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D22 Connection

Here are excerpts from D22 Connection, the monthly District 22 newsletter. Rosemary Heath writes a column each month with news of activities in our Unit. Here is what she has published on our behalf.

February 2023

By the time you read this our big event of the year will be over – the Central Coast Sectional. But as I write this, the planning and preparations are in high gear. Next month you can read about all the fun we had here from February 24 – 26th, and if you weren’t a part of it, you’ll wish you had been!

We are having lots of fun here in Unit 540 through our regular activities as well. We’re proud to report increasing table counts in the SLO club and in Five Cities. North County is back to its original numbers, and Blacklake is back in business. SLO is averaging 8 full tables, with our club championship/mentoring day on Saturday, January 14 drawing 13 full tables! Again, kudos to Gail Lapins and Gary Yant for driving a very successful mentoring program for beginners and intermediates. Both the mentors and mentees seem to really enjoy it. The Five Cities club is knocking it out of the park with an average of more than 9 tables at the open game on Thursday, and also at the 199 game on Wednesdays. The Blacklake game is ramping up again with 4 tables at its once-a-month Sunday game.

A word or two about North County…

North County hosts an average of five tables at its Monday and Thursday games. These loyal and close-knit players’ average age is about 80. They have benefited greatly from the game, each other’s company and the teaching, directing and managing of the club by Fred Strong. Fred has overseen the North County club for 30 years! In addition, he managed the Morro Bay club for about 13 years. Also, he headed up our unit at different times, totalling about 10 years. This on top of his political career, radio career and numerous interests. If you see Fred, shake his hand and thank him for the extraordinary gift he has given and continues to give to the North County club and to our unit. THANK YOU, Fred!

See you at the tables…

January 2023

The Central Coast Sectional Tournament is this month! Unit 540 invites you, your partners and bridge friends to join us from February 24 – 26 for 13 wonderful days of bridge, lots of hospitality and tons of fun. The tourney will be held at the Arroyo Grande Community Center, 211 Vernon Street in Arroyo Grande. There are many options for accommodations in the area, so choose a favorite and join us as we happily resume this annual event.

We are so pleased that Dave White will be our director, Gina Kirk is tournament chair (ginakrk@gmail.com, 805-541-8001), and Deb Cameron is partnership chair (debcameron.d22@hotmail.com, 760-468-2078). Don’t hesitate to call Gina with questions, or Deb if you need a partner.

There are Open and also 499er games on Friday and Saturday, and a Swiss team game on Sunday. Breakfast yummies will be provided each day, and lunch will be served on Sunday. We think our cooks are amazing, so come sample some good bridge and great food in the beautiful Central Coast!

You can pre-register online at slobridge.com/signups. Please bring proof of vaccination.

December 2022

As I’m writing this it is still 2022 and everyone is getting ready for the holidays. The SLO club is hosting a holiday party on December 10, followed by a full STaCs week. Then the club will shut down until early January for the annual maintenance of the Senior Center. However, our games continue in Arroyo Grande and Blacklake until the end of the year.

Tom Snow will again offer FREE lessons to beginners starting on Wednesday, January 18 at 1 pm at the Arroyo Grande Women’s Club. If you know anyone who would be interested, this is the perfect opportunity to dip their toe into the bridge world in a very entertaining, social and instructive way. No experience necessary. Mentoring sessions are continuing once a month at the SLO club, followed by a 199er section. Check the unit website for dates and times and sign up in advance. Make sure you are signing up for the right section.

Even during the holidays, the games are well-attended, and more and more former and new players are coming. Somehow our board of directors and other devoted players kept our club running during a really difficult time. I’ve mentioned many of them before, but as we close out the year a big thank you to: Deb Cameron – we couldn’t have done it without you. Bud Zeuschner – you took on the presidency reluctantly but embraced it wholeheartedly. Carol Raimondo – we miss you, but so appreciate your work with the finances and the collaboration with Santa Barbara. Gary Yant – you said, “Sure, I’ll take over for Carol” and never missed a beat, plus you added so much idea value to the board. Thank you Gail Lapins for being our cheerleader and awards/event guru, and a key person in getting players back to the tables. Tom Snow you’ve done an amazing job recruiting and teaching a whole new flock of devotees. Linda Seifert, Dave Elder, Art Herbon – thanks to you all for serving loyally on the board and doing whatever necessary to continue our (mostly) volunteer clubs.

