JULY 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 in September.

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

By Elizabeth Hamilton
It Takes A Village

This is the phrase that keeps coming to mind as I watch all of the changes that are beginning to transpire in our bridge community. District 17 has an extrembly strong village and I am constantly amazed by the talents of our volunteers and the ACBL employees who support us. These include: national district director, district board members, unit board members, club owners/managers, bridge teachers, bridge directors, both club and tournament directors. It would not be possible without them. Many thanks to all of you!

In May, D17 held amazing GNT finals online. The efforts of Bonnie Bagley, our GNT chair and Ken Horwedel the Director-in-Charge of the online games made it all look easy.
It takes a lot of preparation behind the scenes to make this look so effortless. It started on time, there were no technical glitches and it was a lot of fun!  

Clubs across the country are opening up. There were approximately 500 of them playing F2F in May and that number is steadily growing. That encourages us as we prepare to bring back our D17 Regional Tournaments. 

The village is working hard behind the scenes and if you want to participate please do not hesitate to get in touch. Our first D17 Regional will be taking place November 8 to 14, 2021 at the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas. The flyer is available online and the hotel is accepting bookings now. I hope you will consider joining us. 
By Angie Clark, Tournament Chair
Bob Lafleur, Tournament Manager

The Las Vegas Glitter Gulch Regional will be held at the Plaza Hotel & Casino located in downtown Las Vegas on November 8-14, 2021.

The event schedule has something for every level of bridge player. The usual friendly partnership desk will be available. For less experienced players, there will be a dedicated help desk and partnership area just for you!

Except for Monday, there are no evening games, so Las Vegas is waiting for you. Explore the amazing restaurants, casinos, shows and night life at your leisure. If you need entertainment during the day, for a non-playing companion, there is a lot to discover. The hotel concierge can assist. It may be worth considering The Mob Museum, the National Atomic Testing Museum, The Neon Museum Las Vegas and some fine art and car collections too. Don’t forget the world-class pools, spas and shopping.

After bridge you may want to extend your visit and explore the natural beauty surrounding Las Vegas - Red Rock Canyon, Hoover Damn, Lake Meade and the Grand Canyon, to name a few. For information go to LasVegas.com.
Hotel rates at the Plaza are very reasonable but they do vary by night of the week. Book early for the best options for you. Use code: SACBL21.The booking deadline is Oct. 8.
By Frank Bost, Tournament Chair

Unit 351 is pleased to bring back our Kachina Sectional Tournament held at the In Tempo Bridge Club in Scottsdale, AZ. As the bridge world transitions to a return to face-to-face games, this year’s event will be both challenging and rewarding. 

We are excited to announce that along with our regular stratified sectional games (SILVER), we will concurrently run a Non-Life Master (0-750) I/N regional (GOLD)! Convenient start times are 10 am and 2:30 pm Thursday through Saturday. Sunday Swiss start times are 10 am and TBD.

If you need a partner, please contact Mary Porter, partnership chair, 480-854-1620.

We will hold free 30 minute lectures during the lunch break. Our speakers are: David Zapatka (Thursday), Vic Quiros (Friday) and Michael Berkowitz (Saturday via Zoom). Consider brown bagging your lunch or ordering take out from a local restaurant! 

Having a flexible attitude and thinking outside the (bidding) box will make this a very enjoyable weekend! Attendance will determine our success, so please add these dates to your bridge calendar! 
Note: We will be following the COVID-19 protocols as required by the ACBL. We expect that these policies will evolve as we approach the tournament dates. Updates will be posted to www.unit351.com
The District NAP finals will be held face-to-face at the Las Vegas Glitter Gulch Regional in November. 
Flight B (0-2500 MPs) will be played Friday, November 12. Flight C (NLMs with less than 500 MPs) and Flight A (Open) will be played Saturday, November 13. Start times for all flights: 10 am & 2:30 pm. 

Qualify in clubs now through August. 

The top three pairs in Flight A and the top four pairs in Flight B and C will be eligible to play in the National Finals held during the 2022 Spring NABC (March) in Reno, NV.

