¿Que Pasa?

November, 2010

What's happening? The Tucson regional in October marked the conclusion of the District 17 regional schedule for 2010. Most of our tournaments continued to do very well. Unfortunately, Las Vegas was down and early indications were that Tucson's attendance would not meet expectations. There is still a lot of bridge, however. The Orlando NABC takes place November 25 - December 5 at the Marriott World Center. Right after that will be the Great Western Holiday STAC, being held in clubs during all sessions the week of December 6-12. The 2011 tournament schedule gets underway with the Albuquerque regional January 17-23.

World Bridge Championships
The WBF Championships in Philadelphia have just begun at the deadline for this article. There was already concern that attendance will fall below expectations. By the time you receive this, we will all know. This was the tournament that was originally scheduled for St. Petersburg, Russia. When the Russians backed out, the WBF looked at holding these championships in Las Vegas before settling on Philadelphia. It is my understanding that Las Vegas will be looked at again, possibly as the site for the 2018 Championships. Some of you will remember the WBF Championships held in Albuquerque in 1994. It's a pretty exciting event!

Ranking Players Based on Current Ability
The ACBL has put in considerable effort over the past several months looking into the possibility of ranking players for flighting and stratification purposes based on current ability - kind of like what happens in golf and bowling. The impetus is that many people quit playing competitive bridge, especially tournament bridge, when it is clear their capability no longer matches their masterpoint total. It's no fun when you can't compete! It now appears that this effort will not yield any tangible results - at least in the near term. Those who have spent countless hours on this are coming to the conclusion that there just isn't a fair way to do this simply with algorithms. Unlike bowling and golf, which are sports that stress individual skill, bridge is a partnership activity, and this complicates any process of deriving a true current rating enormously. It is my hope that some day this objective will be realized, so that players can continue to enjoy our competitive game from the day they start playing until the end of their lives. I'd like to express a debt of gratitude to Chris Champion of Colorado Springs, who provided this committee with a tremendous amount of data that was extremely useful and directly related to what the committee members were trying to achieve, and to Rich DeMartino, 2010 ACBL President, who spearheaded this effort for the past several months.

ACBL Board Meeting
The next ACBL Board meeting will be held in late November. As of the deadline for this article, there are not many motions to consider. The focus of the Fall meeting is financial, and the approval of the 2011 budget will be the Board's primary objective. Results so far this year are mixed, but I'm hoping that any fee increases passed will be minimal. I think it is important to remember that ACBL financially has had a string of very good years.

I've been asked what fees are candidates for potential increases. Among those considered are club per table fees, club per game fees, and annual club sanction renewal fees. We also look at sectional and regional sanction fees and sectional surcharge fees. NABC entry fees and ACBL membership fees are also candidates.

But none of the above generate the interest and comments we receive when tournament director (TD) fees are raised. There are good reasons for this. Director fees have gone up steeply and regularly. TD charges are currently over $150 per session, and in the case of high level directors, well over! We've got to control this spiral before the rising entry fees tournament managers impose to avoid losing money on their tournaments start to take a significant effect both on attendance and on unit and district willingness to continue to hold sectionals and regionals. But it is a delicate balance. Tournament directors are highly skilled people whom we entrust to make out competitive duplicate games run properly and well. They are far from being overpaid.

A committee was formed after the summer meeting in New Orleans to develop a policy that will govern regionals at sea (RAS). A motion that incorporates this policy will be on the Orlando agenda. Among other things, the motion will limit the number of RAS to 2-3 per year and require that they embark/debark from different areas, such as Eastern seaboard, the Gulf of Mexico and the West coast. Masterpoints will be less than at a land-based regional, and in all cases ACBL will be the sponsoring organization. These would be new regionals and, despite what some say, will compete with current regionals. The committee is therefore recommending no more than two or three of these be allowed per year.

Sectionals at sea (SAS) will be considered by this committee also, but I think any motions in this regard will not be made until the spring meeting in Louisville. One move the committee is seriously considering is mandating a rather hefty sanction fee for these at sea tournaments, and we've already heard some serious objections to this.

I've been asked to submit a motion to allow overall awards at ACBL-wide special events for invitational games and games with an upper masterpoint (MP) limit. Games to be included would be the ACBL-wide charity, international fund and senior games. I have no problem with doing this for invitational clubs, but I'm not sure we want to include all of the upper MP limit games that clubs can and do hold.

Goodwill/Charity Committee Appointments
I am very pleased to announce my 2011 Goodwill and Charity committee appointments. These are lifetime appointments.

To the Goodwill Committee I have appointed Prudy Cain from Tucson, Lesley Davis from Phoenix, Karin Griffin from Albuquerque and Dan Williams from Denver. Prudy has been a leader in the Tucson unit for the past several years, and is to me the type of person for whom this award was meant. Lesley is a fairly recent addition to the District 17 board who has become involved with the Goodwill Committee nationally and is bringing it to District 17. Karin has been a district 17 board member for several years who has been elections secretary and who, as district charity chair, has led the district in the selection of charities to receive the $20K awards that come from the charity foundation. Dan has been a fixture at all of our tournaments for the past several years. He provides all the preduplicated boards and sometimes sells books at our regionals. In addition, he provides volunteer help to tournament organizers and fills in when games require an extra player.

To the Charity Committee, another mechanism for honoring people who have given back to bridge, I have appointed Margie Schrader from Colorado Springs and Vicki Thomas from Cheyenne. Margie has been tournament chair of the Colorado Springs sectionals and regionals, and seems to be everywhere. She runs great tournaments. Vicki served on the district board until a couple of years ago, and was a terrific asset.

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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