When this is published, the Palm Spring Regional will be over and hopefully I’ll be crowing about our Unit’s success. The Monterey Regional will be in full swing. The SLO club will be open again, and we’ll all be back to one of the things we love to do – PLAY!!

See you at the tables…

November 2022

Those attending the Ventura Halloween Regional were treated to an experience much like the “before times”. Decorations, costumes, and lots of good cheer. The attendance seemed strong, with the Central Coast contingent showing up and SHOWING up! Pat Delamontanya, Jim Merzon and their Visalia team members won over 40 gold points, and the rest of our group did our unit proud. In attendance were Linda Seifert, Ron Schwarer, Gary Yant, Dave Elder, Muriel Harkins, Jack Phirman, Heidi & Bob Karriker, Bill Donovan, Theresa & David Gillette, Gayle Larson, Carol Raimondo, Karen Villa, Tom Snow, Dick Coulter, Cindy Farrow, Jack Luxton, Gina Kirk, and yours truly. Congrats to all on a great showing in Ventura.

It’s time to find partners and start forming teams for Palm Springs, Monterey, and most importantly our own sectional in February. Plenty of weekly games going on at the clubs, so check out the Unit 540 website for times and locations.

540 Unit members: Do you want to be a part of growing and managing our dynamic clubs? Elections are coming up and if you feel you’d like to contribute, raise your hand… or rather call Bud Zeuschner or another board member and have a chat. We can use your time and talents, and you’ll be working with a great group of people who are dedicated to F2F bridge in our area.

We have just celebrated Halloween, the “Dia de los Muertes”, so I’d like to bring to mind some wonderful “spirits” who were and still are a part of our Central Coast bridge experience. We remember fondly: lovely, and well-loved Pauline Yant, brilliant and supportive George Sheffield, inspirational and generous Leda Fields, smiling and brilliant Caroline Bowman, generous and kind curmudgeon Bob Sendall, courageous and gentle Bruce Johnson. The list continues with many other good spirits, including Adele Stern, Peter Schulkin, Grant Morgan, Clyde MacQuoid, Roberta Smith-Gram, La Moyne Beene, Richard Stacy, Andy Ferron, and Bob Clark. As we look forward to Thanksgiving, we are grateful for the times we shared with you.

October 2022

Big news from the Central Coast.  Our sectional is on!  Get out your 2023 calendar and circle February 24–26.  At our sectional you can expect the same warm hospitality as in the past, including “scrumptious home-made dishes,” says our uber-talented and enthusiastic tourney chair, Gina Kirk. The sectional will be at the Arroyo Grande Community Center.

The mentoring program launched by the Board is gaining traction.  Starting on October 8, and prior to each unit game at the SLO Senior Center, there is a one-hour mentoring session with an experienced player working with beginners and intermediates to improve their game.  It is one component of our mentoring program, designed to encourage and advance our players. Thanks Gary, and thanks to all the mentors who have stepped up to make the program a success.

We are really pleased to report that the player numbers have increased again at the SLO club, and also at Five Cities and North County.  It’s a blend of former players returning, and new members joining.  And as a reminder, the 4th Sunday of each month, a game is held at the Blacklake Club in Nipomo.  That is a relaxed, friendly game with treats and sometimes (always) adult beverages.  Join the fun!

Finally, it seems that Gail and Al Lapins, always formidable foes in our bridge world, dominated at the tables in August, with 11 first places, 2 second places, and 1 fourth place.  Is there now a target on their backs?  Stay tuned!

August 2022

Linda Siefert and Ron Schwarer had to rent a moving van to get all their SILVER points from the Firecracker sectional in Mountain View back home to SLO.  21+ points for each of them!  Also impressive were Rose Will and Gina Kirk, each with 8+ points!  And the rest of us?  Meh. But we had a great time rooting for our teammates and visiting with old friends.  Nice job, Palo Alto.  Under tough circumstances you delivered a very nice tourney.

