It's been a full year that I've been your representative
on the ACBL board. It takes some time to understand the mechanics
of the organization, but I now feel up to speed. It's a board of 25
well-meaning directors from around the United States and Canada. Directors
with different ideas about how things should be done. At this meeting,
we had a breakout session with a very good facilitator that gave us
a chance to look in depth at our individual and group performances.
This was a very positive step towards helping us understand each other's
positions and making us better able to work together toward common
This year there has been considerable change in the
composition of the board with new directors arriving with fresh ideas.
These changes provided a better balance on the board. Probably a good
argument for term limits, something that will be looked at in the
This year I have seen more of a focus on strategic
planning and great strides in both technology and finance. The ACBL
is also very focused on having better relationships with clubs and
with volunteers, an area that seemed to be a disconnect. I am optimistic
that the Board is on the right path.
In 2017, I am serving as Vice-Chair of the Finance
Committee and also serving on the Strategic Planning, NABC, Audit
and Governance Committees.
Kansas City was a great location for an NABC –
the tournament was held in two hotels, the Westin and the Sheraton,
that were joined by a glass-enclosed walkway. The national events
were in the Westin. The regional events were in the Sheraton. Hospitality
was offered in both locations. The playing space was terrific and
the tournament was very well run. Some of the recent complaints about
vulnerability inserts, clean playing cards and event starting times
were addressed. The complex had multiple restaurant choices and there
was a free downtown tram that allowed easy access to lots more choices.
Bob and I played close attention to all the details since in just
one short year we will be hosting the Spring NABC in Philadelphia
– mark your calendar now for March 8 to March 18, 2018.
The Kansas City Board meetings, under our new President, Bob Heller,
were held in only three days instead of the usual four in order to
curb expenses. Bob has been strong in his efforts to shorten meeting
times by using the time more productively and doing more work in advance
of the meetings. Beginning in the summer the Board has adopted a new
meeting schedule. The board will meet for four days. Two days prior
to the NABC and two days during the first NABC event. This will significantly
cut the costs of meetings.
Special congratulations to Jim McKeown, president of Unit 120 in State
College, for two big national finishes – Jim was fourth in the
10,000 Swiss Teams and second in the 0-10,000 KO Teams. On Jim’s
team were two former District 4 members who have moved to Florida
– Don Dalpe and Al Shrive.
In 2016, the ACBL showed a profit of $520,865, largely because of
a $500,000 payment from Bridgebase, negotiated by ACBL CEO, Robert
Hartman, which gave BBO exclusive rights to award masterpoints in
robot games. The forecasted income was considerably higher, but the
Orlando fall NABC was almost 20% below estimates.
The 2017 Budget was finalized in Kansas City. The Budget anticipates
a net profit of $62,497 in 2017, down from previous estimates since
the board approved in Kansas City a possible expense of $100,000 if
the CEO search committee has to hire an outside search firm.
Save the ACBL some money by helping find a qualified
candidate for the CEO position. A job description is available on
the ACBL website. We are looking for someone strong in technology
that can take the ACBL forward.
Robert Hartman, our current CEO, has resigned and agreed to stay on
til the end of July to give the Board time to find a suitable replacement.
Robert will be taking over a family business in Florida. He will be
The Finance Committee is reviewing the current funding of International
and Junior Bridge to help control ACBL costs. A motion was put forth
by the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Finance Committee to have the NBOs
(the United States Bridge Federation, the Canadian Bridge Federation
and the Mexican Bridge Federation) pay the $167,000 annual dues to
the World Bridge Federation. In return the ACBL would increase fund
raising efforts and donate more $$ to these organizations. The motion
was withdrawn because a deal was struck with the USBF to pay $50,000
of the WBF dues this year while we continue to work on an agreement
going forward. The conversation will be brought up again in Toronto.
