December 2, 2005

Dear 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 2006 appointments to the ACBL Goodwill Committee are:

My 2006 appointment to the ACBL Charity Committee are:

  1. Denver NABC

    Mother Nature smiled on the bridge players, as the weather was as ideal as the playing site. All the bridge events were held on the concourse level of the Adam's Mark Hotel, which made it easy to find your friends. Just outside the hotel, the 16th Street Mall with its free trolley and multiple eating establishments provided the players with an abundance of dining options to choose from. A variety of nightly entertainment and food was offered for our enjoyment. The final table count of 10,145.75 tables was right on target. Congratulations to Co-Chairs Roy Weinstein and Bob Wingeard for an outstanding NABC.

  2. District 2 Stars at the Bridge Table

    Youth Trumps the Experts (from the ACBL website)

    Twenty-somethings Jenny Ryman of Sweden and Gavin Wolpert of Canada won the prestigious Blue Ribbon Pairs at the Fall NABC in Denver. As the result was announced, the room exploded with cheers for the youngsters, who are engaged to be married. They are the youngest ever -- Ryman is 20 and Wolpert is 23 -- to win one of the game's most demanding events. The three-day Blue Ribbon began with a field of 280 pairs including dozens of national and world champions. Bob Hamman, the leading player in the world, was delighted. "This is dynamite. It shows that the face of bridge is changing," he said.

    Led by Gavin Wolpert, with a remarkable 251.73 masterpoints, ninety-three players from District 2 won masterpoints in Denver. 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 & Jenny Ryman, Thornhill, WON the Blue Ribbon Pairs. Jenny was also 5th in the Smith LM Women's Pairs while Gavin was 13th in the Mitchell Open B-A-M Teams.

    Daniel Lavee, Thornhill, 4th Mitchell Open B-A-M Teams; 3rd Mini-Blue Ribbon Pairs; 39th Bobby Nail LM Pairs.

    Joan Eaton, North York, 16th Smith LM Women's Pairs.

    John Rayner, Oakville, and Michael Roche, Don Mills, 20th North American Swiss Teams.

    Antonia Okany, Etobicoke, and Judy Singer, Scarborough, 28th Smith LM Women's Pairs.

    Morrie Kleinplatz, Windsor, 33rd Mitchell Open B-A-M Teams; Morrie also WON bracket 2 of the Colorado Springs KO.

    Jonathan Steinberg, Toronto, 39th Blue Ribbon Pairs.

    Leslie Amoils, Toronto, 45th Bobby Nail LM Pairs; 48th Blue Ribbon Pairs.

    The following District 2 players WON Regional events:

    Malcolm Ewashkiw, Belleville, & Bob Hollow, Madoc, WON Super Broncos KO, Bracket 2.

    Wendy Dooley, Mississauga, Patti Lee, Toronto, Sally Caty & Debbie Feldman, Oakville WON Boulder Unit 359 KO, Bracket 2.

    Betsy Aaron & Robert Head, London, WON Super Broncos KO, Bracket 4.

    Brady Hinnegan, Richmond Hill, WON North Colorado Fri-Sat. KO, Bracket 4.

    Birte Ayer, Toronto, & Jerry Vopicka, Sarnia, WON Grand Junction Compact KO, Bracket 7.

    Tony & Joan Viidik, Waterloo, WON Super Broncos KO, Bracket 8.

    Harold Dietrich, Toronto, WON Sunday B/C/D Swiss.

  3. Names in the News

  4. Financial Issues

    The Fall meeting is always difficult, as the following year's budget needs to be approved. ACBL membership is stable but stagnant (with 155,458 total members, including 150,000 paying members). As of October 2005, tournament attendance was down approximately 3% for Regionals, 4% for sectionals, and 1% for STACs. Meanwhile, salary and cost of living increases continue, while insurance and health premium costs soar. The Hawaii NABC (Fall, 2006) will add to governance costs.

    I was not pleased with the break-even 2006 budget that was presented to us. It was approved 17-8. I voted no.

    Here is a list of the planned increases for 2006:

    1. Club Fee: per table club game fees will increase from .65 to .74 effective April 1, 2006. The 13.8% increase is the first since 2001.

    2. STAC sanction fees will increase from $2.42 to $3.04 (25.6%) effective January 1, 2006.

    3. The Sectional Surcharge for Open, Senior and Junior (in lieu of transportation) will increase from $110 to $135, effective January 1, 2006. The last increase was in 1993.

    4. Supply fees will increase from .85 to .95, effective January 1, 2006.

    5. NABC entry fees in 2006 will increase $1.50 per person per session across the board. One dollar of this amount will go to the host NABC for hospitality. High cost cities will now receive $10/table, average cost cities $9.50, low cost cities $9.00.

    6. Director Session Fees (Sponsor Paid) will increase between 7 and 7.5% effective January 1, 2006. It must be noted that just a fraction of this increase will actually go into a director's pocket. Here are the new per session numbers.

