August 5, 1997
Dear District and Unit Board Members in District Two:
Attendance at the Albuquerque NABC dramatically exceeded advance
predictions. It started strong and remained steady throughout the
week. Final tally: 11,355 tables, well above management's
original estimate of 9,800 tables and their hope of going over
As is usually the case wherever an NABC is held, the local people
provided outstanding hospitality. NABCs are where it's at! The
excitement, the challenges and the opportunities are endless.
I urge all of you to consider the Fall NABC in St. Louis in
November. And it's never too early to plan ahead. In 1998, we
have three outstanding NABCs scheduled for Reno, Chicago, and
Orlando. I hope to see some of you there!
Highlights From the Albuquerque Board Meetings:
- Roy G. Green announced his impending retirement as Chief
Executive Officer (see Exhibit A) of the ACBL.
- A new colour coded convention card was approved (see Exhibit B). It will be in blue (announce), red (alert) and black.
- An overall budget of $800,000 annually for marketing and
promotion of bridge was approved.
- For all knockout events below national rating, overall awards
to players on five and six-person teams will be based on the
percentage of participation. Effective January 1, 1998.
- A new large size format of The Bridge Bulletin is being test
marketed and it appears to be getting rave reviews.
- The concept of "Zero Tolerance" for unacceptable behavior (see Exhibit C) was approved in principle. I am on a sub-committee
that will propose detailed policy guidelines at the Memphis
meetings in November.
- Tournaments & Masterpoints:
There are highly influential, well financed lobbyists who
pressure members of the Canadian Parliament and U.S. Congress. So
it is in the bridge world. There are three issues that will put
the ACBL Board of Directors (BOD) under tremendous pressure
between now and the Fall meetings in Memphis.
- My motion to equate overall awards in regionally rated KO
events with percentage participation. This is identical to the
way overall awards are calculated in Regional and Sectional Swiss
Team events. If you play half the matches/boards, then you get
half the overall awards.
In 1991, ACBL members earned 3.2 million masterpoints. With fewer
members in 1996, we gave out 4.3 million masterpoints. A 34%
increase with dwindling membership. In 1986, it took 267
masterpoints to make the Top 500. In 1997, it took 394! A 47%
While my motion will maintain the generous overall awards for KO
events, as well as still allow for five and six person teams, it
will mean that you must be "at the table" in order to win
masterpoints. You won't be rewarded for the performance of
others. This is fair, logical, and consistent with Swiss events.
Already, I have heard that some professional players have gone
"ballistic" over this motion. The critics claim that this will
kill the KO events! I hardly think so.
What's your opinion? I will ensure that all written comments I
receive (snail mail or e-mail) will be passed on to the entire
ACBL Board of Directors.
- In Dallas, we passed a regulation that defenses to natural no
trump opening bids and overcalls that could show a multi-suited
hand must now show at least one known suit. This applies to
direct bids only, not to doubles. Effective 1/1/98.
This motion refers to "suction", "hello", "jumpball", and various
other defensive toys that have gained popularity in some areas of
the country while remaining non-existent in others.
It is my belief that these conventions do NOT belong on the
general convention chart but should be on the mid-chart. There is
a strong lobbying effort going on to persuade members of the BOD
otherwise. What do you think? All comments I receive will be
passed on to the full BOD.
- The issue of raising the age of eligibility for seniors
events. I believe that seniors events today are discriminating
against the 25-30% of ACBL members who are UNDER 55 years of age!
One board member jokingly stated that now that Paul Soloway is
winning senior events, it must be time to raise the age limit!
The naysayers would have us believe that a mass exodus would
occur if we tinkered with seniors events (just like a mass exodus
would occur if we make eligibility for overall awards in KO
events fair and just). I disagree on both counts.
My feeling is that we should raise the age of eligibility to 62
or 65 years at once. Alternatively, we could raise it by one year
every two years until we reach 62 or 65. A gradual phasing in.
Or, we could do nothing. What do you think?
I expect to be under a lot of pressure from special interest
groups on all three of the above issues. I'm interested in what
the majority of our players think about these ideas. Please let
me know your viewpoint.
Regarding other tournament matters:
- I tried to make it mandatory to have a registered nurse and
first aid facilities available at every NABC. Defeated 18-7.
