August 4, 1999

Dear District and Unit Board Members in District Two,

San Antonio is justifiably one of the USA's top tourist destinations. All of the players who helped push the attendance up to 12,281 tables (5% above estimate) know why. The weather was hot and sunny, as expected. The famous River Walk, abundance of eating establishments, and fine playing conditions combined to make the San Antonio experience an enjoyable one.

But there were a few problems. Attendance dropped sharply on the final Saturday. Perhaps we should return to a "normal" schedule on the final day or at least give players the option. There was also concern about the playthru seven match, seven board Swiss events. If we are too concerned with Get-Away events which offer the fewest boards in the shortest time...perhaps the players are just staying away! Something for future NABC schedule planners to think about.

  1. District 2 Heroes at the Bridge Table:
  2. Congratulations to our GNT "B" squad who WON the event! Kudos to Henry Caspar, Tom Buttle, Claude King, Helen DeWild, Vinay Sarin, and Ringo Chung, all of whom are from the Toronto area.

    Just prior to San Antonio, Josh Heller (Toronto) won the 3rd World Junior Pairs (under 20 category) in Nymburk, Czech Republic. Playing with Joel Wooldridge (Buffalo, NY), he came 7th overall out of 186 pairs from 30 countries. Josh was the only ACBL representative who received one of the 4 World Bridge Federation (WBF) Youth Awards given for all-around outstanding participation in the WBF sponsored Junior Bridge Camp.

    Fred Gitelman (Toronto), playing with Brad Moss (NYC), came second the NABC Life Master Pairs. Darren Wolpert (Thornhill), playing with Jurek Czyzowicz (Aylmer PQ) came third.

    George Mittelman (Toronto), playing on the Grant Baze team, tied 3/4th in the Spingold Knockout Teams.

    Martin Hunter & Andy Stark (Mississauga) were 2nd (by LESS than one matchpoint) in the Red Ribbon Pairs.

  3. Highlights from the San Antonio ACBL Board of Directors Meetings:
    1. The Blue Ribbon Pairs has been renamed the Edgar Kaplan Blue Ribbon Pairs.

    2. WBF President, Jose Damiani, addressed the ACBL Board and announced that the executive committee of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has accepted the WBF as an IOC recognized federation. See Appendix A for the complete letter from Juan Antonio Samaranch to Jose Damiani.

    3. The Canadian Bridge Federation (CBF) request to sanction a flight "B" of the Canadian National Team Championship (CNTC) was approved.

    4. By a 17-8 vote, the experiment of allowing Tournament Directors (rather than appeals committees) to handle all appeals below the NABC+ level was extended to include the Boston Fall NABC. At that time and place, I hope we shall make this the permanent procedure for the future.

    5. The two price entry fee structure, in which ACBL nonmembers and life members whose service fee is unpaid pay more, was successfully implemented.

  4. Canada & the ACBL - A Renewed Partnership?
  5. The Vancouver NABC marked a low point in CBF - ACBL relations. Hopefully, San Antonio will be remembered as the NABC where civility among board members returned and the first step in strengthening the historic relationship between the CBF and ACBL began in earnest.

    Several specific issues were addressed and resolved including:

    1. The wish to select and approve players and NPCs to represent Canada in WBF international competition (such as the Bermuda Bowl, Venice Cup and junior championships) was acknowledged as belonging to the CBF, which is the recognized bridge organization in Canada. Carried unanimously.

      While approval of Canadian teams has always been a rubber stamp item, many considered it an affront to the CBF. The European Bridge League allows member countries to submit their team players and NPCs directly to the WBF and it is only appropriate for Zone 2 (ACBL) to act accordingly.

    2. As a matter of policy, ACBL management will continue to collect CBF annual dues along with ACBL dues. New membership renewal forms for all categories of players (new members, students, internet renewals, etc.) will be redesigned for 2000 in order to ensure that Canadian players are invoiced appropriately in Canadian dollars. CBF and ACBL dues will be totalled in one easy to read figure in Canadian currency.

      This is a positive commitment from ACBL management that should ensure funding for the CBF. Now, let's keep our fingers crossed that the new forms will be designed and implemented properly!

    3. The ACBL Board unanimously approved the CBF request to run a Flight "B" of the CNTC. Conditions of contest will be advertised and promoted. It is hoped that this will create renewed interest in the CNTC that will spill over into all of the events during the CBF sponsored annual Bridge Week.

  6. Membership Has Its Privileges:
  7. Several years ago, the task force on the Future of Bridge recommended that nonmembers should not be given a free ride, as it were. Where else but in the ACBL could nonmembers pay the same entry fee as members and receive the same playing rights, masterpoints, and hospitality?

    It took a lot of lobbying, many new board members, and a new CEO, but at long last, ACBL members (and Life Members whose service fee is current) receive a discount each and every time they play a session of bridge at NABCs and most Regional and Sectional tournaments.

    The motive behind the two fee price structure was not to gouge nonmembers an extra dollar or two per day, but rather to encourage them to join (or renew membership in) the ACBL. San Antonio was the first test of the new entry fee structure, and it was implemented very smoothly.

    After 8 days (out of 10), the ACBL had signed up 36 new members, 3 new student members, and 54 members renewed. Those numbers are substantially higher than previously recorded at an NABC, especially the renewals.

    In addition, the ACBL collected $386 in nonmember income from those players who elected to pay the extra dollar per session. There was only one loud complaint reported and that player relented and paid the extra $2 dollars for the day. No one chose to refrain from paying and leave the tournament.