Here in the Central Coast, our board is embarking on an aggressive campaign to get our players back to the tables.  Proposed by board member Gary Yant, it is a two-pronged program including outreach and mentoring.  If you are one of those late-to-return players, expect a call.  We miss you!  If you need a little help getting back in the groove, the mentoring program might be just the ticket.  Gail Lapins is heading up the outreach component, with Gary overseeing the mentorship program.  They are supported by the board and volunteers.  With Bud Zeuschner’s leadership and our talented board members and volunteers, this will definitely make a significant impact.

Our attendance numbers are strong and improving each month with a norm of 7 full tables in the San Luis Obispo club on Mondays and Fridays, 6-7 tables in Arroyo Grande on Thursdays, and 9–10 tables at the 199er game on Wednesdays in AG.  We are excited to see old and new players coming out to enjoy the camaraderie and the best game ever.

Well, all does not always go as planned, and Carol Raimondo’s goodbye bash hosted by the Unit had to be canceled after an unfortunate COVID exposure by two players. No one got sick, but in an abundance of caution, the event was canceled.  We’ll host a party later in the year to celebrate Carol and maybe for no reason at all. Who doesn’t love a party? See you at the tables!

July 2022

Say what you will, here in SLO we celebrated the 4th of July with our open game at the club!  God Bless America and especially our loyal bridge community.  The Monday and Friday games at the SLO venue continue to grow with Mitchell movements the norm.  Wednesday evenings are still a challenge, but we expect much better attendance once summer travel and holidays are over.

Five Cities DBC (Arroyo Grande) 199er games on Wednesdays are a huge success with 10 full tables.  Tom Snow gives a lesson prior to the games.  Thursday games in AG are also a success with 7+ tables and growing. Our newest game, Blacklake, started on June 26th which is a nice addition to our other games.  It’s at 1 pm on Sunday and at a lovely venue in Nipomo. 

Do you know Ron Schwarer?  He’s been around central coast bridge for a long time, and even longer in the bridge world. He started playing bridge in college, then tried duplicate in the ‘70’s.  He took a 25 year break for work and raising a couple of kids.  Does this story sound familiar?  He returned to duplicate bridge in 2000, achieving life master status in 2006.  And this month he hit a significant goal:  GOLD LIFE MASTER. Congratulations, my friend.  I know you credit your partners Lyle P., Jim C., and Bill R., but this one is all you.

And now for the hard part…

Our dear Carol Raimondo is leaving SLO and relocating to Oregon to be with her son and family.  Carol served as treasurer and then president of our Morro Bay Club, and then stepped up as treasurer of our unit, and proactive member of the board.  She’s a super successful CPA who donated her time and talents selflessly to our clubs.  When the pandemic hit, she worked closely with our unit president, Deb Cameron to form an alliance with Santa Barbara to provide virtual club bridge games to our members.  Then she became the informal communications director, sending out innumerable emails to members encouraging them to play online.  When some said they didn’t know how, she coached them on the phone, and even in person!  She was key to making online virtual club bridge work for us and keeping our bridge community connected. Carol, thank you for all you have done, and we will see you online – and hopefully in person – many times in the future.

Cheers and see you at the tables!

June 2022

Let’s start out with a shoutout to two terrific contributors in our Unit – Jim and Kathy Borland.  Kathy has served on the board for several years. She also managed our lunch/snack program – which was no easy task.  Jim is our webmaster, in addition to assisting with countless sanctioned games over the years and being our informal techie when needed. Would you like to read our Unit 540 report from previous months?  Jim posts them every month in addition to important game info and Board updates. Sometimes we take for granted the very important contributions that our members make to keep things running smoothly.  If you see Kathy and Jim at the Five Cities game, be sure to give them a thumbs up or pat on the back or elbow bump. They certainly deserve it.

Our Blacklake bridge club has started up again!  For years Eli and Jan Zinner graciously hosted and ran the game in South County.  Now, Yolanda Macias oversees it.  It’s happening on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month starting in June. Games in Blacklake are always so much fun, and even adult refreshments creep in from time to time.

Good news from our Five Cities location.  The Wednesday 199er game had 7 – 9 tables this month, and Tom Snow is giving a beginner/intermediate lesson prior to the game.  The Thursday Open game ramped up to 7 tables. 