The WBF is running a World Bridge Championship in
Orlando in the fall of 2018. There was a commitment made several years
ago for the ACBL to put up $100,000 and the USBF to put up $200,000
to assist in the funding of this championship. This financial commitment
places a heavy burden on both the ACBL and the USBF in 2018.
The Audit Committee met with the CPA firm that performed the 2016
audit and the report was squeaky clean. Kudos to Joe Jones, the ACBL
CFO, and his staff for all their work.
Good news from the technology group (finally)! The new masterpoint
engine that will enable clubs to use programs other than ACBL score
is being tested and will be available in the next few months. This
will be the beginning of the phase out of ACBL Score. The progress
is the result of hiring outside programming consultants to ensure
that another Windows update doesn’t make ACBL score obsolete.
A new marketing Director, Dan Storch, has been hired. His primary
focus will be on increasing and the retention of members. Dan has
only been on the job for a couple of weeks.
Book a room now if you are planning on attending the summer NABC in
Toronto. The tournament is being held at the convention center. The
hotels that are adjoining the convention center are already filled
since they have fewer rooms than we have bridge players. Toronto rates
to be a big tournament because of the favorable exchange rate.
The problem of room blocks at NABCs, particularly for NAP and GNT
events, was discussed with the ACBL staff. Efforts will be made going
forward to provide a bigger room block for these events.
A new kind of plastic playing cards were tested at the NABC and the
team game cards were rotated more frequently in an effort to provide
cleaner cards to the players.
At the request of the Board of Governors, the ACBL Board reconsidered
two motions. The first motion was to hold the Fall Board meetings
at ACBL headquarters in Horn Lake instead of at the Fall NABCs. This
motion was defeated. I voted for the motion because it would have
provided considerable cost savings.
The second motion was that the Fall of 2018 Board Meeting, currently
scheduled at the Hawaii NABC, be moved to ACBL headquarters. This
motion was defeated. I voted for the motion because of the cost factor.
The additional expense of taking Board Members and ACBL staff to Hawaii
is estimated to be $50,000.
KEEPING THE GAME CLEAN
Bart Bramley, Chairman of the Ethical Oversight Commission, made a
presentation to the Board. He talked about the need for independent
counsel and asked for a CDR without mandatory masterpoint penalties,
except for the most egregious crimes. He also argued that the EOC
must be able to discuss the results of committees with each other
for training purposes. In the current CDR, members are not permitted
to discuss the facts of cases with each other. He also stated that
the ACBL needs a strong bridge player in the job of National Recorder,
so that they can understand the more complex ethical issues that might
occur in high level competition.
Georgia Heth, Linda Dunn and Sabrina Goley are currently reviewing
the CDR. One of the things that is under consideration is replacing
the EOC with an arbitration panel of high-level bridge players to
hear the most serious ethical accusations.
I feel this is the way to go since it could provide significant costs
savings and reduced liability to the ACBL. If you interested in more
information, please let me know and I will send you my detailed thoughts.
A new “All About Bridge” Committee was organized that
combined many of the old committees into one group. All discussion
of bridge events, masterpoints, grassroots events, NABCs, etc. are
now being handled in sub-groups of this committee.
The ACBL is not making any changes in masterpoints at this time while
the new scoring programs are being rolled out, so many of the motions
made by this committee are deferred until that date.
There was an increase in the masterpoint formula by 40% for four-session
regional events, other than KOs, where another unrestricted event
of the same type, but fewer sessions runs at the same time.
