March 30, 2005

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

The Pittsburgh NABC was a mixture of good and bad. On the plus side was the outstanding hospitality that was provided every evening on the fourth floor of the convention centre. Downtown Pittsburgh offered an array of excellent dining establishments, most within walking distance, to meet every budget. On the negative side, the final table count of 9,593 was a little soft. The host hotels were expensive (as is usually the case, our enterprising players were able to find much cheaper alternatives) and the playing facilities in the convention centre, while adequate, were not nearly as nice as hotel ballrooms. The cold weather made walking back and forth a little unpleasant. Worse, handicapped facilities were not up to par either at the convention centre or the host hotel.

There has been a flurry of e-mail messages among the members of the ACBL Board discussing the issue of NABC sites. It is very difficult to find perfect locations. It is also preferable to host NABCs throughout the continent in order to give more people an opportunity to attend one. The amount of volunteer work provided by the host organization is almost overwhelming. As a result, the local people need a rest and the ACBL cannot realistically return to the same location without a six to ten year break. That said, I believe there is a consensus that the ACBL Board should get more involved in reviewing proposed NABC contracts and not merely rubberstamp every proposal presented to us from management.

  1. District 2 Stars at the Bridge Table

    David Grainger, with 136 points, led the list of District 2 players who performed well. David placed in the top 10 in two NABC events as well as winning a Regional event. Honourable mention goes to Bob Hollow who won three Regional events and broke the Century mark with 104 points. One hundred and twenty-six District 2 players won masterpoints in Pittsburgh. One thousand, six hundred and forty-eight players won masterpoints at the Toronto Regional last week. The Top 25 District 2 Masterpoint List from both the Pittsburgh NABC and the Toronto Regional can be found at the end of this report. Here are the District 2 players who made the high overalls in NABC events:

    David Grainger, Etobicoke, 6th Jacoby Open Swiss; 8th Silodor Open Pairs; won Monday Compact KO, bracket 3.

    Joan Eaton, Willowdale, 5th Machlin Women's Swiss.

    Daniel Lavee, Thornhill, 6th Jacoby Open Swiss; 13th Red Ribbon Pairs.

    David Baker & Fran Chivers, Kitchener, 7th Rockwell Mixed Pairs.

    Ron Sutherland, Mississauga, & Roman Klein, Oakville, 10th Silver Ribbon Pairs.

    David Lindop, Toronto, 21st Jacoby Open Swiss; 34th Lebhar Imp Pairs.

    Eric Shepherd, Hamilton, & John Duquette, Oshawa, 21st Jacoby Open Swiss.

    Arno Hobart & George Mittelman, Toronto, 26th Jacoby Open Swiss.

    Gavin Wolpert, Thornhill, 17th/32nd Vanderbilt; 30th Silodor Open Pairs.

    Nader Hanna, Willowdale, Robert Lebi, Toronto, Jordan Cohen, Thornhill, 17th/32nd Vanderbilt.

    John Collins, Toronto, & Heather Elmslie, Don Mills, 3rd Red Ribbon Pairs.

    Hindupuram Sriharsha, Orillia & Leigh Ives, Barrie, 4th NAP “B”.

    Lesley Thomson & Stephen Foster, Toronto, 3rd NAP “C”.

    Doug Oman & Peter Minogue, North Bay, 10th NAP “C”.

    The following District 2 players WON Regional events:

    Robert Hollow, Madoc, was a triple regional winner, winning the Howard Lebow KO, bracket 4; Wednesday Compact KO, bracket 6; Louis Cohn KO Teams, bracket 2.

    Morrie Kleinplatz, Windsor, won the Wednesday – Saturday Morning KO, bracket 1

    Richard Chan, Richmond Hill, & Detlef Ladewig, Toronto, won the morning Compact KO, bracket 2.

    Martin Hunter, Mississauga, & Jonathan Steinberg, Toronto, won the Monday Compact KO, bracket 2.

    Alex Kornel & Barbara Seagram, won the Toyes-Giftes KO, bracket 3.

    Rene & Mary Lawand, Etobicoke, won the International Fund Stratified Open Pairs.

  2. ACBL: State of Good Health

    2004 was an outstanding year for the ACBL with the highest number of tournament tables of all time – 463, 409! There were three very successful NABCs. Retention of first year members increased from 62 to 66%. Membership is the highest since 1996. Financially, the ACBL balance sheet is strong. The net assets of the ACBL at the end of 2004 were $7,350,000, compared to $7,150,000 at the end of 2003. The difference is due, in large part, to the NABC yearly profits.

    2005 will be a more difficult year and, indeed, tournament attendance for the first two months of 2005 has been weak: Regionals are down 20%, Sectionals 8% and STAC's 7%. Extraordinary circumstances and severe weather had some negative effects. The Toronto Regional last week had 2,050 tables, a 6% decrease from 2004, but given that the tournament started the day after the Pittsburgh NABC, we are not displeased with the numbers. ACBL management expects tournament attendance numbers to improve as the year continues.