For details contact Lakin Hines, D17 NAP coordinator: lakinh57@yahoo.com
2021 D17 GNT
By Bonnie Bagley. D17 GNT Coordinator

What an experience! District 17 players rose to the occasion. Although the majority of D17 players had not played online, the A, B, and C D17 GNT Flights had to be held online due to the pandemic. When it became evident the 2021 Denver Rocky Mountain Regional would not be held, plans were made to hold the D17 GNT Finals online May 26 and May 27.
By Bonnie Bagley, D17 GNT Coordinator

As with many things the past year and a half, the 2021 GNTs have been unusual. The D17 Championship Flight GNT was held at the 2020 Tucson Winter Regional. Shortly after that face-to-face bridge came to a halt and there were no D17 GNT Flight A, B or C Finals nor the 2020 GNT National Finals. The D17 board decided the 2020 Championship Flight winners would go the 2021 GNT National Finals which will be held July 14 – July 18 online during the North American Online Championships. That team Sheri Winestock, Fred Gitelman, Geoff Hampson, Haig Tchamitch, Daniel Korbel, and Roger Lee (pictured below) WON the 2019 GNT Championship National Finals and will hopefully repeat in 2021. Fred Gitelman is unable to play at the finals this year; Josh Donn will be playing instead.
The D17 Finals for Flights A, B, and C were held online May 26 and May 27 – a first for D17, although online D17 GNT Finals have been under consideration for several years due to the geographically large size of the district. The online competition was a huge success with the most teams EVER participating in the D17 GNT Finals – 48 teams: Championship - 2 teams, Flight A - 4 teams, Flight B - 14 teams, and Flight C – 28 teams!

Congratulations to the following teams who will join the championship team above to represent D17 at the National GNT Finals! (Note – if eight or more teams are entered in Flight B & C the top two teams may compete in the National Finals.)    
Flight B-1: Doug Couchman, Cayce Blanchard, Kyle Rockoff, Andi Parham, Ron Vickery and Edward Helpert. (A picture could not be taken due to logistics.)
By John Grossmann
D17 Membership Building and Outreach

Attention teachers, club managers and units. D17 now has a curriculum to engage new folks in learning bridge. It’s also great for long lapsed social bridge players! Award winning teacher, Patty Tucker has updated her proven Learn Bridge in a Day (LBIAD) curriculum in a newly branded Bridge in a Day (BIAD) format. The program puts cards in front of players early, and provides examples for each concept. 

District 17 has acquired a site license for Bridge in a Day (BIAD). BIAD is set up to run as three 2 hour workshops. It can be used entirely online or for in person training. The online version combines Zoom, Shark and ACBL software to encourage playing practice hands. The BIAD is a rich multi-media approach to teaching that engages players.
D17 has paid for the site license. There is no cost to unit-sponsored outreach events. Clubs and teachers can also use the package if it is for general membership growth. D17 is considering the purchase of a district-wide license for 10 additional lessons from Patty if teachers want an extended prepared package.

Fall is just around the corner. It is time to think about a September membership building event. 

For details contact: Sharon Smith,
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).
Terry Holmes, Unit 380
Las Cruces, NM
Sharon Smith, Unit 422
Steamboat Springs, CO
Also a new bronze life master!
Sandy Thompson, Unit 374
Albuquerque, NM
Barbara Williams, Unit 356
Green Valley, AZ
(Not pictured) Greg Bohn, Unit 373
Las Vegas, NV
By Ann Sutherland
D17 Member
ACBL Silver Life Master

Arrivals at the new Fort Collins Bridge Club first see a large table filled with finger foods and accompanied by a full coffee and tea service. The carafes are never empty and there is no dish looking for donations. Sometimes there is even wine in the afternoon. Director Robyn Leming is close, greeting incoming players. The large playing area is decorated in the bridge colors red and black and is ready for action. 

This is new. Although table counts increased 10% annually over the years prior to 2020, a Fort Collins area bridge center did not exist. The opportunity to establish a stand-alone location became possible only after long-time director Marlene Aranci announced she would be retiring in two years. When Leming developed and presented a financial plan to the board showing that a physical center run by her would be financially viable, Aranci donated her two clubs to Leming. John Wolf contributed his club as well. These major gifts, accompanied by significant personal remodeling labor from the board and area bridge players, formed the foundation upon which Leming built her operating plan.

