December 8, 2007

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 2008 appointments to the ACBL Goodwill Committee are:

My 2008 appointment to the ACBL Charity Committee is:

  1. San Francisco NABC

    Since San Francisco has always been among the top tourist destinations in the United States, excellent attendance was expected. All games were played at the Marriott Hotel, which was excellent, but the huge turnout caused minor problems in that the tournament organizers had to scramble to find enough playing space.

    The pre-tournament estimate of 13,100 was clearly going to be broken. The final tally of 14,858.5 tables made this the third largest Fall NABC in ACBL history behind Las Vegas 2001 (16,818) and Orlando 1992 (14,980).

    Congratulations to NABC Tournament Chairman Bruce Blakely and all his volunteers, who helped make San Francisco such a success. Perhaps the best news is that another NABC has been booked for San Francisco in 2012 – just five years away.

  2. District 2 Stars at the Bridge Table

    One hundred and thirty-eight District 2 players competed to win masterpoints in San Francisco. Six players surpassed the century mark: John Rayner with 156.99, Nader Hanna with 143.46, Daniel Korbel & Jonathan Steinberg with 128.79, David Grainger with 116.21, and Robert Lebi with 100.56.

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

    Nader Hanna, Willowdale, 3rd Victor Mitchell Board-a-Match, 7th Nail Life Master Pairs, 41st Edgar Kaplan Blue Ribbon Pairs.

    Arno Hobart & George Mittelman, Toronto, 3/4th Senior KO.

    John Rayner, Oakville, 4th Edgar Kaplan Blue Ribbon Pairs, 9th Keohane North American Swiss Teams.

    David Lindop, Toronto, 5/8th Senior KO.

    Joan Eaton, North York, 8th Smith LM Women's Pairs, 14th Marsha May Sternberg Women's Board-A-Match.

    Barbara Clinton, 8th Marsha May Sternberg Women's Board-A-Match.

    Daniel Korbel, Waterloo, and Jonathan Steinberg, Toronto, 9th Keohane North American Swiss Teams, 16th Edgar Kaplan Blue Ribbon Pairs.

    Doug Baxter, Toronto, 9th Keohane North American Swiss Teams, 41st Nail Life Master Pairs.

    Darren Wolpert, Toronto, 11/12th Victor Mitchell Open Board-A-Match, 56th Edgar Kaplan Blue Ribbon Pairs.

    Robert Lebi, Toronto, 12th Nail Life Master Pairs.

    Morrie Kleinplatz, Windsor, 40th Victor Mitchell Open Board-A-Match.

    Allan Smith, Peterborough, 41st Nail Life Master Pairs.

    Susan Korbel, Waterloo, 45th Smith LM Women's Pairs.

    Leslie Amoils, Toronto, 56th Edgar Kaplan Blue Ribbon Pairs.

    Rodney Wilton, Port Carling, 17th Mini-Blue Ribbon Pairs (0-5000).

    The following District 2 players WON Regional events:

    Roman Klein, Oakville, and Ron Sutherland, Mississauga, Wed/Thurs KO bracket three.

    Fred Lerner, Markham, Thursday Compact KO, bracket three.

    David Grainger, Etobicoke, Charlie Dorn Memorial KO, bracket three.

    Daniel Lavee, Thornhill, Bill Holt KO, bracket four, and Charlie Dorn Memorial KO bracket four.

    Susan Korbel, Waterloo, Monday Compact KO, bracket eight.

  3. Names in the News

  4. Appeals & Charges

    1. The ACBL clarified and strengthened the regulations regarding the readmission of expelled members. No request for readmission will be heard for at least five years from the date of expulsion. Guidelines for possible readmission to ACBL membership include:

      1. Admission of guilt;

      2. Appropriate written apology;

      3. Support for readmission from the player's local bridge organization(s).

      New: Under no circumstances will the ACBL Board of Directors hear a request for readmission in regards to a second expulsion or resignation to avoid possible disciplinary action. Requests for readmission shall be made no more frequently than every three years.

      Carried 22-2-1. I voted in favour. A related motion, “Persons expelled for cheating shall not be readmitted”, was defeated 5-20. I voted against.

    2. The ACBL Code of Disciplinary Regulations (CDR), section 5.2.5: “Required Appearance at Hearings” was amended to allow electronic statements to be admissible. I urge all interested parties to ensure that they have the latest version of the CDR, which can be downloaded from the ACBL website.

