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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

First-year bids his way to world champion title

Published: November 5, 2010
Section: Features

PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

Adam Grossack ’14 has started the process of forming a bridge club at Brandeis, but he plans to serve as a mentor, rather than a competitor. He’s had enough experience competing recently—in Philadelphia a few weeks ago, he was named the world champion of bridge under 21.

Grossack has been playing bridge since he was eight years old when his mother took him to her bridge club.

He was in third grade when he began taking lessons, but that wasn’t his main extra-curricular immediately. His mom encouraged him to get involved in as many things as possible and, like any young boy, he began playing soccer and basketball. After listening to his mom talk about bridge, he studied the game, working hard to understand it.

At the age of 11, Grossack won his first local tournament. There are very few kids-only tournaments, he explained, so he mostly competed against adults.

His skill comes from a combination of natural ability and hard work.

“I do have some natural ability in terms of deductive reasoning,” he said, explaining that bridge is a combination of analytical skills to assess each hand as it comes and a partnership filled with trust and communication.

“I love how there’s a new challenge on every hand,” Grossack said. “Bidding is a language, you have to communicate with your partner about how strong your hand is, trying to find your best spot. You can create your own language with your partner.”

To improve, Grossack kept competing at the local, regional and national levels. “I had some great players reach out to me and help advance my game,” he said.

At a national competition in Boston, Grossack was partnered with Adam Kaplan. The two hit it off and played in several youth events together. After winning U.S. youth national events, they won a trial to represent the U.S. in the World Team Championships. Although they did not win as a team, Grossack became the newest world champion under 21.

Grossack explained that despite the stereotype of bridge being a game for the elderly, being young does have its advantages. Obviously, he said, the more experience a player has, the better, but a younger mind is able to more easily do the complicated calculations needed in bridge.

In chess, he said, a player needs a sharp mind, but bridge is more complicated. Players must establish partnerships, one who is “straight,” meaning they play by the book, and one who plays by instinct. Grossack alternates in this role depending on who his partner is, and he said the roles can change between and even during hands.

When the bridge club starts meeting regularly, Grossack isn’t worried about people being too intimidated to learn from a world champion. “I’m not really intimidating,” he said with a smile, adding that he would teach the basics and play if he was needed, but that he wants to be more of a mentor or teacher.