August 3, 2007

Dear Bridge Friends,

Nashville is a safe and enjoyable city to visit. Within walking distance, there were many restaurants to fit every budget. The downtown core is replete with country and western bars to satisfy those of us who still venture out after dusk!

The carpeted and well-lit playing areas in the convention centre were excellent. The NABC and Regional events were near each other, making it easy to meet with friends. The one drawback was that the host hotel, The Renaissance, did not have enough rooms, so many players had to find accommodations a few blocks further from the convention centre than they would have preferred. The weather co-operated, however, as it was drier and less hot than it might have been for this time of the year.

Thanks to Tournament Chair David Birnbaum and all his volunteers, who provided us with the evening hospitality and ensured that everything ran smoothly. The final attendance of 12,879 tables was slightly above pre-tournament budget estimates, and not too far below the 13,372 tables in Chicago last summer.

  1. District 2 Stars at the Bridge Table

    One hundred and thirty-one District 2 players competed to win masterpoints in Nashville. Three players surpassed the century mark: Daniel Korbel with 161.18 points, Jonathan Steinberg with 148.58, and David Lindop with 106.51.

    The Top 30 District 2 Masterpoint List from the Nashville NABC can be found at the end of this report. Here are the District 2 players who made the overalls in NABC events.

    Daniel Korbel, Waterloo, and Jonathan Steinberg, Toronto, 2nd Wernher Open Pairs, 7th Fast Open Pairs.

    Jenny Wolpert, Thornhill, 3rd Chicago Mixed Board-A-Match Teams.

    David Lindop, Toronto, 8th von Zedtwitz Life Master Pairs, 17/32nd Spingold KO Teams.

    Gavin Wolpert, Thornhill, 8th Fast Open Pairs, 17/32nd Spingold KO Teams.

    John Laufer, Toronto, 9th Fast Open Pairs.

    Steve Aarons, Toronto, Andy Altay, Willowdale, Steve Mackay, Markham, & Jim Priebe, Mississauga, 9th Truscott/USPC/Senior Swiss.

    David Grainger, Toronto, 10th Fast Open Pairs, 9/16th Mini-Spingold (0-5000).

    Nader Hanna, Toronto, 17/32nd Spingold KO Teams, 19th Chicago Mixed Board-A-Match Teams.

    Robert Lebi, Toronto, 17/32nd Spingold KO Teams, 38th Fast Open Pairs.

    Arno Hobart & George Mittelman, Toronto, 17/32nd Spingold KO Teams.

    Andrew Tylman, Toronto, 38th NABC Open Swiss Teams.

    Colin Harrington, Cambridge, Roman Klein, Oakville, John Moser, St. Agatha, & Gary Westfall, Brampton, 3/4th Mini-Spingold (0-5000).

    David Cohen & Susan Cooper, Thornhill, Bing Le & Jiawei Luo, Toronto, William Liu, North York, 5/8th GNT B.

    Richard Chan, Richmond Hill, 11th Bruce Life Master Pairs (0-5000), 43rd Fast Open Pairs.

    Barry Senensky, Thornhill, 11th Bruce Life Master Pairs (0-5000).

    Ringo Chung, Mississauga, 13th Bruce Life Master Pairs (0-5000), 35th Wernher Open Pairs, 43rd Fast Open Pairs.

    Naveed Ather, Oakville, 13th Bruce Life Master Pairs (0-5000), 35th Wernher Open Pairs.

    Paul Janicki & Ian Findlay, Markham, 17th Bruce Life Master Pairs (0-5000), 38th NABC Open Swiss Teams.

    Det Ladewig, Toronto, 26th Truscott/USPC/Senior Swiss.

    Christopher Cowan & Debbie Feldman, Oakville, 8th Young Life Master Pairs (0-1500).

    The following District 2 players WON Regional events:

    Fay Teal, Kitchener, Monday-Tuesday AM Compact KO, bracket two.

    Daniel Lavee, Thornhill, Goodbye Nashville KO, bracket three.

  2. Masterpoint Review Committee

    The comprehensive report from the Masterpoint Review Committee was approved 24-1. A second reading will be held in San Francisco and all the changes (except as noted below) will take effect on January 1, 2008.

    NABC Events:

    1. Overall masterpoints will be awarded to all pairs that qualify for the final of the six session NABC LM Pairs and Blue Ribbon Pairs.

    2. Match awards for the Vanderbilt/Spingold are increased from 5 to 6 points.

    Pair/Team (non-KO) Events:

    1. The decay formula used to determine overall awards below fourth place for two session pair/team events is changed to the formula currently in use for events of three or more sessions. While the awards for 1-4th will remain the same, the overall awards below fourth place will increase. The overall increase in masterpoints awarded is 25%.

    Clubs:

    1. The maximum allowable overall award at an open club rating point game will increase from 1.5 to 2.5 at .10 per table. Section awards are still limited to 1.5. Overall awards are allowed for all games of 16 or more tables.

    2. The Swiss match award increases from .01 to .015/board at club rated events and to .02/board at club championship events.

    3. The maximum overall award for all special fund/foundation games is capped at 6.0 masterpoints. This does not affect STACs.

