Silicon Valley Youth Bridge

Palo Alto High School Wins 2016 Bay Area High School Bridge Championship

This annual event is a growing success

Team Championship
1st Place: Palo Alto Vikings
2nd Place: Gunn Titans
Galileo High
Kehillah High School
McQueen High School
Monta Vista High School

Pairs Championship
1st Place: Brent Xiao, Mission San Jose High School, and Samuel Perlow, Fusion Academy
2nd Place: Stella Wan, Palo Alto High School, and Michael Zheng, Lynbrook High School

Team Event: 6 teams
Pair Event: 15 high school pairs
Total Players: 42 in grades 9-12
Number of schools represented: 18

Team Event

On the morning of April 17, 2016, 24 high school bridge players, ranging in age from 14 to 18, congregated at the Bayshore Bridge Center in Burlingame to contest the second annual Bay Area High School Bridge Championship. Six teams competed this year (a 50% increase over the four teams who played last year), including one team that traveled all the way from Reno, NV, to face new competitive challenges and make new friends. Another new participant was team of self-described “noobs” from Kehillah High School in Palo Alto, all of whom started playing bridge only last fall.

At the end of the morning round robin team competition, the Titans, from Gunn High School in Palo Alto, had won the qualifier comfortably, with Palo Alto High School second, setting up an all-Palo Alto Championship Final. The team from Monta Vista High in Cupertino, which included three members of last year’s winning squad, missed qualifying by less than 1 victory point and had to settle for third this year. Galilieo HS of San Francisco showed a marked improvement from their 2015 performance.

After a break to eat lunch and socialize with other high school players, the two finalists sat down to play a 24-board match to win a trophy for their school, individual replicas for each team member, and a $200 gift card for each player on the winning team. Paly pulled out to a 33 imp lead in the first half, largely by making better decisions about high how to compete when holding the spade suit. Although the Titans pushed hard in the second half, Paly increased its lead, in part by being the only pair in the field to bid a good slam. The final margin was 80-36. The Paly team consisted of Olivia d’Arezzo, Claire Duffie, Cornelius Duffie, and Sarah Youngquist. All are 10th graders at Palo Alto High School, so we’re sure they’ll be back to defend their title.

The winners received a large trophy for their school, individual replicas for each player, and gift cards worth $800 altogether. The runners up (Kevin Huang, Lucas Huang, Jonathan Shi, and Matthew Shi of Gunn High School) also received individual trophies and gift cards, and the third place finishers (Aidan Gottlieb, Sophie Lian, Jasmine Wang, and Dan Zhukov of Monta Vista High School) received gift cards.

According to Debbie Rosenberg, the president of SiVY, the Paly team’s victory is largely attributable to hard work by the players. In addition to participating in their high school bridge club, Cornelius Duffie said the team members had met often to play bridge after school, and they had tried to attend Casual Friday SiVY events at the Palo Alto Bridge Center whenever they could. They also played in local duplicates and sectional tournaments, competing against adults. These efforts have paid off, both in improved technique in the play and in greater aggression in the bidding. Throughout the match, the Paly players never missed a game bid by the other team. That’s a record many of us would be proud of!

Pair Event

While the two Palo Alto teams contested the team final, eight tables played in the Pairs Championship—a 100% size increase from last year. The pairs competition allows players from different high schools to compete as partners. There were fifteen high school pairs, plus one fill in pair of 8th graders, who got a preview of the event for next year. As more and more local high schools form bridge clubs, we can expect attendance at the event to continue to grow.

The Pairs Championship was hard-fought, with only two matchpoints separating winners Samuel Perlow and Brent Xiao from second place pair Stella Wan and Michael Zheng. Third place was claimed by Sarah MacHarg and Matt Oakley, and fourth place by Emma Miller and Sidney Inouye - all of whom had traveled all the way from Reno to compete in the Teams Championship. The top three pairs also received individual trophies, and the top four received gift cards.

A special prize, of two autographed bridge books, was awarded to the top-ranked pair of newcomers (players with less than 1 full masterpoint who competed in their first ACBL event after September 1, 2015). That prize was claimed by Sierra Lu and Sarah Ku, who have been learning bridge at Mills HS, through the Peninsula Youth Bridge program

All the participants were happy to have the opportunity to learn more about bridge and compete against their peers. Some were proud to have practiced techniques their mentors taught them, such as being careful to cash the high card in the short hand first when running a long suit. A Reno player commented about learning “better slam conventions.” Judging by the smiling faces during the lunch break, all the players were glad they had competed. Many players exchanged names and email events before they left for the day, planning to find other opportunities to play with and against each other. Quite a few will see each other in Washington D.C., at the Youth NABC this summer.


The High School Championship was jointly sponsored by SiVY, the Center for Bridge Education, and District 21 of the American Contract Bridge League. District 21 ACBL Representative Roger Smith volunteered as a table monitor, and offered Goodwill tips.

Special appreciation is due to volunteer tournament director Will Watson, as well as to Patti Frederick, who allowed us to use the space at the Bayshore Bridge Center rent-free, and to Jeanie Kwong of Peninsula Youth Bridge, who put together a fabulous lunch for players and volunteers alike. Thanks go to authors Marty Bergen and Larry Cohen for donations of autographed bridge books, as well as Master Point Press for deep discounts. As always, thanks are also due to the many volunteers who make all of SiVY events possible.