Map Quest

The folks in Omaha were probably surprised to see a pair from the Oregon Coast show up at their sectional. With that stop in Nebraska in October under their belt, Monica Taylor and Lew Richardson completed a goal set almost 10 years earlier: playing in at least one bridge tournament in each of the 50 states.

Both live in Astoria, the northernmost city in Oregon, and began playing tournaments in nearby Seaside in 2007. The pair had little more than 100 masterpoints each and had only played in four states – Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Colorado – when Richardson decided in March 2008 that he wanted to collect them all. “I had not traveled out of the Northwest much before playing in Colorado and thought it would be fun to play against different people from many areas.”

Now, after 31 regionals, 23 sectionals and eight NABCs – all requiring air travel – plus 55 tournaments in Oregon and Washington, they’re Ruby Life Masters.

Lew Richardson and Monica Taylor of Astoria OR stand outside the Jewish Community Center of Omaha NE where they played at a bridge tournament in a different U.S. state for the 50th time.

They didn’t do it Chris Compton–style, criss-crossing the country going from one tournament to the next. They kept most of their trips short, three or four days, for a number of reasons: pets at home in Astoria; Taylor having two club games a week to direct there; and Richardson, 75, having diabetic neuropathy in his feet. One time they tried going to back-to-back tournaments in Pennsylvania and New York, and didn’t like it very much. So they spread their trips out and hit five or six states a year. The heaviest travel year was 2013, when they visited eight states.
Except for their first four states, the only one they visited more than once for tournaments was South Carolina. (They’ve also played in British Columbia three times and Ontario once.) The other 45 states were one-and-done. The lucky site for each of those states was selected based on weather, proximity to airports and timing to avoid family and club obligations, Richardson said.
Although they didn’t spend much time in most of the 50 states and enough of it was spent at bridge tables to bring in more than 300 masterpoints, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t time for sightseeing. Taylor has fond memories of taking a helicopter ride to the top of a glacier in Denali National Park in Alaska and a horse-drawn carriage in Savannah GA; visiting the Nantucket Whaling Museum in Massachusetts, an old gunpowder plant in Delaware and Glacier Park in Montana; and taking a small plane to the Grand Canyon during the 2008 Summer NABC in Las Vegas. They saw the final draft of the U.S. Constitution in New Hampshire and a multitude of solar panels in Vermont.

There were also bridge highlights and lowlights along the way. Taylor, Richardson and their Alabama teammates won money at the regional in Birmingham. Thinking a hand had been passed out in Fargo ND, Richardson, in second seat, exposed his hand at his first turn to bid, barring Taylor from the auction and allowing the opponents to make an impossible 3NT with little to nothing when declarer got to choose which of the 13 penalty cards Richardson had to play at each turn.

The most dramatic moment of their journey came when a tornado hit the Oklahoma City sectional on May 31, 2013, at the start of the evening session. At check-in, Biltmore Hotel staff had advised Taylor to put a mattress over the bathtub to create a shelter. As tornado alarms went off, the manager entered the playing area and ordered everyone to leave – and found out what happens when anyone tries to tell bridge players to put their cards down. As Taylor headed for her bathtub, reluctantly the more die-hard players exited. “There was flash flooding, baseball-sized hail, and the trees around the hotel were snapped off and pulled out of the ground,” Taylor said. Although there was an inch of rain on the hallway carpet Saturday morning, the games resumed.

By the start of 2017, Taylor and Richardson had just five states left on their list: Kentucky, Maine, Nebraska, New Jersey and Tennessee. By the start of fall, there was just one. Two weeks after the 10th anniversary of their first Seaside Regional, they reached the finish line in Omaha.

Fifty tournaments in 50 states

Seaside OR Oct 2007
Reno NV Dec 2007
Vancouver WA Feb 2008
Denver CO March 2008
Boise ID May 2009
Whitefish MT May 2010
Cheyenne WY Sept 2010
Orlando FL Nov 2010
Charleston SC Dec 2010
Yuma AZ Jan 2011
Richmond VA May 2011
Anchorage AK June 2011
Pittsburgh PA Sept 2011
Schnectady NY Sept 2011
Lake Geneva WI Oct 2011
Albuquerque NM Jan 2012
Rapid City SD May 2012
Fargo ND Aug 2012
St. Paul MN Oct 2012
San Francisco CA Nov 2012
Overland Park KS Dec 2012
Honolulu HI Jan 2013
Savannah GA Feb 2013
St. Louis MO March 2013
Hyannis MA April 2013
Oklahoma City OK May/June 2013
Salt Lake City UT Sept 2013
Cambridge MD Nov 2013
Wilmington DE Dec 2013
Dallas TX March 2014
Raleigh NC May 2014
Gulfport MS June 2014
Fairborn OH Sept 2014
Danbury CT Oct 2014
New Orleans LA March 2015
South Bend IN April 2015
Edwardsville IL May 2015
Council Bluffs IA July 2015
Newington NH Aug 2015
Farmington Hills MI Oct 2015
Birmingham AL March 2016
Hot Springs Village AR April 2016
Manchester VT May 2016
Wheeling WV Aug 2016
Warwick RI Sept 2016
Louisville KY Feb 2017
Portland ME March 2017
Nashville TN July 2017
Allendale NJ Sept 2017
Omaha NE Oct 2017
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