While the rest of the world is enjoying the last few weeks of summer, people in Australia are gearing up for the holiday season. This means they’re getting excited about the racing seasons, which means one thing: it’s time for the annual pilgrimage to the Australian Open Bridge Tournament. This year’s edition will be the 94th annual competition, which means there are a LOT of trophies, medals, and plaques to be won! If you’ve never been, you might be wondering: what is this tournament and why are people so obsessed with it? Let’s take a look:
What is the Australian Open Bridge Tournament?
To put it simply, the Australian Open Bridge Tournament is a competition between Australian and International Bridge players. It was inspired by a 1921 article in The Sydney Morning Herald that highlighted the growing popularity of the game in Australia and the need for a national championship. As a result, the first tournament was held in 1922, and it continues today due to its popularity and prestige.
The tournament is officially open to all ages and skill levels, and anyone can participate (as long as they can play bridge). As soon as you hit your teens, you can join your local bridge club and start playing against other club members and the occasional guest. These days, locals can also play online against players around the world and practice on their own devices.
The tournament is actually five separate tournaments:
The Women’s Australian Open Bridge Tournament
This year’s edition of the Australian Women’s Open Bridge Tournament will be the 11th annual competition. Just like the name implies, this tournament is open to women and will have separate rounds for partnerships and single players. Typically, the winner of the women’s tournament gets to choose which of the men’s trophies they want to win. This year, it will be the Steinmetz Cup, named after the first Australian woman to win the hearts of audiences around the world when she defeated Löwit in 1924.
In case you didn’t know, Löwit is a German word that translates to “bright” or “shining”. Today, the Steinmetz Cup is the highest-rated trophy in the Australian Open Bridge Tournament. It’s even got its own short Wikipedia article. Talk about a legendary trophy.
The Senior Australian Open Bridge Tournament
The Senior Australian Open Bridge Tournament is a championship for Australian aged 65 and over and is the second-oldest tournament in the competition. It was inspired by the US Senior Open Bridge Championship, which was founded in 1909 and is also open to all ages. Players must be at least 15 years old to participate in this tournament, and the format is a bit different. While the rest of the tournament is played in teams, the senior one is played individually. This year, the trophy being contested is the Booysen Cup. It’s named after the first Australian to win the hearts of audiences around the world when he defeated Norman Baddeley in 1939, and it’s definitely one to watch.
The Australian Government National Open Bridge Tournament
The Australian Government National Open Bridge Tournament is open to all ages but is limited to Australian residents and citizens. It was founded in 1968 but didn’t become an annual event until 1972. This year’s trophy being contested is the Jean Pigott Memorial Cup. It’s named after the first National Secretary of the Australian Bridge League who passed away in 1966. Pigott was known for putting on spectacularly entertaining tournaments, which is why this one is definitely not to be missed.
The Under-21 Australian Open Bridge Tournament
The Under-21 Australian Open Bridge Tournament is open to all players aged between 18-21 and will culminate in a Grand Final between the winners of the men and women’s divisions. This year’s trophy being contested is the Bill Collins Trophy. It’s named after the first Australian Chess Grandmaster who also happened to be the tournament director from 1971-1975. Collins passed away in 2016, which is why this year is the first time the trophy won’t have its usual namesake.
While the format may be different, the Australian Open Bridge Tournament is still widely considered to be one of the greatest sporting events in Australia and the rest of the world. Each year, thousands of people travel from all over the country to participate in this prestigious event. It continues to grow in popularity each year, which means more and more people are getting the itch to see what all the hubbub is about.
If you’re an Aussie who’s never been there, here’s a chance to see what all the fuss is about. You can find information about the Australian Open Bridge Tournament on their website.
When is the Australian Open Bridge Tournament?
The most recent Australian Open Bridge Tournament was played last month and consisted of 11 rounds: 4 partnership games and 7 singles games. The finals were held on Sunday, October 14th and won by Scott Andrews and John Power (AU) who beat David Nicholls and Ian Ferguson (GB) in the gold medal match. The entire tournament lasted for 12 days and was one of the highlights of the Australian Bridge League’s 2017 calendar.
If you’d like to participate, you’ve got a couple of options. First, you can play in one of the local bridge clubs in Australia. They’re normally held every week, and you’re sure to find one near you. Alternatively, you can join an online bridge league and play against other players across the globe. Just make sure you’re ready for some long hours in front of the computer screen. For more information about the Australian Open Bridge Tournament, visit their website.
That wraps up our list of top ten Australian Open Bridge Tournament facts. Did you know most of the trophies are still being contested? This year marks the 94th anniversary of the competition, and many of the trophies have yet to be added to this list. If you’ve never been there, you can bet this year’s tournament will be an eventful one. For those who have, this year’s trophy haul should serve as a reminder of why they came back year after year. It’s not only about winning trophies, it’s ALL about the camaraderie with other bridge players and the excitement of competing. So get your skates on and start practicing!