Bridge tournament of China's 13th National Games opens in Tianjin

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TIANJIN, China, July 5 (Xinhua) -- The bridge tournament of China's 13th National Games started here on Wednesday, with six golds being offered in the events for open group, women group, youth group, pairs, women pairs and youth pairs.

The tournament had its preliminaries held on March 19, April 23 and May 21 in 348 venues of 30 provinces (except Tibet) across China, with 13,027 competitors and nearly 30,000 participants. Among them, 144 players from 36 teams have made the six-day finals.

The oldest in the final is a 72-year-old from Sichuan, and the youngest are six 11-year-old primary students from teams of Hebei and Liaoning Provinces, said Guo Yujun, director of the Bridge Department of China's General Administration of Sport, and Secretary-General of China's Bridge Association.

"The wide span of ages and occupations of competitors demonstrates that bridge has become a national game," Guo said.

Modern bridge was originated in Britain in the 16th century, known as whist in the middle of 1700s. The game was gaining in popularity in the following centuries. Today's contract bridge, an improved version of the old ones, was put forward by Harold Vanderbilt in 1925.

In 1980, China set up the Bridge Association, and ushered in a new era of increasing popularity of the game among the public. China has won the world titles, both men's and women's teams.

The bridge tournament has also been included in the 2018 Asian Games.