March 15, 1996


Dear District 2 District and Unit Board Members;

I enter the third year of my first term as your representative with renewed optimism and enthusiasm for the future. In 1996, the Task Force on the Future of Bridge will be presenting their first report. Our own Audrey Grant will address the Board in Miami following the completion of her world-wide "Queen of Hearts" bridge promotional tour. Locally, our Junior and Educational Programs continue to thrive.

My responsibilities on the ACBL Board continue to grow. This year I remain as Vice Chairman of the Education Committee as well as being a member of Appeals & Charges, and the Tournament Committee. I am also on the management NABC Advisory Committee and the special Recorder Nomination Committee, chaired by Bobby Wolff.

1996 is also the year that District 2 and Toronto have gone on-line and become part of the World Wide Web (WWW). For those of you with personal computers and access to the internet, please check out Toronto Bridge Today (Unit 166 homepage) at: http://www.toronto-bridge.com/

Your District 2 Director also has a homepage at: http://www.toronto-bridge.com/steinberg.html

The above sites are the brainchild of Unit 166 President David Bryce whose initiative in this matter and hours of hard work deserve recognition.

Highlights From The Philadelphia NABC:

  1. Glenn Smith was acclaimed as ACBL Treasurer. This will be his second year in the position.

  2. Jeff Meckstroth and Eddie Wold were declared co-winners of the 1995 Barry Crane Top 500 race.

  3. Major changes to the alert procedure were approved, to be effective as of June 17, 1996.
  1. New Alert Procedures:

    Effective June 17, 1996, new procedures will take effect. Bulletin articles in the April, May, and June issues will clarify the new procedures. All ACBL clubs will be notified of the changes. In addition, Tournament Directors will be lenient during the transition period while we all learn the new rules.

    Some highlights of the new procedures:

    1. The category of "special alert" is abolished (hooray)!

    2. Many bids will no longer be alertable including:

      1. Natural 2/1 game force bids.
      2. 1C-P-1H (may have longer diamonds).
      3. 1S-P-1NT (forcing)-P-2 of a minor (may be a 3 card suit).
      4. 1C-1H-1S (promises a five card suit).
      5. Negative doubles promising at least 4 cards in the unbid major.
      6. Pre-emptive jump raise over a double. (Note: the limit or forcing jump raise over a double will be alertable.)

      A bid that WILL be alertable is: 1C-P-1H-2C or 2H cue bids that are NATURAL and suggest a willingness to play in that suit.

    3. A new category of "announced" bids has been created. There are three announced bids:

      1. Weak NT bids where the lower range is below 15 HCP's. You announce "your range" (eg. "10-12", "12-14", "13-15", "14-16").

      2. Forcing and Semi-Forcing 1 NT responses.

      3. 2D transfer to hearts and 2H transfer to spades after 1NT-P. You ANNOUNCE "transfer". (Note that ALL other transfer bids still require an alert.)

      In all three cases illustrated above, the partner of the bidder will announce out loud "10-12", "forcing", or "transfer" as the case may be. Where bid boxes are being used, the partner of the bidder will both tap the alert card AND announce the bid at the same time.

    I believe that the new system will reduce the number of alerts and also reduce the amount of Unauthorized/Unintentional Information (UI) that is passed across the table. For example, no longer will anyone have to ask what the NT range is. It will be announced if weak, alerted if something very special, and noalert/announcement means a range between 15 and 18 HCP's.

    Similarly, no one will ever again be confused about players who play 2D as a transfer and others who use it as forcing stayman. The 2D transfer bid will be "announced" while the forcing stayman bid will be alerted. Under the new system, with reduced alerts and announced bids, you are well advised to ASK when you hear an alert because alerts will once again be real and mean something!

  2. Administrative Matters:

    1. Regulations regarding reimbursement policies for the ACBL Board of Directors were reviewed and revised. The only significant changes were a reduction of per diem allowances for Board members and stricter requirements for producing receipts in order to be reimbursed for air fare and other special expenses.

    2. Regulations for all elections were significantly revised. The major benefit of the new rules will provide for a new election within 30 days for any Unit whose ballots were received in a timely manner yet were deemed inadmissible for whatever reason (new election only if the results could affect the outcome of the election). Also, no District Director can serve on any committee hearing an election protest from his/her own district nor vote on such matter should it come before the full Board.

    3. An Employee Conflict of Interest Policy was approved. An ACBL Board of Directors general statement, re: Conflict of Interest was approved.

