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Press Release

The Australian Bridge Federation Youth Committee is pleased to announce the following recipients of the major youth awards for 2011:

Andrew Reiner Trophy: Daniel Braun & Shane Harrison

This newly established award is granted to the best performed pair in the primary target international event taking account of performance in the event itself, commitment to preparation and contribution to team success.

Daniel Braun and Shane Harrison anchored the Australian Under-21 team to its victory in the Asia Pacific Bridge Federation Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in June 2011.

Playing 22 of 25 matches their contribution was clear based on a commendable +0.36 imps per board against datums.

Away from the table they strongly supported their teammates with unwavering positive energy in the face of adversity in the first round-robin and were well prepared having practiced extensively on BBO under the mentorship of Nabil Edgtton in the months leading up to the event.

A special mention is made for Michael Whibley and Liam Milne who similarly anchored the Under-26 team to finish just one VP outside of the medals and went on to win the Open Pairs at the same event.

Andrew Reiner was a pioneer in establishing Australia's international youth representative programme in 1989. In addition to captaining the bronze medal winning Under-26 team in 1991 (which to this day remains Australia's best ever performance in a World Youth Team Championship) Andrew has made significant financial contributions to the youth programme over many years.

Helman-Klinger Achievement Award: Laura Ginnan

This annual award is presented to the Australian youth player whose ability, achievements, sportsmanship, attitude, contribution and commitment during the calendar year are most deserving.

The 2011 award was won by Laura Ginnan, who has been active in teaching in schools, establishing and operating a primary school GATEWAY programme, establishing and maintaining the VicYouth Facebook page, setting-up a weekly under 16s youth session in Melbourne, assisting with the regular Melbourne youth session, running a university bridge crash course and convening the ABF Youth Triathlon.

At the table Laura's 2011 results included: 2nd in the National Youth Teams, 2nd in the ANC Interstate Youth Teams, 6th in Victor Champion Cup, 3rd in the Victorian Open Pennant and 1st in the GNOT Swiss Pairs.

Special mentions are made for Andy Hung (refer below) and Stephen Williams who has been running a successful weekly programme at Sydney Girls High School for much of 2011.

Helman-Klinger Masterpoint Award: Andy Hung

This award, which players may only win won once, is granted to the Australian youth player who earns the most masterpoints in the calendar year in question. This year Andy Hung won with 248.61 masterpoints which included 2nd in the National Open Teams and a string of victories and strong finishes in congresses and state events in Queensland (most notably winning the four major pairs championships).

Other notable McCutcheon performances in 2011 included Liam Milne (159.50) and Max Henbest (154.66) who were 1st and 2nd respectively in the National Master category and Jamie Thompson (149.02) who was 1st in the Local Master category and 2nd in the overall "Improvers" competition.

Both Helman-Klinger Awards exist due to the generosity of Rabbi Leonard Helman, an American lawyer, prominent bridge enthusiast and philanthropist, who made a substantial donation to establish the prizes to honour Ron and Suzie Klinger's outstanding contribution to bridge in Australia.

Hills-Hurley Trophy: Sebastian Yuen & James Higgins

This trophy, donated by Richard Hills and Steve Hurley, is intended to encourage talented young bridge players in forming long-standing partnerships and reward successful pairs which have developed a well-organised partnership to harness their full potential. In 2011 Sebastian Yuen and James Higgins have continued their partnership of several years contesting various national youth and open events together with a number of strong performances on their local Canberra scene.

Highlights in 2011 included: 1st in the World University Online Championships, 2nd in the National Youth Teams, top youth team in the South-West Pacific Teams, 6th in the Victor Champion Cup, 2nd in the ANC Interstate Youth Teams and qualifying to represent Canberra in the GNOT. Whilst not the most successful youth partnership in 2011, they clearly fulfil the intent of the award based on the enduring nature of this partnership and the significant amount of ongoing work on system development and practice.

Special mention is also made in this category for Michael Whibley and Liam Milne who had a successful year including 1st in the National Youth Teams, 2nd in the National Open Teams, 1st in the ANC Interstate Youth Teams and 1st in the APBF Open Pairs.

Friends of Youth Bridge Fund Special Recognition Award for Services by a Youth Player to Youth Bridge: Andy Hung

For the second year running, Andy Hung has been a close second in the voting for the Helman-Klinger Achievement Award and in light of Andy's outstanding contribution to youth bridge over many year a decision was taken to grant a Special Recognition Award.

Andy is extremely generous with his time in mentoring and supporting up and coming youth players through BBO practice and speaking with young pairs at tournaments. In 2009 Andy spent many hours with Sam Schultz and Shane Harrison taking them from a relatively unknown pair to our top Under 21 pair in 2010.

More recently, Andy was the assigned mentor for Stephen Williams and Lauren Travis with whom he spent countless hours on BBO preparing that pair for their successful APBF campaign.

Andy has been a regular fixture on Australian representative teams since 2006 when Australia had its best performance in a World Championship at any level in 15 years making the semi-finals in the Under-21s at the World Youth Team Championships in Bangkok. Andy's Under-26 international successes include quarter-finals in the 2008 and 2010 World Youth Team Championships and victories in the 2007 and 2010 Asia Pacific Bridge Federation Championships.

Andy has forged close ties with youth players in Europe which has been invaluable in bringing new ideas and techniques to Australia's youth programme. Andy's connection to the European youth scene has attracted Alex Smirnov to the last two Australian Youth Weeks and Summer Festivals and helped secure Alex's services as Australian youth coach for 2012. Andy also set up a youth bridge website on which he posted regularly and which contributed to a more friendly, fun and unified youth scene in Australia.

David Stern
On Behalf of Australian Bridge Federation Youth Committee