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.
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.
Several specific issues were addressed and resolved including:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Staffing levels shall increase. Camp participants (plus guardians for under age juniors) will sign a written form acknowledging ACBL rules and policies.
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?
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.
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: