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My Big Ideas for ACBL
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I applaud the ACBL for reaching out to members (and others, too, I believe) to seek major changes, called Big Ideas.  The reach out suggests a leadership that recognizes its need for improvement and values the contributions of others who can help it achieve that improvement.

 

Alas, I do not applaud the execution of the reach out by the ACBL.  The Big Ideas document fails to specify what each Big Idea is intended to accomplish (that is, its objective) and how that intended accomplishment can help the ACBL satisfy its mission.  (The mission, by the way, is “to promote, grow and sustain the game of bridge and serve the bridge-related interests of [its] Members”.)  Even when I tried to extract from the Big Ideas document the intended accomplishment or the intended satisfaction of mission, I was largely frustrated, finding them significantly difficult to discern from reading the Current Situation, Problems, Possible Solutions, and Approach.  To me, the details about each Big Idea generally read as a solution seeking a question (or many questions, sometimes conflicting and often unclear) rather than as a question seeking a solution.

 

So, what to do?  I could bitch and moan – maybe I just did in the paragraph above! – or I can, somewhat independently, pursue the directive of “ACBL Official” and “help find ways to bring our community together and accomplish our mission of promoting bridge”.  I chose the latter.

 

I don’t pretend to know all (or even most of) the answers.  Even the Big Ideas I listed are frequently focused more on Objective and Mission than on detail ... and that is how I think focus should be at this preliminary stage.  And I am sure that, among the thousands of players who participate in this website and want the ACBL to better satisfy its mission, many will have additional, better Big Ideas, as well as differences of opinion with my Big Ideas.

 

That’s OK to me.  And, I think and hope, that is OK with (new, more enlightened) ACBL leadership. 

 

Let the discussion roll!

What is the Big Idea?  IMPROVE OPERATIONAL AND FINANCIAL EFFICIENCY OF ACBL GOVERNANCE

 

What is the Big Idea Anticipated to Accomplish?  Reduce costs of operations and thus costs of entry fees; increase transparency and frequency of communication to Members about governance issues; improve ability of interested Members to comment on issues.

 

How is the Accomplishment Anticipated to Support the ACBL Mission?  Reducing costs of entry fees and increasing transparency of communications will serve the bridge-related interests of Members

 

Comments:  Consider reducing the size of the BofD, streamlining the meetings of BofD by use of technology, reaching out to members to contribute their (non-bridge) professional expertise as need is identified, educating BofD about responsibilities of board members of not-for-profit organizations, ensuring representation of all constituencies (including club owners) to decisions that affect them, communicating transparently to Members, revising BofD election procedures to communicate candidates’ positions to all Members of district

What is the Big Idea?  REDUCE NUMBER OF TOURNAMENTS, DIFFERENTIATE TOURNAMENTS

 

What is the Big Idea Anticipated to Accomplish? Reducing the number of tournaments will allow each tournament to be special (compared to club games) by being more easily able to offer large-scale events, and to satisfy differentiated needs of players.

 

How is the Accomplishment Anticipated to Support the ACBL Mission?  Holding large-scale events will sustain the game of bridge to tournament players (in connection with Big Idea of Revising Master Point Awards to Better Align with Merit of Performance) by featuring games that will help players achieve higher ranks.  Rotating venues can sustain the game of bridge by sometimes selecting, and marketing, venues that attract players who seek social opportunities and sometimes selecting, and marketing, venues that attract players who seek to limit costs.

 

Comments:  Consider rotating tournament locations (a tournament held in X location not annually, but maybe every other year), identifying special attraction of each venue to market (such as offering of prizes or high-quality between-session meals and hospitality, or offering of inexpensive hotels and entry fees), reducing number of events held at tournaments (such as by eliminating events based upon age or gender) 

What is the Big Idea?  REVISE MASTER POINT AWARDS TO BETTER ALIGN WITH MERIT OF PERFORMANCE

 

What is the Big Idea Anticipated to Accomplish?  Revising master points can drive player behavior by inducing many players to continue playing in events in which they can achieve valued advancement in rank, and inducing many other players to continue participating in desired limited events.

 

How is the Accomplishment Anticipated to Support the ACBL Mission?  Inducing players to continue playing for a longer duration (say, after becoming a Life Master, or after losing current eligibility to play in limited events) helps grow and sustain the game of bridge.

 

Comments: Consider revising master point awards so that awards are based upon 5 (and only 5!) understandable (and publishable) factors of strength of field, number of competitors in field, duration of event, permissibility of conventions, and participation in event by player; determine improvements in rank in part by success in large-scale and high-level events (example: can become a Gold Life Master only after at least twice winning 30 master points in one event); continue to offer events that are limited with respect to strength of field and permissibility of conventions (as well, possibly, as application of some defined set of “relaxed rules”).  With respect to strength of field factor, increase the contribution toward master point awards of this factor and measure this factor by some formula that includes past tournament success (akin to seeding points) as well as accumulated master points.

What is the Big Idea?  IMPROVE TEACHING METHODS TO BETTER FOSTER – AMONG SELECTED STUDENTS -- APPRECIATION OF INTELLECTUAL CHALLENGE OF BRIDGE

 

What is the Big Idea Anticipated to Accomplish?  Expand the group of new players who will pursue bridge not only as a social activity at their local club but also as a competitive and intellectually challenging activity (that is, become the most regular or longest duration participating tournament players)

 

How is the Accomplishment Anticipated to Support the ACBL Mission?  Expanding the group of new players who seek to participate in tournaments can grow and sustain the game through such members’ tournament participation and through their becoming effective recruiters of their similarly situated peers.

 

Comments:  Support not only the development but also the distribution of trick-taking applications that might appeal to youth and eventually drive them to choose to play online or face-to-face competitive bridge; develop and distribute to teachers standard, turnkey teaching lesson plans that make it easier for teachers to focus more significantly and illustratively on elements of play and defense than on bidding conventions (so that some players will be induced to continually improve the quality of their bridge play by playing in lesser-limited events), include in such lesson plans means for teacher to direct students to appropriate games at local clubs

What is the Big Idea?  DEVELOP AND DISTRIBUTE A BEST PRACTICES MANUAL FOR VOLUNTEERS

 

What is the Big Idea Anticipated to Accomplish?  Make easier the execution of a volunteer bridge activity (whether such activity is helping run a tournament, helping maintain financial records of a unit or district, etc.).  Most volunteer activities to be performed in one geographic area have already been successfully performed in some other area.

 

How is the Accomplishment Anticipated to Support the ACBL Mission?  Volunteers serve the bridge-related interests of members by not only performing essential tasks but also by eliminating costs for hiring others to perform those tasks.  Demanding less “inventiveness” to execute a volunteer activity can expand the number of players who are willing and able to act as volunteers.

 

Comments:  Identify players who are believed to be currently executing best practices, support the written contribution of such players (in a prescribed format) to a Best Practices Manual, maintain such manual in a specific location, publicize the existence of such manual to members who can distribute such manuals to prospective volunteers, continue to identify and propose improvements to such manual

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