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All comments by Allan Graves
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I agree with Michael Rosenberg in this thread.
The next step that needs to be taken around the world is to pay attention to the NBO's . How are they appointed or “ elected” . What qualifications are required to be a board member.? How are they evaluated ? How transparent are their decision making processes ? To do this everyone needs to pay attention. The Bobby Wolff / ACBL Recorder story is shocking . FN should have been gone from the ACBL 10 years ago. The story of the ACBL director refusing to deal with information of cheating is shocking. The gutting of the ACBL recorder system and the treatment of Bob Rosen is shocking. People make mistakes. Incompetent people get elected. That is not the problem. The problem is we have not been paying attention to what they are actually doing and no one is holding them accountable. We either have to participate or be part of the system of accountability. If we simply don't care then we have seen what happens.
Sept. 16, 2015
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We need to take a much greater interest in our NBO's
Sept. 16, 2015
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Over to you Mr Allavena . There is still time to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. If you are fighting to save “ due process” then that is not the battle ground. Everyone is in favor of due process. The problem is you didn't engage it when you had the power to do so. And now you are hiding behind it because the alternative is uncomfortable These thousands of outraged people have temporarily skipped over due process because we don't have any mandate to use it. All we have is reality. When the disease has gone and the patient has recovered then we will undoubtedly give due process another go. It is the civilized approach after all, Do we keep having tor remind you that cheating at bridge is not particularly civil ? Surely you have enough evidence to remove them from the Monaco team pending a hearing. l . Surely you cannot expect the world to tolerate you adding a new third pair and attempting to play the Bermuda Bowl . Monaco qualified for the Bernuda Bowl with Fantoni and Nunes leading the way. Mr Zimmerman can get a new third pair and he would be completely welcome at the next Bermuda Bowl and all the tournaments in between. He and his concept of a strong team in one of the worlds most beautiful places is a real asset to bridge in my opinion. You have more than enough evidence to charge FN. Give them a fair hearing or turn it over to the EBL. That is due process.
Sept. 15, 2015
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Well ,Ok I see your point.
I am willing to say that in extreme and extraordinary circumstances the end does indeed justify the means . FS and FN are , in my opinion extreme situations and I hope that Meckstroth et all are correct in that they are extraordinary.
Once the FN allegations and the Monaco affair are essentially resolved
then we can get back to rebuilding the manners , the means , democracy , rights of the accused fair play ,courtesy etc etc
The last few weeks these situations have had to be dealt with extremely because the due process and good manners approach had obviously failed. The Doctors , Fisher Schwartz, Fantoni Nunes and who knows who else . All right under the noses of the organizations.
What did you expect the players to do ?
Going forward we cannot go back to the status quo
I hope Mr Allevena will be part of the solution not only in the next few weeks but going forward but it can't be business as usual.
The average age of tournament players is rising ( in the ACBL the average age is 72 and 30% are over 80 ) Social rubber bridge is rapidly dying as a family and community recreation and when that is gone , the game is gone,.We cannot afford the public to lose much more faith in the honesty of our flag ship championships. It is bad enough that the average person looking for a recreation equates bridge with very old people. Now it is going to be very old people and their championship events are full of cheaters.
We need to re evaluate everything we do and how we do it going forward.
Bob Hamman, Paul Street and myself along with other concerned players and a lot of main stream support are working with the ACBL to do just that and I encourage you to come to our website, (it is in Beta right now,)
and participate. my email is allangraves@me.com and I will send you the link if you like when it is out of Beta
Sept. 15, 2015
Allan Graves edited this comment Sept. 15, 2015
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I am assuming that FN denied the allegations when asked by Mr Allavena and until proof is established it is of course correct for him to ask for due process. Boye was simply giving Fulvio and Claudio the chance to“ do the right thing ”if the allegations were true . I don't see what Boye did as a threat at all but rather giving FN and Monaco the courtesy of a heads up. There is not a spiritual tradition wether theistic or non theistic , wether religious or secular , wether Eastern of Western, wether modern or ancient, that does not have confession as the first step in the process of healing the damage to oneself and others caused by a destructive habitual pattern or addiction. Even Grandma's “ short term pain for long term gain ” is the folksy variation . FN , presumably feel they have been greviously wronged and therefore Mr Allevena is correct to defend them until due process is served.
