John’s Journal

By John Grossman, D17 President

The District Board chose me to be President at the Tucson meeting. I want to thank the Board for its confidence in me; I will do my best to serve the district. Darwin Afdahl has led the board for the last two years. Thanks Darwin for an outstanding job.

The District Board has three new members: Frank Fine is the new representative for Albuquerque. He has been the executive director of a national trade association and an entrepreneur. Becky Rogers is a great addition from Las Vegas. She was the first female national tournament director and has worked at ACBL headquarters. Steve Nordberg of El Paso brings 34 years of teaching experience from first grade through college, and a decade of work on the El Paso Unit Board. All three are fantastic resources for the D17 board.

Art McHaffie, New Mexico at Large, will be elevated to Vice President of D17, a very able backup for me. Jerry Ranney will continue to serve as Treasurer, a vital function, especially given our recent financial uncertainties. Bonnie Bagley, ACBL National Board Member and ex officio D17 Board, will continue to serve as District Secretary, providing excellent organizational skills and serving as our link to ACBL. Flo Newlin, the new Election Secretary for the district, brings wonderful organizational skills honed at Denver NABCs.

Financial Report

To say we had a rough year in 2014 is an understatement. We entered 2014 with a budget which projected a $17,000 loss. Our actual loss was approximately $38,000 due to multiple issues:

After two years of near record attendance and financially successful tournaments we hit a rough patch. D17 table count for all of our 2014 tournaments declined by 1531. Significant table count shortfalls occurred at Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Mesa, and Phoenix. Part of this decline can be traced to the changing tournament dates due to the summer NABC. We are evaluating if the changing demographics of our membership might also have been a factor in the decline in attendance.

The district spent $18,000 on host unit loss subsidies last year. We covered half of the tournament loss sustained at the Las Vegas Regional. We also wrote a check to the Albuquerque host unit as part of our obligation stemming from the swap in calendar dates.

At year end the District had total assets of $111,053. Booking a loss of nearly $38,000 certainly raises red flags, but there is no cause for panic. We had a combination of problems that were unique to 2014. The 2015 budget currently projects a net gain of $13,000 for this year.

Phoenix Regional

The Phoenix Regional last October was held at the Mesa Convention Center. Table count was more than 500 below budget and the unit lost nearly $17,000. The Phoenix unit has decided to cancel its October 2015 tournament and pay the cancellation penalty rather than sustain another significant loss. The unit expects to be back on the regional rotation in 2016. The District is exploring what options, if any, remain to find a replacement for the October tournament slot.

Membership Building

My career background includes energy consulting, corporate planning, and creating two new business enterprises. I have applied this business background to bridge outreach and membership building. This has included EasyBridge lessons, mini-lessons for 299ers, open house promotions, and I/N (intermediate/novice) events at D17 regional tourneys. It’s hard work but essential to sustain the game we love.

We need to attract social bridge players to club games and tournaments. Equally important is teaching bridge basics to couples in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. The number of empty nest households is huge. Let’s find them and get them playing BRIDGE!

Many units and clubs have experimented with innovative programs to find new players and develop beginners. There is a role for D17 to document these activities and communicate novel ideas to other units. Let me know what your unit or club is doing!

The D17 Grant Program in 2015 will emphasize membership building and outreach to units that do not normally host a regional tourney. A total of $3000 is earmarked for grants. More information about this program can be found at and in a front page article in the February ScoreCard. I have sent emails to the presidents of the eligible units.

Upcoming Tournaments:

Mesa, Arizona, April 6-12

Denver, Colorado, May 19-25

Las Vegas, Nevada, June 22-28

Taos, New Mexico, September 21-27

Denver NABC, November 27-December 7

Your comments are important. Please email me at or call me at (719) 233-9464. The next D17 board meeting will be at the Las Vegas regional.


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