March 29, 1999

Dear District and Unit Board Members in District Two,

What spectacular scenery! What a spectacular tournament! The final attendance figure of 13,180 exceeded expectations by 20-30%, depending upon whose estimate was used.

One long-time ACBL member commented that Vancouver was the best NABC in the last 20-30 years! The facilities were unparalleled -- National and Regional events were side-by-side. Washroom facilities and smoking areas were easily accessible. A food court was available, as well as an abundance of nearby restaurants. Just stepping outside to view the scenery would make anyone feel good.

Personally, I appreciated the 1:00 and 7:30 PM starting times (as opposed to 1 and 8 at most NABCs). This gives ample time between sessions and allows the evening session to finish at a reasonable hour. I hope we see more NABCs select the earlier 7:30 PM start. What do you think?

I trust that ACBL management is busy making plans to return to Vancouver sometime within the next 5 to 8 years. The players loved it! We should visit again soon.

  1. District 2 Heroes at the Bridge Table:
  2. Two of our three NAP "A" pairs qualified for the final session, both from the "North". Congratulations to Marc Langevin and B. Thomas (North Bay) and Janet Miller and Deanna Tomas (Sault St. Marie). The ladies finished 11th overall. Well done!

    Chuck Galloway (Bolton ON) WON the 156 pair Monday Senior Pairs.

    Bob Todd (Winnipeg) and Robert Kuz (St. Andrews MB) WON the 324 pair Canada Safeway Stratified Open Pairs.

    Sheree-Lynn Katz (Willowdale), and Linda Gottlieb (Thornhill) WON the 47 team Camrosa 0-2000 KO Teams.

    Bruce Raichman (Toronto) and Margaret Mackay (Don Mills ON) WON the 117 pair Wednesday/Thursday Continuous Pairs.

    Roland Laframboise and Ross Cody (Thunder Bay) WON the 64 pair Saturday 10 AM Stratified Pairs.

    G. Sekhar and Bill Treble (Winnipeg) WON the 84 pair Saturday Flight A/X Pairs.

  3. Highlights from the Vancouver ACBL Board of Directors Meetings:
    1. The ACBL approved a mission statement as follows:
      The mission of the ACBL is to serve the bridge-related interests of its members and to promote and sustain the game of bridge.
    2. Robert Lix (District 20 - Brownsville, CA) was elected ACBL Treasurer, effective May 1st, 1999.

    3. An ACBL Vice-President will be elected annually as provided for in the ACBL Bylaws.

    4. Second Reading of dues and fee increases effective July 1, 1999 were approved. Most fees for all membership categories will increase by US $2.00.

    5. The World Wide Pairs contest scheduled for June 4 and 5, 1999 was cancelled by the WBF. Instead the ACBL will hold two sectionally rated half red / half black point instant matchpoint games (Millennium Pairs). There will be a $10/table sanction fee. $4 per table will be given to the ACBL Educational Foundation.

    6. Travel agents in addition to the Official ACBL Travel Agent shall be permitted to distribute brochures at NABCs. Approved by a strong 20-5 vote. Removing the above restriction was long overdue. We must serve our members in every way possible.

    7. The first Saturday night of each NABC shall be declared a dress-up night. Players are encouraged to participate in the pleasure of dressing up for the evening. NOTE: For players staying off-site, there are obvious logistical problems. If your pleasure is not to dress up, that's OK, too. Dressing up is optional, not mandatory.

    8. Effective April 5, 1999, paid up ACBL members shall be able to check their masterpoint status on-line! Visit the ACBL web site at www.acbl.org; click on the members option; enter your ACBL number and e-mail address and away you go! Your complete history dating back to 1989 will be available, including the number of points you hold by pigment (colour). Further services for members will be added in phase two, expected in late 1999.

  4. Appeals Controversies Continue...:
  5. As has been the case in recent times, there was a highly controversial appeals committee ruling that decided a Vanderbilt match. A declarer found herself in a cold 6 club contract where early in the play 12 top tricks became available. It was time to PT&C (pull trumps and claim). Inexplicably, declarer called for a low spade from dummy, which RHO won, at which point declarer appeared stunned (was it because declarer realized her error or had she inadvertently called the wrong card from dummy?). A heart ruff now led to down one.

