December 3, 2004

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

This is the time of the year when I have the pleasure to announce my lifetime appointments to the ACBL Goodwill and Charity Committees. My 2005 appointments to the ACBL Goodwill Committee are:

My 2005 appointment to the ACBL Charity Committee is:

  1. Orlando NABC

    Most members of the ACBL Board of Directors traveled to Orlando on November 12 to attend a weekend strategic planning session. The groundwork for long term priorities and strategies for the ACBL was laid out. ACBL management will flesh out these strategies and the process will continue next March.

    The downside was that I unfortunately had to miss the Niagara Falls Regional. My congratulations to all the organizers and volunteers who helped make the tournament a resounding success.

    The planning session was followed by regular ACBL Board meetings and the NABC. The Orlando World Center Marriott Resort & Convention Center is a beautiful place. It is the largest Marriott in the world, with over 2000 rooms, multiple swimming pools, a golf course, and ideal playing facilities where all the events were held on the same floor. Everyone appreciated the free coffee and orange juice that Florida tournaments are famous for. There were 14,641.5 tables in play, which made Orlando the third largest Fall NABC in history.

  2. District 2 Stars at the Bridge Table

    Triple congratulations to Gavin Wolpert, Thornhill, who won the three-day NABC North American Swiss Teams championship, announced his engagement to Jenny Ryman, Stockholm, Sweden (who placed 10th in the Bobby Nail Life Master Pairs), and recently became an ACBL Diamond (5000+ points) Life Master! Wow! Vincent Demuy, Laval, QC was Gavin's partner in the North American Swiss Teams. The two young stars will represent Canada next summer at the 10th World Junior Bridge Championships in Sydney, Australia.

    Two hundred and thirty-five players from District 2 won masterpoints in Orlando. The Top 25 District 2 Masterpoint List can be found at the end of this report. Here are the District 2 players who made the overalls in NABC events:

    Gavin Wolpert, Thornhill, WON the North American Swiss Teams, 29th Open Board-A-Match.

    David Grainger, Etobicoke, 4th North American Swiss Teams, 20th Bobby Nail Life Master Pairs.

    Joan Eaton, Willowdale, 4th Marsha May Sternberg Board-A-Match.

    Arno Hobart & George Mittelman, 9th Reisinger Board-A-Match. George was also 21st in the Bobby Nail Life Master Pairs.

    Leslie Amoils, Toronto, 21st Bobby Nail Life Master Pairs, 29th Edgar Kaplan Blue Ribbon Pairs, 30th Open Board-A-Match.

    David McLellan, Thunder Bay, & Bill Treble, Winnipeg, 28th Edgar Kaplan Blue Ribbon Pairs. Bill was also 28th in the North American Swiss Teams.

    Daniel Lavee, Thornhill, 30th Open Board-A-Match.

    The following District 2 players WON Regional events:

    Don Piafsky, Toronto, won the Charity Pairs with his son Barry, New York City.

    Doug Baxter, Toronto, & Ron Bishop, Thornhill, won the final Sunday Noon and 6 Swiss Teams.

    There were many District 2 players who WON their brackets in various KO events. Congratulations to all of them:

    Glen Harmer & Pushpa Satinder, Thunder Bay; Merryl Chin, Don Mills; and Andrew Risman, Toronto, were all triple winners!

    Jean Dilcock & David Kroft, Thornhill; Joan & Tony Viidick, Waterloo; and Gail Lambacher, Oakville, were all double winners!

    Jim Ball, Wendy Richardson, Len Charney, Malcolm Yurkowski, Colin Ward, Ken Sired, Allan Mowat, Winnipeg; Paul & Joo-Hee Janicki, Fred Lerner, Ian Findlay, Markham; Jim & Debbie Howie, Etobicoke; Barbara & Peter Minogue, North Bay; D. & Frances McCrady, Scarborough; Julia Price & Dixie Lee Birnie, Toronto; Sheila Puz, Kitchener; Bob Hollow, Madoc; Barry Senensky, Thornhill; Adela Mitchelson, Thunder Bay; Barbara Foell, Waterloo; Bertram Booth, Willowdale.

  3. Names in the News

  4. Financial Issues

    The ACBL is in excellent financial health. The 2005 budget that was approved would entail about a $300,000 loss but would keep the ACBL well within its financial guidelines. Carried 21-4. I voted in favour.