I get that the “ best defense is a good offense ” approach but shooting the messenger has been properly debunked as a long term strategy to a good life.
I assume Boye did indeed criticize the National organizations for failing to protect the game. One of the many things that have come out of these scandals is that If a pair is cheating and are not stopped for a period of time ,the damage they do to the game , the people they hurt , and the damage they do to themselves is extreme. Therefore, going forward, the organizations need to take rumors or unsubstantiated allegations very very seriously. Mr Allevena undoubtedly has access to significant resources. What due diligence did he do before associating Monaco with FN ? You wouldn't hire a key executive without doing a lot of investigation.
We have all failed to guard the hen house. All of us. Regardless of the time line for the Monaco affair to play our lets make sure that we rouse our energy and rebuild our organizations so they can do a decent job of protecting and growing the game. It should not be downloaded to the Boye Brogelunds of the world because they have to do it without proper authority , potentially without support and without an accepted mandate. That is not easy nor fair.
Mr Allevena claims that he has the skills, authority, the support and the mandate and that things should be left to him , his organization, the EBL and the WBF.
Ok I'll bite
Lets see how this works out.
Sept. 15, 2015
Allan Graves edited this comment Sept. 15, 2015
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Thanks Michael , I have taken down the team pictures and other kudos from the “ Fisher years” Not good pictures of me anyway… bad lighting and unflattering angles.
Sept. 14, 2015
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It would be good to start a new discussion on this topic as it is very important.
People will always find a way to cheat so“ all isolated electronic” is not complete protection. I agree with Christina in general that bridge as we know it today is inherently social . It is part of bridge to be focused, clear ,aware, and patient in a group of other human beings sitting at the table. At the same time one must be prepared to win and lose with equal dignity. If you withdraw from the social experience into “all electronic” you are simply solving intricate bridge puzzles in a timed environment. Its the social mystery that brings bridge alive both literally and figuratively. Boye, predictably has staked out the ground with the most sociability just plain bridge , and challenged everyone else to rise the to ethical challenge. I agree with him. However there is an old Tibetan saying that says, and I paraphrase , every one has Basic Goodness ( , or ever present good , ) . but hold on to your wallet. Perhaps the way to help hold on to your wallet is to have a nice bridge table , green baize etc but underneath the cloth an electronic rectangle that reads the bids you make and the cards you play and as they are fed into a main server. This would resolve so many issues as there would not need to be a vugraph operator, an individual score, a convention card ( electronic ) and the timing of every bid and play would be not an issue of contention. The game could finally be timed precisely for slow play etc , and the UI would not be disputed.There would of course be an umpire/scorer at each table as eyes on the ground and score backup. Lastly we could build on an idea by Magnus O that is basically feeding the bids and plays into computer programs that look for “things ” etc that would not only help isolate potential cheating patterns but also be a bid by bid , card by card, permanent record of everything that occurred. We could delay the broadcast of BBO ( sorry Fred ) and edit out the long thinks as we try to stare a King into an Ace. We could marry most of the social benefits of bridge with the technological advances that would both enhance the enjoyment and recording accuracy while safeguarding and securing the game in a number of ways. Of course we will always have people who cheat but since we have already determined we will always have them , then rooting them out will also be part of the game. There is no reason to worry. If you can do something about something then there is nothing to worry about and if you can't do anything about something then there is nothing to worry about. Regardless I am firmly in the camp who feels that , whatever we do, lets do it face to face with others and use the electronic technology ,if at all,as deemed appropriate for support and make that support dependent on the level of competition
Sept. 14, 2015
Allan Graves edited this comment Sept. 14, 2015
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Cold summer heat
Two horizontal
No Honour
Sept. 14, 2015
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Steve I did not know that one. thanks
I can also add to my post metaphor that we need to station sentries and maybe construct a good scarecrow.
