December 5, 2003

Dear District/Unit Board Members in District 2 and Bridge Friends,

By far the most enjoyable function I perform as your District Director is the opportunity to make lifetime appointments to the ACBL Goodwill and Charity Committees every fall. My 2004 appointments to the ACBL Goodwill Committee:

My 2004 appointments to the ACBL Charity Committee are:

  1. New Orleans NABC:

    New Orleans is a superb city for North American Bridge Championships. The playing facilities were all under one roof, the French Quarter provided an array of dining opportunities, and numerous accommodations were available to fit every budget. New Orleans is a fun city!

    Attendance was strong until the final weekend after the US Thanksgiving holiday when attendance plummeted. Once again this raises the issue of having the Fall NABC end on Thanksgiving weekend. Another factor that may have kept players away from the downtown area was the 30th Bayou Classic, which filled the streets and required stringent security measures; at most hotels, guests had to wear identification wristbands in order to gain access.

    The final table count was 12,402.5, a total higher than original estimates and slightly larger than the summer NABC in Long Beach. The local volunteers provided excellent late night food and entertainment. The volunteer work required to host an NABC is formidable and we should all recognize and support the efforts of the dedicated volunteers who make our tournaments so enjoyable.

  2. District 2 Stars At The Bridge Table:

    Two hundred and twenty-six District 2 players won masterpoints in New Orleans. Junior star Gavin Wolpert led the list with 102.73 points. Here are the District 2 players who made the overalls in NABC events:

    Gavin Wolpert, Thornhill, 7th in NABC North American Swiss Teams, 31st in Blue Ribbon Pairs.

    George Mittelman, Toronto, 3/4th NABC Senior KO Teams.

    Joan Eaton, Willowdale, 10th NABC LM Women's Pairs.

    Leslie Amoils, 16th NABC Swiss Teams.

    Doug Baxter & Ron Bishop, Toronto, 36th Blue Ribbon Pairs.

    Michael Roche, Don Mills, 58th Blue Ribbon Pairs.

    The following District 2 players won Regional events:

    Andrew Tylman, Toronto, won the Educational Foundation Pairs.

    John Rayner, Oakville, & Michael Roche, Don Mills, won the second Saturday A/X Pairs.

    Antonia Okany, Etobicoke, & Dan McCaw, Toronto, won the second Saturday Stratified Senior Pairs.

    Jim Howie & Deborah Thomas-Howie, Etobicoke, won Bracket 3 French Quarter KO.

    Robert Hollow, Madoc, won Bracket 3 Coffee & Beignets KO.

    Gail Laubacher, Oakville, & Betty Zaric, Mississauga, won Bracket 4 NY KO.

    Robert & Christine Maxwell, Markham, won Bracket 5 Cajun Compact KO.

    Brian Johnston, Toronto, won Bracket 5 Baton Rouge Compact KO.

    Hollis & Gery Barry, Sandra & David Douglas, Toronto, won Bracket 10 Everybody's Here KO.

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

  3. Names in The News:

  4. Financial Issues:

    The ACBL remains in excellent financial health. Last summer I reported proposed increases in tournament sanction fees, TD session fees, and NABC entry fees. I voted against the proposed budget assumptions because I was opposed to across the board price increases. Many Board members agreed with my views. The finance committee and management worked hard to produce a 2004 break-even budget with minimal price increases. Here are the highlights:

    1. No membership dues increase (last raised January 1, 2001).

    2. No sanction fee increases for clubs or tournaments (last changed April 1, 2002).

    3. TD Tournament Session Fees will increase by 4%, significantly less than the 6.5% (3.5% salary + 3% catch-up) originally projected.

    4. NABC entry fees will increase by $1/player/session ($4 per table) in 2004. 25% ($1 per table) of the increase will go to the sponsoring organization to be used towards hospitality.

    The Board revised the marketing budget guidelines to be in the range of 12-15% of total budgeted expenses. We remain fully committed to providing adequate funds for marketing in order to attract potential new members to the ACBL. ACBL management fully supports this concept.

    Effective January 1, 2004 the ACBL per diem in Canada will be the lesser of the amount established by the Treasury Department of the Government of Canada, or the amount established by the IRS for Memphis, Tennessee multiplied by the current ACBL exchange rate.

    ACBL Treasurer's reports and ACBL financial statements are available to any member upon request.

  5. New Orleans ACBL Board Meetings:

    Once again the agenda was on the light side but several committees (By-Laws, Appeals & Charges, Finance) had to work overtime to complete their work. All in all, I believe the three day meetings in 2003 were a good idea and saved the ACBL at least $25,000 in administrative expenses.

    Here are some highlights:

    1. Starting times for the Spingold and Women's KO at the NYC NABC (July 8-18, 2004) will be 10 and 4 (4:30 when screens are in use). The mini-Spingold will start at 1 & 7:30 until the round of 8 when screens will be used, at which point the starting times will change to 10 & 4:30. All other events will be run at the traditional times (9, 1, and 7:30; Senior games 10 and 3).

