August 1, 2002

Dear District and Unit Board Members in District Two:

The Washington NABC was held under one roof at a huge Marriott hotel in a very nice part of Washington, on the metro line, just a few minutes walk from the National Zoo. It is unfortunate that in Canada we have few, if any, hotels that are large enough to host an NABC at a single site. Hospitality was ample and all who participated must have enjoyed themselves immensely.

Unfortunately, the combination of this month's World Championships in Montreal combined with the fallout from 9/11 and the stock market crash resulted in just 14,650 tables in play. A respectable turnout to be sure, but well below the pre-tournament estimate and the hopes of many that 17,000 tables would be reached.

  1. District 2 Stars At the Bridge Table:

    David Lindop, Toronto, placed 5/8th in the Spingold KO Teams.

    Bob Hollow, Madoc, & Motaz Farag, Belleville, WON the Mini-Spingold II (0-1500).

    Ringo Chung, Mississauga, & Vinay Sarin, Thornhill, placed 13th in the Red Ribbon Pairs.

    David Grainger, Etobicoke, placed 19th in the Life Master Pairs.

    Katie Thorpe & John Carruthers, Toronto, placed 17th in the NABC Mixed B-A-M Teams.

    Daniel Lavee, Thornhill, placed 16th in the NABC Fast Open Pairs.

    Josh Heller, Toronto, placed 26th in the NABC Fast Open Pairs.

    Gavin Wolpert, Thornhill, WON Bracket 1 of the Capital KO Teams.

    Martin Hunter, Mississauga, Paul Janicki, Markham, placed 2nd in Bracket 1 of the Congressional KO Teams.

    Charlotte St. Amant, Trenton, Eva Upper & Wendy Dooley, Mississauga, Paul Janicki, Markham, placed 2nd in Bracket 2 of the Capital KO Teams. Charlotte, Eva & Wendy also placed 2nd in Bracket 3 of the Wizards KO Teams.

    David & Sandra Douglas, Hollis & Gary Barry, Toronto, WON Bracket 7 of the Steve Spurrier KO Teams.

    Mark & Catherine Brader, Toronto, placed 2nd in Bracket 6 of the Steve Spurrier KO Teams.

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

  2. Canadian Bridge Federation Issues:

    Over the last year or so I have been quite critical of many actions taken by the CBF. As all of you who read my reports know, I believe it would be detrimental to most Canadian bridge players if a separate Canadian Bridge League were established.

    I am pleased to report that there are some glimmers of hope on the horizon. Since my last report, then CBF President Ray Lee, Toronto, has resigned and been replaced by Jim Priebe, Mississauga. The CBF has finally appointed a Junior Player Manager, Ed Antosz, Windsor. I wish both of them the best of luck in their new positions.

    The CBF Feasibility Study has been completed and distributed to all Canadian Unit Presidents. The report makes some interesting observations, but the bottom line is that, while a separate Canadian Bridge League is theoretically possible (the report included a somewhat optimistic budget), the political will is lacking.

    Instead, the CBF has resolved to work with the ACBL to improve relations and address problems that arise on an issue-by-issue basis. Along these lines, Jim addressed the ACBL Board of Directors in Washington. I believe we had a productive and frank exchange of ideas. Jim will be working through the ACBL's Canadian Affairs Committee (of which I am a member) to further Canadian needs.

    Some concrete items being worked on with ACBL management right now include more control over the staffing of Canadian events, especially CBF Bridge Week; less administrative charges pertaining to the CBF Charity Foundation; and improved French language services for Francophone members.

    I am optimistic that Canadian members will remain a valued part of the ACBL for decades to come.

    Working with our junior players has always been one of my priorities. I have been helping Ed Antosz get oriented in his new position. The biggest obstacle the ACBL and the CBF have is that there are not enough junior players or enough bridge programs in our schools. This is a long-term project that has just begun.

    The US completed their Junior Trials to select USA 1 and USA 2 last weekend. Nine teams participated, several of them formed last week in Washington. As reported in the ACBL Daily Bulletin the US trials "got off to a shocking start as reigning Junior World Champions, captained by Kent Mignocchi, were upset by a younger less experienced squad captained by 16 year old Meredith Beck." To my way of thinking this was wonderful for junior bridge. The Mignocchi team bounced back to easily win the playoff to decide the USA 2 team.

