I decided that I must see a Nationals, so I flew over from England to here. Having struggled through O'Hare Airport (yukk!) I reached Las Vegas airport. How did I know? Slot machines in the arrivals hall!
I was invited to dinner on Thanksgiving day (whatever that is!) and naturally had turkey, but I was amazed to see that most of our party did not. I thought it was traditional? I enjoyed the pumpkin pie as well.
People have been very kind to me. I was allowed to use a computer to connect to the internet while the owner was playing. She logged me on to the internet, and then she and her husband left me in their room to look at my emails. Wasn't that kind? Of course, five minutes later there was a little glitch, the machine disconnected from the internet, and I had not been given a password so ....
Why does everything seem so electric here? It is bad enough jumping whenever I touch a wall, but when I caught Rich Colker's sleeve I jumped a clear foot in the air. He merely looked puzzled. Maybe Recorders make good conductors ....
As far as the bridge goes, the strangest thing to me is the utter disdain by both good players and bad for the Skip Bid regulations. People rarely give a warning unless partner is not attending and often do not pause unless they have a problem. In England poorer players do not always get it right, though many do, but the better players are punctiliously correct. Also announcements are often not made here. What a pity that North America has thought up such excellent regulations but do not bother to use them. Anyway, playing has been great fun, with most people friendly.
There are many plus features. The TDs start a session with an amazing number of people attempting to enter tournaments, and they sort them out, take the money, send them in the right direction, and do it calmly and competently. Of course, the sessions do not start at the published time, as they do in some countries, but without pre-entry that is probably impossible.
The scoring seems to be done fast. There were a few glitches in provision of score-sheets and hand copies, but nothing serious. Overall I get the impression that the organizational side of a TD's work is done very well.
Two incidents in the BAM event might be worth noticing. In one case a player lost his temper and shouted and shouted at the TD. He was allowed to continue playing, which surprised me - he would have been ejected anywhere else in the world. I wonder whether he was even penalized?
At around the same time I saw an E/W pair moving along the field. They were about seven or so minutes late for six consecutive rounds, but nothing seemed to be done. Perhaps the TDs did not realize? Not so: the pair following them were understandably very upset and had complained to the TDs, and then to a more senior TD. Why was this pair not made to play more quickly?
What worries me most, and worries a lot of people to whom I have been talking, is that both these pairs were top class pairs. Would a player be allowed to shout at a TD, or to hold up and completely upset a following pair, if he was not a top player? The rumour mill suggests that neither pair was even penalised.
Now for a pleasant example: every so often a Director has to deal with an offensive player, and it was a pleasure to see the calm with which Susan Patricelli dealt with a player standing in front of her and screaming in her face. It is very difficult to remain calm in such situations and I was extremely impressed. So, there are some excellent things.
Anyway, everything is fresh. I have seen very little of TDs at the table, so it is too soon to judge. I hope to come back for future Nationals: perhaps you can ask me then what my view is about ACBL TDs.