March Bon’s Mots

By Bonnie Bagley
National Board Representative

It’s not too late to make plans to attend the Spring NABC in Memphis, March 15-25. This is a must appearance if at all possible, since it’s the 75th anniversary of the American Contract Bridge League and is the home of ACBL. The official anniversary celebration, Friday night, March 16, features entertainment, champagne and cake, souvenir appliques, and commemorative gifts. You will not want to miss it.
There will be a free shuttle to our terrific new league headquarters in Horn Lake, Mississippi; a mere 20 minutes away. A rare chance to see the state of the art  ACBL Bridge Museum. Management is asking players to rsvp to:

Board Meetings

Sharon Anderson of Minnesota, ACBL’s 2012 president, has an ambitious agenda for the board of directors and is on track for a productive year. In addition to the standing committees, Sharon has created some Task Forces: she has put me on three of them. One, very near and dear to my heart, is the GNT/NAP/Special Events Task Force, which is charged with developing new strategies and programs to encourage participation.
The Full Service Clubs Task Force will look at how clubs and ACBL management can mutually benefit each other. The Volunteer Development and Recognition Task Force will work on how to recognize our volunteers and how to recruit more. I remain on the Honorary Member of the Year Nominating Committee, the CEO Review Committee, and a revised NABC Committee which will look at strategies to improve attendance among the regional/non-championship players and consider new limited events.
I appreciate your input on any of the above (e-mail below).

Great Western STACs (GWS)

In addition to the upcoming D17 Mesa Senior Regional, April 30-May 6, you will not want to miss the Great Western Spring STAC XIII, May 7-13. What is a STAC? It’s an ACBL tournament (Sectional Tournament at Clubs) that is played mostly at your local clubs and receives sectionally rated masterpoints; that means winning silver points at home. Clubs all throughout the Western Conference (WC), as well as clubs in several outside districts, all play the same hands, and overall awards are based on the number of tables for each game.
Why are the Great Western STACs (GWS) important to us? The proceeds from the GWS (after expenses and ACBL’s share) enables the WC regional table sanction fees to remain at $2.25, enables ScoreCard regional ad fees to remain at $300, and enables the continued production of the best publication in ACBL: the Contract Bridge Forum.

Western Conference STAC History

In the late 1980s, the Western Conference was in dire financial straits. Ken Monzingo, Forum publisher, had the idea of having a STAC across the entire conference to benefit the WC (at the time, the four WC districts, D17, D20, D21, & D22 each had their own STAC). Ken’s idea was shot down by the WC, but the new D21 District Director, Michael Jones, picked up on the idea and said he would see what he could do. A phone call to Memphis produced his question, “How about a mid December WC STAC?”
Answer: “Why not?”
There are now three GWS: the Spring STAC in May, the Summer STAC in August, and the pioneer Holiday STAC in December, all with some surrounding districts participating. The GWS are easily the largest sectional tournaments in ACBL. Their growth spurt has been phenomenal: in 2007 there were 17,552 total tables in play. Four years later there were 25,288 tables – a 44% increase.
The GWS now provide over $60,000 a year in income for the WC, without which the conference – and the Forum – likely would not survive. At least as we now know them.

Why are the GWS so popular? Players enjoy the simultaneous competition with other districts and the chance to win multiple silver point section awards in their local games as well as huge awards overall. Anyone from any district can win – the top three places in the three yearly GWS for the last five years have produced winners from D17 (13), D22 (12), D21 (9), D23 (4), D19 (3), D14 (2), D15 (1), and D18 (1). Those 45 places have produced 31 different overall winners. Only two players have been in the top three more than once: David Zapatka, from the Mesa, Arizona unit and a member of the D17 Board, has been first twice and second once. Well done, David!
But the King of the Great Western STAC is Mark Itabashi from D22. He has placed in the top three in ten of the 15 GWS (2007-2011), was first in all of the three 2011 GWS, and has amassed 534.40 silver points. When asked for pointers on winning big in a GWS, Mark said, “Play every game you can and be aggressive in bidding, defending, and doubling. It’s not enough to win the club game you’re playing, you must score big, so go for it; a 58% will get you a couple of points, but 78% could get you over 20 points.”
Of course, Mark is a Grand Life Master approaching 40,000 masterpoints, but 29 GWS players other than David and Mark have scored big . . . this year it could be YOU!