    3. ACBL League Counsel Peter Rank informed us of a new lawsuit, “Peter Marcus and Susan Patricelli v. American Contract Bridge League”. On November 15, 2007, Mr. Marcus and Ms. Patricelli filed a complaint in the United States District Court in Connecticut to recover unpaid overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act. In addition, Mr. Marcus also has alleged that because of rule changes by the League he has been denied the opportunity to work as a head director. Plaintiffs ask for an award of unpaid overtime, various other payments and for equitable relief.

      The League has not been served in this matter and has tendered the matter to its insurance carriers for coverage.

  5. Board Actions and Other News From San Francisco

    1. The second reading of the comprehensive report from the Masterpoint Review Committee involving changes to the masterpoint formulas, effective, January 1, 2008, was approved 23-2. I voted in favour. Please refer to my Nashville NABC report, Section B, for all the details.

    2. The ACBL is investigating four metropolitan areas: Atlanta, Dallas, Memphis, and Orlando as possible sites for the new ACBL Headquarters. Not knowing where the new office will be located is not only a major impediment in hiring new employees, but also a major cause for concern among ACBL's existing employees. I expect that a final decision will be made no later than the Detroit NABC in March, 2008.

    3. On October 29, 2007, the ACBL Executive Committee met and approved a motion to form a committee composed of Management and Tournament Directors to discuss a paradigm of TD's future structures. The relationship between the ACBL and its TDs is of paramount importance. It is expected that the joint committee will consider viable alternatives for the future.

      The ACBL is awaiting guidance from the US Department of Labor on a number of issues affecting the ACBL's directing staff. The principal questions are whether tournament directors are employees subject to the overtime provisions of the law, and whether there is a requirement that they be paid for travel time.

    4. The motion to cancel the International Fund Month was defeated 3-22. I voted against. A non-agenda item to eliminate the NABC+ surcharge for international events was withdrawn.

      I continue to be concerned about a small but vocal minority of the ACBL Board. These individuals often oppose international activities and the World Bridge Federation. My firm belief is that the ACBL should not withdraw and close its doors, but rather that it should be an active participant in the International bridge community, and continue to support and sponsor ACBL players to compete at all levels in world bridge events.

    5. At all NABCs, ACBL Junior Coupons shall have a value of $10 per session or the per person price of entry, whichever is less. This value shall be the discount applied to junior entries for any event conducted at an NABC. Coupon users may be asked for positive proof of age. Carried 23-2. I voted in favour.

      The intent of the motion was to simplify accounting procedures for the ACBL and its TD's who are selling entries. There is no significant change in policy, or in the value of junior coupons.

      During full board discussion, an amendment was proposed to lower the age requirement for using junior coupons from 25 to 20. By a show of hands, the amendment carried 14-11. This would have been a major change in policy. I believe that policy changes should be submitted to the ACBL Journal in a timely manner to ensure that the issue can be properly debated. However, the ACBL's current procedures allow for last minute “tactics” such as the one above. Fortunately, after much discussion, the motion was broken up into two parts, and the section to lower the age of eligibility was defeated 12-13. I intend to propose a change in our board procedures that would not allow last minute amendments that substantially alter the intent of the original motion.

    6. A motion to allow any defence to a 1NT opening as a general chart convention was defeated 6-18-1. I voted against. The ACBL has an expert volunteer committee, the Competition and Conventions Committee, which reviews all convention issues. I see no reason why the ACBL Board of Directors should overrule that body.

    7. The ACBL President shall appoint a committee to study the requirements for becoming a Life Master and other rank changes. Carried 23-2. I voted in favour.

    8. ACBL Score version 7.50 is now available on-line. Please ensure that your club is using the latest version of ACBL Score.

    9. The ACBL Board of Directors eliminated the reimbursement of the one time per annum spouse/companion transportation cost. However, each board member will now receive $1,000 (formerly $750) three times per year to reflect travel to District and unit events, telephone expenses, mailings and miscellaneous office expenses connected with the office of District Director. The net effect of the two changes is minimal.

    10. Members of the ACBL Board of Directors receive free entry fees at NABCs. I proposed a motion that would require us to pay our entry on the first day of the NABC (Thursday) when proceeds from these games are designated for the International Fund and/or the Educational Foundation. Carried 14-11. I voted in favour.

  6. Financial Issues

    1. I submitted a motion that management and the ACBL Finance Committee establish a method for signing up new Canadian ACBL members that reflects current exchange rates. Carried unanimously. ACBL management has assured us that they will have a new plan in place no later than next April, but hopefully, well before then.

    2. As of August 31, 2007, ACBL net assets are at a record $8.532 Million, up 19.72% over 2007.

    3. It appears that the bottom line for 2007 will indicate an increase of revenue over expenditures of more than $1.2 Million, an increase of more than 1 million over the 2007 budget of $206,000.

