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Summer NABC Moved

In light of the need for extreme caution due to the COVID-19 virus, the uncertainty of international travel in the coming months, and the cluster of cases reported in Montreal, the ACBL has decided it cannot go forward with the Summer NABC in Montreal scheduled for July.

However, we do not want to cancel another NABC, and so have been looking for alternate sites. There are basic minimum requirements for an NABC site: sufficient ballroom space, quantity and quality of hotel rooms close to the site, restaurants nearby, proximity to a major airport, etc. For this tournament, other essential criteria were considered: the number of reported cases of COVID-19 in the city and state; population density, as this is a key factor in the disease’s spread; and current government action regarding large gatherings.

The states with fewer than 200 reported cases of COVID-19 were given first consideration: West Virginia, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Nebraska.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota, stood out as the best choice. As of yesterday, South Dakota has only 108 reported cases of COVID-19, and only one death. The six states it borders are relatively uninfected, with five of them having among the lowest number of infections in the country. It has a large convention center with over 100,000 square feet of meeting space. The Sioux Falls airport, while not ideal, has daily flights from Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, and Minneapolis, among others. The convention center has a very nice Sheraton hotel attached to it, and we have negotiated a great rate of $99 per night. There is also a Ramada and Holiday Inn close by.

The ACBL will take every precaution possible to keep our players safe. The city has agreed to set up a testing facility at the airport; we will also set up a station at the convention center for those who drive. To enter the convention center you will need a badge stating that you have tested negative for COVID-19.

Hand-sanitizer stations will be set up around the playing area, and additional breaks will be added for hand-washing. Masks will be mandatory for all players, directors, and staff. South Dakota has a cache of masks that they have promised us for the tournament. Baron Barclay, the U.S. Playing Card Company, and Bridge Buddy have all donated supplies so that we can replace playing cards and bidding boxes daily. We have purchased a medical-grade sanitizer to sterilize this equipment before it is reused.

The North American Pairs championships will be played at the Summer NABC in Sioux Falls; the Grand National Teams has been postponed until the Fall NABC in Tampa. For those who have qualified for the NAP but cannot or choose not to travel, we will be experimenting with a hybrid live/online format that will allow them to play from home, provided they are supervised by a certified monitor.

These are strange times, and we encourage everyone to stay safe. But life must go on, bridge must go on. Who knows how the world will look come July, but we are confident however the rest of the world looks, Sioux Falls will be a safe haven for our tournament.

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