Reno, Nevada RegionalDecember 28th, 2009
I love the Reno Holiday Regional that runs every year from 12/26-12/31. I don’t love the Grand Sierra Resort, where it’s held, but the pros outweigh the cons and I always have a great time here. This tournament features one of my favorite directing crews, and the holiday atmosphere makes it a lot of fun.
It’s easy to fly here — Southwest and Alaska usually have great deals in and out of RNO, but given that it’s winter in the mountains, there is a good chance of flight delays and cancellations, so McKenzie and I drive. Parking is free at the host, and it’s nice to have a car here, because the Grand Sierra isn’t really in town. If you stay here, you don’t need a car — there are plenty of dining options at reasonable prices — but I don’t really recommend staying on site. This hotel has screwed me one too many times. The latest strike against the GSR is that this week, the housekeeping staff broke McKenzie’s laptop when they violated hotel policy by moving our computers off the bed to make it up. Ironically, making the bed was the only cleaning they did here — the room has leftover food on the floor from a previous guest, the mirrors and windows have fingerprints everywhere, and they haven’t replaced our dirty glasses in three days. This was 3 days ago, and the hotel is still dragging their feet about offering any sort of compensation. It really doesn’t seem like customer satisfaction is at all a priority here. Stay somewhere else. The 2010 Spring NABC will be held here as well — again, I recommend finding a cheaper, nicer hotel off site, but you will need a car if you’re not staying at the GSR.
As for the tournament, it’s lots of fun. The schedule is pretty standard for a regional — lots of KOs and plenty of pairs options, with a Senior Pairs event in addition to Open Pairs, Side Games, and NLM games. One thing to remember about this tournament is that it is ALWAYS 12/26-12/31. That’s six days instead of seven, and it will rarely start on a Monday and end on a weekend. Bridge players tend to equate “weekend” with “end of the tournament,” so be careful when you make plans with partners and teammates that you’re on the same page as far as dates.
Eating on site is easy. The rooms at the Summit (the luxury part of the hotel) have microwaves and refrigerators, so you can bring your own food and save some time and money, but the regular rooms don’t have these amenities. The hotel has at least a dozen restaurants, but the service here leaves a lot to be desired. There’s often a long wait for a table and an even longer wait for a server to actually pay attention to you. I’d recommend the fast food here — on the bottom floor, you’ll find a sub shop and a pizza joint that have tasty, inexpensive food. The fancier restaurants on the casino level haven’t impressed me.
There are lots of holiday tournaments on the ACBL calendar every year, and despite the fact that I loathe the host hotel here, I still choose this one year after year. There’s a real party atmosphere — it’s Reno on New Year’s Eve, after all — the tournament staff is one of the best you’ll find, and I like playing in the casino with my buddies after a game. Lots of juniors show up for this tournament, and you’ll find a lot of after hours board gaming going on. Lake Tahoe is just about 30 minutes away, so if you want to take a day off for skiing or snowboarding, it’s easy to do.
The size of this tournament really varies from year to year. A lot of that probably has to do with what tournaments are concurrent and what day of the week it begins. This year, attendance is down a bit, but it’s still a good size regional, averaging 3-4 brackets per KO and a healthy pair game. I’m looking forward to the NABC. I like Reno and I love the directors here, but I won’t recommend the Grand Sierra Resort to anyone.