May 29 2024
  Next week, there's a one-day Non-Life Master Sectional in Rochester for silver points (silver points being well-known as "the hardest to get")!  The RDBC will have two silver-point sectional games, one at 10am and one at 2pm next Thursday (June 6).  One does like to compete against those of one's own experience level, and you'll havbe that opportunity in Rochester next week.  Click on the flyer to the left for more information, including nearby hotels and restaurants to the playing area.  Then join the party in Rochester and earn some silver points!

May 28 2024
It's been a busy month for Minnesota bridge players.  In addition to everything going on at the Gopher Regional this month, two dozen players achieved the next step in their masterpoint rank - well done all of you!  Here's a look at those players who are moving on to the next masterpoint rank in their bridge playing career:
Connie Nelson [Avon]
Susan Knauss [Rockville]
Marc Ashton [Excelsior]
Sarah Wahl [Minneapolis]
David Klevan [St Paul]
Cass Weil [Minneapolis]
Kent Dalzell [Rochester]
Karl Hansen [St Paul]
Sandra Johnson [St Cloud]
Harlan O'Wickre [Rochester]
James Brink [St Louis Park]
  Connie Falkenstein [Rochester]
Margo Hinke [St Paul]
  Nancy Hartzler [St Paul]
Gregory Augenbaugh [Rochester]
Colleen Bassett [Cloquet]
Douglas Moseman [Waterville]
Lisa Olson [Rice]
Christopher Caroll [Winona]
Michael Henteges [Shakopee]
Marilyn Olson [St Louis Park]
Jon Pope [Brainerd]
Patricia Schultz [Alexandria]

May 26 2024
Tom Grue's [Apple Valley] performance this week at the Gopher Regional is his first Gopher Tournament Championship, and he joins a long list of past Gopher Tournament Champions that includes many impressive players.  Here is a look at the Tournament Champions for the Gopher over the past 20 years. 

May 25 2024
And that is a wrap - the tables have been put back in the trailer and the bidding boxes closed up for another year.  First things first - the table count for this year increased over last year by +9.4%, to 752 tables.  It's great news.  Here is a look at the table counts, both year-over-year and a comparison to the first two post-COVID Gopher tournaments:
On the right hand chart above, you'll see that the Open pairs, Gold Rush, team tables, and even 299er tables over the past six days saw an increase in table counts.  However the chart on the left shows that the KO teams fell sharply this year; there has already been some discussion that Swiss teams might replace the Golden Gopher KO next year. . .we will see what Patti Stuhlman [Minneapolis] and her crew decide when they have a post-mortem discussion on the tournament.  But for now it's a chance to relax and celebrate the success of this event.
 Your 2024 Gopher Regional Champion is Tom Grue [Apple Valley] who may well have needed to rent a wheelbarrow to help carry out his 88.78 masterpoints accrued through the week.  Tom's teammates John Koch [St Cloud] and Terry Beckman [Brooklyn Park] tied for 2nd place overall with 73.31 MPs.  A total of 482 players earned some gold points over this past week - you can check out the list of all the masterpoint winners by clicking here.  (Oh, and Tom wasn't just in it for the masterpoints this week!  Tom was the volunteer in charge of organizing the takedown of all the tables today after the tournament.)

May 25 2024

In addition to everything else that Mike Cassel [Roseville] does for bridge around here, you may have seen him running around the Gopher tournament taking some photos as well.  He has done a terrific job with the Gopher Daily Bulletins, which include not just pictures but also lots of information on bidding and hands, and much, much more.  Here are the Gopher Daily Bulletins, edited by Mike and sponsored by the Minnesota Grand Slam Club:
A tip-of-the-hat to Mike, one of the many volunteers that make this tournament what it is!

May 25 2024
Sometimes at these tournaments it's just fun.

May 24 2024
Another 128 tables in play on day 5 at the Gopher Regional today - that makes 653 tables with one day to go.  Considering only 25 tables are needed tomorrow to exceed last year's table count, this tournament will be a success in every way imaginable.  Tom Grue [Apple Valley] has the masterpoint leadboard's top spot with 74.00 MPs so far.  You can check out the list of all 462 players who have earned some gold points by clicking here.

