March 21, 2002

Dear District and Unit Board Members in District Two:

The Houston NABC surpassed attendance estimates to reach 10, 656.5 tables, about 800 tables larger than expected. As always, thanks to the local organizers, who did an outstanding job with hospitality. In addition, they acquired a major sponsor, Gallery Furniture, who awarded a $10,000 university scholarship in a special junior pairs event, won by Calgary's Ian Boyd and USA's Kevin Bathurst.

There were 3 playing areas, each about a 5-8 minute walk from any other site. This created some difficulties for the elderly and handicapped, but proved less of a concern than many had predicted. What was interesting is that many bridge players elected to avoid the two aging and overpriced Westin hotels (US $138 including tax) and saved $40 to $60 a night by staying off site.

If this is the beginning of a trend, I am concerned about some of our upcoming NABCs where hotel prices are substantially above the critical US $100 price point. But the good news is that bridge players always find a way to attend despite any obstacles they may face. We are a hardy bunch!

My only dissatisfaction in Houston involved the 1 and 8 PM starting times. I have long been an advocate of 1 and 7:30, which were approved by the Board as our default starting times. I am pleased to report that both Washington this summer and Phoenix in the Fall have set 1 and 7:30 as the starting times.

  1. District 2 Stars at the Bridge Table:

    George Mittelman, Robert Lebi, & Nader Hanna (Toronto) placed 9/16th in the Vanderbilt KO Teams. George and Robert also WON the final Sunday Stratiflighted A/X Swiss Teams.

    Rob Sewell & Robin Stephens (Toronto) placed 15th in NAOP "A".

    Roman Kaski & Henry Nowak (Mississauga) placed 7th in NAOP "C". Hollis & Gery Barry (Toronto) placed 12th in NAOP "C".

    Gavin Wolpert, (Thornhill), placed 13th in NABC Open Swiss Teams.

    Steve Mackay (Markham) placed 18th in NABC Mixed Pairs.

    Jonathan Steinberg (Toronto), playing with 20 year old US junior sensation Chris Davis,(Sparks, NV) placed 21st in NABC Open Pairs II; Jonathan also placed 37th in NABC Open Swiss Teams.

    Leslie Amoils (Toronto), playing with Sean Ganness (Ottawa born but now a long time Miami resident) placed 22nd in NABC Open Swiss Teams and 36th in NABC Open Pairs II.

    Jim & Joan Priebe (Mississauga) placed 22nd in NABC Open Swiss Teams and they also WON bracket 2 of the Fort Western Unit 183 Compact KO Teams.

    Steven Lariviere (Toronto) placed 22nd in NABC Mixed Pairs.

    Daniel Lavee (Thornhill), playing with Montreal's inimitable Joey Silver, placed 35th in NABC Open Pairs II.

    Adrian Braithwaite & Tom Buttle (Toronto) placed 39th in NABC Mixed Pairs.

    Deanna Goh (Peterborough) WON Bracket 5 Shawn Quinn KO.

    The Top 25 District 2 Masterpoint List can be found at the end of this report.

  2. Meet Jay Baum, ACBL's New CEO. Future Thoughts & Plans:

    Our agenda was light in Houston, which gave the Board of Directors more time to discuss long term strategy and meet with our new CEO, Jay Baum. I am more optimistic regarding ACBL's future than I have been for a long time. I predict that Jay will be an active CEO. Some of the changes (internally) may not be noticeable but will improve ACBL efficiency. Others will be very obvious.

    The board resolved that: the ACBL CEO has authority to direct funding authorized in the 2002 budget under Marketing and Education areas from existing programs to new or other existing programs which he would consider to be more cost effective, as long as the total approved budget is not exceeded...

    This summer, the board will be presented with a prototype of a new modernized, 8 1/2 by 11 full colour ACBL Bridge Bulletin. It is my hope that by January 2003 this will be a reality -- how many other magazines wait 50 or 60 years to modernize? This long overdue change should produce increased advertising revenue, be more marketable and appealing to our members, and will probably include ACBL's popular Play Bridge magazine as an insert.

    Other ideas on the books are to either increase the fee non-members pay in order to play in ACBL tournaments or just go the whole nine yards and require ACBL membership in order to play. The Intermediate/Novice program would be exempt, as would foreign visitors. I wholeheartedly support further initiatives in this regard. ACBL membership is worth something. Look for action on this item later this year.

