For close to 30 years, I would get up early the day after Christmas, stop at the mall to hit a sale and then head over the hill to Reno for the regional. It was the only regional in the country that particular week, and all the pros and top players came and made it just a smashing success. In the earliest years, there was a pairs game that started at midnight, kicking off the New Year with bridge and waaaaaaay too much champagne.
In the 70’s when the tournament was downtown in the Pioneer auditorium, we all got coupon books for free drinks and hot dogs and slot pulls at most of the casinos. I was much younger, at least a little more stupid, and tried mightily to use up all of the coupons with my friends. That part of the past I don’t miss so much…..
Now, sadly, those days are gone. The league, in its infinite wisdom, has seen fit to sanction FIVE regional that week, with the result that Reno is now the smallest of the five and dropping fast. It just isn’t fun anymore. Perhaps the fact that we are all 40 years older has something to do with it, but even at this advanced age I manage to have fun at many tournaments.
Which brings up the good news–the week after the Reno regional is the Monterey regional, which is now the best tournament of the year. The hotel is stupendous: I grew up thinking that the Del Monte Hyatt was the coolest hotel in the world, and not that much has changed. After too many years of neglect, they have completed a multi-million dollar renovation of the place, and it is truly world class again. The location is perfect, the service is great, the price is right (those $105 rooms will be closer to $400 in high season, which is anytime except the dead of winter).
Then there are the restaurants: we’ll have to make our annual pilgrimage to The Sardine Factory so Gail can have the abalone. Maybe Fresh Cream again this year, or the Auberge de Carmel. Monterey Fish house for sure. If Stokes is open, we’ll book the Captains Room and see if we can squeeze 10 or 12 around the table.
Starting off the New Year with a week of good friends, great food and bridge is about as good as it gets. I hope to see you there.