04:47 18 April 13 2014 San Diego, California by GS Jade Barrett, CsbNews correspondent
“I have an overactive brain, and as a result of that, I can really get in my own mind. So I like to try and exercise it to the point of exhaustion” – Jake Gyllenhaal
One of the major advantages of tournaments in the USA is that there is no shortage of events to test your skills. The Southwestern Bridge Championships in San Diego, California is typical of many American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) Regionals, with new Knockout Team (KO) competitions daily. If you fail to advance to the second round, there is a single session Swiss Team available while you wait for the next Knockout to start the cycle all over again.
Essentially, if you do not like the KO you are in, wait a few hours and join the next one.
If you are sick and tired of the performance of your team, you can always donate your mind to science and join the Pairs competitions. There are a myriad of those, as well. Open Stratified Pairs has three levels of players competing in the same event, while Flighted Pairs divides the groups to play amongst only those of the same experience.
Mixed Pairs require two members of the opposite sex to play as a partnership, with many married couples participating in order to test the strength of their relationship. One casual observer of a particularly acrimonious session wondered if the organizers had considered seeking sponsorship from a Counseling Agency as a value added benefit to the athletes involved.
There are events for the new adopter of the game, and while the best players occasionally feel like they themselves belong in this section, sadly, they may not partake of the opportunity.
Pairs Tournaments may also vary by length; two sessions is normal, but there are still a few four session championships held in various areas of the country. One session events are frequent, and are a great benefit to those with the inability to hold on to a partner for more than a few hours.
Another form of the game found at ACBL sanctioned tournaments is the Board A Match (aka BAM) Teams, played as a pair session, the primary benefit being that on a bad day, you only have to compare your results with your teammates once, as opposed to the six, seven or eight times you have to face the music during a day of Swiss.
The Individual event has gone by the way of the dinosaur in America, with the Keohane Individual Regional in Newton, Massachusetts being the last of its kind anywhere in the ACBL (named for Bill and Ethyl Keohane, two early giants of New England bridge – Bill as a promoter, while Mrs. Keohane won National and North American Championships in some five decades).
ACBL Regional tournaments run three sessions a day, either 9:00, 13:00 and 19:00 (or thereabouts) or 10:00, 15:00 and 19:30, depending on what part of the country they are located (the sleeping or eating patterns of the organizers may dictate the selection in some cases).
On a tough day, bridge aficionados may find themselves playing KOs in the morning, Swiss in the afternoon and Pairs at night, making for a long day at the table, but providing ample opportunity for bragging rights for a few hours.