    In my summer NABC report I reported the 2005 dues increase but stated that there would be no increase in NABC entry fees or sanction fees. Tournament Director (TD) session fees were proposed to increase by 7% across the board. There have been some changes to the above, as well as some other budgetary items:

    1. The motion to establish two sponsor rates for the ranks of Associate National TD and National TD such that the rate for a National TD would be significantly higher was defeated 9-16. I voted against the motion, as it would have made it very difficult to assign National TD's to smaller tournaments. ACBL management was opposed for similar reasons.

    2. The Director In Charge (DIC) fee was replaced with an across the board increase in TDs' session rates. Carried 13-11-1. I voted against because I believe the DIC surcharge was a valid one. This motion will reduce costs to smaller tournaments but increase costs to larger ones. The bottom line remains the same but eliminating DIC fees adds about 2.5% to all TD session fees.

    3. The 2005 per session TD sponsor fees will increase by 9%, effective January 1, 2005. The 9% increase is made up of a 3.5% salary increase, an increase to reflect fully allocated cost accounting, and a replacement for the elimination of the DIC supplement.

        2004   2005
      National TD $123.25   $134.00
      Associate National TD 123.25   134.00
      Tournament Director 112.75   123.00
      Associate TD 92.00   100.00
      Local TD 73.50   80.00
      Regional DIC Supplement 15.00   ZERO
      Sectional DIC Supplement 8.00   ZERO

    4. The Per Table Sanction Fees will DECREASE effective Jan. 1, 2005 (the revised fees were unanimously approved by the ACBL Executive Committee on December 11, 2004).

        2004   2005
      Open/Sr Regional $4.60   $4.39
      I/N Regional 3.22   3.04
      Open/Sr Sectional 3.22   3.04
      STAC 2.46   2.42
      Prog. Sect (qualifying) 2.80   2.65
      Prog. Sect (final) 3.22   3.04
      I/N Sectional 2.22   2.04

    5. Unit Rebates will increase effective January 1, 2005. Units will receive 11% of full dues payments and Life Master Service fees paid by their members. Carried 24-1. I voted in favour. However, the existing Unit Incentive Program will be eliminated. Only 118 out of 310 units participated in that program. This motion means more money for all of ACBL's units and the amount will automatically increase with any future dues increase.

        2004   2005
      Non Life Master $3.50   $3.85
      Life Master Service Fee 2.75   3.52

  5. Junior Issues & Marketing

    1. A motion to restrict all junior bridge camps in Zone 2 (ACBL) to campers with a maximum age of 20 years was defeated 10-15. I voted against. The bridge camps alternate between Europe and North America under the auspices of the World Bridge Federation. The age range is from 16-25, with about half being under 21 and half 21 or older. At the moment there are not enough junior bridge players to separate the two age groups.

    2. A major ACBL Bridge in Schools Marketing Initiative has been approved for 2005. Simpson Communications, LLC (www.simpson-communications.com) has been hired to help the ACBL enhance the image, reputation, and interest in bridge, primarily among the younger demographics from elementary school through age 26. The long-term goals are to familiarize a new generation of potential players with the game of bridge and to increase ACBL membership and participation among junior players.

      Within the next year there should be a new "BridgeIsCool" website, celebrity endorsements, and expanded media coverage. This is a $200,000 commitment (out of ACBL's $1 Million + annual marketing budget) towards marketing the game to younger players. It is in addition to all of ACBL's existing junior programs.

      The hard reality is that ACBL Junior membership has remained stable at about 750 members during the past decade. Meanwhile the average ACBL member is now 68 years old. The ACBL 2005 budget commitment to hire a professional outside marketing firm is a major shift in priorities that I believe is a very positive move.

    3. In Ottawa, ON a new “Bridge Kids Program”, partially funded by the ACBL Educational Foundation (http://www.educationalfoundation.info) has already attracted more than 400 youngsters in grades 4-6. For nearly all of these children, bridge has become part of the official school curriculum. This program shows great promise.

    4. In Orlando, Andrew Pedersen, an independent film producer from Halifax, was filming and interviewing Canadian bridge players in the Reisinger and North American Swiss Teams event. Canadian bridge. experts George Mittelman and Fred Gitelman, and junior stars Gavin Wolpert and Vincent Demuy were featured. Based on his Orlando experience and the trailer he is producing, Pedersen is hoping that CTV will fund a one-hour documentary on bridge. This is also a promising development.

