August 1, 2008

Dear Bridge Friends,

While some steroid-enhanced predictions for an all-time record-breaking tournament did not materialize, the final attendance of 19,720 tables made the 2008 Las Vegas NABC the fourth-best ever. Only Las Vegas in 1991 and 1985, and Toronto in 1986 had greater attendance. In the Top Ten All-Time list, Las Vegas is listed five times (1,3,4,5,9) while Toronto is listed three times (2,6,10). The Toronto Summer NABC in 2011 is just three years away and I expect it to be an outstanding tournament.

The Las Vegas Hilton is an old, mammoth hotel that has begun to show its age. On the plus side are the huge ballrooms, which allowed all the events to be played in close proximity to one another. On the downside, the hotel rooms were a long smoke-filled walk from the convention area. In addition, it was a $10 taxi ride to any restaurant on the strip. The ACBL is planning to return to Vegas in 2014. I would urge management to do everything possible to contract for an affordable, convenient, and modern site.

Congratulations to Tournament Chairs Ken Monzingo and Bonnie Bagley, and to all the volunteers who provided us with evening hospitality and ensured that everything ran smoothly.

  1. District 2 Stars at the Bridge Table

    One hundred and sixty-three District 2 players competed to win masterpoints in Las Vegas. Special congratulations to John Carruthers, who won the Truscott USPC Senior Swiss, and David Grainger, who won the Mini-Spingold (0-5000) KO.

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

    John Carruthers, Toronto, WON the Truscott USPC Senior Swiss Teams; 21st Von Zedtwitz Life Master Pairs.

    David Grainger, Etobicoke, WON the Mini-Spingold (0-5000) KO.

    Don Piafsky, Toronto, 2nd Wernher Open Pairs; 26th NABC Open Swiss; 34th NABC Fast Pairs.

    Daniel Lavee, Thornhill, 2nd 0-5000 Life Master Pairs.

    David Lindop, Toronto, 4th NABC Fast Pairs; 17/32nd Spingold KO; 41st NABC Open Swiss; 49th Von Zedtwitz Life Master Pairs.

    Leslie Amoils, Toronto, Daniel Korbel, Waterloo, 5th NABC Fast Pairs.

    Ringo Chung, Mississauga, Roger Snowling, Hamilton, Gary Westfall, Brampton, 5/8th Mini-Spingold (0-5000) KO. Roger & Gary 51st 0-5000 Life Master Pairs.

    Wendy Dooley, Mississauga, Andrew Firko, Oakville, 9th 0-5000 Life Master Pairs.

    Grant MacKinnon, Burlington, Tom Shannon, Toronto, 13th 0-1500 Life Master Pairs.

    Ian Findlay & Paul Janicki, Markham, 14th 0-5000 Life Master Pairs.

    Brian Johnston, Toronto, Rodney Wilton, Port Carling, 17th 0-5000 Life Master Pairs; 21st NABC Fast Pairs.

    George Mittelman, Toronto, 17/32nd Spingold KO; 50th NABC Open Swiss.

    Robert Lebi & Darren Wolpert, Toronto, 17/32nd Spingold KO.

    Anton Blagov, Richmond Hill, 21st Von Zedtwitz Life Master Pairs.

    Eric Kokish, Toronto, 33rd NABC Open Swiss.

    Andy Altay, Willowdale, Stephen Aarons, Toronto, 37th Mixed BAM Teams; 41st NABC Open Swiss.

    Bill Kertes, Toronto, Allan Smith, Peterborough, 39th Wernher Open Pairs.

    Barbara Clinton & Vince Oddy, Aurora, 43rd NABC Fast Pairs. Vince was 50th Von Zedtwitz Life Master Pairs.

    Vera Petty & Roman Smolski, Bermuda, 46th Truscott USPC Senior Swiss Teams.

    Chuck Galloway, Thornhill, 58th 0-5000 Life Master Pairs.

    The following District 2 players WON Regional events:

    Jordan Cohen, Thornhill, Thursday Open Pairs; Saturday in the Park KO, bracket four.

    Joe Sauro, North Bay, Second Saturday/Sunday KO, bracket one.

    Pamela Nisbet, Cobourg, Wednesday Compact KO, bracket two.

    Michael O Rourke, Baden, Thursday-Saturday Morning KO, bracket three.

    Leslie Amoils, Doug Baxter, Toronto, Daniel Korbel, Waterloo, Saturday in the Park KO, bracket four.

    Thomas Poisson, Belle River, Thursday-Saturday Morning KO, bracket four.

    Michael Biderman, Anna & Richard Fokes, London, Linda Lee Lord, Schomberg, Ruby Tuesday KO, bracket eight.

  2. ACBL Memphis Office

    The ACBL office is currently situated in a deteriorating neighbourhood in Memphis. As a result, the building was put up for sale. The sale was completed in September 2007; however, the ACBL was given very favourable options to lease for up to three six-month periods.