    2. On July 8, the first Thursday of the NYC NABC, there will be a two session Regionally rated Stratified Pairs game for the benefit of the International Fund and the ACBL Educational Foundation. The proposed entry fee is $35 per person. Note: There will be single session entries available for the International Fund in the afternoon and for the Educational Foundation at night.

    3. In an effort to stimulate renewed interest in the North American Pairs, ACBL management will promote the event more extensively at all levels of competition. In addition:

      1. The club level sanction fee will be reduced from $7 to $4 per table (i.e.: from $1.75 to $1 per player surcharge).

      2. The conditions of contest have been amended to make it easier for players, units, and districts to comply. Specifically, if there is no unit final, a four-session district final will no longer be required. Also, it will no longer be necessary for a player to be a member of the unit where the NAP game is being played.

    4. The ACBL will no longer charge for replacement Goodwill Committee Pins.

    5. Effective 2004, an annual Regional will be awarded to a District of the USBF's choice for the purpose of supporting teams representing the US in international competition. The CBF had previously been awarded the same privilege. Its 2004 Regional will be in Montreal, Feb. 24-29.

    6. A two session stratified regionally rated red/gold point junior pairs event was approved for the Summer NABC. It is likely that the ACBL Educational Foundation will award scholarships to the winners.

    7. The first Youth Challenge Cup Competition will take place July 13-14, 2004 in New York during the summer NABC. Three teams from Europe (WBF Zone 1) will play against three teams from the ACBL (WBF Zone 2). There will be two American teams and one Canadian team. Funding for the teams will come from their respective National Bridge Organizations. Eligibility is defined as being born on or after January 1, 1983.

  6. World Bridge Federation Issues:

    There was much discussion about WBF issues that affect the ACBL. The ACBL Board reaffirmed its commitment to the WBF and will continue to pay dues of fifty cents per member. The ACBL will also pay dues for all active unpaid Life Master Life Members.

    Here are some highlights from the WBF meetings in Monaco:

    1. The CBF had requested the elimination of the controversial unique Rule 9/a from the Bermuda Bowl / Venice Cup qualification regulations. This rule specifically required Canada or Mexico to finish in the top half of the previous Olympiad field. This rule does not apply to any other NCBO. The request was denied.

    2. The WBF voted to raise the age limit for Seniors effective January 1,2005, in annual increments of one year until age 60 is reached: 2005 age 56, 2006 age 57, 2007 age 58, 2008 age 59, 2009 and thereafter 60.

      Note: The French Association has already approved to increase the age limit to 58 and increase it to 60 within two years.

      I have long argued that the ACBL should immediately raise the eligibility age of Senior events to at least 60. In Long Beach my motion was defeated 6-19. Now that the WBF has taken action, I expect that the conservative ACBL Board will take similar action in 2004.

    3. There was no drug testing in Monaco because France does not recognize bridge as a sport and the WBF couldn't use French labs for testing. The WBF adopted a Medical Certificate (developed by the European Bridge League) with regard to dispensation for the use of forbidden substances; the certificate must be submitted considerably prior to the start of competition. Apparently, testing out of competition may not apply to bridge players.

      The entire issue of drug testing in bridge remains murky to me. With realistic hopes of bridge becoming an Olympic sport almost dormant, why do we need to continue this charade of limited, very expensive drug testing of bridge players?

    4. The 2005 World Junior Bridge Championships will be in Sydney, Australia. The cost will be $75 US per person for room and board.

    5. The 12th World Team Olympiad is planned for Istanbul, Turkey from October 23 to November 6, 2004. In addition, the 2nd Senior International Cup and 2nd World University Teams Bridge Cup (October 24- 30) and the 3rd World International Mixed Team Championships (November 1 or 2 to November 5) will be held.

      Regrettably, recent events in Turkey make it unlikely that players from North America will feel comfortable travelling to Istanbul. I suspect that the venue will have to be changed.

    6. The continued use of extremely complex, difficult to defend against Brown Sticker Conventions (BSC) was extensively discussed. By a close vote, they were allowed to continue being used.

      Eric Kokish brought this matter to my attention in New Orleans. Apparently, the majority of Canadian and US Bermuda Bowl players are opposed to BSC. There were six ACBL teams in Monaco that could easily have been consulted before the vote was taken. Either they were not consulted or they were not listened to. Inexplicably, only Joan Gerard voted to discontinue their use while George Retek, Jim Kirkham, and Alan LeBendig voted to keep them. Dan Morse was playing in the Bermuda Bowl and gave his proxy to George Retek who abstained on his behalf.

      At the Board of Governors meeting in New Orleans, this issue was brought up. It was the unanimous opinion that the ACBL's representatives to the WBF need to be more responsive to the wishes of its members. I might add that I believe the ACBL's WBF representatives need to be better informed and must work together so that the ACBL speaks as one strong voice.

