White House Junior Internationals 2019
By Alex J. Coyne © Great Bridge Links
The White House Junior Internationals for 2019 took place between the 24th to the 29th of March at Het Witte Huis (or the White House) in Amsterdam. It’s one of the biggest youth bridge tournaments of the year with 24 teams competing for the top spot. We spoke to Tim Heeres from the Nederlandsche Bridgebond who organized the tournament together with Bob Drijver.
“The event has 27 years of heritage.” says Tim. “It started out in Hertogenbosch in 1993, and has moved to Amsterdam in 2005.” This move was prompted because their sponsors and organizer for ‘93 to ‘17 Kees Tammens, reside in and do business from Amsterdam.
“It’s one of the largest privately held international youth tournaments.” There was far more applicants than just the 24 participating teams, but space for competing teams – especially in Het Witte Huis – is limited and exclusive.
Of the 24 teams, he says that four are from the Netherlands, and three are from outside Europe. “For qualifications, we divide the teams into two segments according to their assumed playing strength.” Final results for the tournament can be found at jeugdbridge.nl.
We strive to have a few teams from other continents too, so for 2019, we have Australia, Brazil and Singapore.”
“The tournament takes five days from Monday till Friday, with qualifications, intermediate finals in the first three days
and a KO phase on Thursday and Friday.” Tim says that the Sunday before a Pro-Am is organized for the sponsors and juniors. “It’s considered as a serious tournament, used by NBO’s to select players for confederative or WBF events.”
He says that the atmosphere is informal and friendly at the same time. “The tournament has helped juniors to become the world class players they are now. The same may happen to today’s players.”
Amsterdam is the perfect setting for such a tournament. “Amsterdam is basically a museum in itself,” says Tim. “There are teams who take a whole tour by bike – by far the best method of transportation in the Netherlands.” Places visited the most by players he says includes the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the canals and Amsterdam City Centre. “A little nightlife might even be enjoyed by some.”
He’s wonderfully straight about getting more youth into bridge and how. “Too often we – the bridge community – act as a self-fulfilling prophecy by telling that bridge is hard to learn, harder to master and only for old people.”
“Practically speaking, making intermediate (online) quizzes for example that challenge people, small parts of declaring a hand, may very well work).”
Instead, he says bridge should be marketed as another game that you gradually learn, where there are a few rules you need to obey, but also a lot of freedom in creativity and solving problems.”
Looking for more? Follow these links if you’d like to read more about the tournament and youth bridge.
– Great Bridge Links Junior & Youth Page
– NBB Jeugdbridge
PHOTO: @wbfyouth Instagram