.

“My grandma knew I had a knack for cards, so as a gift, she paid for my dad and me to take lessons at the bridge club in Cincinnati. After a few lessons, I was hooked. I remember asking my dad why he had to go to work instead of playing with me in the morning sessions.”

What sets Altman apart from prior high school bridge royalty, however, is his wise-beyond-his-years focus on recruitment and teaching.

“Of all the things I have done in the bridge community, teaching has been one of my absolute favorites,” he says.

“I remember teaching one of the younger kids what a finesse is,” Altman continues. “When he tried it and it worked, he jumped out of his chair and ran around the room giving everyone high fives. It doesn’t get much more fulfilling than that.”

Altman created and promoted the Walnut Hills Bridge Club — the after-school club at his high school. The club meets once a week, and anyone is welcome to come learn and play. One of Altman’s regular playing partners took over leadership of the group when Altman had to leave for college.

A certified director at the age of 16, Altman directed youth games as well as a weekly open game and special-event games (holiday parties and awards celebrations) at the Cincinnati Bridge Club. He also directed the twice monthly mentor–mentee games.

In 2008, at the age of 13, Altman was his unit’s Ace of Clubs and Mini-McKenny winner, and the Rookie of the Year in Cincinnati. He achieved Life Master status when he was in the 11th grade.

He has represented District 11 three times in the North American Pairs at NABCs, and twice in the Grand National Teams.

Altman is majoring in chemical engineering at The Ohio State University in Columbus. “At the moment, there are no bridge activities at Ohio State, but I plan to change that. I have begun to teach a few interested students the game in the evening after classes in hopes of having enough students to start a bridge club on campus next year.”

He plays online sometimes — with his dad, and with his grandmother on the west coast. “BBO is also a great way to keep in touch with the many friends I’ve made through the Youth NABCs. I’ve stayed up many a late night playing with those guys.”

In addition to his bridge activities, Altman was an avid jazz pianist in high school. He played for four years in the jazz ensemble, traveling around town to play for charity events as well as at the downtown jazz club.

Selected annually by the ACBL Educational Foundation from high school senior applicants, the King/Queen of Bridge crown is accompanied by a $1000 scholarship. Previous Kings/Queens of Bridge include Jeff Meckstroth, Bobby Levin, Steve Weinstein, Warren Spector, Martha Benson, Eric Greco, Gavin Wolpert and John Kranyak.

John Altman