Meet Tracey Bauer, winner of WBF Women's 2022 Spring Festival

Tracey Bauer (MarinTlc on BBO) won the WBF Women's 2022 Spring Festival.

Her motto is: “I decided who I wanted to be, so that is who I am.”
Gabrielle Chanel

Tell us a bit about yourself - what do you do, where  do you live?

I live in Marin County, CA thus the BBO nick Marintlc.   We are 15 mins north of San Francisco and go over the Golden Gate Bridge on a regular basis.   I’ve worked in the Optical industry for thirty years and for Essilor Luxottica on the Chanel Eyewear brand for the past eleven. I cover 1/6th of the USA for my company and have gotten to know a lot of bridge players through the region I cover fitting in bridge regionals on my work trips when I can.

You've been a Women's Festival regular participant for many years, and this is not your first win. Remind us, what do you like about this event?

We would have to go into the archives but I started on BBO in 2007 and I think I started playing in if not the inaugural one, it was one of the early ones.   I feel so sorry for the women that got me in the individual back then as I was a beginner!   I could play cards as my family played many card games and I played alot of spades in college but bridge was new to me then.   It would be amusing to see hand records of the crazy bidding I probably did then.

I have really enjoyed this event over the years as its very social and you get to know the women you see festival after festival.    I had Vicky Chediak, past winner, as a BBO vugraph operator during the recent World Championships.  We both covered the Venice Cup her as Vugraph operator and me as a commentator, I really enjoyed the sets we both did together as we have some history.

Any memorable hands to share from this Festival?

The most memorable I exported to you.   I chose an unusual but not really unusual thing to do in a robot game …with a beautiful prime hand and AKQxxx of Diamonds I opened 2NT on 19 instead of 1D.  I ended up in 4H after a Texas transfer and my dummy hits and I see those that bid 6D would be making so I need to make 7 and beat the field in only 4H or 5D.   Occasionally my husband would watch me over my shoulder and he found it interesting that I was doing a squeeze on the robots and I explained to him why.  It paid off as I scored 87% on the board and finished that robot tourney with a 65% and 3rd place which bettered my score.    You need to think like that in MPs.   Just making the contract was not going to be enough.

What's your strategy for doing well in these events?

I have alot of techniques after doing this for years.  I call this the Iron Woman of Bridge as their are 7 events per day for 7 days…49 in total with your 10 best scores being totalled.  You need to play to win and do well but if you are winning you need to play to “block” so a woman lower than you doesn’t score well in an event you were not playing in.  If you try and win it its gruelling.

 I work full time so I rarely devote a week to the festival but play when I can, if I’m placing well midweek then I increase the events I play in.  I have played bridge in some insane situations on my iPad.   In my car on the side of the road between accounts between Monterey and San Jose, CA watching fields of strawberries be picked as this was farm country I was driving through.   This year I was leading and my daughters school had their annual fundraising gala and I took my iPad and played at a high top cocktail table watching their Jazz band perform….I’m sure people thought I was NUTS….but we all know most bridge players are nuts.

 In 2020 I was on vacation back east to take care of my ailing Nana and that year I won because I didn’t have work.   I didn’t drink that week, exercise daily, and did the Calm apps Le Bron James “Champion Mindset” meditations. My Nana just passed away this week at 93 years young, playing bridge up until the week she died.

  Opening day this year I set my alarm for the 1st event which is the 2am Individual pairs MP scoring as a returning champion I think its good form to attend and be social , I fondly call the Indies “Russian roulette” as you just pray as you go along you have a sane partner opposite you that doesn’t sink your good game.   I also have a rule if I need sleep this is the event to miss…I recommended this tactic to Silvana.   The way the events are spaced if you try and play all you will never get more than 3-4 hrs of sleep at one time after 7 days of that you are a bit delirious.  

To do well you will need to a supportive family and friends as its nuts, for a week you will be setting alarms going off to play hour long sets at all times of the day.  Near the later part of the week you get pretty sleep deprived so you need to rest in between, eating well and self care will be important to keep your mental acuity.   This year I actually hosted twelve women from my bookclub on the Tuesday evening.   We usually meet 7-9:30pm, which that would work well timing as the robot events happen at 6pm and 10pm my time.   My group of friends are all foodies so I had a spread for them which I did between the 3pm pairs and 6pm robot games, the women arrived around 7pm and then stayed til 11:30pm!  They watched me get out my computer for the 10pm robot game and I listened to them talk and enjoy themselves in my living room while I competed, this being the second time I have played bridge during one of our bookclub meetings.   We rarely go that late and one of the women's husbands even called worried about her.   I was hardly going to stop them from enjoying themselves so the party went on but I also didn't miss the festival.  So to win you need to bring that level of commitment and also have a support network that allows you to be passionate.   Of course it was nice to tell my friend at the end of it I did win the festival.

