9-Year-Old Texas Youth Becomes Bridge’s Youngest Life Master

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The American Contract Bridge League has a new Life Master, and he achieved the accomplishment at a record-breaking age.

Youngest Life Master, Zach Garrison

He was bouncing off the walls, jumping off chairs — he understands what he achieved because he wanted it.

Zach Garrison of Spring, TX became the American Contract Bridge League’s (ACBL) youngest Life Master on Feb. 1 at the Lone Star Regional Tournament in Houston. At 9 years, 2 months, and 7 days, Garrison now holds a title that is the dream of all serious bridge players, and he achieved the accomplishment at a record age.

While 9 year old Garrison has a difficult time putting into words how he feels about his accomplishment, his father, David Garrison, said he couldn’t hide his excitement.

“He was bouncing off the walls, jumping off chairs — he understands what he achieved because he wanted it,” said David. “Zach is the one that made a conscious decision to put hours and hours into learning.”

In Nov. 2009, Garrison read an article in the Bridge Bulletin magazine about Richard Jeng, a boy from Georgia who achieved the title of Youngest Life Master at 9 years, 6 months and 12 days. Excited to see that other young people were playing a game his parents were so passionate about, he asked to learn to play. Mother Kristy Garrison used educational materials she found on the ACBL’s web site to teach Garrison, but had to modify them a bit.

“Zach’s attention span was eight minutes, so lessons and concepts were kept very short to allow for this,” Kristy said.

After winning his first masterpoint — the metric of accomplishment in the world of bridge — on Feb. 10 of last year, Garrison attended six regional tournaments, many local tournaments, and played at Houston clubs regularly. After every game, he would sit down with his mother to determine how many more masterpoints he needed to reach his goal. Less than a year later, Zach earned his 300th point and achieved something many lifelong bridge players never do.

“Everyone has been so good and great to him,” said David. “His mom and I are excited to get another generation involved with a game we love so much. All bridge players have got to keep the game fresh and exciting for kids so it will continue to grow.”

About the ACBL
Indisputably the most challenging card game ever invented, bridge attracts players of all ages and walks of life — from Microsoft founder Bill Gates to tennis star Martina Navratilova. Founded in 1937, the ACBL is the largest bridge organization in the world, serving 165,000 members, 3,200 bridge clubs and sanctioning 1,100 sectional and regional tournaments annually. The ACBL’s three North American Bridge Championships each attract up to 5,000 players representing every state in the United States, Canada and about 20 other foreign countries. For more information about the ACBL, visit http://www.acbl.org.

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Vicki Campbell

Darbi Padbury
American Contract Bridge League
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