The Valencia BC in Santa Clarita meets twice a week one of which is Thursday morning. The biggest surprise during the trip occurred when they took a break for lunch. Suddenly one of the players, Kristi Kubo, turned on some music and then sang an opera. She is a very good singer and the music was well appreciated. I played with Rita Vannatter, and Elaine played with Rand Pinsky. Neither pair had a very good game. Kathy Pinsky was 2nd and I am happy to report that Kristi was 3rd. This was the first half of a doubleheader, as tonight Elaine, I, and our hosts (Kathy and Rand) will play as a team.
Carol Ashbacker, Craig, and Rita Vannatter
Kristi Kubo singing
This was my first experience of a Regional (Irvine) tournament impacting a local bridge club’s game schedule. What is normally a 20-table game was down to 9 yesterday and 13 today. Good food is a daily occurrence here, but the specialty of the house is desserts. The club takes a break in the middle of the game and the house brings out all sorts of desserts – including ice cream! A very nice facility that is located on the second floor of the building; which is rare. Second floor locations bring lower rents because retailers have no interest in them. I played with Kevin Lane, a hi-tech guy that helped the ACBL in the past with his ideas. In addition, he is a very fine player who does not play every afternoon at a local club (this is a note for his wife), but we had a unlucky afternoon and finished in the upper 50s. If the chance ever occurs in the future, I would enjoy playing another game with him.
Brandon Shuemeker, Craig, Loren Hilf, and Rand Pinsky, District 23 Director
This is a full-time club that runs six days a week owned by Carol Warren. Carol owns the building which was formally a bar, but she converted it into a very nice bridge club. The bar is still present and it was used to serve the food which was good and plentiful. Bobby and Judy Wolff came down from Las Vegas to play which was nice. Judy used to live near Elaine and me. Toady’s game had 14 tables and the players were very nice. This is the seventh (and last) club in the West that I visited that owns their bridge club’s building. There were only two clubs in the East that had building ownership. I think (4%) is much closer to the ACBL average.
Prescott is a growing area in Arizona. It is much higher altitude than the Phoenix area, so it’s cooler by 15 to 20 degrees. Joan Shay runs a game at the senior center that drew 24 tables about 1/3 of whom were playing in a non-sanction game. I talked to the non-sanctioned folks and gave them my goldfish theory (if you put a goldfish in a river he will grow to become a carp, but if you keep him in a goldfish bowl he cannot get bigger), but no one lined up to join the ACBL. I played with Joan and we had a disappointing/average game. On the last hand of the day Chris and Jim Showalter bid 6 clubs holding S-void H-KQx D-xxxx C-KQJ10xx opposite S-AQ10xxxx H-x D-AK C-Axx. Chris and Jim bid it very nicely, and Chris played it very carefully to bring home 12 tricks and a clear top on the board. I am sure the newer players liked my goldfish theory and have all joined the ACBL by now.
Today was the 33rd time this year that the temperature reached 110 degrees. AZ Bridgeworks is a fulltime club run by Joy Balsar. The President of Unit 354 is Leon Lowe and he was my partner. My RHO opened 1 spade and I held S-Ax H-AKQJ109xxx D-xx C-void. I don’t have a systemic bid for this hand and 4 hearts didn’t seem very sporting so I chose to start with a double. It went pass 2C by partner 2D by my relentless LHO so now I tried a not very sporting 4 heart bid that ended the auction. Opening lead 10 of spades and dummy tabled S-J98x H-87 D-xxx C-AKxx. Trick one collected 100 honors in spades, a heart to the 8, AK of clubs shedding a spade and a diamond, then the 9 of spades, covered, ruffed, a heart to the 7 and shedding the last diamond on the 8 of spades. Plus 510, an average the hard way. The club had wonderful food and was a perfect way to get out of the heat. Joy was great and Leon was a fabulous partner.
The first stop in Arizona was Sedona, which some believe is the most beautiful place of all. The scenic views of the canyon’s reddish walls are not only a dramatic entrance to the valley, but also a gracious curtain to the village of Sedona. Bridge is booming here, with teaching programs and new people moving into the valley. I played with Robb Gordon; an excellent player. We had a nice game and a good time. There was a luncheon beforehand in the Elks Club where the bridge games take place. Besides a really nice meal, they had a great selection of candy during the game. After the game Robb gave me a tour of the town and then I had a great dinner with he and his wife, Linda. I talked to Robb and Linda in Toronto and although I originally planned to only travel on this day, I am pleased that I added Sedona to my club visits.
Alice Marin and Maudell Terry, with Marjean Good serving
Joy McIlraith & club
Rob Gordon and Karen Wahl
There is nothing like being in the Wild West and meeting ‘Billy the kid’. Billy Trabaudo is a 19 year old sophomore at the University of New Mexico and is a highly regarded young player. We played and had a great time and a lousy score (probably because we didn’t play particularly well). But it was enjoyable to play with one of our 1100 members under the age of 26. Billy has flare without fear. I guess too many of the opponents were related to Pat Garrett. Felicity Moore is a very active club manager, teaching and directing in addition to managing this very large club in Albuquerque. This is the third club in last five that I have been to, where the club is in a building that they own. My estimate is that less than 5% of full time clubs play in a building that they own.
Craig with Billy "the Kid" Trabaudo