Burke Snowden  -  Fit for a King   -  By Paul Linxwiler



Reprinted from the Washington NABC Friday, July 29 Daily Bulletin; used by permission.


Burke Snowden of Fort Collins, Colorado, has been selected as the 2016 King of Bridge by the ACBL Educational Foundation. The annual award recognizes a graduating high school senior for their playing record and overall participation in the bridge community, and the list of previous recipients includes some of the best-known names in the game. Snowden, 18, first encountered bridge at a very early age. “I learned to play bridge with my parents and grandmothers, starting when I was six years old. In the evenings after dinner, they would play some bridge over dessert, often putting a movie on to keep me entertained. However, being the curious kid that I was, I would frequently wander over to their table, trying to see what this game was that was keeping  them so entertained. Finally, I convinced my parents to let me sit on their laps during the game. First, they would ask me to help count their points. Then they would ask me to pull a card for them. Eventually, I convinced them to let me hold a hand of my own.”

Snowden’s parents divorced when he was six, and a few years later his father began dating a woman who was an ex-duplicate player. She convinced the elder Snowden to play at a new club for intermediate and newcomer players near their home. “Dad brought home a hand record one night. Ever vigilant, I got hold of it and, of course, wanted to know what it was. Before long, I convinced him to take me to that very club. I got hooked, started to play more and became a club director at age 11.” Snowden directed at the Fort Fun Bridge Club in Fort Collins. When he was 14, he bought the club and renamed it the Ace of Clubs.

Snowden was actively playing during this period, too, and he became a Life Master in 2011 at 13. He is currently a Silver LM. His accomplishments in bridge are lengthy and remarkable. A member of the U.S. Junior teams for several years, Snowden has played in three World Youth championships (2012-2014). In 2013, he was a member of the U.S. squad that captured the gold medal in the Under-21 team championship. A frequent participant in Youth NABCs, Snowden captured first place in the pairs and team event in 2011 in Toronto, and was also first in the team event in 2013.

In non-Youth events, Snowden was second in last year’s Grand National Teams Flight B contest, and he has had two top-25 finishes in NABC pair games. Snowden’s interest in directing has expanded to ACBL tournaments. In 2011, he became a Tournament Assistant at age 14 (ACBL requires Tournament Directors to be at least 18 years old), allowing him to gain experience by helping run sectionals in his local unit. After turning 18, he became a Local TD (the lowest rank of ACBL directors) with the help of Tournament Director Bill Michael, who mentored Snowden.

Other bridge mentors for Snowden include: Billie Turner of Greeley Colorado, a frequent partner who helped him become a Life Master. Marilyn Pultz and Bill Follis of the Fort Collins area, who helped Snowden earn his club TD certificate. Marlene Aranci and Dawn Foltz gave Snowden opportunities to direct at their clubs and pitched in to help at in a variety of ways at the Ace of Clubs.

Snowden, who will attend Yale this fall, is also a big fan of his current partner, Greg Herman, a graduate student at Colorado State University. Educational Foundation President Barbara Heller said, “Burke is a fine example of everything needed to be successful in life. He worked hard at learning the game and fostered that love for the game into a way to give back to beginning players around him. The passion he exhibits for bridge will propel him to success in all of his future endeavors. Burke is a great and respectful young man.”

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