Silvana and I played pairs Mon-Friday and then I recommended we do what the field was doing and play with a robot in the pairs.   THIS is something I want changed as right now the robot declares in the pair event….it should always be the human who declares as that’s more of a true test of skill.   

Who were your partners? Are you playing together live too?

This year I had a European friend Silvana Rojko from Slovenia visit the USA for our NABC and during our time together I mentioned the festival.   She had never heard about it so we made an agreement to try and play pairs together when the festival came around. We are planning to play women’s pairs at the ACBL’s NABC in Providence and also in Poland in the late summer.   We met through the Schafer Game that are kibitzable on BBO at 8pm EST time.

Some people think that nowadays a Women's event is sexist, or obsolete. What do you think?

There is a lengthy discussion on bridge winners right now with over 1000 comments on the subject.  What I find interesting is that its not flagged as a trending article even though daily its getting 50-100 new comments.   To me that seems interesting.   It is a  very complex problem.   My understanding is the WBF women’s festival began to encourage more women to compete and for me personally it worked.  I have also gotten to know women from all over the world playing in the festival.   I just wish we did a better job marketing it as it is such a fun week long bridge experience.  

I hope as we move into the future we see more women being shown playing high level bridge and also articles about those women and women commentators.   We need role models to look up to and the organizers can do a better job of making sure this occurs.

What do you usually like to do or play on BBO?

I’m an ACBL member so I play alot of ACBL 18 board games and occasional robot or speedball if time is short.   The robot games are a great warm up before a true major event.   

My favourite BBO games since the pandemic have been Schafer games, ALT, OCBL, and Monthly Mixed Teams….as the fields are strong and I have improved as a player and have been fortunate to widen my bridge friends through all the great people I've met in these games in the past couple of years.

What improvements you would like to see for future tournaments?

I mentioned above fixing the pairs event so that if you hire a robot it doesn’t declare.   I also think the timing should be scheduled evenly throughout the world clock so no time zone has an advantage.   I also would love to see this “iron person” week long endurance test have an open venue.   I LOVE our womens festival and would like to see it continue as it is some a close nit group of core women who have been playing in it for the past 14 years but I also think it would be a hoot to see it open to all.   Maybe WBF or BBO can run one?

What other things do you enjoy doing besides bridge?

I hike a lot as we have amazing scenery and open space in Marin County.   I am also a big foodie and love good wine so Im known for finding the good restaurants at every NABC or Regional I attend.   We entertain a lot at our house … the more the merrier.    

I want to thank BBO for keeping me sane during the pandemic.   I am a BBO baby as I google searched bridge and found BBO before I ever got my ACBL number.   I was a true beginner and was able to self-teach with books, bridgemaster, and the beginner intermediate club on BBO when I started.     Thank you Aurora and Narcis for another well run festival and through this WBF tourney over the years I also got to know Diana Eva and Anna Gudge.

Tracey playing bridge:

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11 comments on “Meet Tracey Bauer, winner of WBF Women's 2022 Spring Festival”

  1. Fantastic! Your interview made me realize the "survivor" aspect of the game. I had no idea.

  2. Tracy you are a wonderful bridge advocate for newcomers to the WBF. I was lucky enough to partner with you a few times and you were always very kind.This was my first WBF and I really enjoyed the experience. shersie3

  3. Dear Tracy, congratulations once more for this big win! This is a beautiful article about you and the truly Iron Woman bridge competition. Thank you for being a wonderful friend and bridge partner.

  4. Tracey (the Iron Lady) - you're what's good about bridge and most certainly not just "women's bridge," whatever that is nowadays. I'm reminded of the Goren/Helen Sobel Smith quote about playing with the world's best expert. "I don't know. Ask him." Thanks for partnering me on occasion. Sounds like you run on a 36 hour clock. Stunning win - you deserve it.

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