The SLO Open game is also running at about 7 tables, and Jim Merzon is giving an intermediate lesson prior to the Monday game.  North County is hosting 4 – 5 tables consistently, thanks to Fred Strong and his devoted efforts to serve that community.

Once again, a contingent from our Unit will go into battle at a large tourney.  A nice group is headed up north to the Mountain View Firecracker Sectional in early July to try to nab some silver.  Stay tuned for results which we will doubtless crow about in future reports.

 Summer is here.  Stay cool and sharp at the tables!  See you there…

May 2022

Who were those masked (unmasked?) raiders who hauled over 50 GOLD points back to SLO?  We know them as Theresa & David Gillette, Carol Raimondo, Gary Yant, and David Elder.  It was terrific to see Janice and Bruce Scott make a foray into the big tourney world as well.  Very nice showing for us at the San Diego Regional!

This month we are celebrating the reopening of our Arroyo Grande location on April 20.  On Wednesdays there is now a 199 game, preceded by complimentary lessons by super-instructor Tom Snow. On Thursdays there is an open game.  Both had a strong showing this month with many of our players returning to the tables.  We anticipate a steady growth in the number of tables to the large games held here in the BEFORE TIMES.

[A note about Tom Snow… As I’ve mentioned, many of our players are playing on BBO in addition to F2F bridge.  Tom is one of them.  On 4/23 Tom scored a whopping 79.39% and came in first out of 1,208 players.  Quite an accomplishment!]

On Friday, April 22, the SLO club held its first pro-am game in 3 years.  The winners were Howard Gee and Cass Schwartz, and they were honored with the George Sheffield Trophy.  George was a fabulous player and an even better mentor/teacher.  He dedicated himself to helping players achieve Life Master status and was successful many times.  We lost him unexpectedly and far too soon, so this tournament has special meaning to us here.

Speaking of great teacher/mentors, Jim Merzon spent almost a year pre-pandemic, giving weekly lessons at no charge to advanced players in the club, and also mentoring several students.  Now he is offering complimentary intermediate lessons each Monday morning at a private residence in SLO.  Spaces are extremely limited.  If you are interested, call or text Jack Phirman for more information.

The number of games in Unit 540 is growing, and it won’t be possible to continue listing first place winners in this article, but for the last time, here we go:

North County – Fred & Dell, Mike & Anita, Karl & Paul, Elizabeth & Ronald, Jewel & Lillian, Anita & Dell, Fred & Ron, Mike & Anita, Mike & Anita, Karl & Steven

Five Cities (Arroyo Grande) – Claire & Lisa, Al & Barbara, Norma & Lori, Gary & Gayle

San Luis Obispo – Gail & Al, Gary & Gayle, Jim & Rosemary, Gail & Al, John E. & Patricia, Lee & Jim, Cass & Howard, Pat & John J., Mary & Ron

That’s it from the Central Coast.  See you at the tables!

April 2022

Greetings from the beautiful Central Coast,

For those distant observers, our San Luis Obispo club recently had an eventful, (okay, funny) Friday at the tables.  Our club manager, Bill Donovan, in his brave attempt to keep us from getting thrown out of our venue, was emphasizing that every player must be masked in order to comply with our rental terms.  So begrudgingly the naysayers donned their masks and the game began.  But, lo and behold!  During the game an edict came down from the city that masks were no longer required.  This announcement was made to the cheers of the crowd and the ripping off of the wretched face coverings. Some kept them on, but no one cared.  Hurray to Bill and to our endlessly patient director, John J. Fields!  Not easy jobs in this environment, so kudos to you both.

Our games continue to grow each month. We are mostly returning to Mitchell movements, and the SLO club has reinstated its Wednesday evening game.  The long-awaited reopening of the Five Cities club is April 20. Even better, it most likely will include lessons from our master teacher, Tom Snow.

For many years we have had a game in Morro Bay at the Morro Bay Charity Bridge Club.  There is a long history of some of our legendary bridge players competing there, and helping support local causes in the process.  Like so many other clubs, they closed their doors during the pandemic.  Now their board has made the difficult decision to suspend their games indefinitely. There are some beautiful memories from that site that will be treasured, including the yearly competition for the Louise Wang trophy.  Louise helped start the club and at 96 years old is still playing bridge and taking everybody’s money at her retirement community.

