After winning the pairs event on 10 August, the 13-year-old Anshul Bhatt captained Team Blitz to win the Teams event on 13 August in the U-16 World Youth Transnational Bridge Championships Teams event in Salsomaggiore, Italy.
Anshul Bhatt Flag
He was awarded the Gold in Overall Performance in the U-16 category, the following day.
Anshul, who has been playing bridge since the age of six (6), is the youngest winner of three (3) Gold medals at the World Youth Transnational Bridge Championships which saw participants from across 30+ countries.
Anshul Bhatt pairs Gold
Sharing his excitement, Anshul Bhatt said, “I had a dream run at the Championships and am elated to have won three (3) Golds for India on the 75th anniversary of our independence.”
Bob Hamman, an American professional Bridge player and one of the greatest players of all time, said in a lighter vein, “Well done. I am glad that my opponents are not as tough as Anshul.”
India’s Anshul Bhatt (captain), Canada’s Darwin Li, and Estonia’s Jasper Vahk and Albert Pedmanson won the Gold medal on 13 August 2022.
The four players came together in July 2022 to form Team Blitz.
Eleven teams had participated in the qualifying rounds, and Team Blitz was the fourth and last team to enter the semi-finals, which were played on 12 August against Poland’s CKIS Skawina U15.
In the finals against the USS Unsinkable, the Blitz team, which was trailing by 10 points after the second round, recovered lost ground in the third round with a two-point lead and ended the fourth round with a 23-point lead to bag the championship.
Anshul won the Gold medal on 10 August with Canada’s 15-year-old Darwin Li in the pairs event at the under-16 World Youth Transnational Bridge Championships.
A total of 27 pairs from across the world played in the Under-16 category qualifying rounds where they played three boards against each other in a full round robin schedule (3 * 26 boards) spread across three sessions on Monday and Tuesday. The top 12 qualifying pairs went into the finals where they played a two full round robin schedule (4 * 11 boards) on Wednesday.
Anshul (IND) and Darwin (CAN) emerged as the winners.
After the pairs event victory, Gianarrigo Rona, President of the World Bridge Federation (WBF), commented, “We congratulate young Anshul Bhatt on the stupendous win. His Gold medal and championship win have the potential to do to the game of Bridge what Vishwanthan Anand’s early success did to chess.”
Anshul’s passion for playing the sport has made him the youngest World Champion within the Bridge Championship. “I have been coached and mentored by many great bridge players in India and abroad throughout my career. I would like to thank Mr. Keyzad Anklesaria from India and Mr. Eric Kokish from Canada for coaching Darwin and me for the 2022 Championships. I would also like to thank the entire bridge community in India for their support,” he added.
Martin Seligman, a renowned Bridge player, Professor at University of Pennsylvania and a global expert on happiness, said, “There is a new star rising in India. I am particularly thrilled by youngster Anshul Bhatt’s triple gold, in pairs, teams and across all the formats. This seals India’s position in the world of youth bridge. I am very impressed with the 13-year-old Anshul’s determination and endurance to play for eight hours a day for seven days in a row. I congratulate Anshul and look forward to playing even more with him.”
The young world champion had a chance to interact with the Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar who further motivated him to follow his passion. “I had an insightful conversation with Mr. Sachin Tendulkar before the competition. He helped me understand how to stay calm under pressure and manage expectations. He also advised me on maintaining a routine and managing endurance for the long event. After my first Gold, he congratulated me and said that this was my first victory and I should take the confidence from this medal but keep focus on the upcoming events.”
HDFC Chairman Deepak Parekh, who is also an avid Bridge player, had said, “Heartiest congratulations to Anshul on becoming the world champion at the age of 13! He has the mental strength and the right mindset to win many more awards. I wish him the best for the future.”
Anshul is also the youngest recipient of the Joan Gerard Award, which aims at rewarding aptitude, fair play, good sportsmanship, and a friendly international spirit, rejecting any discrimination. He had won the prestigious award at the age of eight (8) in 2017 at the World Youth Open Championships in Lyon, France.
According to the World Bridge Federation, the Transnational events give players a unique opportunity to play in partnerships and teams with friends from other countries – maybe partnering friends that they have made online during the pandemic and can now finally meet face to face in competition.
It is in this spirit that Anshul and Darwin, who had only played with each other online before this tournament, decided to play as partners. Estonia’s Jasper Vahk and Albert Pedmanson too joined the duo to enter the Teams event.
About Anshul Bhatt
A student of Grade IX at the Dhirubhai Ambani International School (DAIS) in Mumbai, India, Anshul has been regularly participating in various open category local, national, and international tournaments. He won the Junior National Bridge Championships (U-26) in Mysore, India, in August 2018, and the Junior National Bridge Championship (U-21) in December 2021. Anshul is the youngest international to have represented India and was the youngest player in the field at the 5th World Youth Bridge Championships in Lyon, France, in August 2017 where he won the Joan Gerard Award.
Anshul has diverse interests and an insatiable curiosity that extends from the sciences to the humanities. He enjoys reading books by Philip Pullman, JK Rowling, and JRR Tolkien and is a die-hard Star Wars and Avengers fan. He loves to cook, to play board games, and to write short stories. Every evening, he looks forward to playing squash, cricket, football or going cycling with his friends.
Anshul Bhatt in Media
TEDx TALK: Bridge: A Game for Life by Anshul Bhatt
Business Standard, May 2018: Meet Anshul Bhatt, a bridge champ at eight
Mid-day, September 2017: This 8-yr-old boy plays the right cards
World Bridge Federation, September 2017: Joan Gerard announcement
Indian Express, August 2019: Bridging the age gap
World Bridge Federation, August 2017: Video interview with Anshul Bhatt
World Bridge Federation, August 2017: Anshul Bhatt conducting the oath taking at the opening ceremony
France TV: Interview with Anshul Bhatt