Gatlinburg, Tennessee RegionalJanuary 2nd, 2010
I know you’ve already been told that you have to come to Gatlinburg. It is the biggest tournament in the ACBL — even larger than most NABCs, when you consider that Gatlinburg regularly breaks 10,000 tables in just 7 days of bridge. If you need your gold points or just want to witness an amazing bridge spectacle, Gatlinburg is the place.
Who knows why this small town Tennessee tournament became THE tournament, but it is, and it’s a great one. Getting there isn’t really convenient for anyone, but once you’re there, accommodations are cheap. If you fly, the nearest airport is Knoxville, a little over an hour away. The tournament is held in a convention center, so there’s no lodging directly on site, but you’ll find dozens of hotel and house rental options all within walking distance of the playing site. This tournament is so hugely popular, though, that you need to make reservations early to get a room near the convention center. I strongly recommend staying within walking distance, because driving in Gatlinburg is a NIGHTMARE. My favorite Gatlinburg hotel is just across the street from the playing site — the Rocky Top Village Inn. The rooms are just like all the others in Gatlinburg (cheap, nothing special), but the owners are very nice and will go out of their way to make sure you are comfortable.
The tournament itself offers more choices than many NABCs. There are new KOs every day (usually around 30 brackets — compare that to 3-5 brackets at a largeish regional), Compact KOs in the mornings, between the afternoon and evening sessions, and midnight KOs every night, including a traditional marathon midnight KO on Saturday — it’s free, and you can keep starting over as long as you want every time you get knocked out. There are also pair games, daily Swiss teams, daily single session team events, and a huge selection of Intermediate/Newcomer games each day. There’s something for every taste at every level of play.
Because you’re right in the heart of a giant tourism center, there are lots of food options near the playing site. There will be crowds everywhere you go, so be prepared to wait, or send a teammate ahead to get a table or put in an order while you buy your next entry.
Gatlinburg is a cheap, tacky tourist trap. That means there aren’t many options for luxury lodging or fine dining, but even the low end hotels and restaurants are perfectly adequate. You’ll be comfortable and the food will be yummy, and the bridge will make it all worthwhile.
It’s true. You have to come to Gatlinburg.