Archive for December, 2009

Who am I?

Monday, December 28th, 2009

As the year winds down and I reflect on my adventures all over North America, it occurs to me that many people don’t know who I am.

To be honest, I’m surprised that no one asked me point blank – and I met a lot of wonderful people. Perhaps they thought it was impolite – or they thought they should know and were reluctant to admit they didn’t.

Well, I have to confess that we did start out with the idea that it might generate some mystique – or not – if we didn’t tell.

If you read my first essay about my former life as a bridge player, you might have picked up on a hint or two. Perhaps not. There’s also the factor that I look pretty much like I did before I took my extended break from bridge.

In any event, if you think you know who I am, send a note to the editor of the Bridge Bulletin (editor@acbl.org). He will give you a month to respond, followed by a drawing among those who answer correctly.

The winner will receive a visit from Little Old Me! For those who are wondering what that entails, I pay my own way – and I don’t eat a lot (but I am partial to root beer floats).

Best wishes for the holidays. See you in 2010!

Bob L’s wrapup – the Fall NABC in San Diego

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

What a year it has been! I never dreamed when I returned to the bridge world that I would meet so many interesting people. Everywhere I went – from East Coast to West – I met people with a passion for our game that made me very happy to be part of bridge again.

I can see now that bridge is in good hands. I just heard that ACBL membership is up higher than it has been in many years. People are putting on good tournaments all over North America, our 3200 bridge clubs are thriving, and in 2009 we passed 3 million tables of play for the second year in a row.

It’s true, you didn’t see much of me in San Diego, but I really needed a bit of a rest after all that travel. I basically just hung out in the executive office and took it easy. I did have a moment of . . . well, you might say unease whenever Paul Janicki, who represents District 2 on the ACBL Board of Directors, came around. You may remember that his wife, Julie, kidnapped me during the Summer NABC in Washington and held me for “ransom.” To be honest, though, my experience with Julie wasn’t that bad, although I was a bit disappointed that she kept me in a drawer most of the time that I was being held “hostage.” Really, she was nice, and I was hoping to see her again in San Diego. Too bad it didn’t work out.

That’s me going over the first Daily Bulletin at the Fall NABC in San Diego.

That’s me going over the first Daily Bulletin at the Fall NABC in San Diego.

I must say it was interesting to hang out in the executive office at the NABC. It’s the same room where they worked on the Daily Bulletins, so naturally there was a lot of traffic, especially from members who wanted to report that they had become Life Masters – or had advanced to a new Life Master rank. The Daily Bulletin guys seemed to share the excitement of the new LMs.

I discovered that lots of people at the tournament seem to think that the Daily Bulletin office is where all lost items turn up. I was surprised at how many people came in to say they had put all their important stuff – wallets, purses, credit cards – in the registration bags that all look alike. Turns out lots of the bags “walked off,” probably because they were identical and people got confused. Some of them, I’m happy to say, did retrieve their valuables.

From all I could gather based on the comments I heard, the San Diego tournament was a smashing success, and the turnout was about 1000 tables more than they expected. Seems our players weren’t all that tempted to take time away from the tables to enjoy the outstanding Southern California weather.

Once back in Memphis, I spent a bit of time catching up on the tournament by reading the Daily Bulletins. Boy, that Jeff Meckstroth had quite a year, winning all kinds of ACBL masterpoint awards (Player of the Year, Player of the Decade, most points at the NABC). I won’t be surprised if I hear about him winning the Nobel Prize for something.

Well, that’s it for me in 2009. No more traveling this year, except maybe to the ACBL Christmas party coming up in a couple of days. I hope there’s someone available to drive me home.

All the best to everyone for the holiday season – and Happy New Year!

Bob L in Arlington

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Since I’ve been back, I’ve been learning all kinds of new words and phrases that didn’t exist back in my day. Even the term buzz word, which I guess is what I’m referring to, is new to me.

Anyway, in my travels around North America, I’ve learned about things like jet lag, blogs, text messages, androids for phones (!?!) and, although it’s not really a new term, culture shock.

I discovered what the latter term really meant when I arrived in Texas after visiting Delaware on my trip from one end of the continent to the other (I’ll get to the part about San Diego in another message). Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that any of it was bad. To talk like a Texan, the whole adventure has been a hoot!

