Sunday, July 28, 2013

Preparing for the Atlanta NABC

So, the NABC is coming up in a few days in Atlanta. For me it will be very different experience from previous NABCs, mostly because it's kind of at home and partly because of what I'll be playing in and with whom I'll be playing.

When flying to an NABC there are very few logistical issues because there isn't really a choice - you must fly, you must stay at a hotel downtown, you can't bring your pet. When the NABC is in your home town, there also isn't really a choice - you're staying at home. When the NABC is this in-between distance of 95 miles away from home, there are several logistical options, and I can't decide what to do:

a) Take Winter and staying at a cheap suburban hotel, not unlike what I do for regionals in the district. With the 10 & 3 start times, that would effectively make it similar to my regular lifestyle, only with a much more interesting "work day" and incentives to go out late night.
b) Commute from home. It's about a 1.5 hour drive as long as traffic is okay.
c) Treat this like most NABCs by leaving Winter with my parents or in a kennel while I go all out playing bridge, socializing, eating, and drinking.

The 10 and 3 start times are particularly draining because bedtime doesn't really change. I won't be able to resist going to bars or playing midnight games if I am in the area, so if I leave Winter home alone, I'll be forced to drive home right after the game and no longer be in the area. Basically, this schedule just means we have 4 extra hours after the bridge game to drink and 3 fewer hours to sleep in the morning. This logic is urging me to go with option b, at least for part of the time, even though I know that is not a very practical plan. I kind of wanted to boycott the tournament to express my displeasure with the start times but it's just too damn convenient, and furlough Fridays mean I can play 6 days without using any vacation.

So, I'm playing mid-bracket regional knockouts the first Friday-Sunday. That'll be a possibly welcome big change of pace from the stressful top bracket knockouts I've been playing a lot of in the last couple of months. Monday I'm going into the office before coming back to play the last 6 days with Cristal in NABC events. Good teammates for the Mixed BAM and Open Swiss would be appreciated.

Last time the NABC was in Atlanta in 2005, I had a summer job working on updating the software for a flooring company just outside Atlanta while also working as a teaching assistant at GT. I lived in Buckhead across the street from a Marta station so commuting to the tournament was really easy. Life was pretty awesome. However, I wasn't a particularly competitive bridge player. Being a regular college kid was too appealing.

I think I played a couple of days but I don't remember with whom or anything like that. I do, however, remember going to the awesome Swichfoot concert with Amanda instead of playing bridge one of the Saturdays during the tournament. I had my priorities straight back then. Well, I still have priorities in the same order today - there are just fewer non-bridge opportunities.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Reston July 4th Regional

I'm too old for this stuff. Playing bridge Sunday somewhere further than Atlanta, traveling home, and working Monday is annoying enough. When that's at the end of a week of high level bridge followed by copious amounts of late night activities every day, it's a real struggle. At the Reston/DC regional, it was another big step toward being respected as a ligitimate contender at the highest levels of bridge. Despite a couple of major distractions, I managed to play pretty well all week as Sean and I (with Daniel Korbel and Jonathan Steinberg) won about 100 points, just behind Meckwell, Krzyzstof-Grzegorz, and Joyce-Jenny. We faced them head-to-head twice, winning in the final of the 1st KO and losing in the semi-final of the 3rd KO. Fortunately, that semi-final loss was on the afternoon of july 4th so we were able to have the evening off to participate in normal July 4th activities.

So, why was I distracted? I felt kind of bad all week about being at the tournament rather than at the hospital with my dad, where the doctors apparently were screwing things up. I also felt bad about leaving Winter in a kennel and about lying to Allie about where she was in hopes, I guess, of avoiding these emotional subjects. I also had that butterflies in the stomach feeling you get when just getting to know someone really special. It's been awhile since anyone has had that strong an effect on me.

I actually missed having Winter with me at the tournament. Simply having a dog to take care of stops the drinking and partying while it's still fun. The jogs and trips to the dog park physically make me feel better and limit going out to dinner, which also is probably healthier and more conducive to good bridge in the evening. We saw the Rodwell's dogs there quite a bit, and while they're cute, they aren't nearly as fun (or demanding) as my husky.

This weekend I plan to go through all of the scorecards to find something blog-worthy. Our slam bidding was so much better than it was in Greenville - only 2 or 3 disasters all week, including the first board of the second half against Meckwell (we had a 28 imp half time lead): We bid to 6S, knowingly off 2 key cards. We did have a 10 card fit and some 32 hcp. The K was onside so it rolled in. The Poles duplicated our auction to the slam off 2 keys but then proceeded to not take the finesse. Also, I think we played as many redoubled contracts last week as I had in my whole life. This led to a terrible score (-1000), 2 great scores (+760 twice), and one only slightly bad score (-200).

Not much in the way of bridge until the Atlanta NABC starting 3 weeks from today. I think I'll be staying in the suburbs or possibly commuting from home and hour and a half away and foregoing a lot of the evening hangouts so I can get my daily dose of Winter.