July 23, 2004

Dear District and Unit Board Members in District 2:

There was some concern that the reputation of New York City as a very expensive destination might adversely affect attendance. The original budget was for 12,500 tables. By the time of the NABC, staffing was based on a conservative 11,300 tables. The final tally was a very respectable 13,351 tables, well above expectations. 2004 seems to be the year where ACBL members are coming out to play and NYC was no exception.

Mid-town Manhattan can be an expensive place to sleep and dine. On the other hand, as is usually the case in any large city, there are less expensive alternatives. ACBL tournament players are quite adept in finding them. Eating establishments were plentiful in every price range from street corner vendor to gourmet dining. The local volunteers provided all registrants with an excellent traveling bag and restaurant guide. Delicious snacks were provided at the end of every evening session.

There are two key requirements for a successful NABC: a good playing area and enough restaurants to feed everyone. The one negative at the NYC Hilton was that there were some playing areas where the lighting was insufficient and other areas with dark spots. This concern was raised at the Board of Governors meeting. I trust that ACBL management was listening and will strive to do better at future NABCs.

I was personally disappointed with the playing conditions on the final Sunday, as even the National finals had to be moved from the ballroom to a stuffy and much less attractive playing area. This was because a huge “Models & Talents” convention had taken over the hotel. I have long argued that one reason for the sharp drop in the final Sunday attendance is that the ACBL fails to provide attractive events – in NYC even the playing areas suffered. Next summer's NABC schedule is significantly more attractive and I hope that management will provide appropriate facilities.

  1. District 2 Stars at the Bridge Table

    Congratulations to Canada's 21-year-old junior sensations Gavin Wolpert, Thornhill, and Vincent Demuy, Laval, PQ, who were on the team that placed second in the Spingold. It was a fantastic achievement. Gavin won an amazing 216.16 masterpoints in NYC.

    The following list includes all players who placed in NABC+ events and who won Regional events.

    Gavin Wolpert, Thornhill, 2nd in the Spingold, won bracket 3 the Rockefeller Center KO.

    Morrie Kleinplatz, Windsor, 2nd in the 0-5000 Mini-Spingold, won bracket 1 of the Saturday-Tuesday morning KO.

    Brian Johnston, Toronto, 3/4th 0-5000 Mini-Spingold.

    Barbara Clinton & Vince Oddy, Aurora, 8th NABC Imp Pairs.

    Lino D'Souza, Burlington, Junaid Said, Scarborough, Ivan Popivanov, Markham, and Chandrasekh Marathe, Mississauga, 5/8th GNT Flight B.

    Martin Hunter, Ron Sutherland, Ringo Chung, Mississauga; Tom Buttle, Adrienne Marriott, Vinay Sarin, Alex Kornel, Toronto, were all on teams that placed 9/16th in the 0-5000 Mini-Spingold.

    Don Piafsky, Toronto, 17/32nd Spingold, 34th NABC Imp Pairs.

    George Mittelman, 17/32nd Spingold.

    David Lindop, Toronto, 20th NABC+ Fast Pairs, and with John Gilbert, Kitchener, 41st NABC Imp Pairs.

    David Grainger, Etobicoke, 35th NABC Imp Pairs.

    Roman Smolski & Vera Petty, Bermuda, won the International Fund Game.

    Daniel Lavee, Thornhill, won bracket 1 The Producers KO and On To Orlando KO.

    Henry Caspar, Toronto, & Vinay Sarin, Thornhill, won bracket 3 Big Apple KO.

    Darla Peterson, Ajax, won bracket 6 Rainy Days & Mondays KO.

    Andrew Tylman, Toronto, and Martin Hunter, Mississauga, won 2nd Saturday Daylight Open Pairs.

    Malcolm Ewashkiw, Belleville, Bob Hollow, Madoc, won 2nd Sunday Fast Pairs.