        2004   2005
      National TD $134.00   $144.00
      Associate National TD 134.00   144.00
      Tournament Director 123.00   132.00
      Associate TD 100.00   107.00
      Local TD 80.00   86.00

  5. Board Actions From Denver

    1. After years of discussion and experimentation with various formulas for the ACBL's premier team events, the board unanimously approved a new formula which will reduce the field to a power of two by the second day. Depending upon the number of entries, there will be head-on matches, byes, and 4-way matches (with three teams surviving) on day one. Starting on day 2, all matches will be head-on.

      For the Vanderbilt & Spingold, there are some numbers that are very difficult (17,18,33,34,65,66,129,130). In these cases, an announcement will be made during the evening session prior to the start of the event asking if any teams wish to withdraw and receive a free entry to the event of their choice. With insufficient withdrawals, there will be three way matches with one survivor. Carried 22-2-1. I voted yes.

      If the number of byes in any of the Vanderbilt, Spingold, Women's KO or Senior KO is six or greater, a separate two session swiss event will be held for those teams which receive byes. The current masterpoint formula and restrictions shall apply. Carried 21-3-1. I voted yes.

    2. Another long-standing issue deals with residency requirements for participation in NAP and GNT events. By a unanimous vote, new regulations will go into effect for the 2006/7 GNT, and 2007/8 NAP. A member's principal physical residence as of Sept. 1st (for the GNT) and June 1st (for the NAP) of the year prior to the National Finals shall establish the District in which the member is able to participate.

      Entry forms will have a clause stating that the players are eligible to play in this District and will be subject to disciplinary action if they are not. A Credentials Committee will be established to resolve disputes and may refer the matter to the ACBL President to make charges to the ACBL Disciplinary Committee. If a player requests an exception to the physical residency requirements, he must seek permission in writing (no less than 60 days prior to the start of club level games) from both the District Directors of the District in which he lives and the District in which he wishes to play. Both District Directors must agree to the request.

    3. The Regional/Sectional Tournament Scheduling and Sanctioning Status Report was approved 24-0-1. Please remember that in order to maintain “ownership” of a traditional date, a tournament coordinator must submit his Regional sanction applications at least THREE years in advance, his sectional sanction applications at least ONE year in advance. An arbitration board will be established to resolve tournament sanction conflicts.

    4. Several years ago, an additional fee was established for non-ACBL members who played in tournaments. I was strongly in favour of the concept. Membership should entail benefits – why should non-members be allowed to play and enjoy the hospitality offered? For NABC+ events today, one must be an ACBL member. For other events, a surcharge is collected.

      Effective July 1, 2006, except for charity events or events limited to players with fewer than twenty masterpoints,

      1. For all sectionals, the sponsoring organization shall charge an additional fee of at least $1.00 per person per session for non-members and non-service fee paying LMs (current surcharge is minimum .50).

      2. For all Regionals, the sponsoring organization shall charge an additional fee of at least $2.00 per person per session for non-members and non-service fee paying LMs (current surcharge is minimum $1.00).

      3. It is suggested that the sale signage present this as a discount for members.

      4. The additional fee shall be retained by the sponsoring organization.

      Carried 20-5. I voted yes.

    5. Management presented proposals for three future NABC sites.

      1. The ACBL was offered an excellent package of concessions (approximately $25,000 in savings for the ACBL in 2007) from the San Francisco Marriott in order to approve the Fall 2012 NABC. The room rate for the Fall 2007 San Francisco NABC has been reduced from $162 to $149 (maximum $162 in 2012). Carried unanimously.

      2. Memphis, TN was approved for the Spring 2012 NABC. That will be ACBL's 75th anniversary. Carried 17-8. I voted in favour.

      3. Montreal, QC was not approved for the Fall 2013 NABC by a 9-15-1 vote. I voted in favour. While a majority of the ACBL Board wants to return to Montreal, they were not happy with the negotiated package that management presented to us. By about a 2 to 1 margin, the Board of Governors voted for the ACBL Board to reconsider holding an NABC in Montreal. It is my belief that management should be able to negotiate with the Montreal hotels and return to the ACBL Board with a more attractive package that will be approved.

    6. The Board Operations Committee, of which I am a member, submitted a report that, effective January 1, 2006, would eliminate the free room and per diem for the ACBL Board member who is appointed the Director of Tournament Appeals Committee at NABCs. The reality is that the number of appeals heard at NABCs has been steadily declining. This will be a saving of $5,000. Carried 20-4-1. I voted yes.

      At the Dallas Board meeting (Spring 2006), the ACBL Board will vote on the unanimous suggestion (from the Board Operations Committee) that the ACBL Board must ratify all non-ACBL Board committees appointed by the ACBL President. In addition, all non-ACBL Board committees should elect their own Chair (not have the Chair appointed by the ACBL President).