  6. Potpourri

    1. The David Bruce LM Pairs (LM-5000 masterpoints) and the Sally Young LM Pairs (LM-1500 masterpoints) were permanently added to the summer NABC schedule. Carried unanimously.

    2. The Hall of Fame Committee submitted amendments to the Hall of Fame Charter for the year 2005. The amendments were approved 22-3. I voted in favour. The Hall of Fame procedures have become a political hot potato with much controversy surrounding the various methods used to select the inductees and the voting members. I hope that the differences of opinion that exist today can be amicably resolved in 2005. The Hall of Fame should be a celebration of our history, not a source of conflict among hard-working volunteers!

    3. The ACBL created the category of “Life Member” in recognition of players who became Life Masters. Today, however, ACBL membership numbers include thousands of inactive Life Members who have had no activity during the past few years. The ACBL has no contact with them, they have not won a fraction of a masterpoint, and some may be deceased. Yet they are included in the ACBL membership numbers.

      In my opinion, including inactive, unpaid Life Members is misleading. There are from 10-13,000 US members in this category and perhaps a little over 1,000 Canadian members. A related problem arises when it becomes time to pay the World Bridge Federation dues of fifty cents per member. How should the ACBL define its membership? Dues paying members? Unpaid Life Members who are active but do not pay their dues? Inactive Life Members? I expect a motion to be presented early in 2005 that would eliminate Inactive Life Members from the roster. I will support it.

    4. The second reading of the proposed revision of the ACBL By-laws was unanimously approved. The current and proposed by-laws can be viewed on the ACBL web site at: http://www.acbl.org/about/administration.html. The Board of Governors, which received a hard copy in Orlando, needs to approve the by-laws at the Pittsburgh meeting (March, 2005). Subsequently, the by-laws must be approved at the ACBL Annual General Meeting in Atlanta in July in order to take effect. A lot of hard work went into the revisions and I will be pleased once the approval process is complete.

  7. A Personal Perspective

    There is much to be thankful for in the past year. ACBL finances are robust, membership is stable, and tournament attendance is generally up. ACBL players appear to be happy and active.

    I have long been involved with junior player issues. The ACBL must make a breakthrough in this area and 2004 was very promising. A discounted junior player entry fee policy was approved. A major Bridge in Schools marketing initiative has been approved for 2005. Clubs will have the option of holding many more special games to award more masterpoints while collecting funds towards the junior program, international programs, and charity events. All are worthy causes. Unit rebates will increase starting January 1, 2005.

    Personally, in 2005, I will continue to serve as a Trustee on the ACBL Educational Foundation as well as remaining a member of the ACBL Executive Committee. I will be the NPC of the Canadian junior team that will compete in the 10th World Junior Bridge Championships in Sydney, Australia next August. It will be an exciting and fun year!

    Please consider planning a vacation around one of the ACBL's NABCs in 2005 – Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Denver. There is no better place to experience the excitement of bridge and to meet old friends or make new ones.

    The Holiday Season is upon us. I wish all of you a happy, healthy, and peaceful New Year.

    I am looking forward to seeing many of you at the City of Toronto sectional at the Fairmount Royal York Hotel, January 7-9, 2005. See 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 Orlando NABC

    1190.34Gavin WolpertThornhill ON
    2111.16David GraingerEtobicoke ON
    3100.68William TrebleWinnipeg MB
    487.61George MittelmanToronto ON
    582.04Merryl ChinDon Mills ON
    678.93Robert HollowMadoc ON
    778.10Andrew RismanToronto ON
    =877.84Debbie BennettScarborough ON
    =877.84Hans JacobsAurora ON
    1074.11David McLellanThunder Bay ON
    =1173.40Paul JanickiMarkham ON
    =1173.40Ian FindlayMarkham ON
    1372.23Allan MowatWinnipeg MB
    1469.64David KroftThornhill ON
    1568.38Arno HobartToronto ON
    1667.56Fred LernerMarkham ON
    1766.82Leslie AmoilsToronto ON
    1864.37Jean DilcockThornhill ON
    =1960.95Pushpa SatinderThunder Bay ON
    =1960.95Glen HarmerThunder Bay ON
    2156.22Doris OpdenveldeToronto ON
    2254.50Barry SenenskyThornhill ON
    2354.41Janine BibbToronto ON
    =2453.32Elizabeth GallagherOakville ON
    =2453.32Sheldon PearlmanToronto ON