But there’s a big difference between Delaware, a pretty small state way back East, and the wide open spaces of Texas. I’m telling you, everything – and I mean everything! – in Texas is BIG. Know what I mean, Pardner? (I like to get in the spirit of wherever I’m visiting, you know).

Just consider the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, where I landed on my way to Arlington, a suburb of Dallas. I thought I was never going to get out of that place. And the traffic – Holy Alamo! – I thought it was rough in Atlanta (it is). I’ve never seen so many pickup trucks in my life. I’m glad I wasn’t driving. The warm weather was a very pleasant change from Delaware, though.

One of the first to greet me in Arlington was game director Dee Berg, who was celebrating her birthday. She is typical of just about every person I met in Texas – very friendly.

Dee Berg

Dee Berg

They also like to chow down with gusto in the Lone Star State, so it’s a good thing the Arlington Duplicate Bridge Club has Helen Nelson, who had prepared dinner for the club for their weekly TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s Food, Fun, and Friday) game.

Helen Nelson

Helen Nelson

I enjoyed meeting David Adams, one of the club’s newest Life Masters. His partner for the TGIF game was Diane Quin, who is one of the nice ladies who takes a turn cooking for the TGIF games. Rumor has it that Diane is a gourmet cook. Perhaps I visited the wrong week, although Helen’s chicken and rice was quite tasty and the blackberry cobbler disappeared quickly.

David Adams and Diane Quin

David Adams and Diane Quin

On Saturday, the club held their annual game honoring their members who are veterans. I got to join the veterans who played for free in this event.

That’s me, proudly holding and American flag to honor the vets

That’s me, proudly holding and American flag to honor the vets

What a pleasure it was to meet another veteran, Bill White! He is a legend at the home office as he always sends each month’s masterpoint count in on the first of each month. He also keeps a record of the funds that need to be sent to ACBL from each game and is always prompt with that. On top of all that, I learned that Bill is the club’s webmaster, and I must admit that the web site is the nicest, most colorful one I’ve seen. Take a look at it at http://www.d16acbl.org/U176/ABC/adbc.htm

Bill White

Bill White

You probably know that there are quite a few rather large cities in and around Dallas, including Fort Worth. For that matter, Arlington isn’t exactly a burg.

Anyway, I found out something about Fort Worth when I kept hearing all these people talking about purple frogs. Never heard of such a thing, much less seen one. Then I discovered that they are all nuts about the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs, whose school color is purple. Everybody kept talking about the TCU football team being unbeaten and playing in a big bowl game. It seems like many bridge players are keen sports fans. Just part of being competitive, I guess.

Check out that mean-looking horned frog on the pennant

Check out that mean-looking horned frog on the pennant

While I was there, I visited Ranger Stadium, which is in Arlington. Right across the street is Texas Stadium, new home of the Dallas Cowboys. What a palace! I heard it cost more than $1 billion. Wow! When I went to visit, the stadium was hosting area high school teams in playoffs. It’s the largest stadium ever – Texas size for sure! You wouldn’t believe the size of the television screen in there. I found out that the big stadium has a hole in the roof because the structure wouldn’t support a full roof (not the mention that money was getting tight at that point). The situation prompted one of the Cowboys players to say, “Texas Stadium has a hole in its roof so God can watch His favorite team play.” All I can say is that Texas is the place for a stadium like that.

After a day of rest, I returned to the club to join the Easybridge! game run by Tom and Dorothy Moore. There was so much laughter and conversation in the room, if I hadn’t seen the cards I wouldn’t have been sure they were playing duplicate bridge.

Tom and Dorothy Moore, always smiling.

Tom and Dorothy Moore, always smiling.

All throughout my visit, there were photographers following me around, taking shots so I could share them with you. I didn’t have a chance to get a photo of all of them because they were always so busy. The photographers were Marty Schwartz, a chemistry professor at North Texas University; Tom and Dorothy Moore, who took shots at the TGIF, and Mary Ellen Stanton, who snapped most of the Saturday shots. Mary Ellen is the club’s computer guru.

It was a whirlwind tour of Texas, but I’m really glad I went, even though I was so tired at the end I felt I could really relate to something I read about one of those cowpokes, who said at the end of a long day, “I feel like I been rode hard and put up wet.”

There are, Pardner. Head ‘em up . . . move ‘em out! See you in San Diego.