    The Canadian junior trials will be held in Montreal, the last weekend of August: Friday, August 30 – Sunday, Sept. 1. The winning team will represent Canada in the 2003 World Junior Bridge Championship, which most likely will be held in Beijing, China.

  3. Washington ACBL Board Meetings:

    1. Al Levy (District 24) was elected ACBL President for 2003.

    2. Sol Weinstein has been appointed as our Field Representative for District 2, replacing Doug Grove, whose commitment ended on July 31, 2002. This is a temporary assignment. ACBL management is still interviewing potential candidates and reviewing the situation.

    3. We were presented with a full size prototype ACBL Bridge Bulletin that looks fabulous. By a 23-2 vote we authorized management to proceed. In fact, management has complete control over the size, content, number of pages, whatever, regarding the Bridge Bulletin without having to come to the board for approval.

      Audrey Grant's Play Bridge magazine will be a twelve-page insert in every issue of the new ACBL Bridge Bulletin. This is great news for our new as well as our long time members. All of us will be receiving the same publications.

      We expect the first issue of the full size magazine to debut in January, 2003.

    4. A motion requiring ACBL membership in order to play in ACBL tournaments was not going to pass. It is interesting to note that the CBF Feasibility Study looked at other countries around the world and concluded that virtually everywhere membership is required to play in tournaments: in fact, in some countries membership is required at the club level as well. I proposed a substitute motion, which carried 20-5. Effective January 1, 2003 at all NABCs, entry fees for non-members and unpaid Life Masters will be $2 per player per session higher than for ACBL members and Life Masters who have paid their service fees. Charity events and events limited to 20 masterpoints are exempt from this requirement.

      Bottom Line: The $1/session savings for members currently in effect will become a $2/session savings next year. Sponsoring organizations are encouraged to do the same for Regionals and Sectionals but there is no change from the current regulations that are now in effect. Also, please note that in Canada the extra amount will be paid in Canadian dollars: in the United States, in US dollars. That is the current procedure. There will be no change.

      This is not meant to be revenue producing but rather an incentive to encourage our tournament players to join the ACBL and benefit from the total membership package.

    5. A motion to revise ACBL's alert procedure so that some NT ranges would be announced while others would not be was defeated 8-17. The new colour coded convention cards are now available most everywhere. Let's give everyone a chance to get used to the new rules without creating more confusion. I suspect that there will be no changes for at least another 3-5 years.

    6. Most of us play in KO matches for enjoyment. Occasionally we run into unpleasant opponents or, for one reason or another, there is a pair we would prefer not to play against. The regulations pertaining to most KO events have been revised. Previously if a disagreement arose as to who would sit where, both captains submitted written geographical line-ups. The new rules are as follows:

      There are no seeding rights. Should a seating disagreement arise:

      1. At the start of a match: There is a coin flip. The winner selects either the first or second half to have seating rights. The loser has seating rights in the other half. Note: The team with seating rights sits down last.

      2. If there is no disagreement until the second half, then the team that is behind will have the seating rights. If the match is tied, a coin flip will be used. Carried 24-1. I voted in favour.

  4. Masterpoint Review Committee:

    Every five years, there is an extensive review of ACBL's masterpoint structure. The Masterpoint Review Committee did a tremendous amount of work and came up with many proposed formula revisions. Most of us will not notice any major changes. Here are some of the proposals, which will receive second reading this fall in Phoenix and become effective on January 1, 2003.

    1. Reisinger BAM and Spingold/Vanderbilt KO masterpoint awards are changed as follows. Note: The awards for the Spingold/Vanderbilt have increased; the awards for the Reisinger have decreased but are appropriate when compared with each other.

      ReisingerSpingold/Vanderbilt
      RankCurrent2003RankCurrent2003
      1225.00200.001240.00250.00
      2168.75150.002160.00180.00
      3126.56112.503-4100.00125.00
      4103.8592.315-860.0080.00
      596.4385.729-1640.0050.00
      690.0080.0017-3225.0025.00
      784.3875.00
      879.4170.59
      975.0066.67
      1071.0563.16
      1167.5060.00
      12 64.2957.15
      1361.3654.54
      1458.7052.18

    2. Awards for NABC+ events when the field size is below a minimum threshold will be slightly reduced.

    3. Section awards shall be modified as follows:

      1. Increase Flight A section awards by 10% for separate Flight A events.

      2. Increase section awards by 10% when there is one cut in the field and by 20% when there is a second cut.

      3. A less steep award scale (to be determined) will be used to increase section awards when multiple sections are combined for scoring purposes.