    The Real Estate Committee began to explore various possibilities to relocate in the Memphis area, or to move to a different city. There are pros and cons to both options. Meanwhile, not only did a cloud hang over the head of ACBL employees whose futures were uncertain, but it also created problems for the ACBL's CEO to fill vacant positions.

    In Las Vegas, the ACBL Board met in executive sessions and approved the following motion: “Resolved that contingent on relocation incentives that can be realized, management is directed to find a new site for the ACBL headquarters in the Memphis Metro area…

    It is my belief that a new location for the ACBL office, somewhere in the Memphis Metro area, will be finalized in the near future. At the same time, management should start the recruitment process in order to hire new ACBL employees to fill the vacancies that exist in the finance and marketing departments.

  3. Appeals Committees, Senior Events, Women's Events

    Three areas in which I have been unsuccessful during my fifteen-year tenure on the ACBL Board of Directors involve Appeals Committees, Senior events, and Women's events.

    Ten years ago, ACBL Tournament Directors (TDs) started to hear appeals at all NABC events below the NABC+ level. ACBL TDs consulted with expert players, and TD panels made the final rulings. Over the last decade, refinements have been made to the process, and extensive TD training has occurred.

    Regrettably, every time the ACBL Board has come close to completing the transition from player-based appeals committees to TD panel appeal committees, an organized campaign to keep the status quo has prevailed. In Las Vegas I co-sponsored the following motion with ACBL management “ACBL TDs shall hear and rule upon all bridge appeals filed in NABC+ events.” It was defeated by a 12-13 vote.

    In the world of professional bridge, hundreds of thousands of dollars exchange hands at every NABC. Management contends, and I agree, that having full-time bridge players sit in judgment of other full-time bridge players, former teammates and/or clients, and potential future teammates and/or clients, creates an appearance of bias and potential conflict of interest.

    Perhaps it is a cliché, but “Let the players play, and the referees referee” is a valid point. I have no doubt that the ACBL's TDs will eventually assume responsibilities for all appeals. I hope that my successor on the ACBL Board will continue to lobby for this long overdue change.

    The ACBL continues to sponsor “senior” events where the age of a senior is set at 55 years. Even the conservative World Bridge Federation is in the process of increasing the eligibility age from 55 to 60, one year at a time. At the moment, I believe it is 58. The average age of an ACBL member is now approaching 69.

    In Las Vegas, there were no Regional senior events on the schedule. Did anyone notice? Did anyone care? I suggest that Regionals that are large enough to conduct senior events at 10 and 3, as well as open events at 1 and 7, consider making the 10 and 3 games stratified Daylight Open Pairs, as was done in Las Vegas. The attraction of 10 and 3 games is the early starting time, not the age restrictions.

    Women's events are another issue where I have been in a minority position on the ACBL Board of Directors. Why do we continue to have them? At the NABCs, more and more women are electing to play in open events, rather than Women's events. Bravo for them! I have been told that the small Women's events that exist are very nasty to play in; consequently, many women avoid them. Since I am not eligible to participate, I am unable to give a firsthand account.

    What is clear is that Women's events are tiny compared to open events, and show no signs of increasing. In Las Vegas, where all the NABC events were huge, the Wagar Women's KO attracted all of 23 teams. In 2008, Women's events are a huge bonus for the bridge professionals who play in them. The 100 masterpoint award is way out of proportion, given the restricted nature of the event and the size of the field. I hope my District 2 successor will follow up on the entire concept of holding Women's events.

  4. Life Master Requirements

    The requirements to reach the rank of Life Master have not changed for decades. Meanwhile, masterpoint inflation has made it easier than ever to accumulate points. For example, masterpoint awards at club games, where most players earn their points, has increased from a maximum of 1.00 point to 1.5 to 2.5 (overall award), and that doesn't include all the “special” games. Overall awards for NABC+ events have increased. There has been a proliferation of bracketed KO events. There can be no doubt that winning 300 points in the past was much more difficult than it is today.

    Effective January 1, 2010, the requirements for Life Master are modified as follows:

    Current January 1,2010
    300 points (150 pigmented) 500 points (250 pigmented)
    25 must be gold 50 must be gold or platinum
    25 must be red or gold 50 must be red, gold, or platinum
    50 must be silver 75 must be silver
    50 must be black 75 must be black

    The new requirements will not apply to people who are ACBL members as of December 31, 2009 and maintain continuous membership in the ACBL until they achieve Life Master status.

    For members achieving Life Master under the new rules, the rank of Bronze Life Master (500 points) is abolished. The new rank of Advanced NABC Master (the old requirements for becoming a life Master) is created. Carried unanimously.

    Note that there were no changes made regarding points won online, which is a separate issue. Current regulations state that online points have no pigmentation, but may count for up to one third of the total points required for achieving the rank of Life Master.

    At the Board of Governors meeting, there was quite a bit of discussion pertaining to adding the requirement that “x” number of points need to be won in pair games. A motion to that effect was approved by a narrow 34-31 margin, so it will appear on the ACBL Board of Directors agenda this fall. I intend to vote against the additional requirement.

