Eureka is a small town in Northern California on the coast. The Sequoia Bridge Club meets three times a week in a church. The games were small, 4 ½ tables, the day I was there, but the players love the game and are happy there is a game at all! I played with Ginger Bowes, a new life master, and a very enjoyable partner. We did pretty well, 3rd I believe. I know these small games exist all over ACBL land and I am concerned about the future of these games. It is very difficult to get new players into games when the population density is low. This is largely due to the fact that it’s difficult to find someone who feels it is worth their effort to teach bridge to a very small number of people (1 or 2). Without teachers, we don’t have new players. It appears to me to be a serious problem that lacks an easy answer.
Bruce Blakely had been hosting us the last two nights. Today Bruce drove us over to Oakland to play in a community center where they had about 25 tables. Like many morning games, they work in a break for food and there was an enormous strawberry shortcake. The game was directed by Betty Kael who did a very good job considering there were two sections and she was playing to boot. I played with Tom Pajak who gave some assistance to Betty with technical problems during the game. Tom was very enjoyable to play with. We had some bad luck and scored OK, but nothing to write home about. The club held a question and answer session with the members and myself, and I really enjoyed giving answers and speaking to everyone. We left immediately after the game to start the long drive to Eureka.
Today’s stop held an evening game with three sections (Newcomer 5 tables, 0-299 15 tables open 10 tables), 30 tables and no parking! The newcomer game had a lecture before their game on the stage in the basement of the church facility. The Newcomer game finished early and they cleaned up and left without disturbing the other 25 tables. I played with Robert Hartman, the new CEO of the ACBL and we managed to win. Elaine played with Steve Smolen (the brother of the man who invented the Smolen convention). They had a 57% game and finished out of the money. That is the second time this happened recently (isn’t that very rare or am I just whining?). Anyhow, it was a very enjoyable game at a very spectacular show of evening bridge. My presence didn’t exactly pack them in. There is always a good crowd at evening bridge here. The same game had 29 tables the following week.
Robert Hartman, Kim Fanady, and Craig
I looked forward to this game for a long time. I met Hamish Bennett at several NABCs and we have struck up a friendship. I played against him for years, so I was sure it would be enjoyable to play as his partner. It was. We had a very nice game and fell just short of winning. The club is very nice and I got to meet with a lot of officials (board members, directors, owners). I was able to answer their questions and discuss the status of club bridge. The club had a very nice lunch and plenty of desserts.
Polly Seigel, Crag, Don Rothschild, Hamish Bennett
Elaine playing with partner Lori Spaeth
I played with my brother Phil who has really never played duplicate. We played Stayman and Blackwood, and on the second hand of the day we were the only pair to bid to a grand slam that had 15 tricks! Phil had no problem with bidding boxes, and only tried to touch cards on the dummy a couple of times. The game proceeded well until about the half way mark when everything just collapsed, and we finished at 46%. It still was great! The Santa Barbara club is in a stand alone building was recently been refurbished and the members are very proud of. The club has been renting this facility for 35 years! It was suggested to buy it back in 1975 but the owners decided to rent instead. What a mistake. The players were very nice and extremely nice to a new player.
This is a beautiful town in Ventura County. The bridge club meets on Monday and Friday in a local church. The scheduling of this tour takes a great amount of time and requires help at the club end. I got a lot of help from club President, Alan Greenberg. I thank him for that, especially because he did so knowing he would not be able to play the day schedule because he had to leave for his son’s wedding. I did get to meet Alan before he had to leave, and then I played with Judy Murphy. She was a great partner and played very well, but I am afraid we lost it on the very last round. It might have something to do with the fact that I doubled 4 spades for minus 790? The club had lots of food and a great cake. It was a really good day. Elaine and I were even able to spend time seeing the town and countryside.
Judy Murphy and Craig
Horrible traffic and almost running out of gas made getting to this game on time an adventure. The club held a team game and our squad consisted of Rand Pinsky, District 23 Director, Elaine and Kathy (Rand’s wife) playing with me. They had twelve teams and we played four rounds. Assignments and results were on a plasma TV high on the wall (what a novel idea). Table count was hurt due to the proximity of the Irvine regional, but it was still a good field. We tried the Swiss coup by losing our first match, and then winning our next three. However, Silky Sullivan we were not, and we ran out of room and tied for second. The club has everything a club needs due to a list of generous members who have donated money over the years.