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

  2. Board Actions From New York City

    1. Congratulations to Chuck Wilkinson (District 10) who was elected ACBL President for 2005.

    2. Two new Life Master categories were created to recognize masterpoint achievements. An Emerald LM requires 7,500 points. A Platinum LM requires 10,000 points. A Grand LM remains 10,000 points plus a NABC win or equivalent. Carried 21-4. I voted in favour.

    3. The ACBL policy on the use of Tournament Assistants (TA) was clarified. There is no geographic restriction on the use of TA. Carried 21-3-1. I voted in favour.

    4. New Recorder regulations and procedures were approved. The ACBL Code of Disciplinary Regulations was amended. One change clarified the definitions of Complaint, Incident, and Player Memo. Carried unanimously. I urge all ACBL recorders and disciplinary chairs to get a copy of the new regulations. The revised code and Recorder regulations should be posted on-line at the ACBL web site shortly.

    5. The ACBL General Convention Chart was amended to allow jump responses to an opening bid of one of a suit that show one known suit with a minimum of five cards and one other known suit with a minimum of four cards.

      The ACBL Mid-Chart was amended so that a pair may only use a method permitted by the Mid-Chart but not the General Convention Chart when the approved defense is rated as approved for the length of the session being played. Defenses are rated by stating the minimum number of boards played per segment per round. Mid-Chart conventions require a pre-alert, a written description, and approved defenses (available at ACBL DEFENSE DATABASE). Incidentally, players are allowed to consult their own defense methods (instead of the ones provided) if they so choose. Carried 15-9-1. I voted in favour.

    6. The schedule for nationally rated events at NABCs was modified. In particular, the Summer NABC schedule is greatly improved. The Senior Swiss Teams moves from Tuesday/Wednesday to Monday/Tuesday and will start at the same time as the Spingold. The Open Pairs II moves from Thurs/Friday in the Spring to Tuesday/Wednesday in the Summer. The Mixed BAM Teams and Fast Open Pairs move from the final weekend in the Summer to the second Thursday/Friday. The Imp Pairs moves from Thursday/Friday in the Summer to Thursday/Friday in the Spring. Finally, a new four session Open Swiss (same conditions of contest as the Spring Open Swiss) will be added to the final Saturday/Sunday of the Summer NABC. These are excellent changes that should increase attendance on the final weekend of the summer NABC. In addition, the new schedule will allow non-senior ACBL members to play in NABC+ events as soon as they are eliminated from the Spingold. Carried unanimously.

    7. There is a small loophole in membership renewals whereby a member would receive a free Bulletin by renewing after his/her expiration date. The new regulation reads: When members pay their renewal fees within 90 days of their expiry date, the term for which they are paid up will begin from the date that their membership originally expired. Carried unanimously.

    8. Patron Membership dues will increase to $250 (Individual) and $350 (Household) effective January 1, 2005. The increase is to ensure that the program does not lose money. Patron member benefits have been modified. Key benefits are: advance hotel reservations for NABCs; complimentary set of Daily Bulletins from all three NABCs; 50% discount on the price of a ticket to the Hall of Fame dinner; and a $50 merchandise credit for the ACBL Product Store at NABCs or to order merchandise from the ACBL Sales Department. Carried 20-4-1. I voted in favour.

  3. Special Games at the Clubs

    The ACBL clubs are the backbone of the league. It is where most new members are recruited and where the majority of ACBL members play bridge on a regular basis. Major changes to special games that are allowed in clubs will take effect as of January 1, 2005.

    Junior Fund games have become tremendously popular and are currently allowed all year long. Regular club sanction fees (65 cents/table; $1.25/game) are paid to the ACBL. An additional $4/table ($1/player) is charged with the $4/table proceeds going to the ACBL or CBF Junior Fund. 100% sectionally rated black points are awarded. Meanwhile, Club Charity and International Fund games do NOT pay the ACBL sanction fees, award 85% sectionally rated black points, and are very limited as to how many games are allowed.

    The new regulations will maintain February as Junior Fund month, and will establish April as Charity month and September as International month. All these games will be treated in the same manner as Junior Fund games. In months other than February, April, and September, clubs may hold as many or as few of these special games as they desire. There are no limitations.