With one day of bridge yet to go - here is your "Top Ten" list of masterpoint winners:

May 24 2024
  Our parent organization is advertising on local Minnesota websites - here is the link to the ACBL's "new to bridge?" page.  They have been trying to incentive our local Minnesota Units to reach out to players (old and new), so it's nice to see the higher-ups are practicing what they preach.

May 24 2024
Through early Friday morning, tables in play at the Gopher are at 525.5; that's up +5.0% from last year's count (see Patti Stuhlman's report farther down on this page).  Every category of play, from 299ers to team tables is up over last year (which was up over 2022).  Still a lot of bridge to take place, but so far, it's all good.

May 24 2024
Minnesotans have made a clean sweep of the D14 GNT this year, and now that includes every single flight.  Larry Uttley [Duluth], Bill Voedisch [Marine], Warren Nelson [Cloquet], and Dennis Cerkvenik [Minnetonka] will be representing D14 in the Flight "A" competition of the GNT at the Toronto NABC.  They are one of four Minnesota teams we will be watching in July (the other teams are listed farther down on this webpage) and we're hoping they have good luck (and a GREAT time) representing D14 and Minnesota while at the NABC.

May 24 2024
  We're not sure what is in the water up in St Cloud, but THREE St Cloud DBC players made their Ruby Life Master the past couple of months.  Scott Krupke [Little Falls], Connie Nelson [Avon], and Kathy Bredlie [St Cloud] all crossed the 1,500 masterpoint mark this spring - and of course, there was CAKE to be had!  Congratulations to these three new Ruby LMs.

May 23 2024
Here's a special shout-out to Barry Purrington [Eagan] who crossed the 10,000 masterpoint mark this month.  Barry has become a Platinum Life Master - a mark that only 15 active Minnesota players have achieved.  When you see Barry this week at the Gopher, be sure to give him a thumbs up.  (Also - we're keeping an eye on Peg Waller [Edina] who may shortly become Minnesota's active player #16 on this list with her current 9,865 MPs.)

May 23 2024
Jan Jensen [Stillwater] and Dennis Schulte [Woodbury] won the Larry Oakey Gold Rush pairs on Thursday, with Eric Hendrickson [Charlottesville VA] and Keith Connolly [St Paul] taking the Larry Oakey Open pairs today.  The masterpoint race for this tournament has got Tom Grue [Apple Valley] vaulting into 1st place so far with 59.53 masterpoints!  You can check out all the results for today and the tournament by clicking here - and a look at everyone who has earned some of the "Gopher Gold" by clicking here.

May 23 2024
Tournament Chair Patti Stuhlman [Minneapolis] gave an update on how things are going at the Gopher Regional this year on Thursday evening, as part of Unit 103's Board meeting at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.  She says that she is "quite happy" with how things are going - and that the table count through Thursday is up 33 tables from the first four days of the tournament last year.  The 532 (paid) tables so far included 35 teams on Thursday, which translated to four brackets of players (so many so that the game Thursday morning started about a half-hour late!).  She credits the smooth running of the tournament to having "such a good committee", although we all know Patti's handling of the tournament is paramount to its success.  Room nights at the hotel are about what was expected (and within a couple of room nights from Monday's expectations) so everything is looking good.  Patti also said there is some uncertainty as to who will show up for the last two days of the event (as always), but she expects this tournament to make some money for Minnesota's two units.

May 22 2024
The fun is just halfway done at the Gopher Regional Tournament; day 3 saw the team of Bob Balderson [Eden Prairie], Cindy Balderson [Eden Prairie], Carole Miner [Rochester], Brian Crossley [Burnsville] and Kerry Holloway [Bloomington] winning the coveted Peggy Kaplan Golden Gopher KO.  Gary Knippenberg [Golden Valley] is hanging on to 1st place in the masterpoint race with 44.18 MPs over the three days - but 370 players have earned some gold points this week so far - so there's LOTS to go around.

 And how about our Director-In-Charge?  Matt Koltnow, making the rounds of the various rooms at the Gopher with his two friends (one of which he says is actually a "prairie dog that identifies as a Gopher.")

