‘It’s Like Playing With Kobe’: An Unlikely Intergenerational Bridge Team

Reese Koppel, 21, has been playing at the Louisiana Bridge Association in New Orleans since he was 11 years old. The older players treated him “like Elvis,” he said. “They saw me as a savior of the game.”

“This game taught me so much — people skills, compassion, emotional endurance, and an appreciation for the older generation,” said Koppel, who founded Yale’s 40-member bridge club and recently started an app called Tricky Bridge. “It’s not the cards you have, but it’s how you play them. Everyone’s going to pick up the same cards as you. It’s how you react to that sort of adversity.”

Adversity was in no short supply on Aug. 2, the last game of the summer tournament. Players were scattered throughout Michigan, California, Texas, Canada, and Norway, where it was 4 a.m. Team Kolesnik was getting pummeled. The score going into the fourth quarter was 85 to 113, the equivalent of being 20 points down in the N.B.A. finals with roughly five minutes remaining.

“We were just stuck,” Hamman said. The other team “had almost an insurmountable lead, with six hands to go.”

Somehow, they caught up and by the end of the night, the score had evened at 113-113. But after eight hours of playing, everyone was exhausted.

“Although sedentary, bridge is surprisingly grueling because of the mental energy and concentration required,” Weichsel said from his home in Southern California.

No one wanted to admit defeat. After a lengthy discussion with the tournament directors, the two teams shared the title.

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