    4. For all Club/Internet games with 30 or more tables, awards for positions lower than first will be determined using the scale for overall awards for 4 session events.

    5. For Continent-Wide Charity games, International Fund games and District Wide Charity games, there will be overall and district awards (official hand records must be used). First overall will receive 20 points; first in the District 10 points.

    6. The formula for KO's is modified. The winner of any bracket cannot receive more than 90% of the award for the bracket immediately above. Awards for the middle brackets in large KO's have been reduced slightly. An attempt was made to equate the awards with those of a Regional Swiss event.

  5. Financial Matters:

    The ACBL is having an excellent year financially. There have been no "surprises" and ACBL expects to show a year-end profit of about $400,000. ACBL is meeting all of its liquidity ratio guidelines.

    All of this means good news for 2003. There will be NO increases in ACBL sanction fees, NABC entry fees, or membership dues. The only increase will be in tournament session fees, which will rise 3.5% to cover salary increases.

    By a 17-7-1 vote (I voted no), the board reinstated previous policy for ACBL board members and spouses/significant others to attend the volunteer dinner at each NABC. ACBL will pay for the dinner. Attendance is not required. One half of the per diem for that day will be deducted from each Board member who attends. While the volunteer dinner is a pleasant evening for all who attend (and most definitely deserving for the local volunteers for whom it is intended), I do not feel that ACBL should pay for my dinner if I choose to attend.

  6. Appeals & Charges and Related Matters:

    The ACBL Appeals & Charges Committee (of which I am a member) spent several hours reviewing and making changes to a completely re-written ACBL Code of Disciplinary Regulations. I, along with all the members of our committee, am currently reviewing the latest draft. We plan to have a conference call in September. We will present a final draft to the full board for approval at the fall board meetings in Phoenix.

    One of the changes under review would eliminate the sanction of “private reprimand”. If an offence warrants discipline, it should be a matter of public record. Another area of concern involves cases of sexual harassment involving an ACBL employee (this would include caddies). It is proposed that in such cases the disciplinary body shall immediately forward the matter to ACBL management for action.

    A major area of concern for many years has been ACBL's appeal procedures, including the right to appeal a table ruling by TDs. There have been well-publicized cases that have made the volunteer players who serve on appeals committees look very bad. For years, the question of bias has been raised when players are judging other players.

    A few years ago, a new procedure was established to resolve all appeals at NABCs below the NABC+ level. Players still have the right to appeal, but other TDs in consultation with expert players hear the appeal. The new procedures have had few complaints, and appear to be working well.

    In my opinion, the current system is inherently unfair and user-unfriendly. Appeals are heard after the evening session. First, a TD screens them; next, you must wait for an appeals committee to be ready to hear your case; finally, you have your moment in court; then you await a final decision. All well and good except if you are unable or unwilling to spend the hours between 11 PM and 1 AM (sometimes later) going through this process; you lose all rights to further appeal. Hardly fair if you have to catch the last subway home at 11 PM!

    I believe we should let the players play, the referees referee. Having players sit in judgement of other players often leads to bad feelings or worse. There is a lot of money involved in high-level bridge. Having professional players sit in judgement of other professional players as well as potential clients is a recipe ripe for potential abuse.

    A majority of my fellow ACBL Board members seem to be in agreement with me. First a motion to defer was defeated 10-14-1. Finally, by a 14-10-1 margin the following was approved: “Management is instructed to develop and implement procedures consistent with the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge which will give the Director-In-Charge (or his or her designee) the responsibility for making a final adjudication of an appeal of a director's ruling at that tournament”. To be implemented January 1, 2004.

    Between now and then, much will be happening. A Board Committee is being appointed to work with management to come up with appropriate procedures to follow. An extensive Tournament Director Training program will be in full gear throughout 2003. As I foresee the new appeals procedures, expert players will always be part of the process. But they will be consultants and they will never know the names of the players involved, just the hands and the event in question.

    Finally I will leave this topic by saying it is for the good of the game that we are totally revamping the current high-level appeal system. Let the players play, the referees referee!