    The ACBL membership numbers no longer include inactive Life Members. This was a category of Life Masters who did not pay any service fees, had not won a masterpoint in more than two years, had addresses unknown to the ACBL, and indeed might not even be alive! It was not realistic to include them. As of March 1, 2005, the ACBL had 150, 548 active paid-up members, an increase of 688 from March 1, 2004. There are an additional 5,797 active unpaid Life Masters for a grand total of 156, 345 active ACBL members. This is a 0.2% (310) increase from a year earlier. There are just over 140,000 active American members and almost 16,000 active Canadian members.

    In Orlando, the ACBL Board met with a facilitator to discuss some long-term goals for the next five years. Between Orlando and Pittsburgh, management worked on the plan in more detail, filling it in with specific targets and financial costs. The ACBL Board unanimously approved the official ACBL Strategic Plan 2005-2009. This is a working document but it will provide a good checklist on our progress. A ranking system based on current performance has often been discussed – it is now part of the ACBL plan for 2007-2008. Comprehensive marketing plans to expand youth education in bridge as well as to target the 50+ age group will be implemented. Long-range planning requires an ongoing commitment, but we have made a good start.

    A record number of teams (25) participated in the ACBL College Bridge Team Championships in February. Congratulations to Anton Blagov, Tim Capes, Charles Halasi, and Mike Vainchtein representing the University of Toronto, which was one of the eight teams that qualified for a free trip to Atlanta in July to participate in the collegiate finals.

    For the third year in a row ACBL management has announced that a Windows version of ACBL Score will be introduced this year. Notwithstanding previous delays, 2005 will be the year ACBL Score and Windows come together. Testing in selected bridge clubs is expected to start in June. Before the end of the year, the finished product will be available – at no charge – for all ACBL bridge clubs. Management's goal is to have every ACBL bridge club use ACBL Score within the next two to three years.

  3. Board Actions From Pittsburgh

    1. Congratulations to ACBL's CEO Jay Baum, who was given a two-year extension (summer, 2007) to his existing contract.

    2. Congratulations to Jerry Fleming, District 17, who was re-elected as the ACBL Treasurer.

    3. After reviewing the report from the Real Estate Committee, board members unanimously recommended that the ACBL actively pursue the sale of its current facility. The deterioration of the Memphis neighbourhood has made it imperative to consider other facilities. Exactly when and where the new ACBL Headquarters will be located is still to be determined, but the decision to sell the existing property has been made.

    4. The question of ACBL insurance for its districts, units, and clubs is being reviewed. A committee will report back at the summer meeting.

    5. Several recommendations were forwarded to the Hall of Fame committee to review and report back to the ACBL Board this summer. It was suggested that the electorate be less restrictive and that all Grand Life Masters be included. In addition, a minimum percentage for induction should be established.

      In Atlanta this summer, Canada's late and great Percy Sheardown will be inducted into the ACBL Hall of Fame as the winner of the von Zedtwitz award. The von Zedtwitz award is given for performance at the table by a person who is "no longer in the limelight". The recipient may be a deceased player or a living player who hasn't played in a long time. The award recognizes outstanding performance at the bridge table. In 2001, Sami Kehela and Eric Murray were co-winners of the von Zedtwitz award. The Blackwood award, in contrast, is given for "service to bridge" as opposed to performance at the table.

    6. A Century Club for ACBL members who reach 100 years of age will be established with appropriate mention of this achievement to be made in the ACBL Bulletin. Currently there are fifty ACBL members over 100!

    7. Minor changes to the ACBL Code of Disciplinary Regulations were approved. All interested parties should review or download the changes from the ACBL web site.

    8. The Club Appreciation Games held in October were reviewed and are now permanent.

  4. Premier Team Games Format

    In Pittsburgh, 78 teams registered to compete in the Vanderbilt. The first two days included many 4 way matches with three survivors - in effect a double elimination. The winners from the 32 board afternoon match got the evening off while the two losers played off at night with the winner advancing. This method reduced the field to 32 teams by Day 3; 64 board head-on matches followed.

    There were several complaints about the format. A team could lose, win, lose, win, and still make it to the round of 32. A professional team could win its afternoon matches two days in a row, get the evenings off, and make it to the round of 32 without the client ever touching a card!

    This is a difficult issue to resolve, as there is no consensus among top players as to what format is best. Three-way matches with one survivor are not good. Many experts prefer to give byes to the top teams and have the remaining squads play full-day 64 board matches. But there are problems with byes. For example, does a team with a bye have to pay an entry fee while sitting out? Can participants play and win masterpoints in a concurrent event? Is it fair to allow byes? There are strong feelings on both sides of this issue.

