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What's Not to Like?

by Peggy Kaplan

What’s to like about the Nebraska Regional? Just about everything! Superb playing site, free lunch and late night snacks every day, chances to win Omaha Steaks, expert guest speakers, tons of tables, world-class bridge competition and celebrity players like Bill Gates and Omaha’s own Warren Buffett.

Bill and Warren are avid competitors, returning year after year to beat the best. Last week, Gates & Company had an awfully good run in the Hamilton KO. Playing with Bob Hamman, Sharon Osberg, David Smith and Arun Jain, Team Gates faced a tough expert pair playing with talented young Bulgarians. Their team survived to face a foe even more daunting: Garey Hayden and Nanette Nolan playing with one of the world’s top pairs, Polish stars Cezary Balicki and Adam Zmudzinski. Bill’s team hunkered down and vanquished! The juggernaut ended the next round when they lost to the ultimate victors of the event. Still – conquering Balicki and Zmudzinski is a feather in anyone’s bridge cap.

As many know, Warren and Bill are big supporters of youth bridge. A group of young players from Iowa and Nebraska had traveled to the regional for a day of play. Bill, Warren, Sharon, David and Arun met with them during lunch to answer questions and expound on their favorite game. “What do you like best about bridge, Mr. Buffett?” one child asked. Warren answered as the red blooded bridge player he is: “Winning!!”

As photographs were taken of the kids with Warren and Bill, world champ Sharon added encouragement and talked about the benefits of being able to compete online at her world-wide electronic bridge club, Bridge Base.

The only thing not to like about the Nebraska Regional is this: it had to end! But, the good news is Nebraska Regional 2012 is less than a year away. We look forward to everything that co-chairs Cookie Hoberman and Jan Loftin and their magnificent crew of volunteers will have to offer. And – we hope that we will have a chance to beat the billionaires next year!