    Note: As with many issues, ACBL's authority is restricted to events held at NABCs. Sponsoring organizations will ultimately decide themselves what process to use regarding appeals at their local Sectional and Regional tournaments. Similarly, the sponsoring organization decides how much to charge non-ACBL members; how many boards to play in a KO match; the starting times for events; the victory point scale to be used; and last but certainly not least, how many TDs are needed to run a tournament. Sponsoring organizations should know their rights and responsibilities. ACBL provides many options among which to choose.

  7. A Personal Note:

    We are in the dog days of summer, but there is so much bridge around that we are forced to pick and choose among the abundance of tournaments nearby! The Thunder Bay Regional runs from August 1 - 5. The Cambrian Shield Regional in Sault Ste Marie will be from August 13 – 18. In Montreal, there are two full weeks of World Championship events from the August 16 opening ceremony to the closing ceremony, Saturday, August 31. ACBL style Regional events run from Friday evening, August 16 until Labour Day Monday, September 2! What a month for bridge players!

    As most of you know, I am seeking your support for re-election as your representative serving on the ACBL Board of Directors. Please ensure that whether you live in Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, or downtown Toronto that you exercise your democratic right to vote. ACBL regulations stipulate that every voting unit board member in District 2 gets a ballot.

    Our second and third largest units (246 & 249) have chosen to vote by mail-in ballot. Their election packages were put in the mail (in Memphis) earlier this week. The remaining units should have scheduled a meeting in which to vote sometime between August 15 and late September. Please note that according to the Regulations for Conduct of ACBL Elections for Directors, Alternates and Representatives:

    Section IX.  Absentee Ballots:  Upon notification in writing anytime prior to a Unit's scheduled election meeting (after an election has been called and nominations have closed), a voting member of a Unit Board of Directors may request an absentee ballot from the President or Secretary of the Unit. The Unit President or Secretary will then mail a ballot, ballot envelope, all biographical material and voting instructions submitted with the Unit's election package and an envelope (indicating the Unit number prominently in the bottom left hand corner) for direct mailing to the Director of Elections by the member.

    The absentee ballot system is a safeguard assuring that all bona fide voting members have the opportunity to vote, whether in person or by mail.  In some cases it may be difficult to confirm in advance that a voting board member will be in a position to attend the meeting. Voting by absentee ballot does not remove your right to attend any unit board meeting.

    My vision of the ACBL of the future anticipates a renaissance in our game. Bridge at Schools, funded in part by the ACBL Educational Foundation , has embarked on an ambitious pilot program to get bridge taught in schools throughout North America. It is the first step on the long road to a revival of popularity for duplicate bridge. In 2003, the new look ACBL Bridge Bulletin will enter the marketplace. In 2004, the days of contentious all night bridge appeals heard by players will, I hope, be a memory of past days. Collegiate bridge clubs and championships, face-to-face and via the Internet, will be thriving.

    This is my vision. It is what I plan to work towards. With your support, bridge will continue to not just survive, but prosper.


    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:

    http://www3.sympatico.ca/jonathan.st


    Top 25 Masterpoint Winners From District 2 at the Washington NABC

    199.98Robert Hollow Madoc ON
    295.60 Martin Hunter Mississauga ON
    3 75.00 Motaz Farag Belleville ON
    4 74.56 Paul Janicki Markham ON
    5 66.48 David Lindop Toronto ON
    6 62.94 Gavin Wolpert Thornhill ON
    7 59.54 Charlotte St Amant Trenton ON
    8 59.54 Eva Upper Mississauga ON
    9 59.14 Wendy Dooley Mississauga ON
    10 53.40 David Grainger Etobicoke ON
    11 48.31 Don Piafsky Toronto ON
    12 47.17 Jennifer Swimmer Toronto ON
    13 44.92 Joan Priebe Mississauga ON
    14 40.09 Andrew Tylman Toronto ON
    15 37.99 James Priebe Mississauga ON
    16 32.93 Frank Yu North York ON
    17 32.93 Jeffery Yu North York ON
    18 31.16 Ringo P Chung Mississauga ON
    19 26.71 Patricia Riding Bermuda
    20 25.81 Catherine Brader Toronto ON
    21 25.81 Mark Brader Toronto ON
    22 25.49 Deanna Goh Peterborough ON
    23 24.64 Daniel Lavee Thornhill ON
    24 22.28 Charles Halasi Toronto ON
    25 21.09 Vinay Sarin Thornhill ON


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