    7. The Election Procedure Committee completed an overhaul of ACBL election regulations. Their proposals will be put in the Dallas Journal and voted upon in the spring, in time for it to take effect for the 2006 elections.

    8. The Senior Swiss Team Trophy will now be known as the Alan Truscott United States Playing Card Senior Swiss Trophy. Carried unanimously.

    9. The Insurance Committee was unable to present to the board suitable quotations for a blanket coverage policy re: liability insurance for ACBL units and districts. Professional outside assistance will be sought in 2006.

    10. The Windows version of ACBL Score has been tested at clubs and tournaments since August, and was used in Denver. It is expected that it should be available on the ACBL download site, for general release, in January 2006.

    11. Management shall implement an amnesty program beginning January 1, 2006 and ending June 30, 2006. Upon payment of their membership dues/service fees, people whose membership had lapsed shall be credited with all masterpoints which were earned during the lapsed membership period. It has been several years since the last amnesty program, which brought back several thousand members. Carried unanimously.

  6. Junior Issues

    Phase one of the ACBL's ambitious marketing program geared towards younger players has been completed, and phase two is now underway. Be sure to check out the ACBL junior web site Bridge Is Cool which has just been updated and improved. It is a work in progress.

    The ACBL is working hard to form alliances with youth groups around the country, and continues to co-sponsor the School Bridge Lesson programs with the ACBL Educational Foundation.

    The issue of holding another ACBL World Junior Bridge Camp was discussed at length and deferred to the Dallas Spring 2006 meeting. However, by a 19-6 straw vote (I voted yes) the board expressed its desire to sponsor a 2007 ACBL Bridge Camp following the Summer 2007 Nashville NABC. I expect management to act upon the straw vote and report to the board in Dallas with a complete proposal to make the 2007 bridge camp a reality.

    I believe that ACBL management should work with their WBF counterparts to ensure that the 2007 ACBL World Junior Bridge Camp (in conjunction with a World Individual event at the 2007 Nashville NABC) will be a success.

    Incidentally, special games at clubs to benefit the International Fund, Junior Fund, and Charity games have been tremendously successful in 2005 with revenue up for all three games. To date, Junior Fund revenue has increased 28% and brings in about $125,000 annually.

  7. Appeals & Charges

    1. The ACBL Code of Disciplinary Regulations was revised. I urge all interested parties to update their material. The revised Code should be available on the ACBL website by early December.

    2. On November 18, 2005, the American Contract Bridge League Ethical Oversight Committee found Mr. Andrea Buratti and Mr. Massimo Lanzarotti guilty of violating Law 73 of the Laws of Duplicate Contract Bridge for deliberately communicating unauthorized information at the European Bridge League Championship earlier this year. As a result, the Committee expelled Mr. Buratti and Mr. Lanzarotti from the American Contract Bridge League effective immediately. Mr. Buratti and/or Mr. Lanzarotti may appeal this decision to the League's Appeals and Charges Committee within thirty (30) days.

  8. Personal Viewpoint

    It has been a rewarding experience representing District 2 on the ACBL Board of Directors. Thank you for re-electing me as your representative for another three-year term. I will continue to do my best to justify your ongoing support.

    I have often mentioned that attending an NABC is the best experience the ACBL has to offer. 2006 should be a banner year – please consider planning a vacation around one or more of Dallas, Chicago, and/or Hawaii.

    I am looking forward to seeing many of you at the City of Toronto sectional at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, January 6-8, 2006.

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

    Top 25 Masterpoint Winners From District 2 at the Denver NABC

    1251.73Gavin WolpertThornhill ON
    2122.37Daniel LaveeThornhill ON
    =399.69Malcolm EwashkiwBelleville ON
    =399.69Robert HollowMadoc ON
    548.67Leslie AmoilsToronto ON
    =645.66Betsy AaronLondon ON
    =645.66Robert HeadLondon ON
    845.33Bray HinneganRichmond Hill ON
    941.13Morrie KleinplatzWindsor ON
    =1038.12Joan ViidikWaterloo ON
    =1038.12Tony ViidickWaterloo ON
    1236.86Jonathan SteinbergToronto ON
    1335.71Debbie FeldmanOakville MB
    =1435.69Birte AyerSarnia ON
    =1435.69Jerry VopickaToronto ON
    1635.21Wendy DooleyMississauga ON
    =1735.07John RaynerOakville ON
    =1735.07Michael RocheDon Mills ON
    1934.75Doug BaxterToronto ON
    =2034.59Sallie CatyOakville ON
    =2034.59Patti LeeToronto ON
    =2233.58Janine BibbToronto ON
    =2233.58Peter PetruzzellisToronto ON
    2429.62Harold DietrichToronto ON
    =2528.58John MoserSt. Agatha ON
    =2528.58Colin HarringtonCambridge ON

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