The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

World Championship Bridge competetor walks Macalester Campus

By Katie Havraneck

The 13th World Junior Bridge Team Championships were held in Beijing, China this October, and one of Macalester’s finest was there. Haider Malik ’10 represented Pakistan in his third World Championships. Malik, along with three friends from high school, composed the Pakistani team. They were coached by one of Malik’s teachers from high school, who has also competed for Pakistan in international tournaments. They received 13th place which was, “not as well as we had expected,” confessed Malik. However, they did manage to beat teams from the United States and Canada.

In the United States, bridge is a game often associated with “I Love Lucy” and grandparents in nursing homes, rather than international competitions-a thought not uncommon in Pakistan.

“The game is mostly for old people-not a lot of people compete at the junior level,” said Malik. He also explained that bridge was not popular in Pakistan until Pakistani players unexpectedly made it to the finals in an international bridge tournament.

Malik learned to play bridge from a friend. He compares the game to hearts or spades. He played with his friends in their free time at school and eventually caught the attention of one of their teachers-the woman who later became their coach. They began playing in clubs and were soon recognized by sponsors who wanted to promote bridge to the youth of Pakistan.

The team has since competed in three World Junior Bridge Tournaments in Australia, Thailand and this year, in Beijing. Their sponsor has funded all three of the trips. Through these tournaments, they have had the opportunity to meet fellow bridge players from around the world and reunite with these new friends at the tournament every year.

Malik’s teammates are scattered around the world, so they have only had the summer months and online sessions to practice.

“Online practice is not as good because the temperament is different when you are sitting at the table,” he said.

The tournament setup eliminates the luck factor that is found in other card games like poker. As a result, the game is scored not only by the tricks that are laid down but how well you communicate with your partner.

Malik has had trouble finding practice partners around campus. So far, he has not found a bridge player at Macalester. While he thought about starting up a bridge team, most students are unfamiliar entirely with the game.

“It is difficult to generate interest if people don’t even know the basics of the game,” Malik said. He estimates that bridge takes about two years to learn well enough to compete.

Haider Malik dispels the preconceived notions that bridge is a dull card game reserved for the elderly. On the contrary, it is an exciting game of strategy that could spring up at Mac, if you let Malik teach you.

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