    Finally, the contentious issue of committee actions continues to plague us (note the Reisinger Appeal from Vegas). ACBL superstar Mike Passell addressed the board with his plan to eliminate bridge players from appeals committees. I agree with him. Let the players play and the referees referee. A proposal to improve TD training and have them handle ALL appeals is in the works. I support all initiatives in this area.

    The current system is user unfriendly (you must remain at the appeals area for at least an hour or longer after the evening session just to go through the entire process) and is open to all sorts of abuse and human conflicts when players must judge their peers, clients, perhaps their sponsors! In fact, I would go further and also have professional TDs handle conduct cases at NABCs.

  3. Houston ACBL Board Meetings:

    Not every item was deferred or defeated! There were some significant actions taken. Here are the highlights.

    1. In Las Vegas the Board significantly increased the cost of junior entry fees. I co-sponsored (with Richard Anderson) a motion to reconsider, which was approved. The final motions that passed are as follows:

      1. Junior/Student coupons for entry into events at NABCs are restricted to ACBL members residing in Zone 2 who are either 21 years of age or younger or full-time students between 22 and 25 years of age. Full-time students must offer proof of their eligibility prior to purchasing their entry. Carried unanimously.

      2. ACBL Board of Directors believes Junior/Student coupons should be set at an affordable price to encourage junior player participation at NABCs. As a guideline Management should set Junior/Student entry fees at approximately 50% of the NABC regional entry fee. For 2002 the NABC entry fee using Junior/Student coupons will be $6.00 per session. Carried 17-8. I voted in favour.

    2. Switching from juniors to seniors, the Board was anything but decisive. The issue of senior events has been around for many years. Many believe ACBL made a mistake when 55 was established as the appropriate age. All previous attempts to raise the age have been defeated. Now, at the urging of Toronto's Unit 166 Board of Directors, the board examined two options; one of which carried by a 13-12 vote while the other failed 12-13!

      Approved, effective immediately, is the following:

      Senior events may be held with minimum age restrictions of 55, 65, or 75. Such events may be stratified by masterpoints. The masterpoint awards will be 80% for 55+; 70% for both 65+ and 75+. Any two age limits may be held simultaneously. Carried 13-12. I voted in favour.

      A proposal to stratify senior events by age or masterpoints but not both was defeated 12-13. I voted in favour. There was concern by some that age stratification was insulting to senior players. I disagree -- in some areas there may not be enough tables to hold stand alone events and stratification by age might have been a viable option.

      In any event, sponsoring organizations now have the OPTION to hold stand alone senior events at whatever age(s) they deem appropriate. It is interesting to note that only 20% of ACBL members are under 55! ACBL's average age has crept up to 65.87!

    3. A Mini-LM NABC event was approved for a 2 year trial to start with the summer 2003 NABC. This follows the success of the Mini-Spingold events held last summer in Toronto. Thus, we will have the real LM Pairs along with a LM-1500 and a LM-5000 event. Carried 14-10-1.

      I was opposed. There are major differences between team and matchpoint games. I find it hard to believe that there will be many players between 1500 and 5000 MP's who will opt for the "mini" event. I also have reservations about the direction ACBL is heading with all of these secondary and tertiary "NABC" events. The Board will review the event no later than the Fall 2004 meeting.

    4. Effective January 1, 2003, continent wide charity and international fund games will award overall winners along with appropriate overall masterpoint awards. Full details will be established by the Masterpoint Committee and approved by the Board later this year.

    5. A comprehensive education, training and certification program for all ACBL tournament directors (TDs) will be developed in 2002 and instituted in 2003. Directors will be required to be certified in accordance with their rank. Carried unanimously.

      This is an effort to both strengthen our professional TD staff as well as to create greater uniformity of decisions throughout ACBL land. I also perceive this as a step towards more responsibility for our TDs who I hope will ultimately take over the handling of all appeals committees.

    6. Sanctioned clubs may hold regular open games with a minimum number of boards played of 12 up to a maximum of 17 boards will be awarded 80% of the award for open games. Sanction fees are 40 cents (12 to 17 boards) per table. Carried 20-5.

      I was opposed to clubs being allowed to hold 12 board games, awarding 80% of what a 24 or 26 board game would pay.

  4. Financial Issues:

    ACBL reported an excess of $450,000 in revenues over expenses in 2001. This was a $765,000 improvement over 2000. The major reasons were the selling of ACBL's Democrat Road property and the tremendous success of both the Toronto and Vegas NABCs. NABCs should be profit centers for ACBL. The excellent attendance numbers from Houston should equate to some positive financial results. ACBL's net worth at the end of 2001 was $3.14 million, compared to $2.69 million a year earlier. The league is in good financial shape.