Richard Day [Shoreview] and Thomas Kiemen [Cottage Grove] bested the other 34 pairs in the Gold Rush today to come out on top.  And Marjorie Michelin [Laguna Woods CA] made an appearance from Southern California!  (You just don't know WHO is going to show up.)
132 tables in play on day 3 at the Gopher, that's off -5.4% from last year's 139.5 tables on Wednesday.  Lots of time to make those tables up and much more bridge coming through the rest of the week.  Decent travel weather to and from the tournament is on tap for Thursday, although the construction along 494 still a bit of an issue.  Plan on some extra travel time and we'll see you at the Crowne Plaza Hotel for some cards in the morning.

May 21 2024
Here on day 2 at the Gopher, the 129 tables of bridge in play were up 1.5 tables from last year's 127.5 Tuesday tables (or +1.2%).  Through the first two days of this tournament, Gary Knippenberg [Golden Valley] has vaulted to the top of the masterpoint leaderboard with 38.06 MPs.  You can check out all the results by clicking here - and a look at everyone who has gotten some scratch by clicking here.
Here's a QR code for today's Gopher Bulletin:

May 20 2024
This bridge tournament is underway!  Day 1 at the Gopher is in the books, and a pretty good time was had by everyone.  A special shout-out to all of those responsible for setting it up (that's tournament chair Patti Stuhlman [Minneapolis] with the big smile on her face in the photo above).  Today's action saw 114 tables in play; that's very close to last year's 116 day 1 tables (or off -1.7%).  Through day 1, it's Lynne Castoldi [Minnetonka] and Paul Meerschaert [Long Lake] atop the masterpoint leaderboard with 21.44 masterpoints.  You can check out all the results by clicking here - and a look at the masterpoint winners by clicking here.

May 19 2024

June, July, and August are the three months during the bridge year when your local club will run North American Pairs (or "NAP") games.  These games are definitely worth checking into, as they pay extra masterpoints - those masterpoint awards are half-red - and you can qualify to go further in the NAP competition later this fall.  (District 14 NAP Finals will be held October 5th/6th online.)

With the Gopher starting tomorrow, area bridge clubs have got their June calendars out early.  NAP games on these calendars are highlighted in red.  And for less experienced players, remember that the NAP games are stratified - so 499ers have their own stratification - and when the D14 NAP rolls around in October, 499ers play among only 499ers in the Flight "C" category.  Winners at the District level go on to play at the 2025 Spring NABC in Memphis TN.

The ACBL's Conditions of Contest for the NAP this summer can be found by clicking here.  The D14 NAP CoC have not yet been issued - but should be any day now.


May 19 2024
Teri Blu [Minneapolis] is going to teach Intermediate Bridge Conventions at the Edina Senior Center; these classes will be on Thursdays from 1pm to 3pm.  Classes start on June 4th and run through July 30th (with no class on July 2nd).  Teri says "playing bridge is a combination of skill, luck, and your ability to communicate with your partner -- join this class to advance your bridge skills."  To register for this class, contact the Edina Senior Center at 952-927-8861 or you can register online by clicking here.  The cost for this course is $100.00. 

May 19 2024
Looking at the forecast for the upcoming week, why, it's as if Gopher Chair Patti Stuhlman [Minneapolis] has arranged this as well as everything else for the week.  A week of unsettled weather is ahead, with periodic showers and storms - the kind of weather that's not so great for golfing or tennis, but it's perfect for a bridge game at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.  Of course the forecast is likely to change (especially towards the end of the week), but when you're putting on a week-long bridge get-together, this is exactly the kind of bridge-playing weather forecast you're looking for.  

[Ed: As a meteorologist in my former life, I'd say look out for Tuesday.  If coming to the Gopher, plan some extra travel time as rains look to be very impressive at some point Tuesday.]

May 18 2024
The last piece of the "which Minnesotans are going to Toronto" will fall into place this afternoon.  Updates below as they happen.

Congratulations to the squad of Mark Lasoff [Minneapolis], David Trevor [Bloomington], David Goodrie [Plymouth], and David Neiman [Minneapolis] for winning a couple of hard fought battles today to win the D14 GNT Flight "B" competition!  Coming in second was the team of Connie Nelson [Avon], Jim Schnepf [Avon], Bob Roediger [Rochester] and Matt Belau [Rochester].  All four Flight "B" teams in play today scored lots of GOLD masterpoints - and best of all, these four Minnesota teams all got to play a lot of competitive bridge.