  5. Board Actions and Other News From Las Vegas

    1. Congratulations to Jerry Fleming, District 17, who was elected ACBL President for 2009.

    2. A new NABC+ event, The Platinum Pairs, was proposed to start in 2010. The annual event, a six-session qualification pair event, will be restricted to members who have won a total of 50 or more platinum points in the three years prior to the event. I am in favour of the concept. However, it could not be approved without first seeing how it would fit in with the existing NABC schedule. By a 22-3 vote, the motion was deferred to the Fall 2008 meeting. At that time, we will be able to see a revised NABC+ schedule of events that will include the Platinum Pairs.

    3. The Reisinger BAM conditions of contest were amended to allow a team to register for the event not later than two hours prior to game time. Previously, teams had to register the evening before the event. Carried unanimously.

    4. The ACBL Handbook (Chapter 3, sections two and three, pertaining to ACBL unit requirements, privileges, and responsibilities) was substantially modified. I urge all unit Presidents and Secretaries to review the new wording, which will soon be available on the ACBL website.

    5. The Board of Governors meeting, which has been moribund for the last year or so, sprang back to life in Las Vegas. Besides discussion regarding requirements for Life Master, there were many comments opposed to only playing 24 boards in Regional events. The overwhelming consensus was to play at least 26 boards in Prime Time Regional pair games. I am 100% in agreement. In District 2, we have mandated that Prime Time KO events are 26 boards in all flights, that Sunday Swiss events play a full set of boards (8 matches of 7 boards OR 7 matches of 8 boards OR 6 matches of 9 boards). No one has dared to suggest reducing the pair games from 26 to 24 boards and I hope no one ever will.

      Please note, however, that while the ACBL Board establishes the rules and regulations for NABC+ events, it is the sponsoring organization that establishes the Regional events schedule, number of boards to be played, victory point scale, etc.

    6. In my report on the Spring 2008 Detroit Board meetings, I wrote:

      The ACBL Code of Disciplinary Regulations (CDR) was amended. One significant change is that attorneys will no longer be permitted to attend any disciplinary hearing. However, an attorney outside of the hearing room may represent the person charged. An attorney is defined as a person who is licensed or has been licensed to practice law in any jurisdiction. Carried 19-5-1. I voted against.

      While I recognize that the above policy is in force in many similar organizations, that an attorney in a hearing may dominate the proceedings, and may also put one side at an unfair advantage, my belief is that if you are charged under the ACBL CDR, you should have the right to be represented by the person of your choice.”

      The Board of Governors, by an overwhelming margin, was opposed to the change barring attorneys. A new motion to once again allow attorneys to attend disciplinary hearings will be on the agenda for the fall ACBL Board meeting in Boston. I intend to support it.

  6. A Personal Note

    The election to succeed me as your District representative to the ACBL Board of Directors is in full swing. Both candidates, Paul Janicki (unit 246) and Joe Sauro (unit 238) are personal friends, so I am staying out of the campaign. All District 2 unit board members will be voting between August 15 and the end of September. The winner will be announced in early October. He will attend the Boston fall ACBL Board meetings in a non-voting capacity, but will be able to get a feel for the way the ACBL Board operates. My last day in office will be December 31, 2008.

    Summertime weather and vacation days have arrived. I hope you are all enjoying yourselves both at and away from the bridge table. August brings a wealth of Regional and sectional tournaments to choose from.

    You are all invited to view my online photo albums; the most recent photos were taken during the Las Vegas NABC.

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

    Top 30 Masterpoint Winners From District 2 at the Las Vegas NABC (Revised August 4, 2008)

    1138.00John CarruthersToronto ON
    2123.89Don PiafskyToronto ON
    3123.32David GraingerEtobicoke ON
    4100.07David LindopToronto ON
    597.00Daniel LaveeThornhill ON
    =682.98Leslie AmoilsToronto ON
    =682.98Daniel KorbelWaterloo
    872.10Jordan CohenThornhill ON
    960.41Joseph SauroNorth Bay ON
    =1056.82Vera PettyWarwick, Bermuda
    =1056.82Roman SmolskiWarwick, Bermuda
    1249.87Andrew FirkoOakville ON
    =1343.64Danny IoannidisStony Creek ON
    =1343.64Stephen YoungMississauga ON
    1542.73Robert LebiToronto ON
    1641.58Doug BaxterToronto ON
    1740.92Rodney WiltonPort Carling ON
    1838.00Anton BlagovRichmond Hill ON
    1937.47Ringo ChungMississauga ON
    2037.09George MittelmanToronto ON
    2136.90Roger SnowlingHamilton ON
    2236.25Brian JohnstonToronto ON
    2336.14Karl GohlOakbank MB
    2435.88Gary WestfallBrampton ON
    2535.27Marielle BrentnallWinnipeg MB
    2634.94Paul JanickiMarkham ON
    2732.80Dwight BenderLondon ON
    =2832.33Anna FokesLondon ON
    =2832.33Richard FokesLondon ON
    =3031.51Andy AltayWillowdale ON
    =3031.51Stephen AaronsToronto ON

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