The center opened in January 2020. But the COVID-19 crisis changed everything. The new Fort Collins Bridge Center, like the rest of the country, shut down for safety. But it was especially vulnerable: as owner, Leming bore sole responsibility for the multi-year lease. In response, board members and others, unbidden, mailed financial contributions to the center. Also, the Unit 363 board paid a rental fee for the storage of duplicate equipment for part of the year the center was closed. Beyond this, the board developed virtual games through Bridge Base.
The center began opening in the spring of 2021 and became fully open in June. 

Leming maintains a welcoming atmosphere. In addition, she mounts a major phone effort daily to find partners for players who need one. “I’m relentless,” she says. “My goal is that nobody stays home because they don’t have a partner. This is the only way to keep the numbers up.” 

From time to time the brackets will be adjusted to meet the needs of players, such as raising the 0-499 games to 0-750. The unit also established a “NYPD (New Young Players Division) and has used the ACBL’s “Learn Bridge in a Day.” Several lesson series have been made available both on line and at the bridge center in order to broaden access.

Fort Collins bridge leaders agree that only with the support of Robyn Leming would the center have survived the Covid crisis. As longtime player and former director John Wolf declares, “Robyn is one of the leaders of Northern Colorado bridge.”

Interested players can visit the center at Suite C-5 Riverside Plaza, 725 S. Lemay Ave., or contact the center at FortCollinsBridgeCenter@outlook.com

By Melissa Rosequist*
Lead News Editor
Independent News Media

For many red-blooded Americans, the persistence to find success, or win, drives the competitive appetite found deep within their bones. The same competitive drive is found within the walls of Bridge on Shea — a beloved community bridge club in Scottsdale where, for the past 32 years, club members own and operate the organization.

The large group of players have found everything from budding friendship to exciting wins and challenging losses within the walls at 7000 E. Shea Blvd., Suite 1810.

But as with many community organizations, the COVID-19 pandemic presented myriad challenges for Bridge on Shea. Most challenging, some members say, was the difficulty to overcome technological hurdles.
More than a year later, and the group is able to begin organizing in person again — a great treat for the players — but the financial scars remain.

The members of Bridge on Shea are seeking new players to help keep the club open. While the club’s inception dates back more than 30 years, it has been owned by a 60-person limited liability company for the past four years.

When the former owner informed members he was going to sell, the group panicked, says club manager Suzette Wynn, and they quickly started looking at what they could do.

The group needed to raise $78,000 to partially remodel and take ownership of the club, and they raised about $128,000.

“All because the people wanted this club to remain open. And it’s been there for 30 years,” Wynn said. “It’s got a family-type atmosphere for a very competitive game of bridge.”

Unfortunately, Wynn says, because of COVID-19 the group has been “cold” for more than a year.
“We’re now struggling to stay alive because it’s actually impacted our reserves tremendously — they did not give us any break and we didn’t qualify for [Paycheck Protection Program],” Wynn said. “So this is now a race against time because summer months we lose our winter visitors.”

Bridge on Shea hopes by issuing an open call to the community, they’ll introduce the highly addictive, competitive game to more people.

“It’s ever expanding, meaning you can never perfect the game — the more you learn, the more there is to learn so there’s really no top or bottom to your knowledge,” said Director Liz Erling.

The members say it’s a great mental exercise, pointing out the retired nature of many of the players.

“People worry about working their body, but they don’t worry about working their mind,” Wynn explained. “We’re all getting older — it’s not just for old people, mid-age up. It really is, people who want to learn, it’s like learning a new language but you have the fun of playing a game with it.”

Wynn explains she’s been playing for many years, with many points, but she keeps learning something new — which is what keeps her coming back.

“It’s a really wonderful way to spend a few hours,” Wynn said.

Bridge on Shea offers weekly games for different skill levels and lessons, which begin in late June. Players do not need to be a member to join the game.

“We have the most incredible teachers who teach free mini-lessons. We are doing everything we can to not only retain the players we do have, but create a new player base as well,” Erling said.

*Reprinted with permission from author, Melissa Rosequist. The article appeared in the Scottsdale Independent - posted 6/14/21.