“Meet me in St. Louis”

novicecorner“Meet me in St. Louis” was the theme for the Spring National American Bridge Championships
at the downtown Radisson Hotel and the America Center in St. Louis, MO. from March 14-24th. It was 11 days and nights (even some 11:30 PM knockout games) of bridge, bridge, bridge. Four of us gals went: Dixie Horsey, Karen Land, Martha Peterson and myself. Fortunately for me (the driver) I had good company on the midnight drive home.

I was interested in the logistics of putting something huge like this together so asked some questions and here’s what I found. ACBL supplies everything. Two vans with 5-6 men arrive from headquarters 2-3 days ahead of time. This applies when it is held in Hawaii as well. They carry the entire setup of tables (both playing tables and work tables), all the paper supplies and all electronic equipment. In the 1st room we played in there were 500 tables divided into numerous sections for different types of games and game levels. Other games were in the usual meeting-size rooms. They were hoping to have at least 8000 table plays so that gives you some idea of the size and scope.

But it’s a friendly atmosphere with good signage and help at every turn. I do not know that many people in the bridge world but I did run into several of my friends from youth bridge camp (Illinois), buddies from St. Louis and of course some friends from the Mt. Pleasant club. I noticed lots of acquaintances meeting up and one gal approached a friend with thumbs up. She was well onto winning the 50 pts.she had come for.

The most interesting game was the 11:30 PM fun knockout. I should have been more prepared when they said it was “fun”. But I wasn’t prepared for hotshot drunken young men throwing their arms around us and talking Greek over the hands-and believe me that is what it sounded like. They barely looked at their hands, never sorted the cards, threw them down with seemingly thoughtless abandon and won. I also didn’t mention that a number of non-playing young people were dancing and singing at the other end of the room. Certainly not your usual decorous environment.

Everyone at the tables was friendly. We did not encounter any discourteous players at any of our tables. The stage was set for many old gray bearded men and dowagers with gobs and gobs of expensive jewelry. It was the best people-watching show.

The number one enforced rule is NO CELL PHONES, not even in the hallways. I heard of one player who lost 30 master points when his phone went off in a game. Another Swiss team player was leaving the room at break time and his phone cost his team 12 master points.

Here is my tip for any of you that want to play in a big regional or national game. Check with your local club director before you go as to which games would best suit your level of play. The January Bulletin had the 12 day agenda so it would be easy to plan ahead of time. Also the ACBL directors man the registration desks and they are an excellent source of info. The partnership desk is also most helpful and they have a unique way of partnering you up if you arrive alone. Perhaps you left your husband in the hotel room to watch a Hawkeye game or your wife went shopping. You can still have a good time and later join the happy spouse for dinner. You will have stories to tell I assure you.

I hope to see a good turnout of 299’s at the Cedar Falls Sectional May 3-5th. Also keep watch on our website at www.bridgeunit163.com for a novice tournament that is being planned for August at Hills, Iowa.