December 6, 2008

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 2009 appointments to the ACBL Goodwill Committee are:

My 2009 appointment to the ACBL Charity Committee is:

  1. Boston NABC

    Regrettably, the economic malaise affecting all of us has begun to adversely affect tournament attendance. While the first weekend of the Boston NABC exceeded pre-tournament estimates, attendance dropped dramatically on Monday and never recovered. The final tally of 10,636 tables was 2,000 tables less than the number budgeted.

    For those of us who attended, the playing facilities at both the Westin and the Marriott hotels were excellent. There were many restaurants in all price ranges and within easy walking distance. Congratulations to Tournament Chairs Frank Lombardo and Kathy Benjamin as well as all the volunteers. Our hosts were always available to answer any questions, to man the partnership desks, and to provide tasty evening snacks.

  2. District 2 Stars at the Bridge Table

    One hundred and eighty District 2 players competed to win masterpoints in Boston. Special congratulations to John Carruthers, who won the Senior Knockout Teams. This followed up on his victory in Las Vegas in the Truscott USPC Senior Swiss. Clearly, JC has found his comfort level in the senior zone. Doug Baxter became a Diamond (5000+) Life Master with two high NABC finishes, winning exactly 100 masterpoints!

    The Top 30 District 2 Masterpoint List from the Boston 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 Senior Knockout Teams.

    Arno Hobart, Markham, and George Mittelman, Toronto, 9/16th Senior Knockout Teams.

    Robert Lebi, Toronto, 10th Bill Keohane North American Swiss Teams, 17th Bobby Nail Life Master Pairs.

    Ray Jotcham, Scarborough, Steve Mackay, Markham, Jim Priebe, Mississauga, and Lew Richardson, Toronto, 11th Mitchell Open Board-a-Match Teams. Steve was also 12th Bill Keohane North American Swiss Teams.

    Doug Baxter, Toronto, 12th Edgar Kaplan Blue Ribbon Pairs, 12th Bill Keohane North American Swiss Teams.

    David Lindop, Toronto, 12th Edgar Kaplan Blue Ribbon Pairs, 20th Mitchell Open B-A-M Teams.

    David Sabourin, Ottawa, and Jonathan Steinberg, Toronto, 12th Bill Keohane North American Swiss Teams.

    Nader Hanna, Willowdale, 20th Mitchell Open Board-a-Match Teams.

    Mark Liberman & Barbara Shnier, Toronto, 23rd Bobby Nail Life Master Pairs.

    Roy Dalton, Thornhill, and Vince Oddy, Aurora, 24th Mitchell Open Board-a-Match Teams.

    Jim & Joan Priebe, Mississauga, 26th Bill Keohane North American Swiss Teams.

    Joan Eaton, North York, 30th Smith Life Master Women's Pairs.

    Daniel Lavee, Thornhill, 5th Mini-Blue Ribbon Pairs (0-5000).

    Joe Sauro, North Bay, 48th Mini-Blue Ribbon Pairs (0-5000).

    The following District 2 players WON Regional events:

    Malcolm Ewashkiw, Belleville, and Bob Hollow, Madoc, both the Monday and the Wednesday Daylight Open Pairs.

    Vera Petty & Roman Smolski, Warwick, Bermuda, Paul Revere KO bracket one.

    David Grainger, Etobicoke, Franconia Notch KO, bracket one.

    Richard Bodell & Chris Fader, Waterloo, Morning KO, bracket two.

    Anton Blagov, Richmond Hill, Daniel Lavee, Thornhill, and Ivan Popivanov, Toronto, Monday Compact KO, bracket eight.

    Catherine & Mark Brader, Toronto, Monday Compact KO, bracket nine.

    Jonathan Buss, Deaun Moulton, Tony & Joan Viidik, Waterloo, Monday Compact KO, bracket ten.

  3. Names in the News

  4. Appeals & Charges

    1. I submitted a motion to amend the ACBL Code of Disciplinary Regulations (CDR) to specify a time frame in which decisions from hearings must be reported. Sections 5.2.10, 7.1.4, 7.2.5, and 7.3.4 now read: The report must be submitted to ACBL Management within 30 days from the conclusion of the presentation of evidence (argument). Carried unanimously. I urge all interested parties to ensure that they have the latest version of the CDR, which can be downloaded from the ACBL website.

    2. In my March, 2008 report from the Detroit NABC, I wrote: attorneys (defined as a person who is licensed or has been licensed to practise law in any jurisdiction) will no longer be permitted to attend any disciplinary hearing. However, an attorney outside of the hearing room may represent the person charged.