- Split range no trump opening bids such as the Woodson 2-Way No
Trump (10-12 or 16-18 HCP) will be moved from the General
Convention Chart to the Mid-Chart effective 1/1/98.
- The NABC Non-Life Master Swiss Team event was discontinued.
- Marketing & Future Plans:
- An annual budget of $800,000 was approved in principle to
provide marketing and public relations support to the ACBL. The
first step will be to hire a Marketing Director and a Sales
Director. The marketing plan and budgetary considerations will be
reviewed at the Fall meeting.
- Our current membership fee structure will remain as is,
subject to review once a complete marketing program is
- Test marketing of the new size Bridge Bulletin continues.
Management will provide a full report at the Fall meeting.
- The Future of Bridge task force suggestion to have a two-fee
structure for entry fees (non-members would pay more) was
defeated 18-7. A pity. In what other organizations do non-members
pay the same entry fee as members?
- The ACBL will (finally!) invoice Canadian junior members for
their Canadian Bridge Federation (CBF) fees. It is hoped that
this long standing problem will be solved.
- The ACBL Field Office program is discontinued.
- Organizing and scheduling the 1998 Junior Team Trials was
deferred to the Fall meeting.
- A "Super Senior" (65+) experimental Regional event is planned
for the Spring (Reno) '98 NABC.
- Financial Matters:
1997 appears to be progressing well within budgetary guidelines.
However, the major concern is how to come up with the large sums
of money required for a full scale marketing and public relations
With that in mind, a series of cost cutting measures were
- The Bridge Bulletin will be cut back to 132 pages effective
- Sanction fees for Regionals and Sectionals shall increase
effective 1/1/98. Regional fees up 40 cents to $4.10. Sectional
fees up 15 cents to $2.75.
- Price increases will be felt for pretty much everything,
including advertising in the Bridge Bulletin, handling fees,
mailing list requests, and the cost of bid boxes (going up to
$25/set from $20/set).
- Appeals & Charges:
- I chaired a sub-committee that presented a new set of ACBL
Disciplinary Sanction Guidelines for approval (see Exhibit D).
Approved by a 19-6 vote.
- A Zero Tolerance policy was approved in principle (see Exhibit C). I am on a committee that will formulate specific policy
guidelines to be implemented as soon as possible, pending BOD
approval at the Fall meeting.
- A summary of a member's Disciplinary Record to include charge
and discipline will be available upon request to Units,
Districts, and/or the CBF.
- Disciplinary Matters:
As we reviewed many cases, it became clear that there are two
opposing philosophies that could guide our decisions. An argument
was presented that only in the rarest and most exceptional
situations should the ACBL BOD overturn a decision by a
Unit/District Conduct & Ethics Committee. The counterposition
believes that the the ACBL has a mandate and a responsibility to
set, maintain, and enforce standards of conduct and ethics
throughout the ACBL.
There are no simple solutions to these issues. Each case must be
viewed on its own unique merits. A sampling of decisions that may
be of interest to District 2 players follow:
- Eric Rodwell, N482658, and Jeff Meckstroth, M580699, were
reprimanded, but it will not be a discipline of record (see Exhibit E).
- The discipline of Ken Warren, O865216, was reviewed. No
further action taken. Mr. Warren's one year suspension will end
on September 30, 1997, following which he will be forbidden from
playing professionally for an additional four years.
In my opinion, approving this unenforceable sanction sends a poor
message to our membership.
- The application for readmission of Wayne Timms, J568183, was
accepted. Mr. Timms will be permitted to play only in District 2
for one year and will be on probation for five years.
- Moses Ma, 8337926, had his status reviewed. Mr. Ma was
suspended for five years (retroactive to December 16, 1996) and
will remain on permanent probation afterwards.
- The Ethical Oversight Committee met on Saturday morning July
26, 1997, in the matter of charges against Steve Sion, M562798,
of Las Vegas, NV. Mr. Sion was expelled from the ACBL.
Exhibit A: CEO Roy Green retirement.
Exhibit B: Official new ACBL Convention Card (revised September 1997)
Exhibit C: Draft of Zero Tolerance Policy.
Exhibit D: ACBL Disciplinary Sanction Guidelines.
Exhibit E: Official statement regarding Eric Rodwell & Jeff
The cooperation of all Unit Presidents and Secretaries in
distributing this report to their members is greatly appreciated.
This report may also be viewed on my home page at: