Local player Nicolas L’Écuyer now holds the title of Grand Life Master.
Grand Life Master Master is the highest rank in the ACBL. This title is awarded for reaching 10 000 Masterpoints, including at least one win in a major NABC event with no upper limits, or a Canadian title. Nicolas has won several.
Here is an interview with a great player grateful for this wonderful game of bridge!
When did you start playing bridge?
Around the age of 7, my family played cards and other games at family gatherings. After dinner and late in the evenings my uncles, parents and grandmother would play bridge. After some time I managed to replace an uncle or two and I got hooked rather quickly!
But I really started while at CEGEP Bois-de-Boulogne with friends who played bridge. In fact, my 2nd day of CEGEP, I was already head of the local games club. Chess was mostly played and other games like dungeons and dragons, but I found the bridge players amongst the students.
Growing up, I played at a few clubs such as Notre-Dame-de-la-Merci hospital and “Mon Club” that were very close to home. It was convenient I could walk there, after dinner! At that time I was playing especially with Mathieu Pepperall and a few others. Later, I developed a partnership with Jeff Blond whom I met at the old European (the ancestor of Shakespeare’s Elbow today). I then met Eric David, Alain Hénault and Xavier Combey while at University (Polytechnic) with whom I have played and still play today. Along the way I was also mentored by Marc Lachapelle and Daniel Doston.
A little later, I noticed that Canada was participating in the World Junior Championships bridge and I immediately tried to qualify before most would be “juniors” less than 25 years old. At the U.S. and Canadian qualifications in 1992, Jeff Blond and I finished 1st! We were then the “top rated” junior pair in North America! We participated in the 1993 World Championships in Denmark and have played together in 90 different national and regional competitions.
In 1998, Kamel Fergani, one of the best Canadian players approached me to form a partnership with him. This opened a lot of doors on strong Canadian teams. We actually won the CNTC two years later in 2000 beating Kokish, Mittleman, Baran! I had a lot of success and fun playing with Kamel. Today I play in Canada with Zygmunt Marcinski who is an excellent player and a strong theorist and I also play with Paul Street, an American player. Both are good friends which makes it even more enjoyable.
Why would one consider immersing themselves in the bridge universe?
I often tell people “How many activities in the world can you do against the best in the world, get your butt kicked yet even manage to beat them from time to time?” It is impossible to do in other sports (golf, soccer, hockey, tennis, etc …). In Bridge, I have enough talent to compete and this is unique given that I am not a professional and I have a busy life.
I love the competition, I love the fact that I have a chance to win against anyone, anytime … When I play well I can compete against anyone!
I also appreciate the investigation side of the game too, looking for clues, reasoning, deducing what the opponent does or does not do, what he has or does not have … I like to find the mysteries within each deal!
The social side of the game is also very exciting, this game attracts some very interesting people. Since 2006, I have played several NABC’s per year and I have met a lot of good players who continue to help me improve. I’d like to thank my employer: Giverny Capital and specifically François Rochon who allow me to play several times a year.
You got the title of Grand Master for life last month. How are you feeling?
It’s fun and pleasant, I feel a certain pride, but I would not trade it for the titles and victories at NABC or CNTC tournaments. I am now part of a small group within the Canadian and North American elite and I’m pleased. It’s a nice recognition but I’m looking forward to Canada finishing first in a World Championship one day. I had promised this to my grandmother before she passed away.
What is your next challenge at the bridge?
Win a North American Team Championship at an NABC (I have finished 2nd and 3rd and even led but I have not yet won a “National Swiss”) or a prestigious Vanderbilt or Spingold event but these events are extremely difficult and it takes a little luck. Winning a world championship as the Canadian representative would be fantastic too.
Otherwise, continue to give time to the game of bridge, play with some local players from time to time and give lectures to convey my passion and my knowledge. I am very grateful for what bridge has given me in my life. This is the best game, period. What other game blends sociability, competitiveness and complexity so well?
What is your secret to shine as the bridge?
Play within your means and follow your instincts! My best is not when I tried to be too technical and stopped following my instincts. Be confident, determine at what level you are feeling at any given day (according to the book of Zia Mahmood) and play accordingly. If you feel good, take charge and pull your hands! If it’s a bad, be discreet and give plenty of room to your partner! If you think I should do this, do that … blah blah blah … so be it and do it! Follow your instincts and adapt to the level you play. Read also. There are fantastic authors who write very good books on bridge. The world championship summaries are excellent books.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start playing bridge?
