December 5, 1997

Dear District and Unit Board Members in District Two:

It gives me great pleasure to announce my 1998 appointments to the ACBL Goodwill Committee. This is a lifetime appointment that recognizes players who exemplify the best of our game in promoting goodwill at the bridge table.

Congratulations to our 1998 Goodwill Committee members:

My appointment to the ACBL National Charity Committee for 1998 is: The Fall meetings are where many elections and appointments are made. Here are the key players for 1998:
  1. Richard (Dick) Anderson of Regina, SK will be the 1998 ACBL President, only the second Canadian to be so honoured.

  2. Henry Francis will be the 1998 ACBL Honourary Member of the Year.

  3. George Retek and Virgil Anderson were re-elected as ACBL representatives to the World Bridge Federation.

  4. Don Moeller was re-elected to the ACBL Charity Foundation. Subsequently, the foundation elected Jim Zimmerman President; Virgil Anderson Vice President; and Don Moeller Secretary-Treasurer.

  5. Val Covalciuc and Judy Prescott were re-elected to the ACBL Educational Foundation. Also elected were Dudley Brown and Jonathan Steinberg. Subsequently, the foundation elected Gene Simpson President; Jonathan Steinberg Vice President; and Eugene Kales Secretary-Treasurer.

  6. Chris Pisarra was elected as the new Chair of the Board of Governors.

  1. Tournaments & Masterpoints:
    1. The motion to pay out overall awards in regionally rated Knockout (KO) events based on percentage participation was rescinded. However, effective January 1st, 1998, in order to be eligible for overall awards in KO events, you must play 50% of EVERY match. The only exception is in the first match (with cause), and then you must play 100% of the second match.

    2. Eligibility for overall awards in matchpoint events was raised from a minimum of 50% to 70% of all boards played. Thus, in a two session matchpoint game, you can no longer get overall awards if you just play in one session! (Thanks to Unit 166 for submitting this motion.)

    3. The controversy over what defenses should be allowed over Notrump (NT) openings continued. We reached a compromise of sorts. Effective January 1, 1998, defenses to natural NT opening bids and overcalls are allowed, except that direct calls other than double and 2 clubs must have at least one known suit.

      A majority of the board believe exotic, hard to defend against conventions do not belong on the general convention chart. However, it is easy to defend against double and/or 2 club overcalls. Simply ignore the bid and play all systems on (with double of 2 clubs being stayman).

    4. An attempt to slowly raise the age of eligibility for seniors events (one year every two years until age 65) was defeated 10-15. There will be an experimental Super Seniors (65+) event scheduled for the Reno Spring '98 NABC.

    5. It is well recognized that masterpoint inflation has made a mockery of winning points today. A few years ago, 300 points made the Top 500 -- this year it appears you may need more than 450 points! A masterpoint review committee is currently working on correcting the obvious inequities that exist today -- their full report is expected at the Spring meetings with implementation planned for January 1, 1999.

      Two areas I feel must be improved are:

      1. Bracketed 4 session KO events. In St. Louis in the top bracket of one such event, you earned 1.25 for winning the first match, 30 points for winning the second match!, and 15 points for winning each of the semi-final and final matches! I believe you should get more points for winning the 1st, 3rd and final match but fewer points for winning (or surviving) the second round.

      2. Fortunately, we don't do this in District 2, but the concept of Flight A/X events was created where the "A" group is stratified! Many people in St. Louis discovered this nonsense for the first time. In a Flight A/X Swiss, the X group had less than 3,000 masterpoints per player. The winner of the X group came 7th overall but won almost as much as the real winner of the "A" group! This is masterpoint inflation at it's worst: make everyone a winner. I heard many complaints -- the same nonsense applied in Flight A/X pair games as well.

    6. ACBL fully supports the use of Tournament Assistants (TA) to help sponsoring organizations keep their tournaments affordable. Management is directed, whenever feasible, to reduce its Tournament Director (TD) staffing requirements when the sponsoring organization commits to hire a TA.

      I strongly endorse the above motion. We will be using a TA in Toronto at our Hart House sectional in March '98. I urge all of our Tournament Chairs to consider this option. Please contact me for further information.

    7. ZERO TOLERANCE has officially been approved for implementation at the Reno Spring '98 NABC (by a 17-8 vote)! As you all know, District 2 has been a leader in this area. We can be proud of our success.

      It is regrettable that the Professional Tournament Directors Association (PTDA) strongly opposes the use of TA's and, from what I heard in St. Louis, they are also opposed to our Zero Tolerance policy. Remember: Zero Tolerance is now the law of the land and TD's must enforce the policies we pass. Insist upon it and we shall create an atmosphere where our players will want to return and enjoy themselves over and over instead of fleeing the duplicate arena, horrified by the many examples of rude and outrageous behaviour that was once (but no longer) tolerated!

  2. Education & Junior Programs:
    1. A Junior Bridge Camp was approved for the Chicago area following the 1998 Summer NABC. Every two years ACBL will sponsor a Junior Camp to be held in conjunction with the summer NABC.

      I am very pleased to report that my first motion as a trustee of the ACBL Educational Foundation was to approve a subsidy of $200 to every successful ACBL applicant to the 1998 Junior Bridge Camp. Carried.