    This means that for $1 extra per player, every club game may be designated as a Junior, Charity, or International game. A fifteen-table club game awards 1.50 points to each section winner and an overall total of 9.76 points are distributed. A fifteen-table Junior/Charity/International game would award 4.17 points to first overall with a total of 17.03 points being distributed.

    Carried 15-10. I voted in favour. I am strongly in favour of the designated Junior Fund (February), Charity Fund (April), and International Fund (September) month concept. On the other hand, I do have some concerns about allowing clubs to hold these special games 365 days of the year! That said, if more Canadian clubs were to schedule these games, it would be a boon to the CBF Junior, Charity and International programs. For just $1 per player extra, the masterpoint awards greatly increase. It is much easier for 50,000 people to donate $1 each than to find a sponsor willing to write a $50,000 cheque. I urge clubs to hold as many of these fund games as their membership is willing to support.

    Please note that regarding charity games, the game proceeds will alternate between the ACBL or CBF and local charities.

    The twice-yearly ACBL-Wide Charity games and three times yearly ACBL-Wide International Fund games have been eliminated. They are no longer required, due to the designation of April as Charity Month and September as International Month.

    The masterpoint awards for Club Appreciation games in October have been increased from 85% to 100% sectionally rated black point games.

  4. Junior Issues

    I was very pleased with the actions taken by the ACBL Board pertaining to junior matters. Besides the specific motions on the floor, in the Junior and Marketing Committees, there appeared to be a strong message that ACBL management should direct more resources towards teaching and recruiting younger members. With the average age of ACBL members approximately 67, a long-term commitment to reducing that number is required.

    1. A motion to recommend that the WBF age for play in junior competition be changed to only allow players 21 and under to compete was soundly defeated 4-20-1. I voted against.

    2. A comprehensive overhaul of Zone 2 regulations for international events was approved 23-2. I voted in favour. Junior fund money raised in Canada will continue to be sent to the CBF. The board reiterated that, in order for the USBF to receive subsidies from the ACBL, all juniors must abide by the ACBL Code of Conduct. In addition, all junior players participating in a World Championship must play a specified minimum number of boards in order to be eligible for a medal. The CBF has similar policies for its junior players.

    3. I co-sponsored a motion regarding the ACBL Junior Player Entry-Fee Policy. It is very similar to the policy that District 2 approved earlier this year. It was approved as follows:

      1. At all NABCs, the entry fee for all players who have not yet reached their 16th birthday shall be $1 per session except for NABC+ surcharged events. Carried 18-7. I voted in favour.

      2. At all NABCs, the entry fee for paid-up ACBL members in good standing who have not yet reached their 26th birthday shall be no more than 50% of the regional-rated entry fee. Carried 23-2. I voted in favour. Effective Fall, 2004 NABC in Orlando.

      3. The ACBL encourages all districts, units, and bridge clubs to consider similar policies for their regional tournaments, sectional tournaments and club games. Carried 23-2. I voted in favour.

      The ACBL needs younger members. The above Junior Player Entry-Fee policy recognizes that financial incentives are required to attract junior players to our tournaments in order to cement bridge as an integral part of their lives.

    4. Management shall investigate and develop a pilot program for youth camps limited to junior players 21 and under. A preliminary report is due at the fall meeting in 2004. Carried unanimously.

    5. Congratulations to Tim Capes and Charles Halasi, Toronto, who were inducted into the ACBL Junior Corps.

    6. Congratulations to Anton Blagov, Toronto (playing with Samantha Nystrom, Burnaby, BC) who placed second in the Junior Scholarship Game and will receive a total of US $750 toward university tuition.

  5. ACBL Finances and Dues Increases For 2005

    The ACBL Treasurer's report and yearly financial statements are available to any member upon request. The ACBL is in a sound financial position. Nonetheless, expenses continue to increase for salaries, insurance, the new ACBL Bulletin, paper costs, and the increased funds required for marketing and promotion. The Finance Committee's preliminary budget assumptions were approved 15-9. I voted in favour.

