Memphis Downtowner November 2012 : Page 18

DISCOVERY901 acbl bridge museum by Linda Raiteri The American Contract Bridge League, headquartered in Horn Lake, MS, is the largest contract bridge organization in the world and currently serves 165,000 members. Its mission is to promote and sustain the game of bridge. courtesy ACBL H eading west on Goodman Road toward Horn Lake, MS, take the first left past I-55/69. Soon, on the right, is a sign marking the headquarters of the official sanctioning body for club and tournament bridge in North America: American Contract Bridge League. Founded in New York City in 1937, the ACBL moved to Memphis in 1971. Robert Hartman, CEO of the nonprofit organization, says the league wanted a more central location and — because it shipped a lot of bridge books and card-playing accessories — a good distribution center. In 2010, the headquarters relocated to a 30,000-square-foot building in Horn Lake that had enough space to house a bridge museum. The ACBL Bridge Museum, designed by Victorian Village–based Design 500 Inc., was a highlight of ACBL’s 75th anniversary in March when, for the first time, the organization held a North American Bridge Championship tournament in Memphis. As part of the festivities, ACBL offered free tours of the new headquarters and museum. Tracey Yarbro, archivist and museum curator, says she was raised at bridge tournaments; her mother, Julie Greenberg, was an ACBL tournament director and, later, ACBL director of education. In high school, Yarbro had an after-school job with the organization, and when staff were unable to identify some of the bridge photos and memorabilia ACBL owned, they enlisted her help. “I started helping and never left!” It’s that intimate knowledge of the bridge milieu that helped shape the museum into a stunning tribute to the personalities and permutations of the card-game sport of bridge. There’s a lot to learn and discover here. The origin of the game is obscure — as is the origin of playing cards. Some scholars postulate that Marco Polo brought playing cards to Venice in 1295. Others speculate that cards were brought by Crusaders. Playing cards were first documented in the courtesy ACBL Linda Raiteri Located inside the American Contract Bridge League’s headquarters in Horn Lake, MS, the interactive ACBL Bridge Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of bridge memorabilia, trophies, videos, and other artifacts related to the game. The museum houses hundreds of photographs of renowned tournaments and bridge players, including “Emperor of Bridge” Ely Culbertson, “Mr. Bridge” Charles Goren, actor Omar Sharif, Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, and billionaire business magnate Warren Buffet. 18 DOWNTOWNER MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER 2012 MEMPHISDOWNTOWNER.com

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