      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.

      In Las Vegas, The ACBL Board of Governors overwhelmingly recommended that no person may be prevented from active, in-hearing representation at any hearing held by an ACBL disciplinary body. Their motion to revert back to the previous practice of allowing attorneys to attend disciplinary hearings was defeated 10-14-1 by the ACBL Board of Directors. I voted in favour.

    3. The ACBL Appeals & Charges Committee reported the following decisions:

      In the matter of the request for hearing by Marc Langevin against District 2 pursuant to Code of Disciplinary Regulations Section 9.2.:

      The Committee denied the request for a hearing because the case did not warrant any action and because the matter was dealt with in a reasonable manner at the District level under 9.2 of the Code.

      Mr. Langevin alleged six specific violations by the District. Therefore, the Committee reviewed the six allegations and made the following findings:

      A.1. The tournament chair did not act inappropriately in submitting a complaint to the District and the District acted appropriately in making charges to its Disciplinary Committee based upon the complaint.

      A.2 The actions of the tournament chair taken before submitting the complaint are not an appropriate basis for a CDR 9.2 action.

      B.1. The District acted appropriately in delaying the hearing because of the unavailability of two of the charged persons.

      B.2. The District acted legally and properly in maintaining jurisdiction.

      B.3. The delay in reporting the decision is regrettable. However, action has been taken by the ACBL to add to the CDR a time frame within which the decision of a disciplinary body must be submitted.

      B.4. When a charge against a person is dropped or dismissed, current procedures require that if the charge is recorded in the person's ACBL disciplinary file, then a written statement that the charges were dropped or dismissed must also be included.

      In the matter of the review hearing held pursuant to CDR Section 7.2.6 of the decision of the ACBL Ethical Oversight Committee regarding charges brought by the ACBL against Ken Gee, the committee finds:

      A. That the finding that Mr. Gee violated CDR Sections 3.1, 3.2 and 3.7 is affirmed.

      B. That the discipline imposed is modified as follows:

      1. That Mr. Gee be suspended from the ACBL for the period from and including November 27, 2007 through May 31, 2009.

      2. That Mr. Gee serve lifetime probation under ACBL rules commencing June 1, 2009.

      3. That all ACBL masterpoints earned by Mr. Gee for the period July 31, 2006 through December 31, 2007 be removed from his ACBL masterpoint record. He shall also forfeit any titles or awards won during the same time period.

  5. Junior Bridge

      ACBL's new junior guru is Patty Tucker, who is well on her way towards success. I invite all of you to visit the Bridge Teachers For Youth website (under construction). There is a wealth of information for bridge teachers. In addition, there are useful links, such as the link to the ACBL High School Bridge Lesson Program. Check it out and feel free to contribute.

      The ACBL Junior Division (for players under 26 years of age) and the ACBL Youth division (for players under 20 years of age) were redefined. The reason for separate divisions is to better cater to the needs of age specific young bridge players. Carried unanimously.

      The first Youth NABC was held in Atlanta in July, 2008, and was a huge success. A second Youth NABC has already been scheduled for Washington, DC, in the summer of 2009. At the Boston ACBL Board meeting, the ACBL unanimously approved a Youth NABC for the summer of 2010 at a site and date to be determined. I think it is very likely that a Youth NABC will be held in conjunction with the Toronto 2011 Summer NABC.

  6. Platinum Pairs & Proposed NABC Schedule

      The Platinum Pairs, a premier three-day NABC+ matchpoint game was approved to start at the Spring 2010 NABC. Eligibility is limited to players who have won at least 50 Platinum points in the prior three years or 200 Platinum points lifetime. Winning will be worth 200 Platinum points. Here is the proposed new NABC schedule (starting in 2010):
        SPRING SUMMER FALL
      Wednesday NAOP - Flight A GNT - Championship Flt
      GNT - Open Flight A
      GNT - Flight B
      GNT - NLM
       
      Thursday NAOP - Flight A GNT - Championship Flt
      GNT - Open Flight A
      GNT - Flight B
      GNT - NLM
       