    After the hand was over the dummy suggested calling the director. Law 45C4(b) states..."A player may, without penalty, change an inadvertent designation if he does so without pause for thought." Please note that this law refers to calling a card from dummy, not to an inadvertent "played card" from your hand for which there is no redress. Ultimately, an appeals committee (in a split decision) allowed declarer to retract her play and make her slam contract. To say that many players were shaking their heads reading about this case is an understatement. But now we have all been educated that the Laws allow us to replay cards played from dummy if they were played inadvertently, as opposed to in error or just losing it. Sometimes. Maybe.

    Below the NABC+ level, TDs were handling all appeals for the first time. By all accounts our hard working TDs performed admirably, and while there was some unfamiliarity involved at the start, I heard no complaints. I strongly believe that the players should play; the referees referee.

    The ACBL Board will be reviewing this experiment later in the year. It is my belief that this is the way to go and ultimately ALL appeals will be handled by trained professional Tournament Directors, not players.

    In a related matter, the Board by a 24-1 majority, decreed that management is to assume the functions of Appeals Administrator and Recorder as soon as possible. Please see my Orlando report (Appeals & Charges & Ethical Matters: item 4) for background material. I hope that with this motion we will soon have an official ACBL Recorder for 1999 with expanded duties and responsibilities. Long overdue.

  6. Junior Play-Off in Toronto:
  7. A joint motion co-sponsored by all 4 representatives to the ACBL Board whose Districts are in Canada (or partly so) to approve a second junior team for Canada to compete in this summer's World Junior Bridge Championships was partially approved. This Sunday, April 4, there will be a 64 board playoff between Canada 2 and USA 3 to decide which team will get the 4th spot available. The event will be held in conjunction with the 104th Canadian National Championships Regional being held all week long at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto.

    We already have two approved USA teams and one Canadian team. Because the World Junior Bridge Championships (WJBC) are being held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, an additional spot became available. Please note that the dates for the WJBC will be August 9-18 (NOT August 4-15 as previously published).

    In addition, a committee will be looking into the entire issue of how Zone 2 (ACBL) of the WBF allocates its teams. There is a growing body of opinion that geographical boundaries should be ignored and that all trials should be trans-border in order to field the strongest teams.

    On the negative side are a perceived loss of autonomy for Canada and the possibility of no Canadian representation. On the plus side, there is a chance for increased representation if Canadian teams win the joint trials that would be held, and, as well, the possibility of additional funding from the ACBL.

    At present, our Canadian youngsters look at the American kids with envy because they often get free trips to NABCs, including rooms and entry fees, as training towards World Championships. If all Zone 2 teams were treated equally, our financial problems regarding international players would be greatly reduced.

  8. Toronto Summer NABC:
  9. As you all know, the summer NABC is scheduled for Toronto, July 19-29, 2001. Toronto is second only to Las Vegas in attracting record numbers of players to attend. Toronto is also on the preferred lists of sites to visit one every 8-9 years. 2001 will be 9 years since our last NABC.

    About three weeks before the Vancouver board meetings, the ACBL meeting planner received a request from the Toronto Convention Bureau asking if we could move to August 9-19, 2001. Apparently, a major international organization wanted to take over the city during the July time frame. The ACBL was offered financial and other incentives to move.

    When the issue was presented to the board, we were given three choices: to stay, move to August, or move to 2005. Unfortunately, little in the way of concrete financial numbers were provided that would allow us to make any sort of responsible decision.

    I was personally distressed by the cavalier manner of some board members who advocated moving to 2005 with little regard for the feelings of our Toronto volunteers and/or past history, not to mention insufficient background information.

    Ultimately, by a 15-10 margin the board authorized management to explore alternative sites for the 2001 Summer NABC and for future NABCs in Toronto and report if necessary and appropriate to the Executive Committee.

    Just 72 hours later, in front of the Board of Governors, the ACBL meeting planner reported that Toronto room rates in 2005 would be more than CDN $200 per night. When this was compared to our guaranteed rate of CDN $125 for 2001, it seemed obvious that the ACBL would not move from Toronto, 2001.

    Notwithstanding the above, as of today, March 29 I am informed that ACBL management still believes they have been authorized to investigate alternative sites for the 2001 NABC. I am dismayed by this attitude as I do not believe it represents the wishes of a majority of the ACBL Board of Directors.

    I will keep you informed. Ultimately, I predict this whole affair of sound and fury, signifying nothing will end where we started with the summer NABC in Toronto July 19-29, 2001.

