Dear District and Unit Board Members in District Two:
It gives me great pleasure to announce my appointments to the ACBL Goodwill Committee for the year 2000. This is a lifetime appointment, honouring players who exemplify the best of our game and promote goodwill at the bridge table.
Congratulations to our year 2000 Goodwill Committee members:
The Boston NABC was a wonderful occasion. The final table count of 12,749 was 1,000 tables over estimate, which should help our bottom line. The playing facilities and hotels were first class, the evening hospitality and food were outstanding (they NEVER ran out of food), and the city provided an abundance of eating establishments for all budgets. Congratulations to all!
The Fall meetings are where many elections and appointments are made. Here are some of the key players for 2000:
The ACBL's net worth reached an all-time high of $6.1 million at the end of 1998. In 1999, we appear to be heading for a deficit of approximately $300,000. The budget approved for 2000 allows for a deficit slightly in excess of $200,000.
There are many reasons for this. The major issue is ACBL's declining membership. Therefore, the ACBL is planning major expenditures with the goal of stabilizing and increasing ACBL membership and retention. These programs, which include EASYBRIDGE and the hiring of a public relations firm, are expensive but necessary.
Staff increases in the computer, internet, and marketing areas combined with yearly salary/cost-of-living/pension increases are expensive.
The following increases are all effective March 1, 2000:
There is some good news for our Canadian tournaments. The per diem paid to ACBL TD's working in Canada will be the price set by the Treasury Board of Canada. At the moment that is CDN $53.70 which converts to US $36/day. That is US $6/TD/day LESS than the current $42/day per diem.
In the US, TDs will be paid the IRS maximum allowable per diem per day (ranges from $34 to $46 depending upon the city).
Another positive feature for Canadians is that the exchange rate for ACBL membership dues renewals will be adjusted quarterly if the rate moves by 3 Canadian cents or more. This will protect us from overpaying if the Canadian dollar strengthens and also protect the ACBL from exchange losses if the Canadian dollar weakens.
In 1999, the ACBL hired a Chief Marketing Officer. In 2000, a marketing assistant and a public relations firm will be hired. Additional staff to administer and coordinate the EASYBRIDGE program are now on board. We all hope these efforts will produce results. Here are some major programs for 2000:
The EASYBRIDGE program offers tremendous potential for not only quickly generating excitement and fun for new bridge players, but also enticing them to become ACBL members and catch the masterpoint bug.
In District 2, I am aware of Viktoria Renaud in Hamilton; Richard Fokes in London; and Flo Belford in Mississauga who are all certified Easybridge "presenters" who are starting up Easybridge classes. I am very interested in the success of these programs and would appreciate hearing from anyone who is involved or wishes to be involved in Easybridge games.
While the ACBL and the ACBL Educational Foundation are covering part of the costs of buying the books and running Easybridge classes, they do not cover the full cost. I would urge our District and Units to get involved in this program and offer financial support.
The ACBL has no problem signing up new members. The problem is that only about 50% of them renew. From that reality, ACBL management started the Unit Membership Retention Program in 1999 along with their quarterly QUIP reports to indicate how successful we are (or are not).
I am pleased to report that the controversial "stick" part of the program has been repealed. Units will continue to receive their membership rebates from the ACBL; however, it is obvious that the more members a unit can recruit and retain, the more money it will receive.
Currently, units receive a rebate of $3.50/member ($2.75/Life Master). If a unit is in compliance with the ACBL's program, they will receive an additional .25/member or LM.
Recognizing that there are many ways to be successful, management will establish performance incentives for all units. Units who meet or exceed those targets will receive an additional rebate of .25/member or LM. This is irrespective of complying with the paperwork and phone calls involved with ACBL's Unit Membership Retention program.
Bottom Line: In 2000 all ACBL Units will receive membership rebates of at least $3.50/member ($2.75/LM) with opportunities to increase that to $3.75 ($3.00/LM) or $4.00/member ($3.25/LM).
The High School Bridge Lesson Series originally was an idea developed by the ACBL Educational Foundation. The program was taken over by the ACBL and has become hugely successful. The ACBL pays teachers to teach students the ACBL club series lessons. The students get the lessons for free.
Effective April 1, 2000, funding for the program will come from ACBL Educational Foundation while administration will still be handled by the ACBL. Those of us on the Foundation believe it is essential for our long term survival to keep this program in operation even if short term payoffs (ACBL membership) are unlikely.
The Educational Foundation's raison d'etre is to promote bridge and bridge education. Besides the HSBLS, the Foundation is funding EASYBRIDGE games (20% of total cost), and jointly with the ACBL, funded Fred Gitelman's amazing software program, Learn To Play Bridge, which is now available free of charge from the ACBL web site.
The Foundation receives the bulk of its money from the optional $2 donations that members include with their ACBL renewals. In 1999, the Millennium Pairs game contributed about $18,000 to the Foundation. Local Districts and Units can designate fund raising games in support of the Foundation. Please do so and visit the Foundation's web site (there is a link from the ACBL as well as my web site). We need your support.
Please note that these treatments are allowed in all mid-chart and NABC+ events. As well, sponsoring organizations may elect to allow these defenses at their tournaments.
The Conditions of Contest for the Zone 2 junior trials leading towards the 2001 World Junior Championship were approved. With the WBF allowing 3 teams to participate from Zone 2, it was legislated that 2 would be from the US and one from one of Bermuda, Canada, or Mexico. Canada will be invited to participate in a joint junior trial but the final decision is up to the CBF Board of Directors. Currently, a survey of all Canadian Junior players is underway asking for their preference as to when, where, and how to hold a Canadian trial.
Two clauses I particularly approve of are:
The current reality is that Bridge Ventures as it is currently structured and operating has had limited appeal to our players and has been neither able to secure sponsorship nor turn a profit. It must be revamped.
A survey was distributed at the Boston NABC asking for players preferences. I predict that the results will be overwhelmingly in favour of the earlier (7:30 as opposed to 8 PM) start. This allows everyone to finish a half hour earlier and thus have more time to return home by public transportation or to stay and enjoy the late night hospitality. Even more important is that having 2 and a half to 3 hours between sessions is just TOO LONG for the vast majority of our players.
A survey was done in Boston, the results of which are not yet known. I voted to keep the bridge stories. I do not believe that page after page of small print section placings is what the majority of players who attend an NABC want to read.
Update: December 19, 1999: An appeal has been filed by one or both sides. It will most likely be heard at the Spring 2000 NABC in Cincinnati.
The holiday season has arrived and I wish all of you a peaceful and healthy start to the new Millennium! For the mathematicians among us, I'll be wishing you a happy new millennium again next year!
Once again, I have the privilege of being NPC of a Canadian team which will be attending the 8th International Youth Bridge Festival in Holland, and I shall be overseas from January 1-10, 2000. This is a young team of players from Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal who are thrilled to be going. We have raised enough money to fully cover our expenses and we thank all of you who have helped us, especially ACBL Units 166, 192, and 151, Doubles Bridge Club in Toronto, CBF, and the many individual donations. Thank you.
The downside is that I will be unable to greet you at our fabulous January Toronto Sectional at the Royal York Hotel, the largest 3 day sectional in North America. Mark it in your calendar: January 7-9, 2000. A great way to start the New Year and New Century!
I look forward to seeing all of you at the bridge table in 2000.
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: