Winners Make Losers Happy

Winners of the Sunday Daylight Gold Rush Swiss: Finn Kolesnik, Emma Kolesnik, Marcus Edholm and Daniel Sonner

It’s not often that you hear a bridge player say, “I was pleased to lose.” It happened on Thursday when Leslie Brucker of Los Angeles made her way to the Daily Bulletin office to report on a match she and her teammates played against four young bridge stars to be.

The adult foursome was Brucker, Robert Greene, Santa Barbara, and sisters Gerry Gastelum and Nancy Raiche, both of Manhattan Beach.

In the Sunday Daylight Gold Rush Swiss Teams, they had won six of seven matches and felt like they were in a good position to win the event. In the final round, they encountered Emma and Finn Kolesnik of Ventura, playing with Marcus Edholm, Palo Alto, and Daniel Sonner, Redwood City.

Brucker said the young opponents played well and were even better in their comportment. “They were so polite,” Brucker said.

On comparing scores, Brucker and her teammates saw that they had lost, but there was no frustration, no discussion about how things might have turned out differently. Brucker was happy and, she said, her teammates felt the same way.

Three members of the second-place team in the Sunday Daylight Gold Rush Swiss: Gerry Gastelum, Leslie Brucker and Nancy Raiche.

“Look who we were playing with,” she said. “Those young kids are hooked on bridge for life and I was part of it. That’s what it’s all about: To see them come and play and have such a good time. I feel that it’s good for the game.”

Brucker, a retired stock broker, has been playing bridge for six and a half years. She also teaches, an activity she likes “as much as or more than playing.”

Raiche said, “I like to see new young people coming into the game.”

The young players were not available for interview, but Alex Kolesnik, father to Emma and Finn, offered this information about the team:

“Emma, 19, is a freshman at Scripps College in Claremont, CA, majoring in math and computer science at Harvey Mudd College. She started playing bridge when she was 7, but has not played much over the years until this year. She played the last three youth championships, and is on a team that will be playing in Atlanta for the trials to select a team to represent the U.S. in China next year. She is a member of the Harvey Mudd bridge team.

“Finn, 13, is an 8th-grader at Cabrillo Middle School in Ventura. He learned to play bridge about five months ago. His other interests are tennis and bowling. He played with his sister in the youth championships in Toronto. They won the consolation youth teams.

“The kids have become addicted to the game, playing every chance they get. Finn won a two-session open Swiss at the Santa Clarita sectional, going 6-0 in his first time playing a Sunday Swiss. The kids won a one-session Swiss at the Oceanside Sectional and came in second in the open Sunday Swiss at the Sun City Sectional. Finn won the opening one-session Swiss in San Diego. Then the two kids came in third in the Saturday Gold Rush Pairs here, and won the Sunday Gold Rush Swiss.They are back at school for the week, but will be back for the weekend.”

Brucker said she was impressed by how well her opponents played and encouraged to see more young people at the bridge tables. “We love this game,” she said, “and we’ve got to keep it going.”

Lest anyone think the adult team might have thrown the match, Raiche added firmly: “We would have beaten them if we could.”

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