May 16 2024
The upcoming Gopher Regional provides a bit of a break from the club scene, and a look at the first twenty weeks of face-to-face bridge in Minnesota this year shows the bridge community is really coming out to play.

First, a look at F2F tables across Minnesota by Unit and geographical area - with most everyone showing nice growth from 2023 over the same first twenty weeks.  Overall, the state has seen a year-over-year increase in F2F tables of +23.9%.

Second, here's a chart showing how Minnesota F2F tables have grown this year by Minnesota bridge clubs.  Northfield doubled their Thursday games in 2024 (it was every other Thursday last year, this year it's every Thursday) - and Woodbury added a couple of games as well.  This helps to explain their huge (relative) increase in their F2F tables since last year.  Even those clubs showing limited growth (St Cloud and Maple Grove) have big Monday games that were not held this year (as New Year's was on a Monday, for example).  Had these clubs held those Monday games, they'd be showing stronger year-over-year growth.

Finally, of the 722 new Minnesota tables at club face-to-face games in 2024 so far - who's accounting for the growth?  Easily that would be the Bridge Center of St Paul, whose move to Roseville last summer and added games during the week have produced almost 40% of the new tables so far this year in Minnesota.  (Even that number may be underestimating the impact of the BCofSP, as the Plymouth DBC accounts for 16.4% of the new Minnesota tables - and some of their games are now being held at the Roseville location.)  Overall, bridge in Minnesota heading into the Gopher break is nicely on the upswing.

May 15 2024
Some ACBL clubs "name" their games when a player (or partnership) comes in 1st place three times in a row.  If there are any Minnesota clubs that do this, we're all ears - but the Wednesday morning Maple Grove game over at the Edina Senior Center could easily renew this tradition.  Joe Koester [Brooklyn Park] and John Schlundt [Eden Prairie] have been tops in the room now for three consecutive Wednesday mornings at the Maple Grove game - which is not a small feat, especially among that crowd of players.  (Over the last three Wednesdays, this partnership has averaged a score of 69.52%.)

Will it be the "Koester/Schlundt Wednesday Pairs" as of May 29th?  It could be.  (Maybe it should be?)

May 15 2024
The set-up of tables is slated for Sunday afternoon; and the dealing of the cards gets going at 10am on Monday.  It's not too late to schedule partners for the Gopher Regional next week (and not too late for hotel rooms, either, as the Crowne Plaza is honoring the Gopher rate even now).

A reminder that there is construction at 34th Avenue and I-494, so plan a little extra time in getting to the venue.  Also remember that players under 15 masterpoints play for free in any event, thanks to Units 178 and 103.  We will hopefully see YOU at the Gopher next week!

May 13 2024
Oooof.  Twelve Minnesota players have been exited from the GNT Flight "B".  The GNT competition at the District level has seen some twists and turns of late, but thankfully Keith Connolly [St Paul] is going to be at the helm of the D14 GNT going forward (so new blood and new ideas are ahead).  But at the moment there is some confusion now as to what is happening with the Flight "B" competition.  For some reason, the ACBL's Director for the Flight "B" games online has declared that this contest is over - and that the team headed by Mark Lasoff [Minneapolis] has won and advances to Toronto's NABC.  The other twelve Minnesota players would be exited.  All of this appears to conflict with D14's Conditions of Contest, which states that semi-finals and finals would take place this upcoming weekend.  Some of the participating players in the Flight "B" competition are contesting this decision.  We'll have an update if and when things get resolved.  UPDATE:  Here is why the ACBL canceled it:  The current D14 GNT coordinator agreed these teams could play and finish everything in one weekend, if all four teams agreed.  The ACBL has now determined this was modifying the CoC, and since these teams did not play Sunday after all, the contest is over.  Many Minnesota players are upset: if they knew May 4th's Swiss was really for all the marbles, they'd have played differently, rather than trying to be one team of the top four.  SECOND UPDATE:  The ACBL claims the D14 Board voted to change the CoC prior to the competition May 4th, but members of the D14 Board say no such vote was taken.  Lots of emails flying to try to get to the bottom of this, including some from the D14 GNT Coordinator explaining they "tried to modify" the CoC before May 4th but "it was too late".  How the ACBL was able to determine the CoC had been changed when the D14 GNT Coordinator emailed players that said change was not possible is question number one.  THIRD UPDATE:  Efforts are being made to have these Minnesota players resume play this weekend - but in a much shorter contest (everything in one day).  Costs of running this contest are now being cited as why shorter events are planned.  Costs for NAP and GNT programs are funded in part by the Grass Roots Fund - so here is another great example of why you should support your local Minnesota club's Grass Roots Fund games.  FOURTH UPDATE:  It's back on.  The ACBL "misinterpreted" something (they did not say what) and all Minnesota teams play Saturday.  Kudos for them getting it right, even if it took some time - now can the play on Saturday possibly live up to the drama?

