About 1,500 to 2,000 players of the popular card game of all skill levels from around the nation and the world will be participating in the event — including a large number of local residents.
Admission is free for most of the competitions in the tournament.
Sandy Springs resident Jack Feagin is serving as a co-chairman of the event and will also play in the competition.
“It’s something we’re very excited about, because it actually gives all the players all over the Southeast a chance to play people from all over the world, both in terms of players at their own [skill] level and world champions. It’s sort of an equivalent of one of the major golf tournaments, something along those lines.” said Feagin, who has played bridge for more than 40 years.
Feagin, who is one of the three co-chairmen, along with Johns Creek resident Becky Butler and Decatur resident Dick Meyers, said Atlanta is a growing hotspot for bridge.
“Atlanta is a booming bridge population in terms of new people coming into the game,” Feagin said. “A high percentage of the bridge population lives in Sandy Springs, Dunwoody and Buckhead.”
The event will be held in conjunction with the American Contract Bridge League’s Youth North American Bridge Championships Thursday through Saturday and the World Bridge Federation’s World Youth Open Bridge Championship Sunday through Aug. 11.
It will be the seventh time that Atlanta will play host to the NABC and the first time since 2005. The event was also held in the city in 1954, ’71, ’72, ’86 and ’95.
Contract Bridge, the formal name of the game, uses a 52-card deck and is played by groups of four players in two competing partnerships.
The game consists of several deals and includes four phases — dealing the cards, placing bids, playing the hand and scoring the results.
With its emphasis on memorizing and strategy, Butler touts the mental stimulation bridge offers.
“It’s a passion for us,” said Butler, who has played for five years and who will be competing in the tournament. “We love the game and we want to give back to the game, and it’s the only game I know where you don’t quit learning. It will help the kids intellectually. It lets them use their minds more. It’s even been proved with studies that it helps older people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.”
The event includes free bridge lessons from renowned bridge expert Audrey Grant Saturday and Monday from 10 a.m. to noon and a $20 seminar from Patty Tucker of Atlanta Junior Bridge Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m. as well as entertainment — including live music, a hypnotist and belly dancers.