  5. Canadian Issues:

    It is my fervent hope that after the Canadian Bridge Federation deliberates at their annual meeting in May, that a more positive approach towards relations with ACBL will emerge. It is my belief that our future belongs under the ACBL umbrella and the time and financial resources spent exploring "separation" options could be better utilized elsewhere.

    There is no doubt in my mind that a majority of Canadians wish to remain with ACBL, the world's number one and best bridge organization. It is time to be positive and proud of our ACBL membership, our tournaments, and our way of life.

    Canadians should work with ACBL to improve our relationship in areas where improvement is necessary. Towards that goal, there is a Canadian Affairs Committee that was established this year, of which I am a member. We presented the following to the Board which was carried unanimously:

    1. An annual permanent site regional is given to the appropriate Canadian district to be held in conjunction with the Canadian Bridge Championships (CBF Bridge Week).

    2. We request the CBF to present specific ideas to the ACBL Board of Directors for their consideration.

  6. A Personal Note:

    My responsibilities in 2002 are similar to last year. I remain on the Marketing Committee (Chair of the Junior Committee), ACBL Honorary Member of the Year Committee, and the National Appeals & Charges Committee, which acts on behalf of the ACBL Board of Directors in all disciplinary matters. In addition, this year I am also on the important Canadian Affairs Committee.

    The big news this summer will be the World Bridge Championships in Montreal, August 16-31, 2002. Check out their web site for all the details. And don't forget to notify Jan Anderson of the CBF with your name, player number, and the WBF events you wish to enter prior to May 1, 2002. In conjunction with the WBF events, ACBL will be running a parallel Regional tournament throughout.

    Notwithstanding the above, don't forget to mark in your calendars the Thunder Bay Regional August 1-5 and Cambrian Shield Regional in Sault Ste. Marie August 13-18. Our District 2 Northern regionals are famous for their friendliness and hospitality. If you've never had the experience, I urge you to consider attending one of them this summer.

    I am proud and honoured to be your District 2 representative to the ACBL Board of Directors. Many of you are very outspoken with your opinions and I welcome them. It is impossible to agree with every idea brought to my attention, but all are considered with care.

    We are fortunate in District 2 to have so many great volunteers (but we are always looking for more -- don't be shy!). We have many young players (almost nonexistent in other parts of ACBL land) who attend our tournaments. We are blessed living in Canada and able to enjoy the game of bridge.

    I am running for re-election in 2002. I thank you for your past support and ask for your continuing support this year. I believe in the ACBL and the future of bridge. I hope to continue to play my small part in this great picture.

    I am looking forward to seeing many of you next week at the Royal York Hotel for our Toronto Regional. ACBL President George Retek will be joining us for the weekend. May the bridge gods smile favourably upon all of us!

The cooperation of all unit Presidents and Secretaries in distributing this report to their members is greatly appreciated. This report may also be viewed on my web site at:

Top 25 Masterpoint Winners From District 2 at the Houston NABC

194.64George MittelmanToronto ON
263.25Robert LebiToronto ON
357.41Jackie BoisseauEtobicoke ON
454.53Deanna GohPeterborough ON
548.62Jonathan SteinbergToronto ON
645.48Vera PettyWarwick, Bermuda
745.48Roman SmolskiWarwick, Bermuda
844.54Nader HannaWillowdale ON
943.56Martin Hunter Mississauga ON
1043.13 Joan Priebe Mississauga ON
11 43.13 James Priebe Mississauga ON
12 33.69 Adrienne Braithwaite Toronto ON
13 33.69 Tom Buttle Toronto ON
14 30.72 Leslie Amoils Toronto ON
15 30.38 Gavin Wolpert Thornhill ON
16 27.38 Daniel Lavee Thornhill ON
17 24.72 Vinay Sarin Thornhill ON
18 19.29 William Woodfine Toronto ON
19 18.94 Joan Eaton Willowdale ON
20 18.87 Roman Klein Oakville ON
21 18.32 Steven Lariviere Toronto ON
22 18.23 Stephen Mackay Markham ON
23 17.52 Robin Stephens Toronto ON
24 17.52 Robert Sewell Toronto ON
T25 14.76 Henryk Nowak Mississauga ON
T25 14.76 Roman Kaski Mississauga ON

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