July 28, 2005

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

The big concern regarding the Atlanta NABC was whether the 10 AM, 3 PM, and 8 PM starting times would affect attendance. Since I am writing this report in Toronto as the NABC is continuing, the final numbers are not yet available. It appears that NABC+ games are a little soft, while attendance for the 8 PM KO's is strong (hey, this is District 7, home of Gatlinburg!). I expect the final table count to be very close to the estimate of 13,300.

At the Board of Governors meeting, a quick poll found the majority (40-35) opposed to the 10 AM and 3 PM times. Judging from the players who approached me, it appears that those against 10 AM and 3 PM are strongly opposed, whereas those in favour would be more likely to play regardless of the starting times. There is no doubt that some players chose not to attend Atlanta because of the starting times.

Even with 9 AM, 1 PM, and 7:30 PM times, there would still be 10 AM and 3 PM senior games. But with everyone on a 10 AM and 3 PM schedule, there was a mad dash to the food court for a quick lunch. In my opinion, there wasn't enough time between sessions to service all the players. The beautiful Hyatt Regency Hotel has five high-speed elevators in the atrium tower, but these elevators could not cope with the huge crowds during “rush hour”. I heard numerous complaints. At every NABC, there are multiple meetings that occur. In Atlanta, all of them had to be rescheduled to fit in whenever time and space were available.

I am pleased to report that for the foreseeable future, all of the upcoming NABCs will have the traditional 1 PM and 7:30 PM times.

Nonetheless, I have high praise for Jack Feagin and Barbara Heller, the tireless Chairs of the Atlanta NABC, who dared to try something different! I also thank them and all the local volunteers for the attractive Atlanta T-shirt we received as the registration gift, as well as for the outstanding hospitality provided throughout the NABC.

  1. District 2 Stars at the Bridge Table

    Daily Bulletins and complete results from Atlanta can be found at the ACBL web site, www.acbl.org. Here are the players who placed in NABC+ events and/or who won Regional events. Final update: Monday morning, August 1.

    Nader Hanna, Willowdale, (playing with Nagy Kamel, Plano TX) WON the NABC Wernher Open Pairs; 8th NABC Fast Open Pairs; 54th, NABC von Zedtwitz Life Master Pairs.

    Milt Payne, Bob Defreyne, & Paul Beischlag, Simcoe; Reginald Smith, Wilsonville WON the GNT, Flight C.

    Joan Eaton, Willowdale, 2nd Wagar Women's KO Teams.

    David Grainger, Etobicoke, 3/4 Mini Spingold I; 23rd NABC Open Swiss Teams.

    Paul Janicki & Ian Findlay, Markham; John Moser, St Agatha; Dwight Bender, London; Martin Hunter, Mississauga; Colin Harrington, Cambridge, 5/8th GNT Flight A and 5/8th Mini Spingold I.

    David Lindop & Michael Cummings, Toronto, 6th NABC Open Swiss Teams; 17/32 Spingold; with Fred Lerner, Markham, WON bracket 2 (of 13), Raleigh KO.

    David Lindop, Toronto, & Daniel Lavee, Thornhill, 11th, NABC von Zedtwitz Life Master Pairs.

    Leslie Amoils, Toronto, 14th NABC Open Swiss Teams; 17/32 Spingold.

    Jonathan Steinberg, Toronto, 29th, NABC von Zedtwitz Life Master Pairs.

    Gavin Wolpert, Thornhill & Vincent Demuy, Montreal, 17/32 Spingold; 43rd NABC Open Swiss Teams.

    Don Piafsky, Toronto, 30th NABC Wernher Open Pairs.

    Vince Oddy & Barbara Clinton, Aurora, 33rd NABC Open Swiss Teams.

    Jim & Joan Priebe, Mississauga, 34th NABC Fast Open Pairs.

    Robert Hollow, Madoc & Malcolm Ewashkiw, Belleville WON bracket 2 (of 9) in the Myrtle Beach evening KO; WON bracket 3 (of 11), Coastal Georgia KO.

    Dwight Bender, London; Martin Hunter, Mississauga; Ian Findlay & Paul Janicki, Markham WON bracket 4 (of 16), Gatlinburg KO.

    Timothy Capes & Charles Halasi, Toronto; Daniel Lavee, Thornhill WON bracket 3 (of 6), Chattanooga KO; Timothy Capes, Toronto also WON bracket 10 (of 11), Coastal Georgia KO.

    Peter Attwood, Sarnia, WON bracket 6 (of 13), Hilton Head KO

  2. Board Actions From Atlanta

    1. Congratulations to Harriette Buckman (District 13) who was elected ACBL President for 2006.

    2. The proposal from the Hall of Fame Committee was accepted. The main points were to increase the number of electors and to require a 50% minimum percentage of ballots cast for a candidate to be elected. Second place finishers in the Vanderbilt, Spingold, Reisinger, Wagar, Bermuda Bowl, Venice Cup, Rosenblum, McConnell, and World Team Olympiads will count as “wins” in determining if a person has the five wins needed to vote. WBF and ACBL Grand Life Masters were added to the category of electors. Carried unanimously.