ELECTIONS AND APPOINTMENTS:
Claire Jones was re-elected as ACBL Treasurer for a term of 5/1/17
Paul Cuneo was elected as ACBL 401K Trustee,
ACBL Hall of Fame Committee appointments: Paul Lewis, Chairman, Neil
Chambers and Mitch Dunitz
New Hall of Fame procedures have been established changing the way
the voting is done. In the future electors will vote yes, no or abstain
for each nominee. Any nominee who receives yes votes from 67% of the
total votes cast for that nominee and having at least 50% of the electors
having cast a ballot for the nominee, shall be elected to the Hall
Appointments to the Competitions & Conventions Committee: Jeff
Goldsmith, Will Ehlers, Jeff Ford, Chris Compton and Dan Sprung
Appointments to the Ethical Oversight Committee: Cheri Bjerkan, Dennis
Clerkin, John Fout, Bob Glasson and Kevin Wilson
Appointments to the ACBL Disciplinary Committee: Lisa Berkowitz, Michael
Huston, Nagy Kamel and Tom Peters
Appointments to the ACBL Laws Commission: Allan Falk, Rebecca Rogers
and Aaron Silverstein
DISTRICT 4 PLAYERS WHO MADE THE OVERALLS IN NATIONAL EVENTS
NAP – Flight A: 20 – Martin de Bruin, David Hoffner
Lebhar IMP Pairs: 11 – Barry Gorski, Bill Parks
10K Swiss Teams: 4 – Jim McKeown
Leventritt Silver Ribbon Pairs: 13 – Barry Gorski, Andie
Sheaffer; 26 – Rhoda Prager
0-10,000 Knockout Teams: 2 – Jim McKeown
Silodor Open Pairs: 6 – Miriam Harris-Botzum, John Botzum;
41 – Marty Seligman
Vanderbilt Teams: 9/16 – Eric Greco
NABC+ Fast Pairs: 16 – Marty Seligman
DISTRICT 4 PLAYERS WHO SCORED IN THE TOP 10 IN REGIONAL EVENTS
Thursday Afternoon International Fund Pairs: 8 – Donna Morgen,
Saturday Compact KO 4: 1 – John Dickenson, Bruce Lieberman,
David Cohan, Milind Vaze
Saturday Daylight Gold Rush Pairs: 9 – Susan Kennedy, Barrie
Sunday-Monday Side Series: 6/7 – Jonathan Baumel
Carol Lash Monday B/C Pairs: 3 – Mark Bolotin, Philip Greco
SW Arkansas Unit 247 Tuesday Daylight Open Pairs: 1 – May
Carroll Frogge Tuesday Afternoon Side IMP Pairs: 2 – Joseph
Rich, Jeff Nash
Tuesday Evening A/X/Y Swiss: 3 – David Cohan, John Dickenson;
3X – Michael Shuster, Jeff Nash
Tuesday Evening B/C/D Swiss: 2 – Richard Hurd, Eleanor O’Connor,
Lawrence Kidder, Courtney Footman
Adele Greif Monday-Wednesday Morning Side Series: 9/10 – Ala
Mid-Missouri Bridge Club Wednesday Daylight Open Pairs: 8 –
Judith Argento; 9 – Jonathan Baumel, Pat McCammon
Wednesday Evening Swiss: 4- Michael Shuster
Tuesday/Wednesday KO3: ¾ - Henry Nelson, William Lindgren
Becky Rogers Wednesday Side Pairs: 7 - Henry Nelson, William Lindren
Kansas City Thursday 299er Pairs: 1 – Susanne Coffin
Louise Mayer Daylight Open Pairs: 2 – Andie Sheaffer;
9 – Judith Argento
Sooner Unit 167 Daylight Open Pairs: 1 – Judith Argento
Friday Compact KO2: 1 – Joseph Rich
Friday Compact KO3: 4 – John Dickenson, David Cohan
Saturday Morning Side Pairs: 2 – John Dickenson, David Cohan
Sunday A/X/Y Swiss Teams: 3 – Miriam Harris-Botzum –
If you lasted this long I have a gift for you:
In order to guide you and update you along the way to Life Master,
Jay Whipple has created a new link.
Log in on ACBL.org and click on the Bridge Finesse Rank-Up Helper.
It will tell you how many points you need of which color to achieve
your goal and will also let you know the nearby tournaments where
you can win those points. Try it!