Ken Monzingo, Managing Editor
About twenty-two years ago we were discussing holding a “Western Conference” regional. The object was to raise some money for the financially strapped conference. Trouble was, among other objections, we would be competing with ourselves as districts. There are just so many tables of bridge available, and the three Western Conference districts are saturated with four regionals each, plus some ex-quota exceptions. At the time the newest thing on the scene was something called a STAC - Sectional Tournament at Clubs. Each district could have one. Each was doing well. Do not know where the idea came from but seems to be an ACBL brainstorm to collect more sanctions fees.
A STAC is a sectional tournament played simultaneously in clubs throughout a city, district, or now a conference, instead of in a single location. The theory here is to promote club attendance by offering silver points and inflated masterpoint awards competing against many players in a large area while playing in your home club comfort. Several neighboring districts have joined our three annual STACs.
Since we were without our own tournament to raise needed funds for survival of the conference, I suggested we try a “Western Conference” STAC, held across the districts of the conference - D17, D20. D21, & D22. That should increase attendance in our clubs and afford some terrific masterpoint payoffs for players. Clubs could raise their entries by $1.00 and we could charge a WC table sanction fee to help us out of our financial depression. A win-win-win solution. But, at the time, the idea got shot down.
Along came Michael Jones of San Francisco, then the new District Director for D21 and, as such, a new Western Conference board member. Immediately after his first annual WC board meeting Michael, now deceased, asked me in private how we could raise some funds. I told him I had been rejected about a WC STAC. He simply asked, “Why?” I shrugged, he made one phone call to Memphis (the league headquarters), came back and asked how I felt about mid December for a WC STAC.
For the past Decembers that winter STAC has averaged 8500 tables annually - give or take a few hundred - to become easily the largest sectional tournament in the country, and the beginning of survival stages of the conference.
In the past decades we've changed a few things. Most importantly, we have added two more WC STACs to the annual western tournament schedule. One in the spring - The Great Western Spring STAC, then the Summer Fun STAC in August. The 2013 three STACs had 24,300 tables of bridge in play! Several bordering districts now compete in our STACs.
STAC results with hand records are now available nightly during the STACs. You can see these results on ContractBridgeForum.com by clicking on the STAC logo.