December 4, 1998
Dear District and Unit Board Members in District Two:
It gives me great pleasure to announce my 1999 appointments to
the ACBL Goodwill Committee. This is a lifetime appointment,
honouring players who exemplify the best of our game and promote
goodwill at the bridge table.
Congratulations to our 1999 Goodwill Committee members:
- Penny Augustine, Toronto
- Joycelyn Dundas, Cambridge
- Greg Sweeney, Bowmanville
My 1999 appointment to the ACBL National Charity Committee is:
The fall meetings are where many elections and appointments are
made. Here are some of the key players for 1999:
- Val Covalciuc of Omaha, Nebraska (District 14) will be the
1999 ACBL President. We wish her well.
- Bobby Goldman will be the 1999 ACBL Honourary Member of the
- Dan Morse was re-elected as one of the ACBL representatives to
the World Bridge Federation.
- The ACBL Educational Foundation elected Lynn Berg President
for 1999. Jonathan Steinberg will be Vice President;
Dudley Brown Secretary-Treasurer. There is a link to the Foundation
web site from my home page -- please visit and support us.
- Orlando Headline News (Highlights from the tournaments and
ACBL board meetings -- details to follow):
- Congratulations to our Toronto stars Fred Gitelman and George
Mittelman who WON the NABC Open Board-a-Match teams.
- ACBL stops the decline of the Canadian Dollar! 1999 conversion
rate to be capped at 1.50.
- October designated as Club Recognition Month.
- Are 2 AM Appeals Committees headed for extinction? New appeals
procedures to begin at the Vancouver Spring '99 NABC.
- ACBL Membership dues are expected to increase by $2 in 1999.
Club game table fees will increase by 10 cents/table.
- ALL restrictions on club "pool" games and masterpoints have
been rescinded. Our Thursday night money games in Toronto may now
offer BOTH cash prizes and masterpoints.
- Yearly and lifetime restrictions on winning on-line
masterpoints have been removed; however, other restrictions
remain and on-line masterpoints are deemed to be "colourless",
without any pigmentation!
- New requirements for LM (black points won at clubs) are in as
well as new "expert" levels of achievement to be implemented as
soon as possible.
- A two tiered price structure permitting members to pay less
than non-members will be implemented at the San Antonio Summer
- New marketing initiatives to involve the grass roots. Units
will be expected to develop mentoring programs to welcome new
members and follow-up on why new members do not renew. ACBL will
- Orlando attendance nose-dived after the USA Thanksgiving
Holiday. Final tally of 12,035 tables was almost 20% below the
1992 Orlando Fall NABC record of 14,980.
- Marketing and The Future:
The ACBL Board of Directors held a two day strategic planning
session just prior to our regular meetings. The exercise helped
focus on areas that require both immediate and long term
attention. Priorities were clearly established -- now the much
harder task of successful implementation lies ahead.
There are many marketing initiatives planned (or already
underway) for 1999 and beyond. Here are some of them:
- A new program involving unit membership integration and
retention responsibilities (with ACBL incentives) was approved.
While exact details may change, all units will be expected to
perform the following tasks:
- Must welcome new members within 30 days and report back
to Memphis with the supplied form/questionnaire.
- Must telephone members whose membership has lapsed within
30 days of receiving information from Memphis.
- Must designate a Unit Electronic Contact who is able to
- Must complete an annual Unit Marketing Survey Form
provided by Memphis and submit it to ACBL along with with
the annual list of unit officers.
Full details will be provided to all units from Memphis. The
ACBL recruits more than enough new members every year. The
critical problem is our retention rate. Only about half of our
new members elect to rejoin. That is unacceptable. For the ACBL
to prosper, grassroots efforts are essential. We must ensure that
our new members are happy, taken care of, and renewed.
- "Membership Has Its Privileges" but what privileges does ACBL
membership have? Several years ago the Future of Bridge task
force proposed that members receive a discount on their entry
fees every time they play in an ACBL tournament. I am pleased to
report that starting with the San Antonio Summer 1999 NABC that
policy will be implemented. In addition, effective July 1, 1999,
all sponsoring organizations are encouraged to do the same;
specifically to charge $1.00 per session more to non-members at
Regional tournaments and .50 per session more to non-members at
Sectional tournaments. Failure to do so will mean submitting
extra sanction fees to Memphis for all non-members who
NOTE: The above does NOT apply to Charity events and events
limited to 20 masterpoints or less. The intent is to provide
incentives for our players to join the ACBL and for LM's to pay
their service fees. To be valuable, membership must be
meaningful. We should not offer the same services and amenities
at our tournaments to non-members and/or Life Members who do not
pay their dues.
- The test marketing plan of offering new members a choice of
receiving the traditional ACBL Bridge Bulletin or 6 issues of
Better Bridge magazine (or both) continues. Preliminary
indications are that a significant number of new members are
opting to receive Better Bridge, which is targeted towards
entry level players.
- In Montreal, a test market of an Associate Club Game will
begin in 1999. These clubs will not need a certified director,
nor will they be required to hold Charity games. Session renewal
fees, game fees, and table fees will be the same as for regular
club games. Masterpoints will be issued at a rate of 25% of
currently sanctioned open games.
