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The greatest show on Earth – NABC Reno 2022

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There is nothing quite like a NABC
The Biggest Little City in the World
Bob Hamman is back!
Interesting deals from the Daily Bulletin
Congratulations to the winners!

There is nothing quite like a NABC

Three times a year, cities in North America host a vast array of players, ranging from World Champions to those taking their first exciting steps into the world of tournament bridge.

Imagine being a golfer and finding yourself on the first tee with Tiger Woods, or perhaps a tennis player who discovers his first-round opponent is Roger Federer; at the Nationals, you have every chance of playing against the greatest champions!

The Biggest Little City in the World

Reno, California

This year Reno, the Biggest Little City in the World, was the venue of the Spring Nationals. It was probably the last North American Bridge Championship where the major events ran on the 13.00 and 19:30 schedule, as starting from the summer Nationals in Providence, all national and regional events will run on a daylight schedule, play starting at 10.00 and 15.00. Reno attracted an attendance of 6204 tables, almost 1000 more than the previous event, the 2021 Fall Nationals in Austin, Texas.

Reno NABC bridge room

With so many tables in play, the number and type of tournaments is incredible. Knockout Teams, Bracketed Knockout Teams, Compact Knockout Teams, Board-a-Match Teams, Swiss Teams, Flighted Pairs, Stratified Pairs, IMP Pairs & Speedball Pairs are just some of the contests on offer.

Reno NABC pictures

The atmosphere at these major championships is terrific and socialising is the order of the day, especially when the evening sessions end. A top attraction was the Reno Axe Bar where you could unwind and try your hand at this increasingly popular sport.

Bob Hamman is back!

Players are kept up to date about results, upcoming events and everything bridge related by the Daily Bulletins. One of the early stories they reported featured the legendary Bob Hamman. After decades of successfully battling the best players across the globe – he is still the world’s No.1-ranked player – Bob encountered his toughest opponent so far when he caught COVID-19 last summer.

Although he was double-vaccinated, he tested positive and when he began experiencing shortness of breath he was admitted to Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. From there, he went to the hospital’s intensive care unit and was placed on a ventilator. It was seventy days before he was taken off the ventilator in late October 2021. The protracted spell in hospital made him physically weak, and he lost around forty pounds in weight, causing him to comment ‘I don’t recommend doing it this way, however.’

Bob Hamman

Bob required several weeks of nursing at Kindred Hospital in Dallas. As he continued to improve, he started physical therapy, continuing in rehab through mid-January, at which point he hired a personal trainer. Despite the physical challenges, Bob began returning to work after Thanksgiving in 2021, using a walker to help him get about. “I wanted everybody at the office to know I was still around,” joked Hamman, the founder and boss at SCA Promotions.

Bob did not attend the Fall NABC in Austin, as he was still on the mend. “It was the first Nationals I’ve missed since 1963,” he said. Bob is pragmatic about his post-COVID health status. “I do require significantly more sleep these days than I did pre-COVID. I can take breaks in team games, but I’m a little concerned about pair games. I’ll likely spend less time at the bar after the evening sessions,” he quipped, “This was a severe illness, no question about it. I feel fine now. I’m not as good as before but turning in early each night helps. I came out of this pretty damn good, all things considered.

Interesting deals from the Daily Bulletin

Reno NABC boards

To mark St.Patrick’s Day on 17 March, the Daily Bulletin organised a limerick contest. They were not short of entries – here are two that made me smile.

Through Covid-19 I was fine.
I practiced and played and drank wine.
My bridge game advanced.
My chops were enhanced.
Thank goodness for Bridge Base Online!

Maxine Reagh of Sebastopol CA.

I learnt all my bridge expertise
From a book by the late Terence Reese
It shows how a tenace
And single-card menace
Can let you perform a strip squeeze

Eric Kehr from the UK.

Although space is at a premium, the Bulletin manages to report several interesting deals. Owen Lien reported this one from the second semifinal session of the Platinum Pairs:

X-Ray Specs

Dealer East. EW Vul.

Reno deal 1

Open Room

Reno bids 1 open room
(1) 16+.
(2) Majors.
(3) 8+, game forcing.