    3. The penalty for a fouled board in sectional and regional events was reduced from a full board to a quarter board. In NABC+ events, the full board penalty will still apply. I voted in favour. Carried 24-1.

    4. The policy for funding trips for NAP finalists was amended. Now, each district winner who plays in the national final will receive a lodging subsidy equal to three nights' lodging at the ACBL host hotel. No longer will players be required to stay at the host hotel, nor will they be required to provide documented proof of where they stayed. This greatly simplifies the accounting from the ACBL's standpoint. It was felt that players who stayed in less expensive accommodations would use the funds for entry fees and stay longer at the NABC. Carried 22-3. I voted in favour.

    5. A controversial motion that would allocate one dollar of each member's dues/service fees to their respective NCBO (USBF, CBF, Mexico, Bermuda) to fund their Zonal responsibilities was deferred to the Denver Fall meeting. If passed, this motion would result in a drop of over $150,000 in ACBL revenues. I am opposed.

    6. In my Pittsburgh report, I wrote: “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.”

      In Atlanta, the Real Estate Committee confirmed this by reporting that the Memphis headquarters has a big “For Sale” sign on the front lawn. One tenant, Homeland Security, has vacated its space, and other tenants are expected to move out before year-end.

    7. Any player participating in the GNT or NAP events must be a dues paying or service fee paid up ACBL member prior to playing in any level of this event except club qualifying. Carried 22-3. I voted in favour.

      Another issue involving the GNT event deals with residency. There have been several cases where players have “moved” to the District in which they wished to play. In Denver, the ACBL Board will legislate clear rules for determining residency as well as establishing and implementing a process for enforcement of residency requirements. Mandatory penalties for violation in accordance with the Code of Disciplinary Regulations will be established.

    8. A player's eligibility for the Ace of Clubs and Mini-McKenney masterpoint races at all levels (overall and Unit placements) shall be determined by his total masterpoint holding at the start of the year. This will prevent players with many masterpoints (but not a higher rank due to lack of coloured points) from winning races designed for players with fewer points. Effective January 1, 2006. Carried unanimously.

    9. The Elections Procedure Committee will have final recommendations for the ACBL Board at the Fall meeting in Denver. Items on the table include electronic voting methods; restricting a candidate's biographical sketch to biographical material; “freezing” a unit board's voting members as of a specific date – probably June 1 – after which no new voting members can be added; and last, but certainly not least, what procedures should be followed in the event a candidate resigns, dies, or otherwise becomes ineligible to hold office in the middle of an election campaign.

  3. ACBL Score

    ACBL Score is an outstanding program that saves time and work for the club owner in addition to minimizing ACBL's costs in recording masterpoints and processing club fees. Besides producing quick game results, it allows for individual printouts of results, finds the correct movement for any number of tables, ranks stratified games, and is able to score by matchpoints or IMPs. It allows you to send in your monthly club report via e-mail as produced by the program, to keep a directory of your players, to post results on-line, and to keep a running total of masterpoints won at your club by each player. It will print mailing labels and masterpoint receipts for new players.

    Best of all, ACBL Score is free to download from the ACBL website. A Windows-based version is currently being tested and should be available before the end of this year.

    ACBL management has two problems. First, there are some clubs using outdated versions of ACBL Score that do not provide for electronic submission of accurate monthly reports. Effective January 1, 2006, an additional $2 per game fee will be charged to those clubs. Carried 20-4-1. I voted in favour. NOTE: All of the offending clubs will be notified by mail and will be provided with a free copy of the latest version of ACBL Score. The intent is to bring these clubs up-to-date, not to penalize them.

    The second problem is that a minority of clubs (invariably clubs that just run one or two games per week) does not yet use ACBL Score. Clubs that do not use ACBL Score to submit their monthly financial and masterpoint reports must pay an additional $2.00 per game sanction fee. Effective January 1, 2007. Carried 21-4. I voted in favour.

  4. Insurance

    In my Pittsburgh report, I wrote: “The question of ACBL insurance for its districts, units, and clubs is being reviewed. A committee will report back at the summer meeting.”

    The ACBL Insurance Committee is currently reviewing the ACBL's insurance coverage and related areas. The prime focus is the study of General Liability and Directors & Officers coverage available to Districts and Units.

    The General Liability policy that partially covers us for alleged bodily injury, property damage, libel, slander, and defamation should be our primary concern. Currently, the premium for this insurance varies greatly depending upon the size of the Districts & Units. It is important to recognize that one is still liable for the deductible amount named in the policy.

