Bridging the gap

  • Noah Apteker
To most of us, the game of bridge is an archaic pastime played by the elderly. To 18-year-old Noah Apteker, however, it’s not only an addictive thrill, but the key to success in matric.
by JORDAN MOSHE | Jan 16, 2020

This King David Linksfield matriculant made his flair for the game work in his favour by applying his bridge brain to exam preparation. It seems he played his cards just right, given that he landed a spot in the top percent of achievers at the school.

“Bridge keeps your mind sharp,” Noah says. “It makes you think laterally, and increases your problem-solving ability. It’s because of bridge that I constantly improved in maths and science. My passion for the game affected my ability to study.”

His passion for bridge goes back to his childhood. The son of champion bridge player Alon Apteker, Noah has been enthusiastic about the game since the age of nine, becoming an avid professional bridge player through the Links Bridge Club. Under the tutelage of bridge champion Neville Eber, Noah rapidly rose to prominence. He participated in local and international bridge competitions throughout his school career.

“I was hooked from the start,” he says. “Unfortunately, there’s a stigma attached to bridge that it’s a game for old Jewish grannies, and my friends would joke about the fact that I was playing bridge against their grandmothers.”

Noah persevered, however, making a name for himself, and playing at club and competition level throughout his school career.

He became the youngest winner ever in 2018 at the SA Teams Bridge Championships, then defending this title last year. He was also runner-up at last year’s National Pairs competition.

At the European Open Pairs tournament held in Istanbul in 2019, Noah and his partner qualified in the first round in fourth place and finished in the semi-finals, where they were placed in the top 100 in the tournament.

In spite of his competitive nature, Noah knuckled down and devoted his time to his studies, achieving high marks for prelims, and earning six distinctions in his final exams.

He says playing bridge in small doses throughout exams was crucial, keeping his priorities in check while finding time to unwind with regular games. “I tried not to immerse myself entirely in my work,” he says. “I kept up bridge playing throughout the year, went out socially during finals, and balanced them both with my workload. That’s why it worked so well.”

Noah has qualified to study engineering in the United States, and will set off in September. Until then, he will be almost solely occupied with bridge, playing on the local and international professional scene.

Noah will also be preparing for the bridge Olympiad in Italy, the trials for which are scheduled to take place in February.

Although he won’t pursue bridge professionally in the US, he intends to continue playing the game, eager to be part of the vibrant bridge community in New York.


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