It is sad for us USA players to see our country losing its dominance in world bridge. We have the largest tournament bridge playing population (142,592 out of 312,520,000 or .045%) of any country. However as a proportion of the total population, both France (104,097 out of 63,396,000 or .164%) and the Netherlands (88,641 out of 16,721,000 or .53%) are beating us. So what are they doing better than we are? Aside from winning gold medals in the recent World Championships.
Note these numbers are only the players are members of the national organization that runs tournaments (the ACBL in our case). The actual bridge playing population, not just tournament players, is estimated at 25 million Americans by the playing card industry according to a blog post at mlive.com.
So perhaps these numbers have something to do with our loss of dominance.
We have battled Europe for most of this decade in the Bermuda Bowl winning it in 2000,2001,2003,and 2009. While Italy won in 2005 and Norway in 2007 now the Dutch have taken the honors in 2011 while we took the silver.
Our dominance in the women’s event, the Venice Cup, where we won 8 of the 11 times in the 20th century, has also gone downhill in the new millennium where we only won in 2003 and 2007 and this year’s event is the first time the USA had no medal at all.
In the Senior Bowl, now called the D’Orsi Bowl, the USA won the first four times but lost the last two, not even getting a medal in 2009.
I wrote a number of articles on the interesting hands from the recent World Championships over at Bridge Winners. Try your hand at this defensive problem http://www.bridgewinners.com/index.php/bridge-articles/168-defensive-problems/1343-play-problem-from-bermuda-bowl-final
Population figures as of 2011 from Wikipedia article and number of membership bridge players as of 2009 from the World Bridge Federation zonal break-down as of 2009.