Jerry’s Journal October 2017

By Jerry Ranney, District 17 President

 

Western Conference Membership

Due to declining regional attendance and increasing financial pressures, the District 17 Board has voted unanimously to leave the Western Conference (WC) around April 2018. I want to explain to our players why this action was taken, and some of the impact the decision will have on how D17 will communicate with members.

I have been told that the Western Conference pre-dates ACBL! I know that the three districts in the WC have worked together for decades to produce the monthly Contract Bridge Forum, coordinate regional tournament schedules, and run very successful STACs.

In recent years, the Western Conference has spent nearly a quarter million dollars per year producing the Forum. Although the delivered per copy cost is just under $1, mailing to 9000 players each month adds up to over $80,000 per year just for District 17. The District 17 board felt that it was time to look into options to decrease this cost.

A few years ago, every tournament seemed to be setting new attendance records, and D17 added a seventh regional. Today, many tournaments are falling short on table count. A few host cities have cancelled tournaments or are having financial issues with venue expenses. One step the D17 Board has recently taken is to reduce the board size from 14 to 10 members, in part to trim costs. This brings us to the issue of the Forum. The monthly publication is currently supported by regional sanction fees, district-specific page charges, tournament ads, plus all of the profits from STAC games. The WC wanted to increase sanction fees a year ago, and District 17 strongly objected to this increase. A Blue Ribbon Committee (BRC) was formed to study the looming financial crisis. I asked Jim Horton and John Grossmann to serve on this committee.

The BRC studied the issues for six months and came up with a recommendation to offer both digital and paper versions of the Forum. Folks who like paper would continue to get paper. Players who preferred delivery via email, tablet, or personal computer would get a digital version. Surveys indicated that nearly 70% of the membership would be likely to go digital, and that might save $60,000 in postage and printing. District 17 volunteered to pioneer this change ,and eventually benefit from the expected cost savings. Unfortunately, the WC Board was not willing to make this change. With no alternative solution in sight, the D17 Board voted reluctantly to leave the WC.

We have a nine month window to plan the transition. We will be no longer affiliated with the WC around April of 2018.

Departing the WC creates a whole new ball game. We don’t want to just clone a new version of the Forum, and while we will strive to have some kind of traditional paper publication, we are considering changes in format and technology.

When the D17 Board meets in Taos this October, we hope to be able to vote on some of the changes that we will need to make. We anticipate that our future communications will be a mix of paper, emails, website, and “flipbooks”, the digital version of magazines. Here are some of the principles that are guiding our planning efforts:

1. We don’t expect to publish every month. A bi-monthly publication is likely.

2. All paper publications will have a digital equivalent and we expect over time to shift more to digital communications for both cost savings and because of extra features that digital communications can offer. All digital publications will have print options so units and clubs can respond to specific player needs.

3. Delivery of paper publications may shift to bulk shipment to clubs/units. Individual mailing is about three times more expensive than bulk shipping.

4. We may choose a mix of paper and digital publications during the year. Digital publications can be one third the cost of traditional printing.

5. The workload for publishing exceeds what we can expect from volunteers. We anticipate hiring one or more vendors.

6. Implementation of the D17 plan will be completed in phases. We will learn along the way.

Stay tuned for future information on this important transition for District 17.

 

Phoenix Desert Empire Regional

The August Phoenix Regional had 1351 tables, an 18% decrease from the 2015 table count of 1653 tables. This continues a trend seen at most recent tournaments, and was probably exacerbated by the close proximity to the Toronto NABC. 7878 master points were earned by 808 players. Top point winners from District 17 included John Mohan (Las Vegas), first with 102.0 MP; Leon Lowe (Fountain Hills, Arizona), fifth with 92.6 MP; Ben Blacik (Phoenix), sixth with 90.1 MP; Ken Klein (Scottsdale, Arizona), eighth with 75.2 MP; and Suzette Wynn (Phoenix), tenth with 71.7 MP.

 

Future D17 Regionals

The semi-annual Taos Regional takes place from October 9-15. New this year are two-session bracketed Swiss team games on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I expect these bracketed team events will be quite popular with our players, and I hope to see you in Taos.

 

Feedback and Member Input

In you have comments, questions, of suggestions, please e-mail me at jtranney2@msn.com or call me at 303-697-9468 or contact your District 17 board representative.

 



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