      Friday Silodor Open Pairs
      Platinum Pairs
      GNT - Championship Flt
      GNT - Open Flight A
      GNT - Flight B
      GNT - NLM
      LM Pairs
      Mini LM Pairs (LM-5000)
      Mini LM Pairs (LM-1500)
      LM Open Pairs
      LM Women's Pairs
      Non-LM Pairs
      Senior KO Teams
      Saturday Silodor Open Pairs
      Platinum Pairs
      GNT - Championship Flt
      GNT - Open Flight A
      GNT - Flight B
      GNT - NLM
      LM Pairs
      Mini LM Pairs (LM-5000)
      Mini LM Pairs (LM-1500)
      LM Open Pairs
      LM Women's Pairs
      Non-LM Pairs
      Senior KO Teams
      Sunday VANDERBILT
      Silver Ribbon Pairs
      Platinum Pairs
      GNT - Championship Flt
      GNT - Open Flight A
      GNT - Flight B
      GNT - NLM
      LM Pairs
      Mini LM Pairs (LM-5000)
      Mini LM Pairs (LM-1500)
      Open BAM
      Women's BAM
      Mixed Pairs
      Senior KO Teams
      Monday VANDERBILT
      Silver Ribbon Pairs
      SPINGOLD/Mini-Spingold
      Women's KO
      Senior Swiss Teams
      Open BAM
      Women's BAM
      Mixed Pairs
      Senior KO Teams
      Tuesday VANDERBILT
      Mixed Pairs
      IMP Pairs
      Women's Pairs
      SPINGOLD/Mini-Spingold
      Women's KO
      Senior Swiss Teams
      Open Pairs
      Blue Ribbon Pairs
      Senior KO Teams
      Mini Blue Ribbon Pairs
      Wednesday VANDERBILT
      Mixed Pairs
      IMP Pairs
      Women's Pairs
      SPINGOLD/Mini-Spingold
      Women's KO
      Open Pairs
      Blue Ribbon Pairs
      Mini Blue Ribbon Pairs
      Thursday VANDERBILT
      IMP Pairs
      Women's Pairs
      Red Ribbon Pairs
      Open/Women's BAM
      SPINGOLD/Mini-Spingold
      Women's KO
      Mixed BAM Teams
      Fast Open Pairs
      199er Pairs
      Blue Ribbon Pairs
      Friday VANDERBILT
      IMP Pairs
      Women's Pairs
      Red Ribbon Pairs
      Open/Women's BAM
      SPINGOLD/Mini-Spingold
      Women's KO
      Mixed BAM Teams
      Fast Open Pairs
      REISINGER
      NA Swiss Teams
      99er Pairs
      Saturday VANDERBILT
      Open Swiss
      Women's Swiss
      NAOP - Flight B
      NAOP - NLM
      SPINGOLD/Mini-Spingold
      Women's KO
      Open Swiss
      REISINGER
      NA Swiss Teams
      Sunday Open Swiss
      Women's Swiss
      NAOP - Flight B
      NAOP - NLM
      SPINGOLD/Mini-Spingold
      Open Swiss
      REISINGER
      NA Swiss Teams
      Note: In order to participate in an NABC+ event, you must be an ACBL member whose service fees or dues are current.

      A second reading is required at the Houston 2009 Spring NABC.

  7. Board Actions and Other News From Boston

    1. The ACBL went into executive session to discuss various proposals for the new ACBL Headquarters building in the Memphis area. The Real Estate Committee reported the following: Management is authorized to negotiate the purchase of a parcel of land and proceed with the development of an ACBL Headquarters building pursuant to the terms and conditions of the proposal provided in executive session. The proposal will be a sealed portion of the minutes.

    2. I submitted a motion that for all games at NABCs, the hands used in NABC+ events shall be different from the hands played in other games (Regional, side, I/N). Carried 24-1.

    3. When a sectional (excluding STAC's) or higher-rated event is being conducted within 25 miles of a club game's playing site, the club is permitted to hold only its regularly scheduled club masterpoint games (i.e. no special games). Carried unanimously.

    4. Online bridge clubs may run Club Championships under similar conditions as face-to-face clubs. All masterpoint awards will be non-pigmented. In an online club championship, each pair must play at least 18 boards. One open club championship may be awarded per quarter for sessions 1 12 (Monday Thursday) with a maximum first place overall award of 3.90. Carried 20-5. I voted in favour.

    5. ACBL management is authorized to sanction silver point sectionals on cruise ships at 65% of open sectional rating for games run by a club/cruise director and at 80% of open sectional rating for those run by an ACBL tournament director. The current per table sanction fee for open sectionals will be charged. Carried 13-11-1. I voted in favour.

    6. The stratification levels in a Stratified Board-a-Match team event may be determined by the average masterpoint holding of all the team members. This is the same method that the ACBL allows for Stratified Swiss Team events (at the discretion of the sponsoring organization). Carried unanimously.