    1. There will be no increases in ACBL sanction fees for tournaments or clubs (last changed April, 2002).

    2. There will be no increase in NABC entry fees (last changed January, 2004).

    3. TD session fees may increase 7%. This is a preliminary number. There are strong indications that the number may be reduced when the Finance Committee meets in November. Be that as it may, a 7% increase would mean (US dollars):

      20042005
      Local$73.50 $78.50
      Associate Tournament Director$92.00$98.50
      Tournament Director$112.75$120.50
      Associate National TD & National Tournament Director $123.25$132.00

      A proposal to create a 5th category separating the 12 ACBL National TD's from Associate National TD whereby the National TD's rate would be $35 higher than the Associate was deferred to Orlando in the Fall. I am strongly opposed as the cost of hiring National TD's would be prohibitive for many smaller tournaments.

    4. Membership dues will increase effective January 1, 2005 (last changed January 1, 2001). Carried 14-11. I voted in favour. The new dues structure will be as follows (US dollars):

      20042005
      Non Life Master$32$35
      Life Master$29$32
      Student$12.75$14
      Youth$5$5
      First Time New Membership$24$26

      One way to save a few dollars is to renew or extend your ACBL membership before December 31, 2004.

    5. A Personal Note

      District 2 memberships increased 2.83% from June 30, 2003 to June 30, 2004. We now have 6, 215 members. This was the largest percentage increase of any ACBL District. Congratulations to our outstanding teachers, club owners, and club managers, who recruit new members. The number of total dues paying ACBL members increased from 149, 725 to 150, 360. In addition, there are 17, 613 unpaid Life Masters.

      This has been an exciting and busy year for me. While my bridge results in NYC were less than stellar, the ACBL Board meetings were very productive. The World Bridge Federation sponsored a weeklong series of junior events within the NABC that featured the inaugural World Schools Team Championships (WSTC), a Junior Individual, and finally the WBF/ACBL Bridge Camp. The ACBL held the finals of a collegiate championship, a junior scholarship game, junior day festivities, and the USBF Junior Trials.

      The WSTC attracted six teams from five countries. The teams (in order of finish) were Poland, Israel, Norway, Canada, and two teams from the United States. The event was restricted to players 21 and under. While the European teams had the better results, the Canadian squad was tops among the North American teams. It was a great experience for all the participants. Results and photos can be found on the CBF junior page.

      The WBF Individual event attracted more than 100 young players from all over the world. It was wonderful to see so many young people at an NABC.

      Rumour has it that summer weather will reach Toronto shortly! Enjoy your vacations but be sure to save some time for bridge play. Northern hospitality is always great and I am looking forward to the North Bay Regional, August 17-22. I hope to see some of you there.


      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 New York City NABC

      1216.16Gavin WolpertThornhill ON
      2102.20Morrie KleinplatzWindsor ON
      377.19Daniel LaveeThornhill ON
      470.91Andrew TylmanToronto ON
      556.82Don PiafskyToronto ON
      655.30Brian JohnstonToronto ON
      753.33David GraingerEtobicoke ON
      852.17Vinay SarinThornhill ON
      946.59Barbara ClintonAurora ON
      1044.75David LindopToronto ON
      =1143.39Roman SmolskiWarwick Bermuda
      =1143.39Vera PettyWarwick Bermuda
      1343.05Vince OddyAurora ON
      1442.99Martin HunterMississauga ON
      =1540.69James PriebeMississauga ON
      =1540.69Joan PriebeMississauga ON
      1735.35Eric LewisToronto ON
      1834.94P Max VaightToronto ON
      1933.40Henry CasparToronto ON
      =2033.00Jeffery YuNorth York ON
      =2033.00Frank YuNorth York ON
      2230.44Ronald SutherlandMississauga ON
      2326.92Yakov KhitrovWillowdale ON
      2426.67Lewis RichardsonToronto ON
      2525.94George MittelmanToronto ON