    4. A four term limit (12 years) for the ACBL Board was narrowly passed 12-11 with 2 absent; however, since this is a by-law amendment it requires a 2/3 majority to pass, so it failed.... HOWEVER, the Board of Governors overwhelmingly passed a similar motion (current Board members with more than 4 terms would get one more chance to run for election). If the Board of Governors passes this motion for a second time this summer (2/3 majority), then it will come to the full board in the Fall and only a simple majority will be required.

      It is my hope that term limits will be ACBL policy by 1997. I strongly feel that it is good for the ACBL and every individual District to send new (if not necessarily young) blood to the ACBL Board at least once every decade or so.

    5. Management will design and provide a distinctive card (to be placed on the table) for players who have a handicap that precludes use of bid boxes (thanks to Karen Bradley for this excellent suggestion).

  3. Tournaments & Masterpoints:

    1. Management has been authorized to design a new convention card that reflects the changes in the alert procedure. YOUR INPUT IS WELCOME. Write, fax or e-mail the ACBL, attention: Gary Blaiss.

    2. A motion to categorize NABC events into two distinct categories was approved (second reading required). The only significance is that small secondary NABC events that do not meet minimum table requirements will get reduced awards (eg. 24 team NABC Senior KO would pay 78 masterpoints (minimum 60% of 130 point set award) instead of 130 points for winning.

    3. A new event called the "Compact KO" was approved. More masterpoints for all - but play fewer boards!

    4. There will be NO sanction fees for any game that a club schedules to recruit new members and for which it charges no fee.

  4. Education & Juniors:

    1. Management has been authorized to work with Audrey Grant and Centennial Press for marketing three new lesson series based on material from "Better Bridge - Bidding (Play) (Defense)."

    2. Conditions of Contest for the Junior Team Trials in Miami this summer were approved. There will be at least four young teams from Canada participating. The 1997 World Junior Bridge Championships are scheduled for Toronto in August, 1997.

    3. The 1996 ACBL Junior Bridge Camp on Marco Island, Florida is set for August 12-19, 1996. District 2 has eight confirmed participants.

    4. I presented a motion that would grant the ACBL Education Department discretionary funds to allow them to finance special projects that might arise without waiting for full board approval. Unfortunately, my motion was defeated 7-18.

  5. Financial Matters:

    1995 was a financially great year - so will be 1996. Our net assets increased by $1.15 million dollars to just over $3 million.

    Two items of note not included in the rosy financial picture are:

    1. A disputed $175,000 charge by the US Postal Service.

    2. An issue relating to the accrual of post retirement medical benefits for ACBL employees (known as FAS #106). The Board voted that the liability of FAS #106 be noted as a footnote to the 1995 financial statements with a full study and report to the Board to be made this summer. As a result, our auditor will issue a "qualified" accounting opinion on this issue.

    Notwithstanding the above, to quote ACBL Treasurer Glenn Smith: "We have realized all of the year-to-year improvement from increases in dues and fees instituted last year. Expenses continue to rise and dues paying members continue to decline. Our improved financial picture will be short lived unless we reverse the trend."

  6. Where Do We Go From Here?:

    1. Management will address the question of a new membership and a new publication for new education members at the summer meeting.

    2. Management will submit a full proposal regarding player ratings at the summer meetings.

    3. Management was instructed to submit guidelines for implementation of computer operator technicians as well as other cost-saving measures at tournaments.

    4. Management was instructed to provide a written policy on commercial bridge-related flyers and brochures that are distributed at NABC's.

    One issue that I feel is critical is making bridge affordable - this refers to reducing the cost of running tournaments and to providing affordable housing at our NABC's.

    All of our NABC's are getting smaller. Look at Philadelphia - another disappointment in attendance. Is it any wonder, with US $116 room rates (including tax but not $20 a day parking)? This summer, we are facing the double whammy of $100 hotel rates plus 100 degree heat - we shall have the smallest summer NABC in years.

    The issue of affordability deserves more attention than it has been getting. We cannot attract the 25-45 year old group with families and budgets if they will be unable to afford to come and play at our tournaments.

  7. The Last Word:

    This is an election year for the position of District Director in District 2. I have worked hard during my first term and trust that I have earned your support.

    As many of you have discovered, your ideas and suggestions are always followed up and more often than not, I am able to get the full ACBL Board's approval. Your input is critical to the success of my work and I thank you.

    I shall be running for a second term and hope that you will continue to honour me by allowing me to represent the greatest people in the ACBL, Canadians from District Two!

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