Fifteen year-old Ben Norton (Year 10) has become the youngest player to represent England at Bridge after helping to defeat Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland in the recent U20s Camrose and Peggy Bayer Trophy. Ben and his Bridge partner (18 year-old Rhys Munden from Yorkshire) finished as England’s top performers as the home team won all 18 matches, 12 of them by the maximum amount. Ben, who has only been playing Bridge seriously since he arrived at the school in 2008, was referred to the England selectors by Susan Stockdale of the Loughborough Bridge Club, one of the youngest ever players in the Senior team at the age of 29, and he has more than amply rewarded her faith in his ability. Our congratulations to him on his outstanding success.
Below is an article from the Loughborough Echo of 8 March written by Richard Rush
ANOTHER cards ace has emerged from Loughborough Grammar School and landed on the international bridge scene with spades of talent.
At just 15-years-old, Ben Norton is thought to be the youngest ever player to represent England at his sport after helping them to win the recent U20s Camrose and Peggy Bayer Trophy seeing off Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland last month in emphatic fashion.
England won all 18 matches, 12 of them by the maximum amount, and Ben and his Bridge partner 18-year-old Rhys Munden from Yorkshire finished statistically as England’s top performers.
Ben, who lives in Albert Promenade, was brought into the England set-up by Loughborough Bridge Club teammate Susan Stockdale who the Echo reported last October had become one of the youngest ever players in the Senior team at the tender age of 29.
“It was an interesting competition,” said Ben. “It was good to test myself against the diversity of players.
“I think we (including partner Rhys) did pretty well.
“There’s a scale called the ‘Buttles Standings’ which analyses the performances of players.
“We came top of that but it doesn’t really matter too much as it doesn’t effect the overall score and we didn’t get to play against the other good nation Scotland.”
“Playing whist with my parents is how I got into cards. Then I started playing bridge at Loughborough Grammar School and with the Loughborough Bridge Club.
“There I started playing with Susan (Stockdale) and she referred me to the England selectors.
“I went to a few training weekends with them and impressed them enough to get the call.
“I just enjoy the game and it helps develop your memory and improve your social skills with the banter across the table.
“It’s a game you continue to learn over time.”
The top bridge players in the country are professional, but surprisingly Ben does not want to follow in their footsteps, and instead wants to become involved in football.
“If you become a professional then it puts so much emphasis on your bridge that it takes over your life.
“If your bridge is terrible then your life is terrible.
“I want to be a football coach or manager. I’m not the best at the game but I watch loads of it and me and a friend are going on an FA coaching course in the summer.
“That or become a sports journalist.
“I don’t know what’s next in terms of bridge. I can’t move up an age level until I’m too old for the U20s team.
“I’m not even sure when the next England fixture is, but there are more training weekends coming up.”