The Harvey Mudd College Bridge Club recently qualified for the American Contract Bridge League Collegiate Bridge Bowl tournament in Toronto, Canada, this July. Marissa Gee ’18, Nicholas Koskelo ’20, Kemper Ludlow ’18, Daniel Sonner ’18 and Jake Williams ’20 will compete for bragging rights and an opportunity to claim scholarships from a $20,000 pool.
Bridge was a popular pastime in the 1940s, which may be why a lot of people associate it with their grandparents. But if the dedication shown by these Mudders is any indication, the game may be about to enjoy a renaissance. The team meets several evenings per week in the Platt Living Room to play, strategize and teach others the game, no small commitment considering their academic workload and the fact that bridge, while it may be relaxing once learned, is not exactly uncomplicated.
The HMC Bridge Club had been relatively defunct for several years before Sonner restarted it last fall, a development that alumni Michael Hughes ’73 (chemistry) is happy about. “There was no HMC bridge club in my days so, I am very glad that there is one now,” he says. Lack of an organized club didn’t stop Hughes and his friends from playing, though. “We just played in the Mudd Hole (downstairs in Platt center at the time) and eventually started playing in club games and local tournaments. Now that there is a college championship within the ACBL it makes a lot more sense to have a formal club.”
Something current club members might be happy to know is that Hughes and his friends from college still play together, though not usually in person. “My HMC Bridge partners Bob Bell ’72 mathematics, Ben Tucker ’72 mathematics and Steve Evans and I get together frequently online to play against each other; we live in four different states,” Hughes says. “Tucker, Evans and I all finished in the overalls in the National IMP Pairs in Reno, Nevada, last spring, as did a team which included Bell, Tucker and me in the National Open Swiss.”
The success of Harvey Mudd students past and present might suggest that a scientific mind might also have an aptitude toward bridge. But humanities majors out there shouldn’t despair; according to Williams, “Really, it’s for anyone who doesn’t mind doing the same thing over and over and over.”
Williams did, in fact, learn the game from his grandparents, with whom he and his brother have partnered in competitions, and has played regularly throughout his life. His brother will join him at the Bridge Bowl and participate in the competition. Sonner, who acts as captain of the team, also played bridge before coming to Mudd and is an avid student of the game (“He has lots of books on bridge in his dorm room,” Ludlow laughs). However, prior knowledge of the game isn’t required to join the club. “I’m still learning,” says Ludlow.