March District Direction

By Ken Monzingo
National Board Representative

Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.– C.S. Lewis 1898-1963

If you've played in one of our Great Western STACs – Spring Fling, Summer Fun, or Holiday – you surely realized you were entered into the largest sectionals in the land. Hundreds of tables of bridge competing simultaneously in clubs across the whole of the western United States. Here's a little history of how this got started.

Twenty-some years ago the Western Conference – at that time an organization of four districts including us, District 22, along with D17, D20 & D21 – was surviving on regional table sanctions and advertising in the Forum. It was not a successful formula, and the end looked near ... including the death of this newspaper.

A last ditch effort to save the conference came from my suggestion, and D21's Mike Jones's inspired efforts, to try a cooperative Sectional Tournament At Clubs across all four districts. It was an immediate success and has led to all kinds of great opportunities to increase bridge attendance in the west. This has now become our popular December Great Western Holiday STAC. We are easily the most successful in the country at producing these ACBL STACs. Easily.

Record Breakers

The Western Conference continues with a consecutive string of recent tournament record-breakers. Beginning in December the Holiday STAC hit an all time high, and a world record, for a sectional at 9175 tables. Immediately following the STAC, the Palm Springs Regional broke its record big time with a 570 table increase to 3575, making it the third largest regional in 2010 ACBL, just 60 short of number two. Then, in January, Monterey (2836) was up a huge 444 tables, the Navajo Trail Regional in Albuquerque broke the 2000 table barrier for the first time, and Riverside had its largest turnout ever with 1435 tables. All record highs!

Opportunity Knocks

We, the WC, are no longer in financial difficulty. Just the opposite, we're actually giving money back to the member districts. However, new and exciting financial opportunities may be available for us who care to venture – regionals at sea. After enormous successes in these Atlantic Ocean tournaments debarking out of South Florida, a new door is about to open to the Pacific Coast. The ACBL has gained ownership of these at-sea gold point tournaments, and will allot one a year from the West Coast. I believe the Western Conference is the ideal organization to sponsor such a fun adventure on a profit-sharing agreement between the three WC districts.

The District 22 board unanimously endorsed us pursuing this when presented with the initial possibilities. All aboard.

WC Board Meeting

At the just completed annual board meeting Teri Atkinson, Bakersfield, was elected president of the Western Conference for 2011. Tom Shulman of Las Vegas was reelected as our conference treasurer, and Bonnie Bagley, Colorado Springs, was elected Great Western STAC coordinator. The board meets once a year and alternates the meeting site between the three districts of the conference. This year the meeting was held at the new site of the very popular Glitter Gulch Sectional at Bally's on the strip in Las Vegas. Next year, our turn, the WC board will join us and the ACBL presidents in Palm Springs for the huge annual December regional.

National and International

Early this month I'll be headed to Louisville, Kentucky (for the first time ever) to attend the Spring NABC's ACBL board meetings. I have a couple of volatile motions on the table that, if passed, will clarify, make transparent, and alter the way we pay for our international teams and junior teams to compete overseas in World Bridge Federation events. These motions, and the extreme changes they present, are very controversial amongst the USBF and the WBF officials and should make for a good report to you when I return.

Another matter of interest that will be discussed in Louisville is a proposed plethora of potential changes in the way the North American Bridge Championships' regional events are offered to our players. Clarification of the card fees, maybe some new features, better bridge shows, and possible increased masterpoint awards (in NABC regional events only). The two international motions I have on the table, if passed, could also effect NABC changes. Following the expected board shootout – win or lose – I'll give a full accounting of the results.

Minutes of all board meetings of the league I attend are available on my web site at
If you don't call too early in the day, I'm almost always reachable at 619 220-0209, or by e-mail at