Episode 37

Hi, my name is John McAllister. I have spent the past six years playing bridge all around the world. My goal is to win a world championship. Doing so requires getting into the minds of the world’s best players.

I can not think of a better, more fun way to do so, than to interview great bridge players and share their insights in podcast format.

EPISODE 37: Michael Xu

In June of 2019, I asked now 17 year old Michael Xu to help me prepare for my interview with his bridge mentor/hero, Michael Rosenberg. This sparked his progression from The Setting Trick helper, to The Setting Trick intern, and finally to The Setting Trick guest.

One year after I first reached out, Michael co-founded the Youth Bridge Association, a nonprofit organization based on the idea of youth teaching youth bridge. As co-president, Michael has helped host multiple classes as well as a tournament that drew 140 juniors!

Michael has generously agreed to share the below letter, which upon reading, Kevin Rosenberg, Michael Rosenberg’s son said, “it sounds like you’re trying to date my dad!”

Fabled “dating” email

Dear Michael,

A few months ago, when asked by my college counselor who would be the best person to write a letter of recommendation, the first and only person that came to mind was you. Before bridge, before SiVY, before you, I never thought I would come to identify so strongly with a community. If you asked me back then whether I believe that I will have such a robust relationship with a non-family member, I would have scoffed at that idea. Yet, over the span of 4 years, I have developed a truly extraordinary connection with you. From our first encounter in Toronto, to the first bombardment of emails, to the first in-real-life post mortem (@Atlanta), to the first dinner together (@Dennys), to the first time playing against you, to the first time hearing a “well-played” from your lips, and finally to the latest email, you have seen my growth from a completely clueless youngling to a now still slightly clueless and learning adolescent who knows some things.

Michael, you are the only one. You saw me at the Trials, going past midnight to review boards. You saw me at WuJiang, China, where even at the World Youth Team Championships, I was more preoccupied with learning than sleeping/eating. You saw me flood your inbox with emails, and when you think you answered them all, I ‘rewarded’ you with countless follow ups and more new emails. In short, you saw my relentless pursuit to learn, my unprecedented level of insanity, my unrestrained intellectual vitality. Throughout my journey, you were my ultimate mentor, answering my plethora of questions, elucidating mysteries, and even providing me with life advice.

Given our lengthy, special history, I feel that you are unique in your capability to vouch for me. Genuine intellectual curiosity is highly coveted by colleges, and I think you are most suited to testify about that on my behalf. Just as you had strongly advocated for me back in 2018 for the U16 team, I hope you will be able to advocate for me for college.

Would you be willing to write me a strong and unique letter of recommendation for my college application? If you have any follow up questions or need any further information, please don’t hesitate to let me know.



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