May 12 2024
Looking at bridge tables in play for the month of April 2024, it sure looks like Minnesota players are a bit more "in your face" than the national average.  Not that this is a bad thing!  It simply means we're more social as we are more likely to play in person than online.  Of the 117,769 tables of ACBL-wide club bridge last month (F2F and virtual clubs), 90,319 of those tables (or 76.7%) were face-to-face.  Minnesota had 1,077 tables of ACBL bridge played during the month of April this year - but only 36 of those tables were online.  That means 96.7% of all Minnesota bridge tables were played in person - and that is much higher than the national average.  NOTE that the month of April did have a "Stardust" week, which really amped up the BBO online turnout for the third week of the month.  Also there may be some Minnesota players playing in out-of-state online BBO games, helping to drag down the ACBL-wide figures.  But - still - it is quite a contrast!

May 11 2024
Quite the party at the Bridge Club of St Paul's Roseville location today, where Unit 178 dished out their 2023 Awards, a terrific luncheon, and of course, bridge.  Patti Stuhlman [Minneapolis] and Peg Waller [Edina] took 1st place this afternoon among 16 tables of players in the event.  Full results of the Saturday afternoon bridge game can be found by clicking here.  Congratulations to all of the Unit 178 2023 Award winners (you can find a list of those winners here), and here is hoping everyone is getting a good start on their 2024 Award category competition.

May 10 2024
There's still one flight to slug it out, but all four remaining Flight "B" teams are from Minnesota - so there's no question that Minnesota players will have swept every D14 GNT Flight this year.  Well done!  Keith Thompson [St Paul], Unit 103's GNT Coordinator, offers his congratulations and summary of the action (so far) with this statement he's just issued:
    "Two teams have won the honor of representing District 14 in the Grand National Team finals to be held at the Summer Nationals in Toronto. After a slugfest battle on Saturday, May 4, it took an extra eight board playoff to send the Connolly team onwards to the Open Flight finals in Toronto. Congratulations to Keith Connolly, Vern Swing, Paul Meerschaert, and Robert Schachter.

    A different dynamic played out in the Flight C match contested by the teams headed by David Nelmark and Chris Westermeyer. The Westermeyer team won every segment of the May 5 playoff, and will be looking to continue making waves in Toronto. Chris was playing with Ross Anderson, Sarah Wahl, and Jackson Wahl.

    Best of luck to both teams. Be warned should you encounter them at the Gopher Regional, with its extensive slate of team games. We hope to see lots of action in the contest for bragging rights.

    The Flight B playoffs are down to four teams, and will continue action on Saturday, May 18. Results will be posted here as soon as they are available."
    --Keith Thompson
[Ed.: I can almost guarantee you those results will be posted in real-time next weekend.]

May 7 2024
The good people who are putting together the Gopher Regional later this month met for the final time on a Zoom call this afternoon.  Patti Stuhlman [Minneapolis] reported that "all systems are go" for the tournament which starts in less than than two weeks.

Caddies are set; the set-up is scheduled Sunday at 2pm; partnership requests have begun; and the hotel has extended the room rate so that players can still make reservations under the "MGB" rate code.

The decision to have 0-15 masterpoint players play for free came after the flyer went to the printer, so although it's not on the flyer, units 178 and 103 are sponsoring those with fewer than 15 MPs.  Also there will be some construction at 34th Avenue and 494, so players are asked to allow for some extra time to get to the game.  One more email blast is going out to club managers and ambassadors around Minnesota.  This group has put in a lot of work to make this tournament a success - hopefully we will see YOU at the Gopher starting on the 20th.