¿Que Pasa?

July, 2010

What's happening? The 2010 Las Vegas regional will be history by the time you read this, and you should find the results elsewhere in this issue. District 17's Grand National Teams final was held in Las Vegas, so teams are now selected to participate in the national GNT finals in New Orleans. Next up on our regional schedule is Phoenix August 9-15. This tournament has moved to the DoubleTree Resort in Scottsdale, a four diamond hotel where bridge rates are $90 if you reserve by July 12. Immediately following Phoenix is the Great Western Summer Fun STAC August 16-22.

Despite the economy and uncertain times, district 17 regionals have done very well so far in 2010. Table counts were 1873 in Albuquerque, 2006 in Mesa and 2171 in Denver. In addition, attendance at the Great Western STAC held in May reached an astounding 8190 tables! Bridge is alive and well in this part of ACBLland!

ACBL President to Visit District 17
ACBL President Rich DeMartino is planning to visit district 17 at the Tucson regional in October. He will be interested in meeting as many of you as possible, and in hearing your views on the status and direction of ACBL. If you're in Tucson, put meeting Rich on your "to do" list.

ACBL Board Meeting
The next ACBL Board meeting will be in New Orleans July 19-22. At my deadline for submitting this article, there were still a couple of weeks before the deadline for submitting motions. Here are a few items sure to be on the agenda. I have introduced a motion to require more information on the minutes of ACBL board meetings; specifically summaries of oral reports given by committee chairs, and a description of presentations given to the board. When I reviewed the Reno minutes, there were several instances where "an oral report was given" with no detail. The published minutes are an important part of the board's communications with the ACBL membership. For example, a Marketing committee oral report might include a list of marketing initiatives that are being pursued. You should have access to this information. You might even want to give us your suggestions and input if you really know what transpired at the meetings.

Another motion would create a board NABC Advisory committee. In the time I've been on the board, we've pretty well just "rubber stamped" recommendations from ACBL meeting planners regarding sites and sometimes dates for NABCs. Then we complain loudly later when we find out what we've agreed to! This spring we held an emergency Executive committee meeting to approve three NABCs. Believe it or not, the hotel terms and conditions for one of these was being negotiated as we were in the process of making a decision! We can do better. NABCs have a huge financial and social impact, both on the players and on the organization. We must have full information before making decisions. Winnipeg, Minneapolis in the fall, Miami In July and Birmingham would probably never have happened if the Board had access to full information and had been engaged in the final decision process.

Rule changes being considered would eliminate pre-alerts for weak two and three bids that might have suits of shorter than expected length, and would require both sides be at the table before cards are removed from a board. I'd like to see inter-club championships award full club championship masterpoints at the local level, with the possibility of a greater award if the pair finishes in the overall of the event - like happens in a STAC. Presently all you play for are club masterpoints unless you make the overall. I believe this restriction has discouraged club managers from signing up for these events, particularly because they have to pay an extra $4/table to participate. I introduced such a motion once before and failed, but perhaps now that the board has cut way back on club special events it's worth another try. There will be much more, and I'll report on all of it in my next column.

We are starting to make some real progress in using available technology improvements. Just the other day ACBL announced a significant improvement to their new program that allows clubs to post game results online. To quote, "This new feature allows those clubs who have duplicating machines and/or electronic scoring devices the ability to post hand records and/or contract information along with their ACBL sanctioned club game results."

Expect more technological improvements on a regular basis in the future! We'll see improvements to ACBLscore. We'll see an ACBLscore rewrite that is fast, efficient, and that incorporates the many changes that come to our game on a regular basis. Expect solutions to the problem of having to wait in line to buy entries. Look for significant improvements in the way Swiss team matches are scored and next round pairings are made. We will also be redesigning at least parts of the ACBL website.

We've made progress in developing a database that could someday allow us to flight or strat players in events based on their current skill level. Chris Champion from Colorado Springs has helped us tremendously in this area. We've gone from "there's no way we can do that" to "well, we can see that there are people who are just not competitive in the games in which they're playing". And we can identify them! We're nowhere near a solution at present, but we are actively working on it and making progress.

If you see ways that technology can improve either our game or the administration of bridge, tell us! We know many of you have expertise we'd like you to share. Volunteerism includes sharing information as well as time.

Club Special Events
On July 1, new rules for club special games go into effect. Club managers, if you haven't already done so, please download and install the most recent version of ACBLscore so that the new awards for your club's charity, international fund, junior fund and educational foundation games will compute properly. Also, please remember that you are limited to one of these special games per sanctioned session in all months except for the three special game months; February (junior fund), April (charity) and September (international fund), when you can hold as many of the specified special games as you wish. Masterpoint awards for these games will now by at 70% of sectional rating, rather than full sectional rating as before.

I discussed the reasons this change was approved in my last article. Please e-mail or call me if you wish to discuss it further.

ACBL Headquarters Dedication
The dedication of the new ACBL headquarters in Horn Lake MS will take place on June 28, about the time you receive this issue of the Forum. In my next article, I'll try to provide you with a good description of the facility and all the details about the museum, library, hall of fame and other functions that will reside there. ACBL management is planning special exhibits in the spring of 2012 so that players attending the 75th anniversary NABC in Memphis in the spring will be enticed to go to the new headquarters to have a look.

Thanks to all of you who have contacted me regarding my eye problem. It will take some time, but I'll be fine and already I have no limitations on what I can do.

Two Way Communication
The last paragraph of each article I write is a request for your input. I am really pleased when one of you takes the time to contact me and provide me with your complaints, suggestions, ideas and even compliments. Why is this important? Because you have different bridge experiences than I do. Because I can best represent you when I know what's on your mind. Because the problems you face may be unique to your area or club. Because it is human nature for several of us to look at an issue and interpret it differently. Most importantly, because you can help make this a better organization. For example, a recent question sent to me has already made it to the Competition and Conventions committee. No submissions are ignored, and all are passed on to the appropriate people if I can't deal with them myself.

So, I say it yet again�..

Your input and suggestions on any of the above topics (or any other issues you wish to raise) are always appreciated, whether you agree or not. My phone number is (505)662-3036, you can e-mail me at peanutcat@aol.com, or write me at 2175 La Tierra Road, Los Alamos NM 87544-2766. A special thanks to those of you who have contacted me to share your opinions.

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