    The Insurance Committee is obtaining quotations and other information and expects to offer some guidance by the Fall meeting.

  5. Junior Issues

    In my Orlando report (Fall 2004) I wrote: “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.”

    Representatives from Simpson Communication were in Atlanta, where they presented a progress report, including the results of their research, to the ACBL Board. The big news is that a new web site, www.bridgeiscool.com, will debut on August 16, 2005. From the preview that was presented to us, I am optimistic. This is phase one of their marketing plan. Phase two will emphasize teaching bridge in schools.

    This is not a one-shot deal. I envision a long-term commitment towards marketing bridge towards a younger demographic. The Simpson people will be giving us regular updates at each ACBL Board meeting.

    The average ACBL member is now 67.28 years of age! Some mathematical doomsayers predict that ACBL membership will “fall off a cliff” when the age reaches some magic number (70,71,72?). Let's all work to ensure that day will never arrive.

    The ACBL Educational Foundation (www.educationalfoundation.info/) continues to provide grants to worthy projects. At the Atlanta meeting, Flo Belford from Milton ON, was awarded a US $10,000 grant to expand her work in teaching bridge in schools. John Gillespie and Carole Berry from the Ottawa area were awarded a grant to expand upon the success of their Bridge Kids Canada program. All of these initiatives are very encouraging.

    While the ACBL has embarked upon a mini-bridge camp program, I was extremely disappointed to learn that ACBL management has announced that there are no plans for future ACBL/WBF bridge camps in North America. Since 1996, the ACBL has been involved in several bridge camps for players between 16 and 25 years of age. In 2004, following the summer New York City NABC, the WBF/ACBL bridge camp attracted more than 100 players, many from Europe. The camps have been alternating between Europe and North America.

    The bridge camp issue was raised at the Board of Governors meeting, where a motion to urge the ACBL to continue to sponsor bridge camps was deferred to the Fall, pending more information. Management's decision was also discussed during the Atlanta ACBL Board meetings. It appears that the major stumbling block is liability insurance. Those of us who support the bridge camps plan to address the issue at Fall Board meeting in Denver by submitting a motion to approve a bridge camp for Nashville in the summer of 2007. Meanwhile, I will be working with my co-sponsors and WBF individuals as we try to solve the liability issue at a manageable cost.

  6. District 2 Election

    I am currently in the midst of a campaign to be re-elected as your representative to the ACBL Board of Directors. The support and encouragement I have been receiving from all corners of the District have been very gratifying. On a personal level, I would like to commend the many dedicated and hard-working volunteers that we are fortunate to have in every unit in District 2.

    I will be playing in the Barrie sectional this Sunday, July 31, 2005. I welcome the opportunity to discuss my candidacy and any ACBL issues of concern to you.

    Units 181, 212, 238, 246, and 249 have chosen to conduct their election by mail ballot. On August 8, 2005, the ballots will be mailed from Memphis to each individual unit board member with detailed instructions as to how to mark the ballot and return it to Memphis to be counted.

    Units 166, 198, and 228 have chosen to have an election meeting. Your ballots will be given to you at that time. You have the option of requesting – in advance of the election meeting – an absentee ballot that will be mailed to your home. If that is your wish, you need to notify the ACBL Director of Elections, Galen Hardy (galen.hardy@acbl.org).

    My core beliefs remain: open lines of communication, a strong youth program to ensure the ACBL's future, and hospitable tournaments that are enjoyable for all.

    Thank you for your support.

  7. Australia Bound

    As the NPC of Team Canada (Juniors), I will be departing for Australia on Wednesday, August 3, and will not return to Canada until September 1. While I am out of town, I expect to have periodic access to the Internet. Therefore, if you wish to contact me, please send your e-mail to: jonathan_npc@hotmail.com.

    The Canadian junior team is expected to be very competitive. The partnerships are: Vincent Demuy & Gavin Wolpert; David Grainger & Daniel Lavee; Timothy Capes & Charles Halasi. I invite all of you to follow the 10th World Youth Team Championships in Sydney, Australia, August 7 – 17, 2005 on-line at: http://www.worldbridge.org/tourn/Sydney.05/Sydney.htm

  8. The Last Word

    At the Board of Governors meeting in Atlanta, Barry Harper reminded all of us that we are the best promoters and marketers of bridge. If every one of us could sign up just one new ACBL member, our membership would double.

    Today, I am asking all of you who are reading this to contact your unit and District Webmasters and urge them to put a link to the new “Bridge Is Cool” website. It will debut on August 16, 2005: www.bridgeiscool.com

    We all need to do our part to promote the new website and develop new players. My hope is that the next generation will discover a game that will bring it a lifetime of intriguing challenges, yet at the same time will provide hours of enjoyment and social interaction for many, many years. Perhaps it will indeed become the “cool” thing to do!

    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

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