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Jul 23, 2020

Jack Zhao is a two time world champion in pairs and one of the funniest men in the bridge world. While this is an audio program, when Jack laughs wholeheartedly, it looks like his face is going to explode. I’ve had the pleasure of partnering Jack for a week long regional tournament and visited him in his home city of Tianjin, China.


In this conversation we discuss Jack’s improbable journey to living in America, learning bridge as a teenager and the importance of Jack being welcomed into the bridge scene in Rotterdam. In spite of his team missing the first six boards of the semifinal, Jack won the 2017 Reisinger. In 2006, he won the Vanderbilt as the 44th seed, and the World Pairs, partnering Fu Zhong in both events. He won the World Mixed Pairs in 2014 with Kerri Sanborn.


Jack’s ultimate bridge goal is to win a major world team championship, preferably the Bermuda Bowl. In spite of having been asked, he is not yet eligible for senior events.


Highlights from Episode:


1:25- The Edge - “It was like someone lit the touch paper on this bomb. I had never seen anything like it. It was like a switch went on.” From It Might Get Loud when he saw the Jam on Top of the Pops.


2:30- Introduced to bridge by a casual player


11:50- 50% slams


14:12- Bridge in Rotterdam


15:25- The importance of bridge books

  • Kelsey


16:46- Bridge bible, Better Bridge with Bergen

  • Carried it everywhere with him


19:18- Most helpful was Terrence Reese over my shoulder


23:49- Playing with 1966 World Pairs champion Hans Kreijhns

  • One club four cards, one diamond four cards, one heart four cards
  • Underled ace of diamonds
    • Only lead to beat the contract


29:40- Jack’s lifetime hero, Barry Westra, always curious about what Jack was thinking


36:35- Exams at Erasmus University


39:28- Playing with Fu


43:14- 2nd in Transnational teams


44:25- “Easy” last day of Bermuda Bowl Round Robin


47:19- Dream for all bridge players


52:11- Bridge does not require a lot of calculations


53:54- Reaction when he underled ace of diamonds

  • He can still see his p’s face


56:16- Top players in Netherlands were open to Jack


1:02:00- How Jack learned about Michael Rosenberg

  • He was the guy who could make THOSE hands


1:04:27- Opponents cards


1:13:08- Winning Vandy as 44th seed


1:16:24- A grand slam in diamonds


1:19:30- Winning the Reisinger 


1:30:32- Better than Kalita?