      On the revenue side, membership dues are up 75K over budget, Regional sanction fees up 60K, Sectional/STAC sanction fees up 75K, profit from the three NABCs up 100K, investment income up 200K (increased cash from the sale of the ACBL Product Store inventory, as well as the proceeds from the sale of the Memphis headquarters building), Bulletin advertising down 110K. Total revenue is up more than 400K over budget.

      On the expense side, staff salaries are down 230K from budget. (There are vacancies for the positions of Chief Marketing Director and Chief Financial Officer.) Health insurance is down 50K, payroll taxes down 60K, ACBL Board of Directors expenses down 50K, Insurance costs down 50K, Marketing program expenses down 100K. Total expenses are down 600K below budget.

      Membership and tournament attendance are both up, which accounts for some of the revenue increase. Some of the savings on the expense side are one-time only. Until the ACBL relocates, key new staff will not be hired. So the savings from staff salaries, insurance, and taxes are temporary. The costs of the ACBL move will range from $50,000 if we stay in the Memphis area, to as much as $500,000 if we move to a different city.

      For several years, there have been issues regarding ACBL budgeting and forecasting. Significant changes in operating procedures have been made, and I foresee much more accurate budgeting and forecasting for the future.

    4. The good news for everyone is that there are no increases planned for 2008. Membership dues, sanction fees, TD session fees, and NABC entry fees will all remain the same in 2008 as they were in 2007.

    5. Changes for STACs are tentatively scheduled to go into effect on April 1, 2008. Management is still working on the final formula. The sponsoring organization will now pay a set fee per table that will cover both the ACBL sanction fee, and the tournament director cost. The proposed table fee will vary, depending upon the size of the STAC. 0-500 tables: $4.50/table; 501-1000: $4.25; 1001-2000: $4.00; 2001- 4000: $3.75; 4000+: $3.50. According to the information I was provided, District 2 will save approximately 6.5% on the total cost of the STAC.

    6. The 2008 ACBL Operating budget was approved 18-6-1. I voted in favour. The ACBL budget for 2008 indicates an excess of revenues (9.954M) over expenses (9.318M) of 493K.

    7. The 2008 ACBL Capital Budget was unanimously approved. The $74,200 budget includes $40,000 for audiovisual equipment which would replace/improve ACBL's outdated monitoring equipment.

  7. A Personal Note

    Sandwiched between the just completed San Francisco NABC, and what promises to be a huge Summer NABC in Las Vegas, is the Detroit Compuware 2008 Spring NABC March 6-16. It will be the closest NABC in our area until the 2011 Summer NABC in Toronto. I urge all of you to consider making the short trip to Detroit. Everything will be under one roof at the spectacular GM Renaissance Center, including the Marriott hotel, all playing areas, and a wide variety of restaurants to suit every budget.

    You are all invited to view my on line photo albums; the most recent pictures were taken during the San Francisco NABC.

    I am looking forward to seeing many of you at District 2's largest sectional tournament, the City of Toronto, at the Fairmont Royal York, January 4-6, 2008.

    My best wishes to everyone for a happy, healthy, and peaceful New Year.


    Top 30 Masterpoint Winners From District 2 at the San Francisco NABC

    1156.99John RaynerOakville ON
    2143.46Nader HannaWillowdale ON
    =3128.79Daniel KorbelWaterloo ON
    =3128.79Jonathan SteinbergToronto ON
    5116.21David GraingerEtobicoke ON
    6100.56Robert LebiToronto ON
    787.41Roman KleinOakville ON
    886.49Doug BaxterToronto ON
    =981.96Claude TremblayNiagara On The Lake ON
    =981.96Muriel TremblayNiagara On The Lake ON
    1174.29Ron SutherlandMississauga ON
    1271.95Fred LernerMarkham ON
    1371.20Peter PetruzzellisToronto ON
    =1471.18Arno HobartToronto ON
    =1471.18George MittelmanToronto ON
    1671.05Daniel LaveeThornhill ON
    1770.80Janine BibbToronto ON
    1861.00Darren WolpertToronto ON
    1959.01Joan EatonNorth York ON
    2056.99Sheldon PearlmanToronto ON
    2156.59Elizabeth GallagherOakville ON
    2255.78David LindopToronto ON
    2351.47Keith BalcombeOshawa ON
    2447.97Stephen AaronsToronto ON
    2542.45Christopher CowanMississauga ON
    2641.43Morrie KleinplatzWindsor ON
    2740.84Brian JohnstonToronto ON
    2840.61Barbara ClintonAurora ON
    2938.85Rodney WiltonPort Carling ON
    =3037.16Mary Lou KerrToronto ON
    =3037.16Julia PriceToronto ON


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