MAY 2021
The District 17 Bridge Buzz focuses on district and national news and provides you with the links to access the details. Catch the next Buzz July 2021.

Contact Cindy Shoemaker, editor, cndyshoemaker@yahoo.com with feedback and content suggestions.

By Elizabeth Hamilton
The Times They Are A-Changin’

Bob Dylan wrote these words in 1964. Fifty seven years ago! Do you remember where you were in 1964? School was my answer. However the title of this song actually struck me as a very appropriate tagline for the Bridge world in 2020 & 2021. Do you remember how you played Bridge before the pandemic? Probably. Most of us will agree that we miss our face-to-face interactions with our bridge friends at local clubs and bridge tournaments at interesting locations.

Change can be challenging. Many players turned to virtual games and tournaments.
Technology worked really well to keep us engaged. Some players decided to take a wait-and-see approach. 

We miss you and we hope to see you soon. Many bridge clubs across the country are beginning to open for face-to-face games and that is exciting news. Hopefully this is the first step to getting back to our new normal.

What will the new normal be? ACBL has a contract with BBO through 2025 so it seems that playing online will remain a long-term option. As clubs open, that will add to more playing options as the year progresses. For many players, the future may be a combination of both online and F2F games.
That provides flexible options to fit into our work and personal schedules.
In 2011, District 17 established a Goodwill Committee and Charter to recognize D17 members in good standing who exemplify congeniality and ethical behavior.

Committee members subscribe to the ACBL Goodwill slogan, "It is nice to be important, but it is more important to be nice."

Congratulations to this year's recipients. We appreciate your kindness, enthusiasm and dedication to bridge!
Jim Utter
Mesa Unit 351
Nominated by Lakin Hines

Jim Utter has served as the president of the Sun Lakes Duplicate Bridge Club since 2011.  During his first four years as president, club membership grew from about 300 to about 440 and the annual number of game entry fees collected increased by 25%. 

Jim was instrumental in acquiring an electronic scoring system, an automatic dealing machine, special cards and additional equipment needed for operation.

He has also improved club communications. Jim led the initiative to create the new Sun Lakes Duplicate Bridge Club website, and reports club news to membership as needed four to five times a month. 

Motivated to help others improve their games, Jim wants all players to enjoy bridge as much as he does.
Jim is very dedicated and cares for all board and club members. He will make a great goodwill ambassador and is someone to emulate.
Murali Nair
Phoenix Unit 354
Nominated by JoAnne Lowe

Murali Nair, a former Unit 354 and D17 board member, is a technology expert who sets up and runs A/V equipment to display unit tournament information. He provides PowerPoint presentations at club/unit meetings and he is the D17 Facebook Administrator. Murali is an accredited bridge teacher and director. He is currently using RealBridge Software to teach bridge to his daughter and her friends who live in India. Murali is ethical and honest and he is an asset to Unit 354 and to the bridge community.
Gary Millam
Flagstaff Unit 355
Nominated by Bill Phillips

Gary has single-handedly operated the Flagstaff Duplicate Bridge Club for many years. He does it all: arranges for a venue, sets up and takes down the tables and chairs, directs the game, serves as a liaison with the ACBL, provides bridge supplies, keeps in touch with players and attends to everything involved in operating a bridge club.

His work is a valuable service to the Flagstaff community. He keeps the game running during the winter to give the town residents an opportunity to continue playing duplicate. In the summer, the participation expands because of the influx of people who spend their summers in Flagstaff, which makes running the games quite a challenge.
Gary is also a talented dancer. He contributes to the community by offering tango lessons and serving as a judge at dance contests.
Barry Abrahams
Tucson Unit 356
Nominated by Steve Reynolds

Barry Abrahams had the typical start in bridge. He was first exposed to it in 1963 but work interfered and it wasn’t until he retired in 1999 that it resumed its true place in his life.

While in Tucson, Barry started playing at the Adobe and Las Candelas clubs and then became involved with ACBL Unit 356 where he served as tournament chair and then as unit president. Barry did a marvelous job making being on the board a fun productive experience for everyone lucky enough to serve with him. 

After leaving the unit board, Barry helped merge the Las Candelas Bridge Club with the Adobe Bridge Club and worked to purchase the former Las Candelas Banquet Hall and associated property. This is now the permanent home for the Adobe Bridge Center. 
Subsequently, Barry was elected to the Adode Board and was instrumental in creating a financially sound business plan. He then took on the daunting task of having the club granted 501(c)(3) status as a tax exempt entity which required an unbelievable amount of paperwork and research.  

His selfless dedication and untold hours of volunteer work has made the bridge scene in Tucson what it is today. We owe him a huge debt of gratitude for all of his hard work on our behalf
Barbara Starrett
Tucson Unit 356
Nominated by Cindy Shoemaker

After taking beginner bridge lessons, Dr. Barbara Starrett and colleague Dr. Joyce Honorof realized a need for organized duplicate bridge games for new players living north of Tucson, AZ. Barbara borrowed equipment, became an ACBL director and started Small Slams Club, an ACBL sanctioned invitational club for 749ers located in SaddleBrooke, AZ. Barbara orchestrated and financed the equipment for Small Slams and became a director before she had earned 10 masterpoints! 

