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Thousands of bridge players in KC: They’re into this game in spades

More than 5,000 bridge players in Kansas City for championships

More than 5,000 bridge players from at least five countries have descended upon Kansas City for the North American Bridge Championships that run through March 19 at the Sheraton and Westin Crown Center hotels. The American Contract Bridge Associat
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More than 5,000 bridge players from at least five countries have descended upon Kansas City for the North American Bridge Championships that run through March 19 at the Sheraton and Westin Crown Center hotels. The American Contract Bridge Associat

You’ve probably heard plenty about the Big 12 basketball tournament at the Sprint Center.

But a few blocks down the road, a quieter but also intense competition is heating up: the 11-day 2017 Spring North American Bridge Championships, spread throughout the Westin Crown Center and Sheraton Kansas City. About 5,000 players of all abilities — poker faces set, concentration deep — are plowing through an estimated 300,000 hands of cards through March 19.

To make sure other teams can’t eavesdrop, players don’t even say their bids out loud; they use plastic signs to signal “two hearts” or “three no-trump” or whatever. Their hands of cards are pre-determined and standardized. So every pair plays not only against the other team at its table but against every other table as well.

Stephanie Threlkeld, who works in education and marketing for the American Contract Bridge League, sees a lesson in that: “It’s like life,” she says. “How do you play the cards you’re dealt?”

Sharon Hoffmann: 816-234-4457, @Sharonakc

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