The beginning can be tedious and difficult but this passes quickly. You’ll quickly find a game that blends challenges, quizzes and a high level of sociability. Have fun and meet great people … an absolutely trippy world awaits! I’ve played with and against Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, teams and players from Monte Carlo, France, Japan, Poland, China, the USA … everywhere. Bridge is fantastic and it is played everywhere!
I want to thank my parents, the women in my life who have taken care of my children when I was at tournaments and the many partners who, throughout my journey, endured me and encouraged me. I would also like to thank the people who dedicate themselves to the game of bridge and who have often helped me like Jean La Traverse, Jean Castonguay, George Retek, Deanna Godel, Kamel Fergani, Zygmunt Marcinski, Louise Berthiaume, Mike and Lenny at Shakespeare, and all the directors, Henry Cukoff, Jacques Lafrance to name a few, organizers, and I forget a few I am sure … I’m repeating myself but I would also like to thank François Rochon and all Giverny Capital team yet again…
Email me! I will be always happy to respond.
The game card Nicolas L’Écuyer
- USA NABCs
2015 3rd: National Swiss Teams with Street, Delmonte, Cheek, Upmark, Nystrom – fall NABC, Denver
2015 4th: National Swiss Teams with Street, Delmonte, Cheek, Bompis, Quantin – spring NABC, New Orleans
2014 3rd: National Swiss Teams with Street, Delmonte, Cheek, Bompis, Quantin – fall NABC, Providence
2013 7th: Platinum Pairs with Marcinski – spring NABC, Atlanta
2011 3rd: Fast Pairs with Krekorian – summer NABC, Toronto
2010 5th: Platinum Pairs with Krekorian – spring NABC, Reno
2010 1st: Silodor Open Pairs with Landen – spring NABC, Reno
2009 1st: Wehrner Pairs with Demirev – summer NABC, Washington
2009 1st: IMP Pairs with Demirev – spring NABC, Houston
2008 9th: BAM with Moss, Pollack, Beatty, Jacob and Teramoto – fall NABC, Boston
2007 12th: Mixed BAM with Shimamura, Sartorius, Miller – summer NABC, Nashville
2007 14th: National Open Swiss with Shimamura, Shuster, Goldsmith and 2 Icelanders, summer NABC, Nashville
2006 1st: Fast Pairs with Lebi – summer NABC, Chicago
2006 5-8th: Vanderbilt with Marcinski, Moss and Forrester – spring NABC, Dallas
2005 4th: BAM with Marcinski, Teramoto and Lavee – fall NABC, Denver
1997 2nd: National Swiss Teams with Blond, Shuster, Schreiber, Cheek – summer NABC, Dallas
+ several other top 20 finishes
Many times Canadian Champion and played for Canada numerous times. Latest was in Lille, France in 2012.
Canadian Team Champion in:
2000: with Fergani, Blond, Fraser, Czyzowicz and Wolpert
2003: with Fergani, G. Wolpert, D. Wolpert, Demuy and Czyzowicz
2008: with Fergani, Demuy, Fourcaudot, Jacob and Lebi
2009: with Fergani, Korbel, Grainger, D. Wolpert, Czyzowicz
2012: with Demuy, Amoils, D. Wolpert, Korbel, Miles
Many other medals.
Played for Canada in numerous international team competitions.
1993: World Junior Championship in Aarhus, Denmark
2001: Polish World Invitational in Warsaw, Poland
2002: NEC Cup (team finished 2nd) in Yokohama, Japan
2003: Bermuda Bowl in Monte-Carlo, Monaco
2005: NEC Cup in Yokohama, Japan
2007: Yeh Bros Cup in Shenzhen, China
2007: Bermuda Bowl in Shanghai, China
2008: World Olympiads (World Mind Sports Games) in Beijing, China
2009: Nations Cup in Bonn, Germany
2012: World Olympiads (World Mind Sports Games) in Lille, France
Won 3 Challenge the Champs Competitions in 2007 and 2008 in the magazine “Bridge World”.