- October is designated Club Recognition Month. Clubs may hold
up to three special games that will be rated as Unit Championship
games for the purpose of issuing masterpoints; however, the clubs
will only pay their regular game and table fees.
NOTE: Clubs may not hold more games than they have sanctioned for
any week. Thus, a club with one sanctioned game a week may only
hold one special game.
- With the emergence of on-line bridge as a new means of
acquiring masterpoints (colourless), it was decided that we
needed to offer the backbone of the ACBL -- the bridge clubs that
offer ACBL sanctioned games -- an incentive to get players to
come out and play at their local club. Given that, the
requirements for reaching Life Master status must now include at
least 50 black points. Black points can only be won at the club
- A committee will investigate and report back to the board no
later than Summer '99 with a proposal towards the development of
a current rating system for our players.
- ACBL management is currently in the process of hiring a Chief
Marketing Director. The position will be filled in 1999.
- Netpoints & On-Line Bridge:
On-line bridge is here to stay. The question is how to harvest
this potential and convert on-line players into ACBL members who
play at the club level and attend our tournaments. My belief is
that what worked for traditional face-to-face games
(masterpoints) will have limited appeal for the players who opt
for the on-line environment. We need to find something new and
imaginative to attract these people to ACBL's face-to-face
environment. I fear that the masterpoint lure will have a very
Meanwhile, fewer and fewer people go out to their local club at
night and tournament attendance is dramatically falling. When an
outstanding NABC site such as Orlando is down almost 20% from six
years earlier, we know we have our work cut out for us if we are
to improve the situation.
A variety of motions dealt with on-line bridge and masterpoints.
Here are the highlights:
- "Netpoints", i.e. masterpoints won by playing bridge on-line
will be "colourless" or lacking in pigmentation. Neither gold,
red, silver, nor black, we now have colourless points (odourless,
tasteless -- you decide)!
- The old restrictions of 10 points/year; 100 points/lifetime
have been removed. However, on-line games are limited to no more
than 1.50 netpoints/session. There will be no overall awards.
Further, club championship and other higher rated special games
that offer extra masterpoints will not be allowed for on-line
- No more than one-third of points required towards Life Master
status can be won on-line (i.e. 100). Naturally, these points do
NOT fulfill the requirements for black, silver, red and/or gold
- Netpoints won on-line do not count towards any ACBL yearly
- Finally, the issue of cheating and ethical standards on-line
was addressed. I will discuss those items later in this report
under Appeals & Charges matters.
- Tournaments and Masterpoints:
- The regulations forbidding "Invitational" clubs from awarding
gold points has been revised to allow all ACBL sanctioned
invitational clubs to award 0.80 gold points to section top
winners in the annual Instant Matchpoint Game (must have a
minimum of 5 tables with no masterpoint limitations). Thanks to
Mississauga's Bina Adams for this suggestion.
- Identical hand records must be used at both sites, for all
events with one overall winner (unless there are special
circumstances/significant starting time differences, etc. and
management authorizes the use of different hand records). Thanks
to Toronto's Sandra Lovering for bringing this matter to my
- The large increases for overall awards for Canadian National
Championships (see my Chicago report for details) received second
reading approval and will go into effect in 1999.
- Platinum points have been created. These are awarded for NABC+
events and count towards the annual "Player of the Year" award.
NOTE: Platinum points will be given towards senior and womens
NABC+ events but NOT to junior, Flight B, or other restricted
- New titles of "Expert" have been added for each category of
achievement. Management will design a pin, certificate, or other
appropriate recognition of the Expert status categories.
Implementation will be as soon as feasible; the programming
required is extensive but should be completed during 1999. See
Appendix A for all the details.
- All regulations regarding restrictions on cash prizes and
jackpots (pools) at games held in clubs, including special events
and unit championships are rescinded.
- Financial Matters:
- The ACBL has capped the conversion rate for the Canadian
dollar to be no more than 1.50 for all of 1999. This will apply
to all sanction fees, table fees, Tournament Director salaries,
etc. and will allow us to plan our tournaments without having to
to worry about Canadian dollar fluctuations. Thanks to the
Canadian Bridge Federation for this excellent motion.
NOTE: Membership dues were pegged at a conversion rate of 1.51
last July and will remain there in 1999. Product sales will be at
the exchange rate in effect when a sale is made.
- ACBL membership dues are scheduled to increase by US $2.00 for
all members effective July 1, 1999. This 7-8% increase will be
the first since 1994. Junior membership will be $12, also up
$2.00 and the first increase since sometime in the 1980s. The
half price new membership promotional rate will increase from $14
to $15 dollars.
NOTE: All dues increases will require a second reading at the
Vancouver Spring NABC in 1999.
- Club game table fees will increase from .50 to .60
cents/table, an increase of .025 cents/player. This is the first
increase since 1989 and is scheduled to go into effect on April
1, 1999. Some special event games will also see a price increase
(eg. NAP games up to $7/table from the current $6).