"A visionary and caring individual, Barbara is willing to do what it takes to make the club successful and continue to grow," said Carl Travor, friend and Unit 356 member.

Barbara also supports the Northwest Tucson Bridge Club (NWTC) serving as a face-to- face and virtual club director. 

“During COVID, Barbara volunteered to be trained as an online director for our virtual club," said Bonnie Hertzog, NWTC director and Unit 356 board member. "She has made herself available to direct weekly, and cheerfully assists other directors. She attends Virtual Club Roundtable meetings and brings new information about BBO/ACBL changes to our attention.
She provides clear and insightful comments at our director meetings, and she sends helpful emails. Her persistence in solving problems and her humor have helped all of us survive and thrive during this crazy year.”

Since retirement, Barbara has tirelessly served her community as president of the SaddleBrooke Freethinkers and as a member of the Gays, Lesbians and Allies at SaddleBrooke. Barbara also conducts compression-only CPR classes and is the chairperson of the Safety Recreation Committee for HOA 1 in SaddleBrooke. 

Barbara credits her mother-in-law Syrile Ellison for encouraging her and wife Jo Ann Ellison to learn the game of bridge.
Christopher Dorton
Boulder Unit 359
Nominated by Sharon Smith

Chris is an inspirational bridge advocate! His passion is for bridge and creating a fun learning environment. Chris has taught classes for Maggie’s Bridge Club since completing the TAP course in 2015. Since covid, he has taken the courses online and reached dozens of new bridge players. The courses he has promoted with his wife, Brenda Alberico, and Bob Hinderholtz are extremely well received. Chris seeks feedback and constantly improves the delivery, scope and content. He has promoted games for the newer players and fostered partnerships and camaraderie among the players. All of his time is voluntary and class proceeds benefit Summit County Seniors.

Chris's philosophy is simple, MAKE IT FUN! People come to bridge classes for many reasons, but a key is social interaction and meeting new people. Chris wants students to be a better BRIDGE PLAYERS regardless of their prior bridge knowledge.

Maggie’s Bridge Club in Summit County is smack in the middle of Skiers Heaven.

He has created a series of classes with a skiing theme: Bunny Slope, Green Slope, Blue Slope and Black Slope. Players can quickly gauge the class level that is appropriate for them.

A recent student wrote, "The game of bridge is a fun time that I hope to enjoy well into my 90's if at all possible. You have given me a great gift!”

District 17 is fortunate to have Chris in our midst. We can all learn from his actions!

Ed Texel
Colorado Springs Unit 360
Nominated by John Grossmann

Some units in District 17 own facilities and for these units a key position is building manager. Ed Texel has been the “facility guy” for more than a decade in Colorado Springs. It’s a lot of fun climbing ladders, moving office equipment, supervising construction, finding plumbers and electricians, building tournament stanchions and answering lots of player questions. In Colorado Springs, with a 44-year-old building, I think building manager is a bigger job than any other administrative post. I used to be the building manager in the Springs and I talked Ed into taking over when I was elected to the Unit 360 board.  Ed has done an admirable job. 

Ed has been a bridge player for decades and a fixture on the tournament trail. 
He is a wonderful ambassador for our game with a smooth temperament and dry sense of humor. You want Ed on your team! Bridge is more fun with Ed at the table.
Ed Yosses
Denver Unit 361
Nominated by Jennifer O'Neill

Ed Yosses learned about a game called bridge from his parents at a very early age. While in college during the late 1960s, he and Barb, girlfriend and wife, learned the basics of the game from friends. They started playing duplicate in the early 1970s and became ACBL members in the mid-1970s.
Ed continued playing duplicate in Toledo, OH, and then in Fort Collins when he moved to Colorado in 1999.  

He was active in the Fort Collins Unit 363, holding both treasurer and president offices until moving to Denver in 2014. Additionally, Ed has served as District 17 treasurer and is currently treasurer of Unit 361. 

He has actively mentored many novice bridge players over the years and was teaching weekly beginner bridge classes to a group in his neighborhood until COVID interfered last March.
Bridge has been a lifelong passion for Ed. He reads on a daily basis and has a very large collection of bridge books. He is a Gold Life Master. 

Chris Hahn
Las Vegas Unit 373
Nominated by Elizabeth Hamilton

Chris is one of those people, that when your paths cross, there is always a smile involved. He has a natural charm and a passion for bridge that combined make everyone at ease whether you are playing as his partner, team-mate or opponent. Chris has served as the treasurer of Unit 373 and as the treasurer of the 2019 Las Vegas NABC. He was also a key member of the team who staffed the I/N Partnership & Help Desk in 2019. He has already volunteered to be part of the team in 2024!

