NEWS FROM DC
The Ethical Oversight Committee found Fantoni-Nunes
and Fisher-Schwartz guilty of collusive cheating. Both pairs have been
expelled from the ACBL and all their titles and masterpoints have been
forfeited – sending a strong message from the ACBL that cheating
will be dealt with severely.
District 4 made great contributions to this effort. Meyer Kotkin provided
all the mathematical and statistical analysis necessary to prove the
cases and Bob Glasson served on the Ethical Oversight Committee in both
WHERE THE ACBL IS GOING – STRATEGIC PRIORITIES
The Board of Directors has established four strategic priorities for
the year. At the meeting there was a review and update on the progress
that has been made on these priorities. The news was good.
1. Increase membership acquisition and retention. The focus here is
on baby boomers with a goal to increase membership from this market
by 7-10% by year end. Membership is up 1,000 from this time last year
and club games are up 2%.
2. Develop & accelerate the training of tournament directors. A
familiar face, Doug Grove, gave a report on the increased effort in
training for tournament directors. Dan Plato and Doug are heading a
program to provide ongoing training for tournament directors, both new
directors and those moving through the ranks.
3. Build membership confidence. This encompasses two areas – cheating
and a balanced budget. Efforts are being made to increase ethical awareness
with new recorder regulations and the work of the Anti-Cheating Commission.
The Balanced Budget will be demonstrated using a new dashboard of Financial
and Organizational Metrics.
4. Upgrade technology and secure our infrastructure while establishing
the future architecture of ACBL score. Modernize the existing programming
languages and develop software.
Early in the meetings, a suggestion was made that the ACBL begin creating
APPs for I-phones and other devices to learn to play bridge, something
that I was hoping to hear more about. By the end of the meetings, I
saw a plan being formulated on how that could be accomplished.
The reason bridge apps don’t exist now is that there is no financial
incentive for software developers to invent such things. The ACBL IT
people are already overloaded and they are not equipped to take on this
task. It’s a different kind of creative skill, so we need to move
outside the ACBL for the creative minds to do this kind of programming.
Which leads into the new restructuring of the ACBL Educational Foundation
to fund these kinds of learning tools.
ACBL EDUCATION FOUNDATION
The ACBL Educational Foundation is a 501(c)3 tax-deductible corporation
that does mostly small grants to support bridge education. The largest
project they have funded is the “Learn Bridge in a Day”
program that we have used in District 4. The Foundation currently doesn’t
solicit donations. The money for the grants comes from ACBL (about $100,000
a year) and small donations. The Education Task Force is proposing a
complete restructure of the Foundation.
This restructure will establish a new membership (the
ACBL Board are now the board members). Trustees will be chosen, not
from the ACBL Board, but from outside. The Educational Foundation and
ACBL management will draft new bylaws.
The new foundation will have a “dream team” honorary trustee
board, hopefully including Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. It also will
have professional staff to administer the fund. It will still give grants,
but with major resources. The goal of the restructured Foundation is
to raise $1,000,000 each year for bridge education from 2017-2020.
This would allow bigger grants and more separation between the ACBL
board and the Education Foundation. This would also allow financial
incentives to programmers outside the ACBL staff to create educational
The vision for the ACBL Education Foundation will be to provide major
funding and support for bridge education in North America and to serve
its stated purpose:
1. Increase the number of bridge players.
2. Engage in educational activities for the purpose of instructing the
public as to the fundamentals, study and location of clubs playing bridge.
3. Increase the pleasure of playing bridge.
EXCITING NEW STUFF FOR CLUBS AND PLAYERS
Jay Whipple, District Director from Florida and Chair of the Technology
Committee, is running a night-time 2-session pilot Gold Rush Game at
the Palm Beach Regional and concurrently at clubs in Florida. It will
be an all-electronic Gold Rush Pair Game at 7:00 to 9:30 on August 23-24.
Participating clubs will charge their normal entry fee. In addition,
players will pre-register online and pay online the current two session
regional entry fee of $52.
When this pilot program turns into a reality, our players will be able
to get gold points at convenient local sites without the cost of travel
and hotels to regionals. It will also promote more participation for
night games that are not well attended with the new 10am and 3pm schedules
and provide an exciting new opportunity for our bridge clubs.
More than 100 tables are expected to participate in this pilot event.
Clubs must pre-qualify their ability to participate and support this
game by playing in practice games prior to the event to ensure they
can support internet and players on BridgeBase.
GOOD NEWS ON THE FINANCIALS
Joe Jones, the CFO of the ACBL, presented new, updated financial reports
which provided an extensive breakdown of revenue and expenses. The bottom
line news was good with net income at mid-year higher than anticipated
due to many expense categories coming in under budget. Capital expenditures
for migrating ACBL Live to the Cloud were also lower than anticipated.
A new set of metrics was introduced, with input from
the membership on Bridgewinners, to give the Board a snapshot glance
of all the important financial statistics needed to judge trends in
the organization. The ACBL and Bridge Base (“BBO”) have
entered into a four year agreement giving BBO exclusive right to issue
masterpoints for online and robot games. Other sites currently issuing
masterpoints will be grandfathered. The ACBL will receive $125,000 quarterly
for 4 years for a total of $2,000,000 over the length of the agreement.
Since the ACBL is projecting strong financial gains
this year, there was Board agreement to move from an active to passive
investment allocation and to increase reserves to strengthen the balance
Approval was given for a net increase in the capital
budget of about $25,000 for new card tables to be used at NABCs. These
34” black card tables have been ought in bulk by the ACBL and
are available to clubs, units and districts for purchase at discounted
prices. Baron Barclay will be handling the fulfillment of orders. The
following prices do not include the cost of shipping, which will vary
with the number of tables ordered.
4-9 tables @ $42.46 each; 10-19 tables @ $37.47 each; 20-49 tables @
$34.97 each; 59-99 tables @ $32.47 each; 100+ tables @ $29.97 each.
Let me know if you are interested in purchasing tables and I will get
contact information for you.
OTHER STUFF THAT HAPPENED IN DC
The 2021 summer NABC will be held in Providence, RI. Room rates will
be expensive - just under $200 a night. Summer is “in season”
for Providence, so the hotel rates are much higher than the Fall 2015
Providence NABC. It seems like the choices are to go to Denver in the
winter, Las Vegas in the summer or pay a premium room rate during peak
Updated screen procedures have been adopted in an effort to control
any possibility of cheating as part of continued efforts in this area.
The conditions of contest for the Machlin Women’s Swiss have been
amended to allow the Director-in-Charge to choose movements and permit
replays in the final matches to make a fairer event because of the small
size of the field.
The upper masterpoint limit of the Bruce LM Pairs has been changed to
6,000 MP (previously 0-5000). The Mini-Spingold has been changed to
0-6000 (previously 0-5000). The masterpoint limits of the Young pairs
and the Mini Spingold were changed to 0-2500 masterpoints (previously
A motion was passed to start the 0-6000 Mini-Spingold and the 0-2500
Mini Spingold on Tuesday of the summer nationals in order to allow players
a chance to play in the Spingold before entering these events.
Mitch Hodus, ACBL head of technology, reported on the current efforts
to remove all ACBL data from the antiquated AS-400 server to the Amazon
Cloud. This is clearly a big project and will take 18-24 months to complete
as membership data, masterpoint records and ACBL financial records are
moved off the old server onto the cloud.
ACBL Live has been moved to the Amazon Cloud. This migration will allow
third parties to display the data from bridge games. There is a clear
change in philosophy to take the ACBL out of the “it has to be
built here” mode into allowing other vendors to produce scoring
products to work with or instead of ACBL score.
The technology team has fixed the financial reporting portion of ACBL
score and is now turning to running a pilot to have “ACBL Live
for Clubs”, similar to ACBL for tournaments.
All are part of a migration to open source products. Open source products
mean that outside vendors will be able to create bridge game scoring
mechanisms. Clubs will be able to send their game files through ACBL
score or other programs to the “trust but verify” mechanism
that has been created and all will be done with open standards that
other developers can use.
BRIDGE INTEGRITY TASK FORCE
Howie Weinstein reported on the work of the Bridge Integrity Task Force
which is charged with working to clean up cheating in bridge. Out of
this task force came a revision of the rules for the Recorder position.
The most important part of the revised regulations is that those who
submit recorder slips will not be identified when the recorder discusses
the event with the player who has been recorded. The hope is that this
will make more players come forward when they witness inappropriate
The Task Force also made changes in the Screen Procedures to increase
security considerations. The procedures deal with alerts, tray passing
and removal, hesitations and explanations.
A motion was approved that if a player, found guilty by any bridge organization
that results in a 1-year or longer suspension, is able to play again
that player will never be able to play with another player who has been
found guilty of a disciplinary action that results in a suspension of
one year or longer. Only the CEO of the ACBL can grant a waiver. This
motion was withdrawn to be rewritten and will be revisited in Orlando.
A person can be suspended, pending hearing, if there are significant
delays caused by the person charged. If the charges have been brought
by another National Bridge Organization or the World Bridge Federation,
a person so charged may play in an ACBL sanctioned event pending hearing
unless otherwise directed by the CEO of the ACBL. A suspension pending
a hearing may not be appealed. In ACBL disciplinary hearings, the chairman
has the right to suspend a player when hearings are delayed.
