ADD headline:

The World's Largest Bridge Tournament?

A World Bridge Series Championship (WBSC) in Las Vegas in 2018 came a step closer to reality last month when Las Vegas Unit President Justine Hancock and United States Bridge Federation Past President Chris Compton made presentations to the World Bridge Federation (WBF) Board of Directors. This 16 day open tournament is held once every four years and is open to all players, unlike the Bermuda Bowl where participation requires prequalification at the zonal level. The WBSC comprises Open, Women's, Senior, Mixed, and IMP pairs; Open, Women's, Senior, and Mixed teams; and four youth championships. If you'd like to set your sights a little lower than world conquest, there would be a simultaneous 16 day ACBL tournament, which will also have I/N events.

The title of "World's Largest Bridge Tournament" would certainly be within reach in Las Vegas, which has hosted four of the ACBL's five largest NABCs, many of the ACBL's largest sectionals and, in 1995, the ACBL's largest regional. A hotel contract is being explored which would have the tournament at Bally's Casino, currently offering rooms in the $50 range. If you prefer a $5,000 (per night) suite at the adjacent Paris or a $30 room at the Imperial Palace right across the street, they will also count towards the all-important room-night guarantee.

There are many steps remaining before a World Championship in Las Vegas becomes a reality. It will need to be approved and supported by the WBF, United States Bridge Federation, ACBL, District 17, and the Las Vegas Unit. The WBF is comprised of over 100 nations, so there's lots of competition.

A world championship in our district would be a once in a lifetime experience for many of our players and would certainly create a lot of excitement for the game of bridge. But such special events, including NABC's, inevitably compete with our normal schedule of tournaments. However, with this much advance notice we can minimize the damage by scheduling around the world championships. If we're lucky the increased excitement will result in increased attendance for all our tournaments and everybody will win.

The 2010 edition of the WBSC was held in Philadelphia last month, and dozens of District 17 players participated. Bringing gold medals home to our district were Fred Gitelman and Geoff Hampson (Las Vegas) in the premiere event, the Rosenblum Teams, and Garey Hayden (Tucson) in the Senior Teams. Robb and Linda Gordon (Sedona, AZ) won the bronze in the Mixed Teams.

AED update:

If you read my last column you will know that "AED" stands for Automated External Defibrillator, a piece of equipment that has saved thousands of lives when people suffer sudden cardiac arrest - but only if it is deployed within three to five minutes of the arrest. An estimated 300,000 Americans die from cardiac arrest every year. Interest in AEDs got a big boost in my community two weeks ago when an apparently healthy 62 year old suffered cardiac arrest while exercising at a local health club. His life was saved because CPR was begun immediately, 911 was called, and paramedics were close enough to deploy an AED within just a few minutes. He was back at his desk within five days, and it would have been sooner had doctors not discovered some underlying heart problems.

Unfortunately, an actual cardiac arrest is often what it takes get a community's attention. Fortunately, our local boy was among the 5% who survived. As a result the local newspapers have become interested in what can be done to improve chances of survival, and local people are getting together to assess our community's preparedness and recommend improvements. Statistics indicate that a well-prepared community can double and triple the chances of survival.

Also in October the American Heart Association announced the first modifications to CPR/AED guidelines since 2005. The major change is that mouth-to-mouth "rescue" breathing is no longer required in addition to chest compressions. This change is an attempt to address the fact that in more than half the cases of witnessed cardiac arrest there is no attempt to administer CPR, presumably because of many people's natural tendency to not play "kissy-face" with strangers.

The new guidelines emphasize the need for "quality" CPR because experiments have demonstrated that almost half of the attempts to perform CPR fail because chest compressions are not hard enough. The updated guidelines also emphasize the need for speed. The target is for application of an AED within three or four minutes. By the time paramedics arrive with an AED it's almost always too late.

My greatest concern is that when somebody goes down at a bridge tournament there will be considerable debate and disagreement about what to do and who should do it instead of instant action. Somebody has to be in charge, and this can easily be determined in advance. As I said last time, if we have committees to determine whether someone hesitated, we can certainly have at least an informal committee to talk about how we will respond. People look to tournament directors for direction, so they would have to be in on the discussion. Even a little advance planning would go a long way.

If you wish to discuss this further, please drop me a line or give me a call or an email at johnvanness@comcast.net, 970-923-2500.



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