The vagaries of the auction put East on lead, and Barbara made the normal choice of a low Spade to my Ace. I cashed the King of Hearts at trick two to clarify my holding with the hopes of getting partner back on lead for a Heart through, and then continued Spades. Cullin won trick three with the King of Spades and proceeded to play the hand as if he had X-ray vision. He led the 10 of Clubs at trick four, covered by East and won by dummy. He then proceeded to cash five rounds of Diamonds. The final Diamond forced East to discard in this five-card ending:

Reno deal 1 end

When the 2 of Diamonds was led, East had to keep all three Clubs to prevent Clubs from running, and had to retain the Queen of Spades, or else North’s 10 would become a winner, so she discarded her small Spade. Cullin read the position perfectly, deducing why East had discarded as she had. Backing his judgment, he led the 8 of Clubs, finessing against East’s 9. He then led the 10 of Spades to East’s Queen at trick 11, and East was forced to yield the last two tricks to dummy’s King-Jack of Clubs for making four. Plus 430 was worth 24 out of 25 matchpoints.

Thriller at the Vanderbilt Trophy contest

The tournament always features competitions, seminars and events, many of them aimed at newcomers to the wonderful world of bridge. The American Bridge Teachers Association hosted a breakfast in Reno that attracted 50 teachers. The event was sponsored by a grant from the ACBL Educational Foundation and additional support from Master Point Press and Baron Barclay Bridge Supplies.

Reno NABC Vanderbilt tournament

The main event in Reno was the Vanderbilt Trophy contest, a contest that started in 1928 when the inventor of Contract Bridge donated the cup that bears his name. Spectators were able to watch the action every day courtesy of BBO.

In the Round of 32, the match between Rosenthal and Goodman was a thriller. With only 11 deals remaining, Goodman led 114-76, but by the time they came to the last board the score was 114-111. In some sports players would be superstitious about being on 111, but in a bridge match you only discover the scores at the end.

Reno NABC bridge championship

Board 60 Dealer East. None Vul.

NABC Reno deal 60

Open Room

Reno bids 2 open room

South led the 3 of Clubs and declarer won with dummy’s Ace and ran the Jack of Hearts, South winning with the Queen and switching to the Ace of Diamonds followed by the 6. Declarer ruffed, cashed the Ace of Hearts, the 10 of Clubs, played a Club to dummy and was one down, -50.

Closed Room

Reno bids 2 closed room

South led the Ace of Diamonds and continued with the 6, declarer ruffing and playing the 3 of Hearts. South took the Queen and switched to the 6 of Spades. Declarer won with the Jack, played a Club to the Jack and ran the Jack of Hearts, claiming when South won with the King.

That was worth 10 IMPs, and the match.

Terrific auctions by the Rimstedt twins

The second session of the match between Hill and Wolfson in the round of 16 featured two deals where the Rimstedt twins (World Pairs Champions in 2018) produced two terrific auctions:

Auction #1

Board 17. Dealer North. None Vul.

Reno deal 3

Open Room

Reno bids 3 open room
(1) Could be two cards.
(2) Five Clubs.
(3) Splinter.
(4) Cue.
(5) RKCB.
(6) Two key cards and the Queen of Clubs.

With every suit controlled and being aware of the huge fit, East made the excellent decision to Splinter in Spades. When his partner cue bid in Diamonds, he could safely ask for key cards as there was no danger of getting too high.

South led the King of Spades and declarer claimed, +920.

Closed Room

Reno bids 3 closed room

That represented a loss of 11 IMPs.

Auction #2

Board 21. Dealer North. NS Vul.

Reno deal 4

Open Room

Reno bids 4 open room
(1) Good 15+.
(2) 0-8.
(3) No annotation.

A deal to delight the theorists! What should West bid on the first round? One way to approach this type of problem is to ask yourself at what level you would like your opponent’s to play (its long odds that NS have a Spade fit). When West opted for 5♥️ and North overcalled, East bid 6♥️. South’s Pass was alerted (but not annotated) – there is a note on the convention card that a double in high level FP situations generally shows a desire to bid on.

When North went on to 6♠️, East could have gambled that he had two Club tricks. But he knew that 7 Hearts had to be very cheap – and when North led the Ace of Spades, declarer claimed 12 tricks, -100, which was as cheap as inexpensive fried potatoes.

Closed Room

Reno bids 4 closed room

East led the King of Clubs and switched to the Queen of Hearts and in due course declarer claimed, +680 and 11 IMPs.

BBO Commentator Al Hollander posted this: ‘Dear ACBL – it really sucks that we will only see this board in one match’.

Interest in the event is such that Bridgewinners set up a discussion thread where players can post comments about the championships. One of the best came from Sathya Bettadapura:

‘Playing in the Blue Ribbon Pairs a while ago, I ran into a friend of mine who was also playing in the event, at the concession stand in the middle of the second qualifying session. ‘How is your game going I asked’, to which he said ‘we’re playing regional KOs tomorrow!’.

Congratulations to the winners!

Reno NABC winners

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Regina maris
Regina maris
1 mois plus tôt

Love it