  8. Financial Issues

      The ACBL has just had two years of record-breaking profits ($1.7 million in 2007 and ballpark $650,000 in 2008). Nonetheless, the Finance Committee is warning of tough times ahead. Salaries will increase on average 4% in 2009. Health insurance costs are projected to increase by 18%. The ACBL Pension Fund was hurt by the stock market collapse and will require additional funds. Overall, the 2009 budget projects a 21% increase in benefit costs.

      A new Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is in the budget. The ACBL has a new Marketing Director, Vicki Campbell, and it is expected that marketing programs and expenditures will increase.

      Budgets are simply best guess estimates. As we have seen over the past few years, the final numbers can often be hundreds of thousands of dollars favourable or unfavourable in comparison to budget. I am always skeptical.

      In 2009, there will be no increases in sanction fees or membership dues. However, there will be increases for NABC card fees and the sectional surcharge that covers tournament director travel costs. The 2009 budget predicts a loss of $200,000. The changes for 2009 are as follows:

    1. STAC charges (which include all Tournament Director fees) for 2009 were slightly modified as follows:

      Tables Factor
      0 - 500$4.35 x #Tables
      500 - 1000 $4.10 x #Tables over 500 + $2,175
      1000 - 2000 $3.75 x #Tables over 1000 + $4,225
      2000 - 4000 $3.30 x #Tables over 2000 + $7,975
      4000+ $3.00 x #Tables over 4000 + $14,575

    2. An increase in NABC card fees per player per session as follows:

      • NABC+ events $18.00 to $20.00.
      • NABC limited events $16.50 to $17.00.
      • Regional two session events $15.50 to $16.00.
      • Single session and IN events $14.50 to $15.00.

    3. Sectional surcharge increase from $135.00 to $165.00.

      Given an excess of revenue over expenses of more than $2.3 million over the last two years, and given the extreme economic difficulties we are all facing, I was and remain strongly opposed to these increases. About one third of the ACBL Board suggested reducing the fee structure to three price points where single session, IN, and Regional events would each be $15.00. That would have been a slight decrease in Regional event entry fees, but our proposal was defeated.

      The 2009 ACBL Budget was approved 18-6-1. I voted no because of my opposition to the NABC entry fee increases. The Boston NABC is a good example. The Regional events were significantly below estimate that is not a surprise to me. Why should entry fees for a Regional event at an NABC cost significantly more than the same event at your hometown Regional? Raising NABC entry fees in 2009 will very likely lead to decreased attendance.

  9. A Personal Note

    This is my last official report as your representative to the ACBL Board of Directors. It has been a tremendous fifteen years for me, and I thank all of you for your support. Paul Janicki will take over my duties on January 1, 2009. I hope that you will all join me in congratulating him and wishing him all the best in his new position.

    I intend, nonetheless, to remain very active in the bridge milieu. I have been elected to represent Zone 2 on the World Bridge Federation Executive Council for the next three years. I will continue to take and post photos from various tournaments that I attend. My website will remain online for anyone who wishes to access it.

    You are all invited to view my online photo albums; the most recent pictures were taken during the Boston 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 2-4, 2009.

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


    Top 30 Masterpoint Winners From District 2 at the Boston NABC

    1142.23John CarruthersToronto ON
    2100.00Doug BaxterToronto ON
    390.38Stephen MackayMarkham ON
    =488.63Vera PettyWarwick, Bermuda
    =488.63Roman SmolskiWarwick, Bermuda
    687.64Robert LebiToronto ON
    783.09Jonathan SteinbergToronto ON
    879.60David LindopToronto ON
    968.40Daniel LaveeThornhill ON
    1066.94Jim PriebeMississauga ON
    1159.60David GraingerEtobicoke ON
    =1256.68Malcolm EwashkiwBelleville ON
    =1256.68Bob HollowMadoc ON
    1444.67Ray JotchamScarborough ON
    =1543.06Christopher CowanMississauga ON
    =1543.06Debbie FeldmanOakville ON
    1739.82Mark BraderToronto ON
    1838.96Catherine BraderToronto ON
    1938.41Lew RichardsonToronto ON
    =2037.97Julie BerdockRichmond Hill ON
    =2037.97Michael KennyRichmond Hill ON
    =2237.88Claude TremblayNiagara On The Lake ON
    =2237.88Muriel TremblayNiagara On The Lake ON
    =2434.79Mark LibermanToronto ON
    =2434.79Barbara ShnierToronto ON
    2631.66Nader HannaWillowdale ON
    2730.72George MittelmanToronto ON
    2830.52Arno HobartMarkham ON
    =2929.82Joan ViidikWaterloo ON
    =2929.82Tony ViidikWaterloo ON


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