Change of Rank Stories by Your Friends

Lorna Bultman  Bruce Pierce  Linda Sherrell  Paul Freese  Alan McNeil  Claire Webb

These are in no particular order, just the order in which they were received.

Lorna Bultman of St. Louis Bay on achieving Club Master - My success is due to having wonderful people to play with at the acbl Gulfport Ms and Diamondhead Ms contact duplicate bridge clubs. I do not have a regular partner so all I  have to do is show up and either the director or a player will play bridge with me. Sometimes I am even rewarded with points which are a reflection of my success. 
Thank you for being there to challenge me 

Claire Webb of New Orleans on achieving Club Master - A group of fresh bridge players(myself included) traveled to the San Destin Sectionals tournament in late January. We entered a room containing 600 avid bridge players from all over the country--a bit intimidating to say the least.  We were all determined to put those lessons and study hours to good use.  What we discovered was a group of people who truly loved the game of bridge and who along the way offered advice and encouragement to each of us.  On the third day, my partner and I bid and made a slam by the skin of our teeth.  Our opponents congratulated us, as expected, because bridge is a game of respect and etiquette.  I just love that about the game.  What was reinforced throughout the tournament was that the game of bridge is much like life;  it is challenging, humbling, and ever changing.  You open your hand, assess your situation, establish your plan, and seek your goal.  Bridge is intellectually stimulating and highly competitive in a most civilized manner...there couldn't be a better game!  I feel fortunate to have been introduced to bridge and look forward to many years of bridge hands ahead. 

Bruce Pierce of Daphene, Alabama on achieving NABC Master -   My story behind achieving the rank of NABC Master began in 1979 when I was a junior in high school. My father was in the U.S. Navy and my parents played a lot of bridge. When they returned to civilian life, they needed more bridge players to play with, so "recruited" my brother and me to play with them, teaching us the Goren system. I played periodically over the next 5-6 years while I completed my high school and college degrees, even introducing my wife, Carla to the game while dating in college. Then my involvement in bridge took a 27-year hiatus until I took a job transfer from Maine to Alabama. In 2011, my wife and I joined a Newcomers group for Baldwin County, 
Alabama in order to meet other couples, and we began playing party bridge again. After several months, my wife noticed a bridge course being offered by the University of South Alabama one evening a week beginning in January of 2012. We decided to give it a shot, believing we could improve our party bridge play. We were quite shocked as we entered the bridge club on the first night of class to see strange red bidding boxes. We had no idea what "duplicate' bridge entails and second guessed what we had gotten ourselves into. Fortunately, we had a wonderful teacher, Mickey Groggel, who did a fantastic job of teaching us the basics of duplicate bridge and some of the conventions that beginners need to learn. Within two weeks of our first class we became ACBL members.  Mickey did a wonderful job in "pushing" and encouraging us to jump in to playing competitively in club games and local sectional tournaments we finally took the plunge and played in our first competitive game at a sectional in Gulf Shores, MS in early March of that year and got our first points during that tournament.  We were on cloud nine and 
hooked from that point on.  Working full time, I had to set realistic personal goals in achieving the various ACBL rankings.  In my first year, I achieved my goal to earn enough master points to the rankings of both Junior Master and Club Master, which was met on the last playing day of 2012.  In my second year, I achieved my goal of becoming Sectional Master and Regional Master. Although I did not achieve my goal of becoming NABC Master ranking in 2014, I was able to meet that milestone during a recent regional tournament in January of this year.  My long-term goal is to become Life Master by the time I retire 
in a little less than 5 years.  Since my wife and I love to travel, we spend a significant chunk of my yearly vacation traveling to various bridge tournaments.  

Linda Sherrell of Memphis on achieving Life Master - Since January 2008, I have thoroughly enjoyed playing duplicate at the MA Lightman Bridge Club and other venues in the Memphis area. I started out in Joyce Stone’s Easy Bridge 2 class. Even though I had played bridge occasionally with family members, I quickly learned from Joyce that what I had been playing was only a facsimile of bridge. I didn’t even know what a finesse was! Since Joyce’s class, I have taken many bridge lessons from wonderful teachers; and, since there is always more to learn, I currently take “Play of the Hand” and “Team Game” lessons from two directors at our bridge club.
Collecting masterpoints has been fun! I quickly accumulated all my silver points for Life Master by attending the Memphis and Hot Springs Village sectional tournaments. Red points were achieved by attending the Tunica and Hot Springs regionals and the national tournament in Memphis. The five gold points for NABC Master were slow in coming, but I finally achieved this designation in August 2014 at the Birmingham regional. To my surprise, achieving Life Master ranking was not far behind. I earned this goal at the Destin regional by winning a Knock Out event on January 21, 2015. What made this achievement even more meaningful was that I won the event with my long-time bridge partner Joan Stanton (who I was paired with in Easy Bridge 2), my favorite mentor Barbara Terhune, and my good friend Kathy Love.
I now serve as a Mentor in the Mentoring Program at MA Lightman Bridge Club. I am also a member of the Unit 144 Tennessee Bridge Association Board, where I am working hard to get youth involved in bridge. I love my bridge life! I have made so many friends by playing duplicate and by attending bridge tournaments. I am thankful to have such a wonderful organization as ACBL.

Paul Freese of Metairie, LA on achieving Gold Life Master - My wife Linda and I started playing duplicate at the Metairie Bridge Club in 1991.   We’ve met a lot of nice people and formed a lot of good friendships over the years.  Our club has several outstanding players; I’ve had the good fortune to learn from them and try to get better at the game I love.  Making gold life master has been on my bucket list for quite a while.   The secret is playing with good partners and a quarter century of persistence. I have fond memories at the bridge table, one in particular.   In 1995, Linda and I played in the Biloxi Regional in hopes of adding to our two gold points. Our partners and we made it to the finals of a handicapped knockout, got eighteen gold points, and won matches against some nationally known players we had no business beating.  

Alan McNeil of Diamonhead, MS on making Sectional Life Master - Thank you for the congrats.  I did not know I had achieved Sectional Master status until I received your email.  As far as how I achieved this level, I didn't really do anything special.  I joined the ACBL and started playing duplicate at my local bridge club here in Diamondhead MS about 2 years ago.  Prior to that I had played socially for many years, but had never been a member of the ACBL.  I still think of the game as mostly a social activity and a way to stimulate my brain.  I don't have a single regular partner, but there are several people at my local club with whom I play on a semi-regular basis.  I admit to being very competitive when playing, and I take the game seriously when I'm at the table.  But, that's just my nature.  I don't really take the results seriously, and I'm not making any kind of concerted effort to accumulate master points.  I never play anywhere other than at my local club as I don't care to make the time and effort commitment necessary to attend out-of-town  tournaments.  Occasionally, the local club puts on a game in which additional points and/or pigmented (red, silver or gold) points can be earned such as a STaC game or special charity game.  Apparently, I've now accumulated enough special color points in these type games at my local club to meet the Sectional Master qualifying requirements.