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Attendance booms at duplicate bridge tournament

An American Contract Bridge League tournament July 27-30 drew hundreds of bridge players to the Blue Ridge Conference Center at BRCC. An American Contract Bridge League tournament July 27-30 drew hundreds of bridge players to the Blue Ridge Conference Center at BRCC.

A national duplicate bridge tournament held at Blue Ridge Community College July 27-30 attracted hundreds of bridge players from the region and visitors from all over.

The four-day tournament is one of several events under the umbrella of the American Contract Bridge League. This year’s event is a continuation of one that began in 2014 and has been held at BRCC annually.

Although participation at tournaments across the U.S. has declined at almost every venue, the BRCC event has grown significantly. Typically, participation in other events has dropped 45 to 60 percent from pre-pandemic levels. This year’s event here saw participation grow by 15 percent compared to 2022. It also attracted a record number of players. The ACBL advised us that the Flat Rock tournament broke records for growth in 2023.

The Blue Ridge Conference Center venue is comparatively outstanding and feedback from players is that this is one of the main attractions. Support by BRCC staff has been outstanding. But the other huge draw to the tournament is its location in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The sheer beauty of the area as well as the rich variety of activities (besides bridge) are cited by people who come from outside the area as what makes this tournament so special. 

Sponsored by ACBL Unit 171 of Western North Carolina, the tournament had 586½ tables played (a table consists of four players), and 451 players won Master Points for their play in the week. Players came from North Carolina and neighboring states and visitors traveled here from Florida, Georgia and Virginia as well as some from South Dakota, Wisconsin, Texas, Alabama, Pennsylvania and South Dakota. The reputation of this tournament continues to attract players from well outside the normal area of draw. It is not unusual for players to participate with the intent of looking locally to relocate to the area.

On the first day of the tournament, participants exceeded the planned level and organizers had to quickly react to accommodate the high level of play! There were about 400 participants on the first day of the play. As they begin planning for the 2024 tournament, organizers anticipating a similar growth next year compared to 2023.

Duplicate Bridge games are held each week at the Hendersonville Bridge Center in the Whitmire Activity Building, 310 Lily Pond Road, at 12:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays A game for beginners is held at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesdays. The Bridge Center also offers classes for people interested in learning or improving their bridge games. For more information about the games and class schedules visit

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When he’s not finessing his way to a Grand Slam or organizing a bridge tournament, Nick Weedman serves as mayor of Flat Rock.