APPEALS AND CHARGES
In the future, if charges are brought against a player for an ethical
violation that could result in expulsion from the ACBL, the details
of these charges will be published on the ACBL website in the disciplinary
section. The following information will be included: Player Name and
ACBL number; CDR section alleged to have been violated, entity hearing
the charges and the hearing date.
If the player is found not guilty of the charges, this finding will
be added to this information and kept on the website for 90 days unless
the player asks to have it removed sooner.
The additional information on the ACBL website is to increase transparency
by informing the membership about ongoing and concluded disciplinary
actions involving ethical issues.
A discussion item was introduced by Bob Heller, Chair of the Tournament
Committee, stating that there are too many regional tournaments and
that this might be responsible for the drop of attendance at regionals.
He suggested a complex plan to adjust the guaranteed minimum number
of regionals from four to three in each district with some adjustments
for geography and population. Another part of this plan was that the
District hosting a national in any year, would lose one regional in
the city closest to the NABC, but the District would receive $.50 per
table revenue from the NABC as compensation for the loss of income.
This was a discussion item. No motion was presented.
Tournament sponsors may choose to hire a tournament assistant to work
at their tournament. In order to be eligible to be hired, any certified
director should take the tournament assistant examination. The tournament
assistant exam is a proctored take-home test that costs $50.
MISCELLANEOUS BRIDGE STUFF
• A change in KO events was passed effective January 1, 2017.
For any overall award, a player must play at least 50% of each match
of a KO (excluding first round play) and 50% of the total boards played
by the team. No member of the team can play in any match after it becomes
mathematically impossible for him/her to play at least 50% of the boards
(excluding play-off boards) played by his team or failed to play in
at least half of each match other than the first.
• New Collegiate Conditions of Contest were passed to bring eight,
instead of four teams, to the summer NABC. Instead of $20,000 in scholarships
to the winning team, the prize money will be $12,000 to the first place
team and $8,000 for the second place team.
• Active members of the American Bridge Association will not be
charged the extra fee ($3 for sectional; $4 for regional) that non ACBL
members pay until January 1, 2018. This motion was passed hoping to
attract ABA members to ACBL tournaments.
• The definition of a notrump opener or overcall has been modified.
A notrump opening or overcall is natural if, by agreement, it contains
no void, at most one singleton, which must be the Ace, King or Queen
and no more than 2 doubletons. If the hand has a singleton, it cannot
also contain a doubleton.
• Effective January 1, 2017, there will a $5 Junior membership
in the ACBL available for any player under the age of 26. The membership
will only include the online version of the ACBL bulletin, not a mailed
printed copy. The ACBL estimate of the cost of the bridge magazine to
a member is $8.00 a year.
BOARD REVIEW COMMITTEE
At the end of every calendar year, each Committee Chair will be required
to submit a committee report on the committee’s progress for the
year. The report will contain information on the goals of the committee,
progress made that year and thoughts of future tasks and undertakings.
This will be very helpful as there is a practice of changing board committee
members each year. It will allow new committee members to review what
has been done in previous years.
A motion to change the term of the ACBL president from one year to two
years was defeated. Although a valid argument was presented for this
motion, the Board decided that there is nothing preventing a president
from running for a second term, although this has not been the practice.
My guess is that this will be revisited.
BOARD RESTRUCTURING COMMITTEE
After attending four days of committee and Board meetings, I found the
ACBL Board to be a group of hard working members that genuinely care
about the game of bridge. Like most organizations there are systemic
problems in the organization and there is an ongoing effort by newer
board members to affect changes. The Board is very large – 25
members representing the US, Canada and Mexico. It’s an unwieldy
number, but provides representation from all regions within the ACBL.
Board members are elected by their local units and bring a variety of
different skill sets to the ACBL Board.
One of the difficulties is that there are many committees, some over-lapping.
In the past, the appointment of committee chairs and committee members
has been political. As the organization is evolving, with five new members
this year, I am hopeful that substantive changes will occur and the
committee composition will be based primarily on skill sets. A reorganization
plan was introduced and will be further studied going forward.
It was wonderful to see so many of our local players
competing at the Summer NABC in Washington DC.
Congratulations to the
District 4 players finishing in the overalls in National Events:
0-10,000 NABC Pairs: 13 – Al
& Estelle Ronderos; 40 – Richard Popper; 47 – Andrew
Stayton, Jeff Ruben
Von Zedtwitz Life Master Pairs: 42 – Eric Greco
Bruce LM-5000 Pairs: 27 – Karl Barth; 32 –
Mike Zeller; 33 – Ross Spiro
Truscott Senior Swiss Teams: 7 – Marty Rabinowitz,
Rick Rowland, Bob & Joann Glasson; 8 - Arnie Fisher; 30 –
Meyer Kotkin, Tom Weik
Wernher Open Pairs: 25 – Meyer Kotkin; 41 –
John Jemmott, Kenneth Shatoff;
43 – Ken Chatzinoff, Paul Zebrowski
Spingold K/O Teams: 5/8 – Eric Greco; 9/16 –
0-5000 Mini-Spingold KO Teams: 5/8 – John Dickenson,
Christina van Leeuwen
0-1500 Micro-Spingold KO Teams: 3/4 - William Chen;
5/8 – Howard Wachtel
Bean Red Ribbon Pairs: 10 – Bruce Williams;
25 - David Venetianer
0 – 10,000 Mixed Swiss Teams: 12 – Bill
Parks; Estelle and Al Ronderos, Donna Morgen; 13 – David Legrow
Roth Open Swiss Teams: 3 – Connie Goldberg; 18
- George Krizel; 19 – Miriam Harris-Botzum, John Botzum; 26 –
Congratulations to All Top 10 Finishers
in 2+ Session Regional Events:
Thursday Gold Rush Pairs: 5 - Jack Rudy
Friday Gold Rush Pairs: 5 – Jack Rudy
Educational Foundation KO – Bracket 2: 1 –
Ross Spiro, James Rachiele
Educational Foundation KO – Bracket 3: ¾
- Gino Lenaz, Bruce Young
Saturday Flight A Swiss Teams: 2 – Miriam Harris-Botzum,
0-3000 Swiss Teams – Bracket 3: 1 – Robert
Miller, Ricky Boyer, Kathleen & Kevin Harter
Pierzchala KO – Bracket 3: 1 – Arnold Kritz
Pierzchala KO – Bracket 4: James Rachiele; ¾
- Ian Milnes, Bridget Whitley
Pierzchala KO – Bracket 5; ¾ - Bruce Young,
Wealth Transfer Gold Rush Pairs: 3 – John Barton
III, John Barton IV
Wealth Transfer A/B/C Open Pairs – Flight B:
1 – William Chen
Preemptive Planning A/X Swiss Teams: 6/7 – Arnold
Retirement Safety Play Gold Rush Pairs: 2 – Jack
Finessing Taxation KO Bracket 3: 2 – Kevin and
Kathleen Harter, Ricky Boyer, Robert Miller
Finessing Taxation KO Bracket 5: 1 – Bruce Young,
Monday Daylight Gold Rush Pairs: 7 – Mary Ann
Monday Daylight Open Pairs: 8 – Steven Blomstedt,
Tuesday Daylight Round Robin Teams – Bracket 1:
3 – Sarah McMerty, Barbara Schaefer, Jean Ann Dockray, Janice
Tuesday Daylight Round Robin Teams – Bracket 4:
1 – Mordecai Schwartz, Kathy Fisher
Tuesday Daylight Round Robin Teams – Bracket 5: 1
– Jack Rudy, Mary Ann Regan
Tuesday Daylight A/X Pairs: 7 – David Hoover,
Tuesday Daylight Gold Rush Pairs: 3 – Lisa Mita,
Tuesday Flight A/X Swiss Teams: 8/9 – Dick and
Donna Morgen, Deepak Khanna, Howard Kahlenberg
Military Appreciation A/B/C Open Pairs: 6 – John
Gassenheimer, Jill Fisch
Wednesday Daylight Gold Rush Swiss Teams: 6 –
Skywalker Mentee A/B/C Open Pairs: 4 – Peter
& Marie Filandro
Wednesday Gold Rush Pairs: 3 – Susan and R. Shenkin;
4 – Norman & Randee Braslow
Thursday Daylight A/X Swiss Teams: 3 – May Sakr;
4 – David Hoover & Barbara Mateer
Thursday Gold Rush Pairs: 4 – Lewis and Ruth
Friday Daylight Swiss Bracket 4: 2 Mordecai Schwartz
– Kathy Fisher
Saturday Daylight B/C Pairs: 4 – Christina van
Leeuwen; 5 – Gary Hillenbrand, Arnold Kritz
Boss Lady Thursday-Saturday KO – Bracket 1: 2
– Michael Zeller, Malin Castronuovo, Susan Kennedy
Saturday Compact KO Bracketed 2: 2 – Brad Barry,
Saturday Daylight Gold Rush Pairs: 4 – Bruce
Young, Helen Walker
Saturday Daylight Flight B Teams – Bracket 3:
3 – John Strange, Caroline Hughes, Karen Pollak, Jane Beck
Sunday Fast Pairs: 2 Richard Popper; 9 – Jill
Fisch & John Gassenheimer
BEST HAND OF THE TOURNAMENT – IF YOU READ THIS FAR YOU
DESERVE A CHUCKLE:
Auction: 1 NT - Pass – 3NT
Opening lead: Jack of Clubs
Declarer asks the opening leader about their honor card leads.
Response: Good news – we lead 4th best. Bad News – I have
8 of them