    A more radical suggestion that I personally endorse is to use the Rosenblum teams format. The initial field is seeded into groups. Within each group you have a two-day round robin of short matches scored by Victory Points. The appropriate number of teams from each group qualifies to the round of 32, where head-on 64 board matches commence. There are no controversial byes, nor are there any three-way or four-way matches. Every team plays every match. I believe this format would create more interest and excitement in the event.

    What do you think? I would appreciate having your input on this controversial issue.

  5. A Personal Note

    2005 is an exceptionally busy year for me. I am a member of the ACBL Executive Committee that convenes and acts on behalf of the full ACBL Board in emergency and/or time-sensitive issues. I am serving as a Trustee on the ACBL Educational Foundation.

    On the ACBL Board, I am a member of the Governance, Marketing, and International & Zonal Affairs Committees. I am an ex-officio member of the Canadian Bridge Federation Board of Directors.

    Most exciting as well as time consuming is my position as NPC of the Canadian Junior Team that will compete in the 10th World Junior Bridge Championships in Sydney, Australia August 7-17, 2005. Canada has an outstanding team. We appreciate your support and good wishes. We will do our best to bring home a medal from Australia.

    2005 is also an election year for me as I seek your support to continue representing District 2 on the ACBL Board of Directors. As many of you know, I plan to retire from the ACBL Board in 2008; in fact, several individuals with an outstanding history of volunteer work have already discussed with me their intention to run for the ACBL Board in three years. I plan to encourage and work with my potential successors to ensure that District 2 is well represented at the national level.

    My accomplishments and what I stand for are well known. My written reports are available on my web site for everyone to read. There are major initiatives underway in junior bridge promotion that I would like to see grow over the next few years. I would like to bring home a junior team medal for Canada this summer!

    The support and encouragement that I have received throughout District 2 is greatly appreciated. I am now seeking your support (and your vote) in this summer's election as your representative to the ACBL Board of Directors.

    Thank you very much.

  6. From The Fifth Estate

    Playing bridge is good for you! The Washington Post reported on the results of a study by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York in 2003: “Playing chess, bridge or a musical instrument significantly lowers the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia, according to the most comprehensive study to examine the benefits of challenging intellectual activity among the elderly.” In 2004, Parade magazine followed up with a report that: “To be sure to have a 'full deck' later in life, play bridge.”

    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 Pittsburgh NABC

    1136.41David GraingerEtobicoke ON
    2103.73Robert HollowMadoc ON
    387.92Daniel LaveeThornhill ON
    =462.08Alex KornelToronto ON
    =462.08Barbara SeagramToronto ON
    661.09Jonathan SteinbergToronto ON
    760.44Martin HunterMississauga ON
    859.40Morrie KleinplatzWindsor ON
    947.92Gavin WolpertThornhill ON
    1045.81Gail LambacherOakville ON
    =1145.35Tony ViidikWaterloo ON
    =1145.35Joan ViidikWaterloo ON
    =1342.38Fran ChiversKitchener ON
    =1342.38David BakerKitchener ON
    1541.13Harold DietrichToronto ON
    =1639.96John CollinsToronto ON
    =1639.96Heather ElmslieDon Mills ON
    1839.06David LindopToronto ON
    =1938.53Detlef LadewigToronto ON
    =1938.53Richard ChanRichmond Hill ON
    2137.32Ranald DavidsonNorth York ON
    2236.64Joan EatonWillowdale ON
    2336.47Paul JanickiMarkham ON
    2436.07Walter DedioMorden MB
    2533.27Joan PriebeMississauga ON

    Top 25 Masterpoint Winners From District 2 at the Toronto Regional March 22 – 27, 2005

    155.18Richard ChanRichmond Hill
    254.20Daniel KorbelWaterloo
    353.58William KoskiKing City
    446.32Jonathan SteinbergToronto
    542.42James PriebeMississauga
    =642.30Terrance RegoMississauga
    =642.30Lino D'SouzaBurlington
    841.63Ron BishopThornhill
    940.85Andy StarkToronto
    1040.39Michael CummingsToronto
    1139.56Danny MilesToronto
    1238.03Detlef LadewigToronto
    1337.80Danny SchamehornWashago
    1437.75Brian JohnstonToronto
    1537.15Joan PriebeMississauga
    1636.78Martin HunterMississauga
    =1736.20Andy AltayWillowdale
    =1736.20Raymond JungHamilton
    1935.93Joseph SauroNorth Bay
    2035.65Roger SnowlingHamilton
    2133.95Wendy DooleyMississauga
    2233.75David LindopToronto
    =2333.60James LuxfordToronto
    =2333.60Bonny NorrisToronto
    =2532.97Robert LebiToronto
    =2532.97Nader HannaWillowdale
    =2532.97George MittelmanToronto
    =25 32.97Eric MurrayToronto