Saltus makes history at world bridge event
Saltus Grammar School has become Bermuda's first youth team to attend a bridge world championship.
Michael Viotti, a physics teacher at Saltus, led a team of four students to the World Bridge Federation's Youth Team Championships in Salsomaggiore Terme, in Parma, Italy, from August 3 to 13.
The team included recent Saltus graduates Tyler Irby, Gianluca Cacace, Liam Peniston and Ruskin Cave. John Burville, a seasoned international player from Bermuda, also attended as the non-playing captain.
“This is our first time doing anything like this — not to mention the first time Bermuda has ever sent a youth team to a bridge world championship,” Mr Viotti said in a statement.
“They performed admirably given that they were facing the best players in the world in their age group.
“While they didn't advance to the knockout stages, their play had been steadily improving throughout the week and overall they produced solid results in the consolation event.”
According to a press release, the highlight came when the Bermuda team were awarded the Joan Gerard award for their division, which rewards “aptitude, fair play, good sportsmanship and a friendly international spirit, rejecting any discrimination”.
Mr Viotti added: “It was a proud moment for us. We're happy to say the award will be displayed in the trophy case at the Bermuda Bridge Club for years to come.”
The release said the trip was made possible thanks to support from the Saltus Foundation, Bermuda Bridge Club, Bermuda Bridge Federation, the Caribbean and Central American Bridge Federation, as well as private donors.
A “significant amount” was also raised by the student's families and from a carwash the team members organised themselves.
“Our goal in taking students to this event is to build the youth bridge programme in Bermuda,” Mr Viotti said.
“There is no bigger stage than this tournament. In addition to vastly improving their level of bridge, our students have seen what it takes to compete at the highest levels and we hope their attendance will serve to motivate other students to take up the game.”
Dressed in traditional Bermuda shorts, the team received a warm welcome during the opening ceremony for the competition.
Mr Burville said: “Without a doubt we had the best-dressed team and we also had the best players as well. They were very courteous and friendly, demonstrating all the Bermuda qualities. We got a wonderful applause in the opening ceremony, which exceeded every other team.”
Student Tyler Irby said he was happy to advance the island's reputation for possessing good manners and sportsmanship.
“Bermuda is known for being a very friendly nation and that's something we want to share going forward,” he told the World Bridge Federation.