By Matthew Granovetter

Bulldogs: Nick Nickell, Jeff Meckstroth, Paul Soloway,
Bob Hamman, Dick Freeman, Eric Kokish (coach), and Eric Rodwell

June 14, Memphis, Tennessee

Nick Nickell's never-give-up bulldogs came from behind yesterday to crush their opponents in the final two sets and capture first place in the USA Team Trials. These bulldogs won all three of their matches - the quarterfinals against the Weed team, the semifinals against the Meltzer team, and the final against the Welland team - in the same fashion. They came out of the box sluggishly in the first quarter, allowing their opponents to practically knock them out of contention, with scores of 29-to-1 and 49-to-16 in the first two sets of the quarterfinals (then coming back to win by 103), 68-to-8 in the first set of the semifinals (then coming back to win on the next-to-last hand by a score of 6), and 56-to-26 and 29-to-10 in the first two sets of the final (then coming back to win by 100)!

How do they do it? Why they are bulldogs, that's how! They never get depressed, they never scold their partners, they never try to make up for a disastrous score on one hand by gambling on the next hand. No, they simply sit there and plug away until their opponents wilt.

Does age matter? Not to bulldogs. Half this team is over 60, but they are mentally in top shape, concentrating only on the cards - never smiling until that final snapshot in the winners' circle. Bulldogs don't smile at the table! Bulldogs simply bid and play bridge with (mean) poker-faces. And who has a monopoly on bulldogs? Why Nick Nickell does, as his bulldog team wins yet another first place in the most difficult team event on the American calendar. Winning the Trials gives the team the right to represent the USA in the upcoming world championships' Bridge Team Olympiad in Turkey, this coming fall. Will the next world championship be another Turkey-shoot for these guys?

No! It won't. Because it's likely they won't be going to Istanbul to bulldog it out with the other top teams of the world. Turkey is no place for bulldogs or any other American bridge players, insist many of the top bridge players in America, and the Nickell team will probably opt to wait for the 2005 world championships to test their skills again. Stay tuned to the Bridgetoday.com website for more updates on the Turkey world championships.

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