    The following changes will not go into effect until January 1, 2009:

    1. The Super Club Championship, District-Wide Charity Game, and 49er pairs are eliminated.

    2. All unit games including Unit-Wide Championship and unit Extended Team Games are replaced by one class of Unit Championship. The allowable number of games will increase from 16 to 24 with a fee of $1.25 per table.

    3. All unit or District Charity games are replaced by one class of Fund or Foundation games. There will be a maximum of 4/year/unit and 4/year/District. The fee structure will be the same as special Fund/Foundation games at clubs.

    Miscellaneous:

    1. Match awards for Swiss Teams will be increased by 20% in Flight A/X and Stratiflighted events (0.36 to 0.44 for Regionals; 0.26 to 0.32 for Sectionals).

    Knockout Events:

    1. Overall awards will be based solely on the strength of the bracket. This “strength of field” concept is significant. The overall award for a KO bracket that averages 5,000 masterpoints per team will be the same regardless of the total number of brackets in the field. The award will be the same in Toronto, Gatlinburg, Atlanta, or Los Angeles. The maximum number of points a team may have is capped at 40,000. The maximum award is capped at 65 points for a bracket where the average masterpoint holding per team of four players is 35,000. The minimum overall award will be 6 points. For example, the Toronto Regional top bracket award (based on history) will be around 30 points.

    2. For brackets of 9-11 teams, a reduction factor of .85 will be applied. For three session KO's, the reduction factor will be .70.

    3. Match awards are 7.5% of the overall award with a minimum of .75 and a maximum of 3.00 masterpoints.

    4. Placement awards are changed as follows. Second place will now be 70% of first (was 75%). Third/fourth will be 40% of first (was 50%). Here is an example. If first overall is worth 40 points, the old formula would have awarded 1.25-18.75-10-10 = 40. The new formula will award 3-13-12-12 = 40.

    5. Compact KO's: Similar changes as above, with a minimum first overall award of 4.00 masterpoints. Maximum match award is 1.50. Compact KO consolations have a reduction factor of .40 (recognizing that the event is not a championship event and there are generally about 50% fewer teams).

  3. Bridge/Tournament/Conditions of Contest

    1. The GNT NABC Final will become one day longer. All teams will play in a one-day Swiss event to qualify into a seeded KO bracket. The Swiss event will be eight 7 board matches on a 20 VP scale. Playbacks at the bottom of the field may be allowed. The event will be 5 days starting on Wednesday and ending on Sunday (the final day of the von Zedtwitz LM Pairs). KO matches will be 64 boards in the Championship flight, 56 boards in all other flights. Effective immediately. Carried 24-1. I voted in favour.

    2. To qualify for an overall award, a team must advance through two rounds of play. Translation: KO playoffs to determine 5/8th overall will no longer be permitted. Note: in the special case of a three-session KO event with exactly 8 teams, a playoff for a clear 3rd overall ranking is permitted. Effective January 1, 2008. Carried 24-1. I voted in favour.

    3. With two exceptions, approximately 50% of the field in NABC events will qualify to advance. For the three-day Blue Ribbon Pairs and Life Master Pairs, closer to 40% of the field will qualify. The intent is to have a two to four section final. Effective January 1, 2008. Carried 18-7. I voted in favour.

    4. Due to a lack of participation, the Spring 49er Pairs and Fall Non-Life Master Pairs games have been eliminated. Effective January 1, 2008. Carried unanimously.

    5. A one-time only regional for Quebec City to commemorate its 400th anniversary was approved for April 10-13, 2008. Carried 16-9. I voted in favour.

  4. Marketing

    The goals of the ACBL marketing plan are to:

    1. Increase ACBL membership.

    2. Increase retention of 1st and 2nd year members.

    3. Expose non-members and non-bridge players (including youth) to the game of bridge.

    ACBL CEO Jay Baum informed us that a priority is to hire a new Marketing Director. The position has been vacant since January 23, 2007.

    The issue of Fund Games held at clubs was discussed in Marketing. In St. Louis, by a narrow margin, the ACBL Board of Governors voted to request that the issue be re-opened at the Nashville Board meeting. In addition, I proposed a motion that would have limited the number of Fund Games an ACBL club may hold to no more than 25% of its sanctioned games, held in any one month, as Charity, Junior, or International Fund games. Exceptions would be made in the three designated months, Junior Fund month (February), Charity Fund month (April), and International Fund month (September). During these designated months, clubs may hold as many fund games as they have sanctioned games. My motion was defeated 8-17. I voted in favour.

    At the Board of Governors meeting in Nashville, by a 2 to 1 margin, the ACBL Board was once again asked to reconsider its vote. As a result, my motion will be back on the table for the San Francisco meeting. The reality is that less than 5% of ACBL clubs are holding more than 25% of their games as special fund games. Problems have arisen. Club wars have erupted because some clubs conduct every game as a Fund game with huge masterpoint awards. While some have argued to let the marketplace decide, I believe that club wars are bad for the ACBL. I also believe that if clubs held every game as a Fund game, sectional tournaments would be hurt.

    The concept of charging an extra dollar per player to raise funds for worthy causes, while issuing extra masterpoints, is a valid one but it should be limited.

  5. Other Board Actions From Nashville

    1. The ACBL Disciplinary Code was amended. Carried unanimously. Interested parties are invited to download the latest version from the Internet.

    2. Upon the creation of the North American Contract Bridge Hall of Fame Foundation, the ACBL will authorize a loan of up to $50,000. The loan shall be repayable at an annual interest rate of 4% compounded annually, due no later than December 31, 2010. Carried 23-2. I voted in favour.

    3. A Youth North American Bridge Championship for youths under the age of 19 will be held in Atlanta in the summer of 2008 or 2009 with a second championship to follow the following year. An evaluation of the program will be held at the fall meeting after each event. Carried unanimously.

    4. A concern has been raised about electronic devices in the playing area and the possibility that they could be used for nefarious purposes. Management was instructed to develop a plan for banning all non-medical electronic devices from the rooms, hallways contiguous to, and bathrooms on the floors in which any events are being played at NABCs.

      While I recognize the good intentions, in speaking with bridge players, I have heard loud opposition. We live in a society where cell phones have become an omnipresent means of communication. I do not know the solution to this problem. I await management's suggestion that will be presented to us prior to San Francisco.

    5. Once again, it appears that the Memphis building has been sold for one million dollars. The agreement is subject to due diligence, but it appears to be sound. If all goes well, the sale will be finalized sometime in September. The ACBL will have three 6 month options to lease, which will give the ACBL up to eighteen months to find a new home.

  6. Financial Issues

    The ACBL recently hired a new budget manager, Patricia Glover. At the summer meetings, I usually have some idea what the financial projections for the upcoming year will be. Unfortunately, due to the timing of the new hiring, detailed financial information is not yet available.

    As of April 30, 2007, the ACBL is in a very sound financial position, with net assets of 7.15 Million (6.86 Million in 2006). The ACBL is meeting all its financial guidelines and liquidity ratios. Nonetheless, 2008 will bring increased paper costs for the ACBL Bulletin, along with the usual increases in salaries and health benefits. I am hopeful that any price increases (sanction fees, membership dues, etc.) in 2008 will be minimal, but at this time, I do not have adequate information.

  7. The ACBL and the World Bridge Federation

    District 7 ACBL Board member Bruce Reeve proposed a motion that “ACBL will sever its relationship with the WBF”. Districts 7, 8, 9, 10, 17, and 21 voted in favour. Districts 4, 5, 11, 22, and 23 abstained. A majority, including all three Canadian representatives, voted against, so the motion failed 6-14-5.

    The World Bridge Federation may not be perfect, but it is the body that conducts World Bridge tournaments, and supports/sponsors educational and junior activities. The ACBL has a significant representation on the WBF governing body (five out of 16 positions). It is sad that relations have deteriorated to the point where almost 25% of the ACBL Board voted in favour of the motion above. I can only hope that the ACBL's representatives work harder, not only with the WBF, but also with the ACBL to improve communication, resolve issues, and move forward towards the WBF goal of “Bridge for Peace”.

  8. A Personal Note

    I hope that everyone is enjoying the summer weather and the vacation period. I will be at the North Bay Regional, August 14-19, 2007 and hope to see many of you there.

    You are all invited to view my on line photo albums; the most recent photos were taken during the just-completed Nashville NABC.

    Best wishes to all. See you at the bridge table.


    Top 30 Masterpoint Winners From District 2 at the Nashville NABC

    1161.18Daniel KorbelWaterloo ON
    2148.58Jonathan SteinbergToronto ON
    3106.51David LindopToronto ON
    491.95Gavin WolpertThornhill ON
    587.66Daniel LaveeThornhill ON
    671.64David GraingerEtobicoke ON
    771.17Robert LebiToronto ON
    869.08Roman SmolskiWarwick, Bermuda
    968.76Jenny WolpertThornhill ON
    1068.72Naveed AtherOakville ON
    1167.84Ian FindlayMarkham ON
    1266.96Paul JanickiMarkham ON
    1366.95Vera PettyWarwick, Bermuda
    1452.95Ringo ChungMississauga ON
    1550.46Gary WestfallBrampton ON
    1650.10Richard ChanRichmond Hill ON
    1747.40Nader HannaWillowdale ON
    1845.31Roman KleinOakville ON
    1936.95Andrew TylmanToronto ON
    2036.60Susan CooperThornhill ON
    2135.76Stephen MackayMarkham ON
    2234.19James PriebeMississauga ON
    2333.49Wendy DooleyMississauga ON
    2433.26Stephen AaronsToronto ON
    2532.86Andy AltayWillowdale ON
    2632.57Fay TealKitchener ON
    2730.77Joan PriebeMississauga ON
    2830.56Barbara ClintonAurora ON
    2929.80Joan EatonNorth York ON
    =3028.91Charles DalmasSarnia ON
    =3028.91Ernest GelinasSarnia ON
    =3028.91Stephen MassicotteSarnia ON
    =3028.91J Randy PiirainenSarnia ON


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