March 20, 2003

Dear District and Unit Board Members in District 2:

Philadelphia was another successful NABC with a final table count of 10,840, slightly higher than the pre-tournament estimate. The playing facilities were outstanding. All events were located on two huge floors of the hotel. I heard that the local volunteers had raised $150,000 towards hospitality and they did a spectacular job feeding and entertaining us every evening. Congratulations!

Another plus was the food terminal market across the street along with a diverse range of eating establishments to choose from, all within walking distance. The one drawback was the excessive hotel room rate. As I have written before, if you want the convenience and luxury of staying at the host hotel/playing site, be prepared to pay a little more. As with the Phoenix NABC (Fall '02) and the Houston NABC (Spring '02), if you didn't mind a short cab ride or some exercise walking, there was an abundance of hotels offering rooms at half the price of the Marriott.

ACBL's NABCs are the best bridge experience in the world. They are world championships at the NABC+ level while offering a full range of Regional events and a separate I/N program for newcomers. You can combine your bridge playing with tours of the city. I urge all of you to attend at least one NABC yearly.

  1. District 2 Stars at the Bridge Table:

    Our junior stars, Vincent Demuy and Gavin Wolpert led the list of masterpoint winners in Philadelphia. Special congratulations to Joan Eaton who won her second North American Championship. The Top 25 District 2 Masterpoint List can be found at the end of this report.

    Joan Eaton (Willowdale) WON the NABC Women's Pairs.

    Vincent Demuy & Gavin Wolpert (Thornhill) were 3rd in NABC Jacoby Open Swiss Teams, 13th in NABC Open Pairs II, and 19th in NABC Open Pairs I.

    Darren Wolpert (Thornhill) placed 7th in NABC Jacoby Swiss Teams, 13th in NABC Open Pairs II and tied 17/32 in the Vanderbilt Teams.

    David Lindop, Leslie Amoils & George Mittelman (Toronto) placed 5th in NABC Jacoby Open Swiss. David also placed 13th in NABC Open Pairs I while George tied 17/32 in the Vanderbilt Teams.

    Naveed Ather (Oakville) & Ron Sutherland (Mississauga) placed 18th in NABC Silver Ribbon Pairs.

    Jordan Cohen (Thornhill) tied 21/24 in NABC Jacoby Open Swiss Teams.

    Robert Lebi (Toronto) tied 17/32 in the Vanderbilt Teams.

    John Rayner (Oakville) & Michael Roche (Don Mills) placed 38th in NABC Open Pairs I.

    Iona & Alexander Ciura (Mississauga) placed 4th in NAP, Flight C.

    Peter Petruzzellis & John Collins (Toronto) placed 22nd in the Red Ribbon Pairs.

    Margaret & Cedric Anderson (Toronto) WON Bracket 5 Sunday/Monday KO.

  2. Philadelphia ACBL Board Meetings:

    ACBL President Al Levy decided to reduce our meetings by one day at each NABC (three day meetings instead of four) in 2003. This appeared to work very well in Philadelphia as we had ample time to complete our agenda. This action also saves the ACBL about eight to nine thousand dollars per meeting.

    1. In order to participate in an NABC+ event, a person must be an ACBL member whose service fees or dues are current. Effective July 1, 2003. Carried 20-5. I am strongly in favour of this motion, which is a philosophical issue rather than a financial one. Most NABC+ players are ACBL members and if not, they are required to pay an extra two dollars per session. The real issue is supporting and being a member of the ACBL. As you may or may not know, the Canadian Bridge Federation (CBF) requires membership in order to participate in CBF events.

    2. Management is authorized to collect fees for ACBL services to affiliated organizations. Carried 22-2-1. I abstained, not because I am opposed to this motherhood and apple pie motion, but rather because I was unhappy with the lack of a management response to my request for concrete numbers. ACBL provides various services to the CBF, United States Bridge Federation (USBF), CBF Charity Foundation, ACBL Charity Foundation, and ACBL Educational Foundation. In the case of the CBF, it has never been charged a fee for having its dues collected via the ACBL renewal form. I have subsequently been informed that effective January 1, 2004, the CBF will be charged 4% of all monies collected for CBF dues, plus expenses estimated to be about one to two thousand dollars. ACBL management will be revising the renewal form this summer to show the CBF dues as a separate line item.