- There will be NO increase in the $2.60 Sectional table fee nor
the $3.70 Regional table fee.
- 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 TD
staffing requirements for a tournament when the sponsoring
organization commits to hire a TA.
NOTE: Attention all District 2 Tournament Chairs. The onus is on
us to develop and hire TA's to help reduce our costs. Please take
advantage of this opportunity. Advance planning is required.
- The ACBL Treasurer's report is available to any member upon
request. 1998 was a good year. Our financial reserves are at a
record 3.7 million which is about where it should be for an
organization of our size.
- Appeals & Charges & Ethical Matters:
- My Chicago report spoke extensively on the issue of Appeals
Committees. I am pleased to report that effective with the
Vancouver Spring '99 NABC, the ACBL will experiment with a new
method of handling appeals at all events below the NABC+ rating.
All such appeals will be handled by the tournament directing
staff rather than by the traditional appeals committees. There
will be a full review of the process and cases will continue to
be written up in the Daily Bulletin.
Many, including yours truly, believe that the focus at a bridge
tournament should be on the game rather than on litigation. The
intent of the new procedure is to resolve appeals in a more
timely fashion with less inconvenience for all concerned as well
as to develop more consistency in rulings.
- My Reno report last March discussed drug testing for our
International players, a practice to which I am opposed. However,
while drug testing is no longer on the agenda, management will
develop a certification statement concerning illegal drugs and
inappropriate behaviour to be signed by all players under
consideration for approval by the ACBL Board of Directors to
represent USA, Canada, Bermuda, or Mexico. I remain opposed (in
the minority) to interfering in one's personal life regarding
behaviour that has no effect on one's performance at the bridge
- Any on-line service which offers masterpoints must offer some
type of mechanism for their players to file complaints if they
sense there may have been ethical violations arising out of
on-line bridge. The complaints must be investigated. Carried
By a narrow 14-11 margin, we passed the additional motion that
all such complaints and investigation results be forwarded to the
ACBL Recorder. The Recorder will oversee the disposition of these
issues and give regular reports to the Board of Directors.
- A significant minority of the ACBL Board believe that the role
of the ACBL National Recorder must be expanded and that it can no
longer be carried out effectively by a volunteer. Given the
emergence of on-line bridge, the need for a salaried full time
Recorder is greater than ever.
Unfortunately, ACBL management does not share my concerns over
these matters and I have been informed that there is "no money in
the 1999 budget" for such a position. It would be a tragedy if
the ACBL reverts to the "bad old days" when ethical standards
were arguably significantly lower than they are today.
It is not clear who the 1999 ACBL Recorder will be, but I doubt
if there is anyone who, as an unpaid volunteer, can do the work
required with any degree of effectiveness or satisfaction.
- The Last Word:
It must be clear to everyone by now that there are no magic
bullets, "Silber Bullets", nor will divine intervention restore
ACBL's duplicate bridge environment to prosperity and growth.
What is required is the efforts of ALL of us: players, unit and
district officials, our TD's and Memphis staff, to promote bridge
and the ACBL whenever and wherever possible. It is the grassroots
at the club and unit level where success must be achieved one
person at a time. A telephone call, a smile, a warm welcome --
these are the ingredients for success.
I shall be starting the new year attending the International
Youth Bridge Festival in Holland with the 1999 Canadian Junior
Team. While I am overseas, I hope the rest of you will continue
to make our January Toronto Sectional at the Royal York Hotel the
largest three day sectional in North America. Mark it on your
calendar: January 8-10, 1999. A great way to start the New Year!
To all of you, my best wishes for a happy holiday season and a
peaceful and healthy 1999. I look forward to seeing you at our
District 2 Regionals in 1999 which are:
- Bermuda: January 23-30
- Toronto: March 29 - April 4
- Oshawa: June 8-13
- Sault Ste. Marie: August 10-15
- Niagara Falls: October 26-31
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:
The following list represents new TITLES or LABELS, not new
categories. The EXPERT label is an incentive for those players
who recognize the challenge to achieve more than a simple
accumulation of Masterpoints.
- EXPERT LM
- Life Master requirements including
- 100 Gold Points
- 1 Ribbon Qualification (Red, Silver or Blue)
- 1 Unrestricted Sectional Win (Top Bracket, Open, or
- EXPERT BRONZE LM
- 750 Masterpoints including
- 150 Gold Points
- 5 Platinum Points
- 3 Ribbon qualifications
- 1 Unrestricted Regional Win (if KO, must be a bracket
that provides a Blue Ribbon Q)
- EXPERT SILVER LM
- 1500 Masterpoints including
- 200 Gold Points
- 25 Platinum Points
- 5 Ribbon Qualifications (at least 2 must be Blue Ribbon)
- EXPERT GOLD LM
- 3500 Masterpoints
- 250 Gold Points
- 50 Platinum Points
- 3 Unrestricted Regional Wins
- EXPERT DIAMOND LM
- 7500 Masterpoints
- 500 Gold Points
- 150 Platinum Points
- 10 Blue Ribbon Qualifications
- 5 Unrestricted Regional Wins