    2. Support for Bridge America was reaffirmed. Management was instructed to develop adequate systems to support mailings, renewals, payments to recruiters, financial audit trail, and tie-ins to other organizational elements.

      1997 was a very difficult year for ACBL computer systems. It is hoped that 1998 will be more fruitful. Adequate support systems are essential for Bridge America to prosper.

  3. Klub Korner & Marketing:
    1. Thanks to District 1 Director George Retek who proposed a Super Club Championship (sectionally rated). Units will be authorized to award this event to clubs which meet the criteria (recruiting members, novice games, 49'er games, STAC games, etc). The next Club Newsletter will provide full details.

    2. Sexual orientation was added to the list of prohibited grounds for barring a player from any club. In addition, Unit or District owned clubs now have the same rights as privately owned clubs in barring a player for whatever reason it deems proper.

    3. ACBL's Co-operative advertising program will be continued during 1998.

  4. NABC Site Selections:
  5. Participants at NABC's tend to enjoy themselves immensely. St. Louis was no exception. The bad news was that the total attendance of 8,632 tables was close to 1,000 tables below estimate (and this was an estimate that had been downgraded several times). In hindsight, it is clear that the ACBL did not need two separate hotels.

    Recurring concerns over NABC site selections include:

    1. Holding the Fall NABC over the American Thanksgiving weekend. In St. Louis the tournament died on Thanksgiving and never recovered.

    2. Multiple site tournaments may be inappropriate.

    3. Large long term financial liabilities may be incurred if our room blocks are not met.

    4. Less than optimal NABC site selections such as Miami in August. I am truly frightened by the prospect of the Fall 2000 NABC scheduled over the American Thanksgiving weekend in Birmingham, Alabama. While the facilities are supposed to be exceptional, downtown Birmingham is in serious decline. Population is decreasing, stores and restaurants are being closed. A grim prospect.

    5. Personally, I still do not comprehend how our host hotels are inevitably "Sold Out" yet attendance can be so dismal.

    I believe the ACBL can and must do better in all aspects of planning for future NABC sites. An ill fated idea of an in-house travel agency for NABC travel and housing has thankfully been shelved.

    Fortunately, in the near term, 1998 and 1999 look promising -- Reno, Chicago, and Orlando in 1998 -- Vancouver, San Antonio, and Boston in 1999. Beyond that, I have grave concerns about some of the sites selected.

  6. Appeals & Charges:
    1. The definition of an ACBL member "in good standing" was clarified. A member who is not in good standing shall not be entitled to serve in any elected or appointed position.

    2. The disciplinary code was revised. Effective January 1, 1998, if a disciplinary committee departs from the range of suggested disciplines given as guidelines, it must state its reasons for so doing.

    3. Disciplinary cases of local interest:

      1. Steve Sion (M562798): The expulsion imposed by the Ethical Oversight Committee was reviewed. The decision was not disturbed.

      2. Walter Schafer (M374037): The request for an appeal from the decision of District Appellate Committee for District 1 is declined (he will serve the remainder of his suspension starting December 1, 1997).

      3. Gary Hahn (M398645): For violating ACBL Probation, the defendant will serve the remainder of his 60 days suspension (effective from November 2, 1997). After his suspension is served, he will begin to serve concurrently the remainder of the 90 day probation imposed by the Unit 137 Disciplinary Committee and a 2 year term of ACBL Probation.

  7. 1998 and Beyond:
    1. Financially, the ACBL is in sound position; however, in order to remain so and to implement new marketing programs designed to expand our membership base, entry fees for all events at NABC's will increase $1/player/session effective with the Reno Spring '98 NABC. The good news is that a proposed increase in sanction fees for sectional and regional tournaments in 1998 has been shelved.

    2. The computer era continues with the awarding of masterpoints for OK Bridge tournaments (maximum of 10 masterpoints/year/ player). In 1998, watch for a major initiative by Microsoft into the bridge arena.

      The ACBL will establish a committee to advise the Board of Directors on ACBL bridge activities that involve the internet, Computer Bridge, and special inter-club or inter-site scoring across the internet. The five member committee will include one person from the Board, one from management, and three at large.

    3. 1998 will bring a new CEO and new Marketing Director to the ACBL. At that time, issues such as a larger sized Bridge Bulletin will be re-evaluated. For now, major new marketing initiatives are on hold pending new management.

  8. The Last Word:
  9. The foregoing is my own personal summary of some of the many issues discussed and debated during our last meetings. It is not meant to be a comprehensive report.

    An official copy of the Memphis meeting minutes as well as the ACBL Treasurer's report may be obtained upon request from the ACBL.

    1997 has been a tumultuous year which included a special meeting last May in Chicago. 1998 beckons, renewing optimism and hope: our membership decline has reversed itself and we are once again gaining members. We are poised to bring in new professional management who will lead the ACBL into the next century.

    I hope to be part of the process and, as always, will do my best to listen to your ideas and keep you informed.

    To all of you, my most sincere wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season. I look forward to seeing all of you at the bridge table in 1998.


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:

http://www3.sympatico.ca/jonathan.st/