    3. By a unanimous vote, we have authorized ACBL management to offer a hard copy of specific documents once per year at no charge to the volunteer officials who require them. The items covered by this motion are the ACBL Handbook of Rules and Regulations, Code of Disciplinary Regulations, Handbook for Appeals Committees, and the Recorder Regulations and Procedures.

    4. The ACBL Disciplinary Code, which underwent major revisions in 2002, was again revised. The revisions were primarily to correct errors and improve wording. Carried unanimously. A proposal to remove the prohibition against betting on the results of an ACBL sanctioned event was defeated 10-15. I voted in favour. Technically, the friendly side bets that often occur at all levels of bridge games (Calcuttas are excluded) are in violation of the ACBL Code. Rules that are violated but ignored do not foster respect for a disciplinary code.

  3. Marketing Issues:

    The ACBL's new Chief Marketing Officer, Linda Granell, provided us with her marketing initiatives for 2003. She will be presenting a three-year strategic marketing plan to us this summer. Meanwhile, the bottom line for 2003 and the foreseeable future is to increase ACBL membership.

    We were shown a statistical model to illustrate the dramatic decline of an organizations' membership. This decline can be likened to falling off a cliff. As the age of the average ACBL member increases - in 2003 this is greater than 65 years of age - we get ever closer to that cliff. Currently, the ACBL loses about one thousand members per month, of which seven to eight hundred are due to death. In February, the ACBL signed up more than eleven hundred new members, which was a record. But in order to achieve a significant increase in membership, we need to recruit closer to fifteen hundred new members per month.

    The Unit Membership Incentive Program has been dramatically redesigned to be user-friendly. The onerous amount of paperwork previously required to receive extra rebate money has been eliminated. Even a small increase in unit membership will be rewarded. Unit Presidents and Secretaries should have received a letter providing full details of the program.

  4. Junior Issues:

    1. A World Junior Individual Championship will be held every other year (starting in 2004) in North America at the site of the Summer NABC. There will be a short opening ceremony on Wednesday evening followed by four sessions of bridge. On Friday evening there will be a closing ceremony, dinner, and prizes. This will be a World Bridge Federation (WBF) event. Carried 24-1.

      More controversial was the question of funding the event. A motion to take up to $4,900 from the ACBL Junior Fund to cover expenses carried 15-10. I was among the minority for two reasons: A) I do not believe that our players support Junior Fund games so that the money can sponsor a WBF event and B) The ACBL provides the WBF with fifty cents per member or about $75,000 per year. That should more than cover our obligations.

    2. As Chair of the ACBL Junior Committee, I have more than a passing interest in supporting and funding ACBL junior programs. Junior fund money goes primarily towards the training and funding of junior international teams and the ACBL bridge camp. Junior membership money funds the junior publication, the Grapevine, as well as the informal dinner/meetings for juniors that are held at each NABC. The ACBL Educational Foundation provides the bulk of funding towards junior scholarships and the High School Bridge Lesson teaching series.

      I have long felt that pertaining to junior international teams, ACBL members residing in Canada are treated as second-class ACBL citizens. When Junior Fund Month was created, money raised in Canada went to the CBF while the much larger amount of money raised in the US went to the ACBL. This created two separate classes of ACBL members.

      The ACBL Marketing/Junior Committee approved the following by a 7-4-2 vote: The ACBL will conduct the Zone 2 [ACBL land] trials to select their junior teams for international competition. The trials are open to all Zone 2 members, provided that all teams must be comprised of members of the same National Bridge Organization (NBO). The ACBL will fund all ACBL junior teams equally (regardless of which ACBL country is represented) towards participation in WBF World Junior Bridge Championships as well as other international competitions, as appropriate. All Junior Fund money collected from ACBL sanctioned junior fund games shall go to the ACBL. Those funds will be used to support junior programs and activities intended for all ACBL juniors. Any unused Junior Fund money will be carried forward.

      The full ACBL Board deferred the motion until this summer. In the interim, input is being requested from the International Zonal Affairs Committee, the CBF, and the USBF.

      The USBF was created a few years ago to satisfy the requirements of the International Olympic Committee. This was all part of our Olympic dream. In theory the USBF, like the CBF, is responsible for its international teams. In practice, for the ACBL's junior players, little has changed. It is still the ACBL staff that provides almost all of the administrative work for the USBF. It is money from the ACBL Junior Fund games that provides the bulk of the transportation, training, and funding for the ACBL/US junior teams.

      The ACBL/Canada junior team must search beyond the CBF in order to receive adequate funding to attend international competitions. This is a complicated issue but the bottom line is that our junior players, no matter which side of Lake Ontario or the 49th parallel they live on, are all ACBL dues paying members.

      Make no mistake: this is not about money. The ACBL has ample resources to provide full funding for all three ACBL junior teams to attend international events. This is a philosophical issue. The WBF insists on dividing the juniors into countries (for Zone 2, that usually equates to two US and one Canadian junior team). But there is no requirement for the ACBL to do the same.

      It is time for the ACBL to treat its ACBL Canadian junior members as first class ACBL citizens, in the same manner as the ACBL US junior members are treated. Is ACBL membership segregated by residency or all ACBL members equal by virtue of their very membership?

      I urge all of you who believe in equal treatment for ACBL junior teams to voice your opinions and lobby your ACBL Board representative. The ACBL's senior management supports this motion and the underlying philosophy that all ACBL members are equal. The final decision, as is the case with all policy matters, will be made by the 25 voting ACBL Board members this summer.

  5. Financial Issues:

    The ACBL reported an excess of $739,000 in revenue over expenses in 2002. This was a $297,000 improvement over 2001 and marked the second year in a row of profitability. The league is in a sound financial position. For 2003, we have approved a deficit budget of close to $300,000. There will be a greater emphasis on marketing funds with the goal of keeping existing members and recruiting new ones. The search for sponsorship money will intensify. There were no increases in ACBL sanction fees, membership dues, or NABC entry fees in 2003. I intend to lobby to maintain the existing fees/dues structure for 2004.

    Incidentally, the ACBL now has 86.48 full-time employees. Field staff is 115.32 compared with 117.11 in 2002. These numbers are significantly reduced from the 1990's when the ACBL's full-time employees numbered around 95.

  6. A Personal Note:

    In 2003, I am Chair of the ACBL Junior Committee and Vice-Chair of the ACBL Appeals & Charges Committee. In addition, I am a member of the Marketing Committee, the ACBL Honorary Member of the Year Committee, and the ACBL Executive Committee.

    I am pleased to report that Penny Augustine (Toronto), a star administrator and volunteer who was the Chair of our Toronto 2001 NABC, has been appointed to the ACBL's NABC Advisory Committee.

    As the world heads into a state of war and uncertainty, I hope we can all continue to find solace and pleasure at the bridge table. I am looking forward to seeing many of you at our Hamilton sectional this weekend. The Brantford and Brampton sectionals follow in successive weeks. April features both the Toronto Easter and the Crocus Spring Winnipeg Regionals.


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 Philadelphia NABC
1131.09Vincent DemuyThornhill ON
2113.49Gavin WolpertThornhill ON
3112.73Darren WolpertThornhill ON
496.52Joan EatonWillowdale ON
583.90David LindopToronto ON
675.00George MittelmanToronto ON
768.89Peter PetruzzellisToronto ON
854.20Leslie AmoilsToronto ON
942.23Robert HollowMadoc ON
1039.04John CollinsToronto ON
1134.09Deanna GohPeterborough ON
=1232.06Joan PriebeMississauga ON
=1232.06James PriebeMississauga ON
=1430.45Roman SmolskiWarwick, Bermuda
=1430.45Vera PettyWarwick,Bermuda
1627.43Andy StarkMississauga ON
1727.08Naveed AtherOakville ON
1826.55Martin HunterMississauga ON
1926.45Ronald SutherlandMississauga ON
2025.61Robert LebiToronto ON
2121.72Wayne MerkelScarborough ON
2221.13Jordan CohenThornhill ON
=2320.76Cedric AndersonToronto ON
=2320.76Margaret AndersonToronto ON
2520.13Eliz BraithwaiteGuelph ON