    I believe this new price structure will be a marketing aid to increase and maintain ACBL membership. It was a move long overdue.

  8. Olympic Recognition -- Ready or Not?
  9. As Appendix A indicates, the ACBL is slowly progressing along the road to full IOC recognition as a sport. It is hoped that by 2002 bridge will be a demonstration sport at the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

    As the IOC letter states, "...we would require a reconfirmation from you that doping regulations are in conformity with the Olympic Medical Code and...". The doping issue was raised at the Board of Governors meeting, where management recognized that there is still much work to be done and to date no firm policy has been established to address those issues.

    One need only glance at the daily newspapers to read of one Olympic scandal after another as some athlete from some country fails some drug test. Will taking the decongestant Sudafed disqualify a bridge player or team from IOC eligibility? I think it is a fair statement that this will be a highly controversial issue (as it is in all professional sports today, not to mention society at large) as the WBF and ACBL move along the road to full Olympic recognition. Stay tuned.

  10. Odds and Ends:
    1. Suspension by management for nonpayment of monies owed was extended to include club sanction owners and/or club managers who fail to submit club masterpoint reports in a timely manner.

      There have been a few club owners who routinely ignore the rules and procedures that apply to all ACBL clubs. The offenders consider the puny late payment fees as hardly a deterrent. As a result, their players complain about not receiving their club masterpoints and a tremendous amount of unnecessary and time consuming work is required from the Memphis office. It is hoped that the above regulation will get the few offenders to shape up.

    2. To be eligible for an award in a Unit Mini-McKenney and Ace of Clubs race, a player must be a member of that unit for more than six months during the year, and need not be a member on the last day of the year.

    3. The GNT competition is revised to have 4 flights as follows:

      • Flight C: non-LM up to 500 MP.
      • Flight B: 0-2000 MP.
      • Flight A: 0-5000 MP.
      • Championship Flight: 0- unlimited.

      Other conditions of contest apply. Effective with the 2000/2001 event leading up to the 2001 GNT Finals.

      District 2 Board Members: please note that the ACBL allows us to run all flights of the GNT. The 2001 Summer NABC will be held in Toronto. Even without a subsidy, there may be teams who want the opportunity to compete in a NABC event. I have been told that we could easily qualify teams from, for example, the Toronto Regional Flight A Swiss. I believe it is something we should seriously consider, especially since the 2001 GNT Finals will be held in Toronto.

    4. Members of the ACBL Board of Directors may serve on Bridge Appeal Committees in Unit and District events.

    5. The ACBL shall establish and enforce a policy against the use of alcohol or illegal drugs at its Bridge Camp. ACBL bridge camps are non-smoking.

      Staffing levels shall increase. Camp participants (plus guardians for under age juniors) will sign a written form acknowledging ACBL rules and policies.

    6. My motion (co-sponsored by District 9 representative Philip Altus) to eliminate the stick part of ACBL's Unit Membership Retention program was deferred to the Fall meetings in Boston. While I support any and all efforts to improve ACBL membership retention, I have grave concerns about the current program --- especially for the small percentage of units with over 1,000 members -- and I believe that no unit should have it's membership rebate withheld by management.

    7. At the annual dinner of the American Bridge Teachers Association 25 Bridge Conventions You Should Know by Barbara Seagram, Toronto, and Marc Smith, Great Britain, won the award for best student book of the year.

  11. Issues Raised by the Board of Governors:
  12. At the Board of Governors meeting, which was far livelier than the ACBL Board meetings, several items were brought up, including the IOC doping regulations issue, as well as:

    1. NABC housing issues. Why are the ACBL alternate hotels charging a higher rate to ACBL members than may be available if you just walk in off the street? I found management's response less than satisfactory. Buyer beware. Related to NABCs, another excellent question asked was why do we no longer see full page ads in the Bridge Bulletin informing us about special group discounts with specific airlines. My advise to all is to shop around, compare, and find a travel agent you can trust.

    2. ACBL WBF representatives. It appeared that a full scale attack on our WBF representatives was under way. Motions passed asking the ACBL Board to sharply limit the expenses of the ACBL representatives (there are 5 of them) to WBF meetings; to reduce the number of representatives to 2 from 5 while retaining 5 votes; and to encourage the WBF to restructure their meeting times in order to save expenses.

      There are no easy answers to the above motions. We all want the ACBL to be adequately represented at the WBF level, and I believe most of our representatives work very hard. On the other hand, should there be financial limits imposed just as there are financial restrictions placed on our international players? Where do we draw the line?

  13. A Personal Note:
  14. First of all, my sincere thanks for your support and confidence in acclaiming me as your representative to the ACBL Board of Directors for a third term, 2000 - 2002. Thank you.

    In my last report, I mentioned some potential problems with the Toronto 2001 summer NABC. All has been resolved and it is full steam ahead for Penny Augustine, Chair, and her many volunteers. July 19-29, 2001. Mark it on your calendar!

    As Chair of the ACBL Junior Committee, it will be my honour to to welcome all of the junior players to the World Junior Team Championships in Fort Lauderdale. Opening ceremonies will be Monday evening, August 9, 1999. The ACBL has four outstanding teams and we are looking forward to a strong showing.

    As NPC of Canada One, the team that won the Hero International Youth Festival in Holland last January, I can assure you that the team is prepared, excited, and looking forward to a great 10 days in Fort Lauderdale. Wherever you may be, I hope you'll be cheering for your Canadian junior players to be the exemplary Canadian representatives that I know they will be.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Appendix A: IOC letter to Jose Damiani from Juan Antonio Samaranch.


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/