|Use Back Button to return to last page|
The old record holder for the largest ever Regional Bridge Tournament in ACBL history is the new record holder for the largest ever Regional Bridge Tournament in ACBL history, with an astounding total of 10,544 tables over the 6-1/2 day event. The new record beats last year's record breaker count of 9,564.5 by 979.5 tables, a fantastic 10.2% increase when many were forecasting a much lower count.
Facts ‘n’ figures
We crowned over fifty new life masters and there were many other players who moved up one or more ranks during the week.
| Gatlinburg Recap by Bob Heller.
Pick a number, any number. If it's at Gatlinburg, it's a record number.
Pre-tax deadline dates, some dicey weather forecasts and “competition” from another popular regional had absolutely no impact, as record numbers flocked to the Gatlinburg Convention Center on April 9-15 for what is beginning to look like every bridge player's true rite of spring.
Not even the most optimistic prognosticators got this one right, an attendance surge of more than 10 percent from 2006. The 10,554 tables — in seven days — topped the Ambles recent 11-day Spring NABC at St. Louis. (Note: Victoria, British Columbia, hosted a regional the same week and drew more than 2,300 tables. That will rank among the top 20 of the year.)
Popularity, at some point, will plateau, but who knows when? Organizers will be prepared for even more folks next spring, with substantial ballroom space rented on the second floor of the convention center for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Each of those days had table counts exceeding 2,100 this spring. Next year: April 14-20.
Behind the scenes.
Such a massive undertaking is doable only because of the outstanding area support of Unit 165, led by longtime co-chairs Marlene Wass and Judy Nolan.
Marlene provides this list of those who deserve thanks from everyone who played at the regional. She apologizes if she left anyone off.
Clifford Kent, Rica Swisher, Joe Widdlefield, Reese Henderson, Dennis McAdams, Tom Seigle, David Lee, Pat Jankovic and Jo Ann Newby all pulled double duty. So did Geoff Greene, who functioned as a director and the Daily Bulletin editor.
Other volunteers, most of whom worked a six-day week: Barbara Winzurk, Linda King, Karen Brown, Sandy and Bill Huntington, Sally Eddy, Iris Daniel, Phil Horn, Lana Ernsberger, Janet Sten, Marcy Buehler, Pat Swafford, Jerry Roth, Sara Zelinski, Rosemary Bruggen, George Hall, Doris Pennala, Chris Morris, Ledon Hitch, Patti Dreinhoefer, Sara Leckie, Eldon and Susie Clayman, Betty and Al Loun, Bob Plutz.
Also helping with the Monday morning set-up were Robbie McConnell, Kent Griffith, Thomas Timm, Ted McLellan and Julie and Pete Misslin.
Director, please. Thank you.
Chief director Millard Nachtwey always plans for contingencies, but this yearns attendance surge so early in the tournament caught even him by surprise. There were 51 directors on staff, and because of the crowds — including a couple of knockout events with 33 brackets — and a virtually non-stop schedule from 9 a.m. until past midnight, they had to work extra duty.
Twenty-three extra sessions were a third session of work for directors, and there were 32 extra half-sessions to cover 4:45 and 11:30 p.m. compact KOs. One director who came to play bridge was pressed into service. Seven directors assignments were extended by a day.
Those schedules were grueling enough, but Millard, Doug Grove, Michael Carroad and David Cotterman,who shared administrative responsibilities, each logged 80-90 on-the-job hours for the seven days.
Caddies go into overdrive.
The caddy roster was about the same as it was two years ago, when the tournament drew 1,000 fewer tables. This resulted in “three-a-days” being the norm.
Caddies worked an average day of 8:45 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Those with greater responsibilities worked even longer and they include: Chief of Caddy Operations Jay Bates; head caddies Darleen Boone Bates, Meg Massie, Alan Crank and Ahren Ames.
There was a caddy staff of 29, and that included two “water dudes,” who figure that they poured 150 gallons of water from containers to containers on each of the busiest days.
Yes, we played bridge. It was a remarkable week for two District 7 players, Jerry Helms and Bob Hampton. Teaming with Bobby Levin, Steve Weinstein, Larry Cohen and David Berkowitz, they won two top bracket KO events and finished second in two others. The two victories paid the most masterpoints seen in a regional KO event, 68.76 and 69.24 MPs. The first event had 31 brackets, the second event 33 brackets.
Bob topped the 4,000-plus players with 230.18 masterpoints, with Jerry just 0.36 behind. This squad apparently had it after six days, as it quietly faded from the final Sunday Swiss teams.
Below are photos of some of the players who became life masters during the 2007 Gatlinburg Regional. Some players who make their gold card did not get photographed, so if you became a life master during the tournament and your picture is not shown below send a picture and it can be added.
(use browser back arrow to return to this page)