Evan Berman, a senior at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School, talks about what fuels his interest in the card game of bridge.
When 16-year-old Evan Berman plays at the In-Between Bridge Club, located near the intersection of Beneva and Fruitville roads, the fact that he’s the youngest person in the room is not lost on him.
The Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School senior understands why there are few players his age who play the game that’s associated with retirees in Sarasota.
“It’s generally thought of as an old person game,” Berman said.
Berman may not fit the stereotype of a bridge player, but he’s been playing since he was 10 through a club at St. Martha Catholic School and has no plans of stopping.
“Every hand represents a different strategy, a different tactic that you have to employ. If you get really good at it, it’s really exciting to play against some of the best people in the world.”-Evan Berman
Berman was introduced to the game through volunteers from In-Between Bridge, who came to St. Martha to inspire the next generation to learn the game. Of the seven original members of his club at St. Martha, Berman is the only one who hasn’t graduated or lost interest.
“Most people don’t really have the attention span for it,” Berman said. “It’s not the kind of thing you can just pick up and in a day you’ll be good.”
Berman turns to online bridge forums like Bridge Base Online to make sure he always has a partner for the four-person game.
Through the site, he met his teammates from Oregon and California, who competed with Berman in the North American Contract Bridge tournament. Berman and his three teammates visited Washington, D.C., for the tournament July 28-30. It was the sixth consecutive tournament in which Berman has competed.
Team Berman went against 250 players from all over the world and placed second in the Bridge Base Online Youth Swiss Teams portion of the tournament.
“In golf, if you play against Tiger Woods, you’re never going to be able to beat him,” Berman said. “In bridge, you can beat the best player in the world.”
Jane Huerta, a director at the In-Between Bridge Club, recalls seeing Berman play at the club.
“He would play on Saturdays with some our players here,” Huerta said. “We really don’t have a lot of young players here because the only day they can play is on Saturday.”
Although the game doesn’t discriminate, Berman believes most teenagers don’t have the patience to develop the strategy required to succeed in the game. It’s the strategy involved and the possibilities with every hand of cards dealt that intrigues him.
A multitude of hands are possible when 52 cards are divided up to give each of the four players 13 cards. It’s how the player makes the most of his hand that determines the victor.
“Every hand represents a different strategy, a different tactic that you have to employ,” Berman said. “If you get really good at it, it’s really exciting to play against some of the best people in the world.”