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Almost 30 Antrim County Bridge Club regulars played at least one of the four sessions of the Sectional tournament June 28-29. Sue Farrington and Patty White (Judy King's cousin) played in and were "in the money" in ALL FOUR SESSIONS! Each earned more than 8 Silver points and Sue went into the tournament needing only about 4 to make LIFE MASTER. Sue already had plenty of Black, Red and Gold, but Silver can only be earned at Sectional tournaments. The pair capped off their amazing weekend by finishing 2nd OVERALL in the afternoon Saturday session of Open Pairs. MaryEllen Nickodemus, long a fixture of our club when in Northern MI, was 1st OVERALL in the Friday Open Pairs partnered with Jonathan Friendly of Petoskey. Sylvia Gill/Carol Flood placed in BOTH 199er sessions Friday, the only day they played. In all, almost two dozen of us earned at least fractions of Silver points.

Perhaps more important, our support helped Petoskey chalk up a very successful tournament. With the demise of the Petoskey Regional, there now are only two Sectional tournaments in Northern MI every year (the post-Labor Day Traverse City tournament is the other). Putting on tournaments is A LOT OF WORK and supporting them is the best way we can say "thank you".


Nancy DeWeese and Helen Davis each had over 1,000 master points. Achieving that status was a point of pride for Helen and happened only shortly before she passed away. It used to be really hard to earn 1,000 master points! A few years prior to the pandemic our small bridge club had exactly one regular player with over 500 master points... Judy Kulka. Hence Lou Slyker's habit of greeting her as "Madame Bronze Life Master Kulka." She was the only Life Master of any level in our club (except when Mary Ellen Nickodemus visited briefly each Summer). For a long time our games weren't stratified. That is, everyone competed for overall honors rather than being "2nd in A, 1st in B" or some such. There was no reason to separate players into different groups according to master point holdings, since NOBODY had very many. There were skill differences, of course. It just meant that players of limited skill or experience tended not to win master points very often.

Stratification is a valuable tool when clubs have players with wide ranges of skill and experience as expressed in master point holdings playing in the same game. Gradually ACBC players became more active in tournament play or in other local clubs. For a variety of reasons it became easier to win quite a few master points if a player was motivated to do so. It became practical to recognize the accomplishments of relatively inexperienced players who placed high in comparison with their peers even if they didn't win overall honors. Beginning about the time Nancy turned the club over to the current managers (or their predecessors) we decided to stratify our games to encourage fairer competition. Our 1st "A" stratification started at 200 master points! That still only included a handful of regular players. A few years ago we upped the minimum for A to 300.

We are still a small rural bridge club, so many of our players really don't have a chance to win a lot of master points in F2F play. There are, however, quite a few players in our club who have become somewhat active on the "tournament circuit" or online (since the pandemic). We now have a few players with 1,000+ master points and half a dozen more with 500+. Our current stratification levels of 300 for the low end of A and 100 for B have become out-of-date. To reflect this new reality our new A stratification applies to players with 500 or more master points. Our change parallels action by the ACBL to raise the minimum number of points for the rank of Life Master from 300 to 500. Our A strat will include quite a few players who lack some specific requirement for Life Master status.

Of course, regardless of your current stratification you still win overall awards if your percentage is good enough! This change will make it easier to form teams for an Eight is Enough team game, something we hope to offer regularly this Summer. Stratification of the Wednesday 199er game won't change. And there still will be ACBL-wide events where the stratification levels are dictated by the ACBL.


Our Christmas party last year was the first team game every held by the ACBC. Seven teams ate, drank and generally made merry. Teams were informally balanced to make the competition as fair as possible. Reactions to the game suggested we might try it again in the future, probably during Summer when daylight hours are long and most of our players are available.

EIGHT IS ENOUGH is an ACBL-approved format to allow clubs to easily run team games. "A" players are assigned a value of 3, "B" players are 2 and "C" players are 1. Teams can have a maximum numerical value of 8. Players can either register as part of prearranged teams or can sign up as individuals and be formed into teams by the Director.

One possibliity is to schedule these games MONTHLY from May through September on the fourth Thursday using the evening game slot for which ACBC already has a game sanction. We would probably book the Torch Lake Township Hall. If scheduled early enough (5:30? 6:00?) players could drive home before dark even if a break was scheduled in the middle of the game for either a meal or elaborate hor d'oevres.

WE HAVE HAD LITTLE SUCCESS RUNNING A GAME IN THIS TIME SLOT for the past several years. There's no reason to rent the hall and schlepp tables over there if nobody wants to play! THIS IS A CALL FOR FEEDBACK! Please give it some thought. Talk it over with potential partners or teammates. Let Judy King know your thoughts (yes, no, maybe or suggestions) so the managers can make a decision by the end of April!


Sue Farrington makes LM at the Petoskey Sectional. See NEWS for a summary!

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