Sunday, November 27, 2022

Yorktown Local Part of Winning National Bridge Tournament Team

Jian-Ping Chen (left) won the Goldman Grand National Teams Flight event with his teammates: Weizhong Bao and Huailin Chen of Herndon, Virginia; and Shihong You of Germantown, Maryland. (Courtesy of Jian-Ping Chen)

YORKTOWN — Yorktown local Jian-Ping Chen has always been attracted to games where you have to think and use your mind. He calls it, “mind games.” That’s what drew him to the card game Bridge, and what also set him on the path to winning a national tournament event at the Summer 2022 North American Bridge Championship (NABC) this summer.

The Yorktown native traveled to Providence, Rhode Island, in July for the competition and took home first place in the tournament’s “Goldman Grand National Teams Flight” event with teammates Wiezhong Bao and Huailin Chen from Herndon, Virginia, and Shihong You from Germantown, Maryland. The four contenders ended up playing a very competitive five days of Bridge and when they reached the end of the competition, they found themselves leaving Providence as national champions.

“On the first day they kind of cut it down to 16 teams,” said Jian-Ping in an interview with WYDaily. “If you win you continue, if you lose you go home. So, we kept winning. Next, we got to the quarter-finals, then the semi-finals, and then the finals.”

Jian-Ping began to take the game more seriously when he first traveled to the U.S. for college. The local Bridge player attended graduate school at the University of Virginia (UVA) in the early 80s, and that was around the time when he joined the American Contract Bridge League (ABCL). He’s been showing up to competitions ever since.

The four card players represented District 6 at the Summer 2022 NABC, a district made up of players from DC, Maryland, and Virginia. The team had to win in its district in order to qualify for the national tournament as only one team is allowed to represent each district at the national level.

There are typically around 20 to 25 districts that attend the team competition, and more than 3,300 participants arrive to compete in various events at the national tournament.

“In the tournament, I also played in an open pair game after winning the grand national team, and in the open pair game you play against all the pros, and we came in second,” said Jian-Ping. “We almost got lucky and won both events. The second one we only placed second, but it’s very tough because you play against a lot of pros.”

The Yorktown local says that he participates in clubs in Hampton, Williamsburg, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and the Richmond area.

“If not because of the pandemic I would’ve probably played with more local people here, but because of the pandemic, we played online. That way you can play with people far away.”

Each year ABCL hosts three national tournaments. After winning this event, Jian-Ping says he is setting up to compete in Championship League to compete against professional Bridge players.

“It’s very quick for people to learn how to play,” said Jian-Ping. “It takes a while to be good, and a lot of people playing of course can have different levels and just enjoy the game. You can course take it more seriously and start competing, but for different levels, you can just enjoy the game. It’s a very nice game. You can also get to know people and be social with people.”

For more information on Bridge competitions and NABC, check out ABCL’s website.

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