  7. NABC Issues:

    The ACBL Board has set policies that allow for approximately 50% of the field to qualify in most NABC events. Getting the opportunity to play against the best players in the world is an opportunity that few other games or sports allow. In New Orleans the North American Swiss Teams (NAST) had 106 teams entered. The field was reduced to 48 for day two, and only 22 teams made the final cut to the Promised Land playing in an NABC championship final!

    The reason I was given for 22 teams in day three (as opposed to 50% cuts: 106-54-26 or 28 for example) was that the ACBL only had thirty-two screens available: ten for the Reisinger final and 22 for the NAST! I intend to follow up on this issue and do my best to ensure that we never have to cut the field to equal the number of available screens!

  8. Appeals & Charges:

    The Appeals & Charges Committee that I chaired in New Orleans had a very heavy agenda with both disciplinary cases and Code of Disciplinary Regulation (CDR) items before us. Here are the highlights:

    1. Notices of discipline will now contain, in addition to the discipline issued by the hearing committee, an explanation of what that discipline involves and a description of the offence by number and title per Appendix C of the ACBL CDR.

    2. The ACBL CDR was amended. I would encourage all interested parties to request a hard copy early in 2004. The amended version will also be posted on the ACBL web site shortly. Significant changes are:

      1. For the CDR, the ACBL's jurisdiction is limited to sanctioned events conducted and sponsored by clubs, units, districts, or the ACBL.

      2. Complaints requesting a disciplinary hearing must now be brought in writing.

      3. An initial complaint involving a single incident must be brought within 30 days of discovery of the incident. Previously it was 60 days.

      4. The ACBL was given jurisdiction over ACBL members who have been disciplined or sanctioned by any other bridge organization.

    The following decisions were reported to the Board:

    In the matter of the request for readmission of Dan Requard, ACBL # L712249, the committee took the following actions: Mr. Requard:

    1. Is readmitted to membership effective November 24, 2003.
    2. Is placed on indefinite probation.
    3. May play only in ACBL events conducted in District 13.
    4. Shall have a number of masterpoints deducted from his record so that as of November 24, 2003 he will have a total of 5000 masterpoints.

    In the matter of the request for readmission of Darren Hutchinson, ACBL # 6378870, the committee took the following actions: Mr. Hutchinson:

    1. Is readmitted to membership effective November 24, 2003.
    2. Is placed on indefinite probation.
    3. His violation of discipline (i.e. playing in ACBL events while under expulsion) shall be referred to the District 19 Disciplinary Committee to take appropriate action.

  9. A Personal Note:

    I am looking forward to rejoining the ACBL Educational Foundation for the next three years. The foundation provides essential funds required to promote and teach bridge in schools. It also provides scholarships to ACBL juniors who teach bridge and it subsidizes the fee to attend the ACBL bridge camps (which are held in even numbered years). The Educational Foundation deserves our support.

    I will be remaining on the ACBL Executive Committee for 2004 and 2005. The Executive Committee acts on behalf of the full Board but only meets for emergency and/or time sensitive matters that cannot wait until the next regularly scheduled meeting of the full Board.

    Spread the word that bridge is back, alive and well! Membership has stabilized, tournament play continues to increase, and the ACBL has increased its retention rate of new members from year one to year two from 50 to 60%! As ACBL's CEO Jay Baum has often said, if all of us just found one new member to join the ACBL

    I am proud to represent the bridge players from all parts of District 2 from Winnipeg to Belleville to our friends in Bermuda! Your continued input is always appreciated.

    The holiday season is upon us. Enjoy the festivities and make your plans to attend one or more of 2004's exciting NABCs in Reno, New York, and Orlando! I wish each of you a happy, healthy, and peaceful New Year.

    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 New Orleans NABC

    1 102.73 Gavin WolpertThornhill ON
    2 95.41 Robert Hollow Madoc ON
    3 77.94 George Mittelman Toronto ON
    4 58.40Leslie Amoils Toronto ON
    5 56.68 Jean Johnson Devonshire Bermuda
    6 51.13 Motaz Farag Belleville ON
    T7 48.68 Roman Smolski Warwick Bermuda
    T7 48.68 Vera Petty Warwick Bermuda
    9 45.86 Charles Galloway Bolton ON
    10 45.00 Rea Rennox Port Perry ON
    11 44.42 Paul Janicki Markham ON
    12 44.36 John Duquette Oshawa ON
    13 43.94 Michael Roche Don Mills ON
    14 42.27 Joo-Hee Janicki Markham ON
    15 42.10 Henry Caspar Toronto ON
    T16 41.40 Deborah Thomas-Howie Etobicoke ON
    T16 41.40 Jim Howie Etobicoke ON
    18 39.53 Jonathan Steinberg Toronto ON
    19 38.07 James Priebe Mississauga ON
    20 37.90 Heather Coburn Waterloo ON
    21 37.72 Joan Priebe Mississauga ON
    T22 34.51 Frances McCrady Scarborough ON
    T22 34.51 D McCrady Scarborough ON
    24 34.36 Brian Johnston Toronto ON
    25 32.72 Debbie Feldman Oakville ON