April 2, 1998

Dear District and Unit Board Members in District Two:

For 1998, my responsibilities on the ACBL Board of Directors include Chair of the Education & Marketing Committee as well as being a member of the following committees: Appeals & Charges, Clubs & Member Services, Honorary Member of the Year, and Junior Bridge. In addition, I am honoured to be Vice-President of the ACBL Educational Foundation.

This year the Educational Foundation is making a determined effort to increase our public awareness and generate increased donations. I invite all of you to visit our revised web site which can be accessed via the ACBL site.

The Foundation is the major sponsor of the School Bridge Lesson Program, whereby the ACBL pays teachers to teach bridge to students. In 1998, the Foundation is subsidizing all ACBL juniors who will be attending the Junior Bridge Camp this summer in the amount of $200, thereby reducing their cost from $400 to $200. We are fortunate to have in District Two a thriving and active number of junior players and it appears that several of them will be attending the bridge camp.

Highlights From The Reno NABC:

  1. Congratulations to Torontonians Joan Eaton and Leslie Amoils who WON the NABC Mixed Pairs.

  2. David O. Silber was introduced as the new CEO of the ACBL.

  3. Glenn Smith was re-elected as the ACBL Treasurer.

  4. Reno was a huge success with 13,967 tables in play which broke the previous record for the largest Spring NABC ever. The Reno Hilton is an extraordinary site that caters to all tastes. I predict that we will be returning to Reno within the next few years.

  1. Masterpoint Review Committee & Knockouts:
    1. For the umpteenth time, revisions were made to the regulations governing knockout events. Effective IMMEDIATELY, we liberalized the requirements for overall award eligibilities while adding a new wrinkle. Any individual player only receives the masterpoint award for the last match in which he/she played (at least 50% of the match) and won.

      Explanation: While I still believe that the percentage participation (play in 50% of the event, receive 50% of the award) that is used for swiss events would be the fairest solution, the new regulations for KO events are sound. We have allowed for maximum flexibility so that a player or pair can sit out a session for whatever reason and still remain part of the team. Each player must meet the minimum requirement of 50% of all boards played plus 50% of the semi-final and final (or if 0% of semi-final, then 100% of final).

      On the other hand, you can no longer win points while you sleep! The scenario that caused great consternation occurred when a customer/pro team sat out the client for the critical second round. The client would return and lose the third round but still receive the overall award for 3/4th in a 16 team bracketed KO. No longer. In the above scenario, the player who sat out the second match and then returned and lost the third round would only receive the points for his last match played and won; i.e. the first round. The players on the team who played and won the second round would receive the 3/4th overall awards. A simple and fair solution to a problem that has been on our agenda far too long.

    2. The masterpoint review committee presented their comprehensive report. It will be reviewed this summer (second reading) and all changes will be effective January 1, 1999.

      Here are some of the highlights:

      1. There will be a dramatic reduction in overall awards in the "X" strata in stratiflighted A/X events, especially so if the "X" strata fails to meet minimum table requirements.

      2. For all KO team events, the overall award for lower ranks as a percentage of first has been revised. The new formula shall be:
        NewPrevious
        1100%100%
        265%75%
        3/440%49.22%
        5/822.50%21.63%
        9/1610%8.29%

        NOTE: In an eight team KO, winners of a playoff match for 3/4th will receive 22.50% of the first place award, not 40%.

      3. Overall awards in bracketed KO's have been adjusted. Generally speaking, the top brackets will have a slight decrease while some middle and lower brackets may increase.

      4. Awards for NABC+ events will be revised. Most overall awards will have a moderate increase (eg. Spingold/Vanderbilt award will increase from 200 to 240 points. Lower placing will increase accordingly.)

      5. Awards for Canadian National Championships will be reviewed this summer, pending input from the Canadian Bridge Federation. It is expected that overall awards for these events, particularly the CNTC, will increase dramatically and be more appropriate in relation to ACBL NABC+ events.

      6. Proposals to revise the requirements for Life Master status were deferred to the summer. What do YOU think? Should we increase the requirements from 300 to 500 points? Make no changes? Revise the gold/red/silver requirements? Effective when? Should the new regulations apply to new members only or current members as well?

        Please let me know your thoughts.

      Full details on all of the proposed masterpoint changes for 1999 will be published in The Bridge Bulletin, or you can contact me for more details.