Top winners from our club games this month include Carol & Audrey, Carol & Audrey, Carol & Audrey (!), Carol & Gary, Mary & Betty, Mary & Karen, Gail & Al, Gina & John E., Gina & John E., and John E. & John J.  Congrats to all of you.

It looks like we may have a strong showing in San Diego for the regional and look forward to hearing back from those attending. Bring home some gold!!  And good stories!

March 2022

Our unit is alive and well thanks to the fine efforts of our Board of Directors.  Welcome to our newly elected Board members, Dave Elder and Gary Yant.  Check out our unit website for the full list of members.

One of our player superstars, Gail Lapins is also our awards chairman.  Working with the Board, she’s arranged a celebration of our Mini Mckinney and Ace of Clubs winners.  That’s not as easy as it sounds with restrictions at our main venue, but she’s made sure that the winners will get their due, including free play and lunch on March 16.   Thank you, Gail.  The list of winners is available on our website and on the ACBL website.

Last month, I mentioned that the BBO on-line club games are popular with many of our members.  Some of us also play in the ACBL open games which are very competitive, often with hundreds of partnerships.  So, when our members have extraordinary success there, it’s something to crow a about.  Carol Raimondo and Debra Cameron placed 2nd out of 346 partnerships in February with a whopping 72.5%. Congrats!

Speaking of superstars, Helen Seavey, a nonagenarian regularly plays at our club, and sometimes picks up her friends and shuttles them there.  She and Marvin Weitzenhoffer – another 90+ member – were recently seen pulling up to the club in style. Add to that list Genevieve Konop, and Anita Williamson, and you have fine examples of really sharp, experienced players who keep us on our game.  A big cheer for all of our super-seniors.

First place winners this month in our F2F club games are Gail & Al, Gail & Al, Gail & Al, Gail & Al, (seriously?), Pat & Karen, Carol & Charles, Dave & Ron, John E. & Genevieve, and Pat & Audrey.  Well done.

February 2022

Greetings from San Luis Obispo!

My longtime bridge partner, Bud Zeuschner.  gave me a huge bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon for Christmas with a note that said, “If you are going to continue playing with me, you are going to need this”.  What he didn’t tell me was that I was also going to have to take over for him as the writer of this column!

Remarkably, Bud has been writing this column for 8 years. The humor, warmth and thoroughness in his writing were looked forward to and very much appreciated by our members.  It will be a hard act to follow.  Twice Bud has also served on our unit board and was hospitality chairman for our sectional.   Thank you, Bud, from all of us, and best of luck as you take over as our new unit president.

In other news, Deb Cameron, our fearless and fabulous former president and district board member is taking a well-deserved break from her leadership roles, after successfully navigating us through some of the most difficult times in our club/district history.  Many thanks, Deb.  This will probably give you more time to hone your already impressive bridge game.  Beware, opponents.

I am pleased to report that face-to-face bridge is alive and well here in the Central Coast.  North County and SLO are each running 2 games per week. Attendance is up almost every week, and our members are becoming more accustomed to the new, hopefully temporary policies of required masks and bring your own refreshments. Nice to have coffee and tea available again.

Results from the SLO games in January reflect the strong competition from talented players.  First places were across the board:  Floyd & Mary, Gail & Al, Floyd & Betty, Pat & Karen, Pat and John J., Carol & Charles, Mary & Betty, John E. & Howard, Joanie & Rob, John J. and Jim.

Still very popular for our members are the BBO virtual club games in association with the Santa Barbara club, and clubs in Santa Maria, Lompoc, Thousand Oaks and Visalia.  Those are running on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  Black points are awarded with a 25% bonus, and the games are only $4.

Tom Snow, one of our highly treasured instructors has been teaching a series of beginning bridge lessons over the last several months.  Attendance has been strong, and I personally have heard shrieks of laughter and other gaiety coming from the mentored play that follows the lessons. Stay tuned for more information from Tom about future opportunities to join the fun.

See you at the tables!