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Collegiate/GNT Clash: Or a call to help college players at the NABCs
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Two events-- the GNT flights B/C, the Collegiate Bridgebowl, -- are perfect for aspiring Junior College players to compete for travel to Summer Nationals. Last year was my first year competing in the Collegiate Bridgebowl Competition. As a freshman last year at Northwestern, I rebooted Northwestern's College Team for the first time in a while. A lot influenced the development of my bridge in the last year, but my experience in getting to go the the summer national in DC through the Collegiate Final definitely tops the list. I can honestly pin the opportunity as the single event that pushed me onwards to the next level in my bridge enthusiasm-- after the NABC, I finally got invested enough to move past just playing the occasional club game, and to seriously play tournaments.

Yet, the way the ACBL's schedule stands now, it actively discourages junior bridge players, seeking to step out of their comfort zone, by running these two big events against each other. When one or more players ends up with a commitment to both events, it destroys morale on both teams-- by making juniors select team-destroying decisions-- and only hurts all players involved: destroying the groups' enthusiasm that made them want to compete in either event in the first place. There is no good reason for this - the ACBL is sending a strong message that it does not care about its collegiate players with the current scheduling.

Historically, the ACBL has lost important business from teams from UNC, MIT, Berkeley, UChicago due to this scheduling silliness. Numerous juniors have been lost who would otherwise have participated in these events, and more. These two events, along with North American Pairs and, by association the Red Ribbons, attract the young players you so desperately need get hooked on Bridge - and NABCs.

This year, Northwestern’s and UChicago's Bridge Teams qualified for the Collegiate Bridgebowl Final, but part of both teams have also qualified jointly as District 13's reps for the Flight C GNT, which runs simultaneously. This has hurt about 3 Collegiate Teams every year, including most recently UNC, MIT, UChicago and Northwestern. 

This punishes promising and passionate Juniors seeking to maximize participation at an NABC. Many with low income cannot afford a full national, and rely on winning these events to be able to play as long as possible. This hurts first time and college NABC attenders and removes the obvious benefit of the NABC experience from our best youth ambassadors. About half of Collegiate finalists have never attended an NABC.

The current option is for collegiate GNT qualifiers to abandon a team - destroying both GNT and collegiate teams and hugely diminishing the quality of both events. This hurts morale for all collegiate players-- not only the Juniors who have qualified for both events, disappointed to relinquish one of their accomplishments, but also the newer Juniors tagging along for their first NABC, who are either turned off by the stress their peers experience from these decisions, or jettisoned at the pinnacle of their college’s bridge achievement so that their teammates can play in the GNT.

We would like to fix this issue.

Options:

(a) Move the collegiate Final date to the 2nd weekend Sat/Sun (or Sun/Mon to avoid overlap with the Red Ribbon Pairs).

(b) Allow simultaneous entry to the GNT and Collegiate with a pre-arranged schedule for all teams demonstrating that the 5/6 player teams can play both events simultaneously with no conflict with either event. There should be no possibility of a scheduling conflict between the events, regardless of the outcome of matches in either event.

In summary--

This has been a known (and discussed) issue for many years. It affects many college players, and frankly makes a mockery of the collegiate event, which is decimated year after year by this, by the irrational refusal of the ACBL to move the collegiate event to the second weekend.

This affects Northwestern and UChicago this year - UNC, MIT, Berkeley, and numerous other colleges have faced this year after year. It is unnecessary, and a simple scheduling change will make this problem go away, and bring many more college students to the nationals.

Isn’t this what the ACBL hopes to accomplish with the Collegiate Bridgebowl?

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