  2. Administrative Matters:
    1. David O. Silber will be the next ACBL CEO. He is expected to officially come on board on or before June 1st. He briefly spoke to the Board of Governors in Reno. I also had the pleasure of meeting David in Reno and I look forward to working with him.

      David primarily comes from a marketing background but he also has a law degree and an MBA from Harvard. He is multi-lingual. His children are grown and he and his wife are looking forward to moving to Memphis.

      David has had a love for the game since he was first taught bridge as a twelve year old. Having just turned 55, he is looking forward to combining his love for bridge with his administrative talents as the ACBL heads into the next millennium.

      I'm sure we all wish him well in what clearly will be a very challenging position.

    2. A joint Board of Governors/Directors Committee presented a report proposing radical reforms to the way the current Board of Directors functions. I am less than impressed. The entire matter was deferred to the summer. Meanwhile...

    3. The Board approved a training seminar (tentatively scheduled for Chicago) to be run by a professional executive consultant to help instruct the ACBL Board of Directors on how to interact with management and how best to perform effectively and efficiently as a Board of Directors.

    4. Some members believe the ACBL should get involved in drug testing of our international representatives. I believe that I represent the ACBL, not the ACPF (American Contract Police Force). We currently have mechanisms whereby players may be removed from international competition for inappropriate behaviour. Getting involved in drug testing would open a Pandora's box of ethical, legal, and moral issues.

      Nonetheless, by a 14-11 vote, the board instructed management to do a feasibility study and report back to us no later than the Fall 1998 board meeting.

  3. Education & Marketing:
    1. The Bridge America status report was received. The board unanimously agreed that, "the current efforts of Bridge America shall proceed pending further review of the program and recommendations by the CEO at the Fall 1998 meeting of the Board of Directors in Orlando."

    2. The Board of Directors thanked Barbara Seagram and Unit 166 for their steadfast moral and financial support for the Zero Tolerance Program.

  4. Appeals & Charges:
    1. A comprehensive new set of disciplinary sanction guidelines were approved. Each offense still has a suggested range of disciplinary actions but for the most part the range is narrower and is geared towards a first time offender.

      A committee may still choose any sanction they wish, but if the committee goes outside of the suggested guidelines they must give their reasons for so doing.

      I urge all interested parties to request a copy of the new guidelines from the ACBL (or by calling me).

    2. Reno marked the implementation of the new ACBL Zero Tolerance policy. All in all, everything went smoothly. I believe between 30 and 50 ZT penalties were imposed.

    3. As was the case in St. Louis, bridge appeals were numerous. What was unusual was the number of conduct cases, some of which resulted in the offender(s) being asked to leave the tournament.

      The ACBL is serious about Zero Tolerance and players behaving in an appropriate manner. We are all the better for it and our game will be more attractive to new players, old players, and those of us somewhere in between!

  5. Financial Matters
    1. 1997 was a good year. Revenues exceeded expenses by $380,000 which was $115,000 greater than 1996 and $80,000 greater than the 1997 budget.

    2. Cash and investments were $3.678 Million as of December 31, 1997, an increase of $370,000 over 1996. Net worth was up $427,000 to $3.31 Million.

    3. Notwithstanding the above, expenses rarely decrease. Membership is barely stable (and that includes about 3,500 Bridge America members). A new Marketing Director and telemarketing contract are still scheduled for 1998. In addition, 1998 will have special non-recurring expenses regarding our new CEO.

      It is imperative that in order to ensure a successful and profitable future we use our resources wisely.

    4. In order to meet our 1998 budgeted programs, a $1 NABC entry fee increase (originally reported to go into effect in Reno) will be instituted effective Summer 1998 NABC in Chicago. As I reported last Fall, there is NO increase in sanction fees, Tournament Director fees, nor membership dues in 1998.

  6. The Last Word:
  7. 1998 is shaping up to be a banner year. Reno was great, and I urge all of you to plan ahead for Chicago this summer, then Orlando in the Fall. 1999 continues with three exciting NABC's planned for Vancouver, San Antonio, and Boston. NABC's are fun and challenging. Those of you who are regulars already know that. For those of you have never attended one, there is no better time than now to start making plans! You'll be glad you did.

    Meanwhile, here in Toronto, the Chair of our 2001 Summer NABC, Penny Augustine, and Treasurer, Eric Sutherland, have already started working on what promises to be a great tournament. They are looking for volunteers and would appreciate your help.

    I wish all of you a great year at the bridge table. Please feel free to say hello when you see me and keep on sending me your ideas and concerns. I am here to be of service.


    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/