Chris is a certified ACBL teacher. He completed TAP and the Best Practices Workshop. He is committed to providing an excellent learning experience for his students. Chris teaches with his partner Toby McEvoy and together, they are building a strong foundation of players who will help Las Vegas rebuild when face-to-face bridge takes off again in our area. Chris donates his time to his students; not just during scheduled lessons but he makes himself available as a partner in club games and tournaments. His students never feel unsupported after the class is over and that makes their transition to competitive duplicate bridge competitions smoother.
Chris is a man of many talents. He manages to fit all these bridge activities in while still working full-time as a pharmacy technician, specializing in procurement. He is a classically trained singer and performs in many local productions around town. Las Vegas is extremely fortunate to have him in our bridge community.
ACBL members receive masterpoints® for winning and placing in club games and tournaments as they strive to advance through the ranks. There are 16 ranks, from Junior Master (5 masterpoints) to Grand Life Master (10,000 masterpoints plus a victory in an eligible North American Bridge Championship).
Oleg Bekker, Unit 356
Tucson, AZ
Larry Yatsko, Unit 374
Albuquerque, NM
(Not pictured) Judith Bowers, Unit 359
Boulder, CO
By John Grossmann
Membership Building and Outreach

Award-winning bridge teacher Patty Tucker will conduct in May a new online beginner program called,  Bridge in a Day  (BIAD) for District 17. The goal is to attract 100 participants. Graduates of this program will be directed to additional lessons and beginner games within the District.

D17 will use a novel social media ad campaign to find new bridge players, delivering 14,000 Facebook ads to folks within our District who might be interested in bridge.
D17 will purchase a site license for BIAD so additional events can be held across the district.  Teachers, club owners and bridge administrators are invited to become certified BIAD instructors.  

BIAD is part of a membership building program approved by the D17 Board. The goal is to find 800 new faces in the coming year, teach them basic bridge and encourage play in local clubs, sectionals and regionals. 

District 17 allocated $5,000 to kickstart new membership recruitment activities. The budget for the District 17 Grant Program has been increased to $5,000 and the focus is on beginner education and membership building. All units are now eligible to apply.

Contact John Grossmann:
By Sharon Smith
Education Chair

The All-Western 99er NiteClub is growing! District 19 including Washington, British Columbia and Alaska have joined. As you can see from the 99er NiteClub logo, that makes a great group of Districts working together - 17, 19, 21, 22 and 23. 
Thirty-nine clubs from District 17 have opted in. Some clubs have local games in the evenings for newer players and do not opt in for every night. That is exactly why the opt in process is in place. Games are averaging 35 tables. A game has been added for newer players. The new 0-20 game begins at 6:20 PT just before the 0-100 launches at 6:30PT. Both the pregame mini-lesson and the post game board reviews by our resident experts are of great interest to the players. This is a great place for newer players to improve their bridge skills. 

Contact Sharon Smith:
By Ken Titow
President, Unit 354
Chair, Fall 2022 NABC

The Fall NABC will return to the wonderful Phoenix metropolitan area in 2022. Experience winter in shorts and sandals without boots and snow!
All events will once again be held at the Phoenix Convention Center from November 24 to December 4, 2022.
There are numerous eating establishments within walking distance of the host hotels -- both of which are within two blocks of the convention center. 

And there are many activities for spouses and non-bridge playing partners. Among the sites to see include:
  • Desert Botanical Gardens
  • Wrigley Mansion
  • MIM – Musical Instrument Museum
  • Old Scottsdale
  • Taliesin West (The Frank Lloyd Wright Facility)
  • Museum of the West

In addition, there are several casinos for those who wish to gamble, and many opportunities for golf, horseback riding, ballooning, hiking and backroad adventures via four-wheel drive vehicles. For more information visit: https://www.visitphoenix.com/.

For those in the local area, the Fall 2022 NABC Committee is seeking more volunteers to make this another first-rate event.

If you are interested, please send your information to ken.titow@icloud.com
Elections for three D17 Board of Governors Representative positions will take place this year. The Board of Governors meet three times per year, in conjunction with each NABC, plus a few special meetings. All meetings can be attended electronically, and that will remain true even after face-to-face bridge resumes. Representatives are elected to three-year terms.

Anyone interested in seeking one of these positions must notify the ACBL by May 31; email elections@acbl.org.
In 2020, bridge players rallied around The Longest Day, raising more than $828,000 despite the coronavirus pandemic. Over 300 units and clubs participated in this annual Alzheimer’s Association event providing funds to support caregivers and to fuel research. 
All Virtual Club Games held during the weekend of June 19 and 20, 2021 will be considered Alzheimer’s Association games where participating clubs will donate sanction fees. Elevated black points will be awarded. 

Clubs that have resumed face-to-face play can choose a day during the week of June 20-27 to hold events and to offer upgraded games. So far, 60 plus teams have registered and started raising funds! 

Join the fight against Alzheimer's. Check your local clubs for details.


Announcing the new D17 website. Check it out at www.d17acbl.org.
Our site is mobile friendly so you can easily browse and find the information you need most whether it's news, tournament and event details or wish to locate a club or instructor near you. You’ll find the latest rank advancements, including our newest life masters and personal accounts of bridge journeys we hope you find inspirational.

So check out who we are and what we do and let us know what you think. We value your feedback.