John’s Journal

By John Grossman, D17 President

How did you learn to play bridge? My bridge life started in a rustic one room Vermont cabin with no running water, no electricity, and no TV. My parents made my wife and me sit North-South at the “kitchen” table and shuffled cards by the light of an oil lamp. They had learned bridge in an adult education program in New Jersey a decade earlier. On the first deal, my wife arranged her cards and opened 1©, and I stared down at 24 high card points. Oh, my! As my mother suspected, I was quickly hooked, although it was another ten years before I played in an ACBL game. This memory was triggered by the sad news on radio this morning that Omar Sharif had died. It is hard to say if my mother first thought of Omar as a bridge player or as the handsome Doctor Zhivago.

So I ask again, how did you learn to play bridge? Your answer might point the way to building ACBL membership. What would the bridge world look like if every ACBL member set a goal of “Recruit One”? Will you pledge to recruit one? Our League is at a crossroads. The age of players is climbing and membership numbers are flat. We don’t sell bridge by national news coverage or an ad campaign. It is done face to face. The social factor is compelling, because bridge players are interesting people.

Our best salesperson is.YOU. Teach a neighbor the basic elements of the game. Invite a lapsed player to play with you at your club. Get your club to hold an open house. Volunteer to assist in an outreach program. Amazing things can happen! Just like 24 high card points on your first hand.

North American Pairs

The North American Pairs contest is conducted at the club, district, and national levels. Flight A is an open event, Flight B is limited to 0-2500 masterpoints, and flight C players may not be Life Masters or have more than 500 masterpoints. These “strats” are based on masterpoints recorded as of June 1.

Club level qualification games have begun and will continue through August. Ask your club director when the next qualifying game will be held. The District NAP Finals will be held at the Albuquerque Regional during the week of January 18-24, 2016. There is no entry fee for the Flight C pairs in the District Finals. The top pairs from District 17 are eligible to play in the National Finals at the Reno NABC in March of 2016. ACBL provides free entries for all participants at the NAP Finals plus a stipend of $700, $300, and $200 for the first, second, and third place pairs from D17.

District 17 Grant Program

D17 Units that have not hosted a regional in the past three years may apply for a grant. Funds may be used for membership building, bridge education, outreach, technology upgrades, or to support a financially struggling sectional tournament. In 2015 we received seven applications for a total of $7000, which vastly exceeded our annual budget of $3000. At its Las Vegas meeting the Board approved seven grant requests, each funded at $500. These will go to the following units:

Boulder, Colorado (Unit 359) for Bridgemate server and table units.

Carlsbad, New Mexico (Unit 376) for Bridgemate server and table units.

Cheyenne, Wyoming (Unit 421) for the Easybridge! program, to recruit new members.

El Paso, Texas (Unit 159) for bridge lessons and ACBL membership scholarships.

Northern Colorado (Unit 363) for bridge education for non-Life Masters.

Pueblo, Colorado (Unit 367) for membership building, bridge lessons, and mentor games.

Yuma, Arizona (Unit 358) for technology upgrades and a season kickoff event for arriving snowbirds.

Over the past four years, D17 has distributed $11,550 to 11 of the 14 eligible units. We specially encourage first time applications from Roswell (Unit 382), Alamogordo (Unit 388), and Laramie (Unit 422) next year.

Closing out the year.

The final D17 regional of the year will be hosted by Taos on September 21-27. Taos hosted its first regional two years ago, and comes back for a well deserved encore. I’m going.

The NABC comes to Denver Nov 26 to Dec 27. What a great way to end the year. See you there!


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