  10. Canada & ACBL - A Parting of Ways?:
  11. For as long as I can remember, the possibility of the Canadian Bridge Federation separating from the ACBL has been slowly simmering on the back burner. Recent events have renewed this debate and serious financial studies are likely.

    Why would the CBF want to sever ties with the ACBL? Perhaps the major impetus has been the fall of the Canadian dollar and all the problems this leads to in every aspect of our bridge lives. We live and play in Canada -- why do we have to pay in US dollars?

    There are long-time problems such as the inability of the ACBL to properly invoice Canadian members in Canadian dollars including the appropriate CBF fees and then remit same to the CBF. For whatever reason, they never seem to get it right.

    International events and Canadian autonomy are issues. At the Vancouver meetings, a reasonable suggestion by District 1 Director, George Retek, as to how to select the North American Women's team to the 1999 IOC Grand Prix tournament was summarily dismissed.

    The ACBL also decided that they had to approve ALL Zone 2 players and NPCs representing Canada, Bermuda, and/or Mexico participating in Bermuda Bowl, Venice Cup, and Junior Championships. In the last few years, the CBF was approving the Canadian teams. I was told that sometimes the ACBL Board would remember to ratify a non-USA team and sometimes they would forget. Apparently, they now believe Canadian autonomy is subservient to the wishes of the ACBL Board of Directors in these matters.

    Particularly odious to me is that, related to the above, Canadian players must now sign a certification for participation in international competition in which they certify to be good citizens and not be under the influence of any illegal drugs or substances. I am certainly not in favour of inappropriate behaviour or breaking laws of any kind, but forcing our Canadian representatives to sign statements pertaining to personal behaviour that has no effect on bridge play is offensive.

    Further, to have such a policy with no enforcement procedures such as drug testing, renders it meaningless.

    Finally, the ACBL Board refused a request from George Retek to defer voting on the above two issues (for one day) to allow CBF President Doug Heron an opportunity to address the Board!

    All in all, there were lots of reasons to be more than a little perturbed at the behaviour of our American friends.

    Nonetheless, I believe the CBF relationship with the ACBL is like a marriage with its many ups and downs. It may be trite but as Ann Landers would ask: Are we better off with the ACBL or without them?

    My gut feeling is that we are better off working with the ACBL Board of Directors and management to resolve our problems amicably to benefit all of us. While some ACBL Board members appear to have a xenophobic or oblivious attitude towards Canada, most do not. Particularly encouraging are the new board members from 1998 and 1999 who appear to be much more internationally oriented and recognize that the ACBL represents ALL of North America, not just the USA.

    The CBF will be having their annual meeting in Ottawa in May. Our Zone III CBF representative (and Vice-President) is Eric Sutherland. If you have any thoughts on these matters, please let him know.

  12. A Personal Note:
  13. In 1999, I am Chair of the ACBL Junior Committee; Chair of the ACBL Honorary Member of the Year Committee; Vice-President of the ACBL Educational Foundation; member of the ACBL Appeals & Charges Committee; and member of the ACBL Marketing Committee. In addition, I am co-NPC of Canada 1, our strong team of District 2 junior players who will be representing us this summer in Fort Lauderdale.

    This is also an election year for District Director. During the last six years your support and encouragement has been wonderful. I am now asking for your continued support to allow me the honour of a third term as your representative to the ACBL Board of Directors. I will be particularly proud to be the host District Director at the summer 2001 NABC in Toronto -- and yes, it will be here!

    Regarding the 2001 tournament, many of you have already volunteered your services to Tournament Chair Penny Augustine. More people willing to commit their time and work will be required. Eric Sutherland will be the Treasurer. We will be putting on a great show for the world and I hope to be an integral part of it.

    I look forward to seeing many of you this week at our Toronto Regional, and throughout the year. With your support, I shall continue to be your outspoken representative. You will always know where I stand on an issue and why. You will always have easy access to me. Your input will always be carefully considered.

    Once again, thanks for everything! Have a great Passover holiday and Easter weekend.

    I am looking forward to welcoming the American USA 3 junior team this weekend. If you are in the Toronto area, come on down to the Royal York on Sunday and watch our junior players in action. Canada 2 versus USA 3 should be a fun match to kibitz. Hope to see you there!


    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/