Part of my post is to encourage us not to lose sight that when we see something that may need to be changed social media is a useful vehicle to build a consensus
and put consistent pressure on situations that lack transparency.
Sept. 14, 2015
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Congratulations to every one who participated in preparing and presenting the cases against Fisher Schwartz and Fantoni Nunes.. This is a great , great , day for bridge . We have learned over the last few weeks that through the power of social media and collective wisdom , the creativity and effort of both individuals and“ crowd sourcing” that we do not have to tolerate cheating. Indeed we have seen the power of a group to collect diverse ideas and opinions and mould them into beneficial action.
Since the the New Orleans nationals Bob Hamman , Paul Street ( a retired McKinsey partner ) and me have put together ,and presented to positive review , a proposed action plan to the ACBL board that offers solutions to help with the serious problems affecting the future of bridge , not only in the ACBL but around the world. In a couple of weeks we will launch a website , with not only our support but the support of some additional charter members. This site is designed to present our initial analysis of the problems facing the game , from the points of view of business strategy, marketing , growth, management, governance and the protection of the integrity of the game. It will also detail our proposed solutions that we presented to the ACBL board. This web site will welcome and encourage participation from every bridge player concerned with the future of the game. It will be a more edited forum than Bridge Winners but every ones opinion will be welcomed. There will be a petition that all can sign supporting the evolving theses as we hope to continue to work constructively not only with the ACBL but with Bridge administrations everywhere.The working title of the website is not yet decided but we have it up in Beta. . Feel free to contact me in the weeks ahead allangraves@me.com for the url of the site.

I also would like to gently set the record straight on some of the issues from the affairs of the last few weeks. Although the notion of “ the great imp” influencing bridge history is great drama in fact Fisher and Schwartz were probably done regardless of whether we won or lost that match.If we had won I would have waited until we had lost and gone to Boye and our team mates that I was sure they were cheating. Boye and Espen would have agreed ….
I had spent 30 boards with Fisher as a screen mate. His inauthenticity and emotional immaturity were jarring and I felt his movements and mannerisms were often unique and unnatural . Within the first hour I was convinced that some of their bids and plays were being influenced by non bridge events. Obviously this was emotionally distressing to me on a lot of fronts and I cannot remember playing worse in an important match than in those 30 boards. ( old partners need not comment )
I still remember the shock I felt as I executed a routine “open cards ” strip squeeze on Ron only to find he had led a club against from TXX, KJT9X , X, QXXX on an auction of 1D 1S ; 1NT P , his side not bidding ,and I crashed a trick or two in a routine contract. I noted that Lotan had XX in Hearts and the Ace of clubs. There were a few situations like that throughout the 30 boards. Emotional shock can be
dis associating and I suspect that this is also why I didn't channel my inner Perry Mason too smartly in the infamous committee . These hands that stressed me so much , were the same ones that Boye looked at overnight searching for“ the elusive great imp” . Once all avenues to recapture “the great imp ”had failed it wasn't very long before we began to talk about our ex teammates , that we were both 100 % sure about what had been and still was going on and what we had to do about it now. What “ the great imp ” had done was strengthen the resolve of Boye. ( It is always a bad idea to strengthen the resolve of a Viking if he is not on your team.) Boye's resolve since then has been unshakeable and I am sure it has inspired everyone involved. Actually there is nothing easier in life than taking a choiceness path and I know I speak for Boye as well , in saying that we would never make an easier decision than what we did next. The decision to go public, vacate our titles and accuse them of cheating , was choiceless because , through no ones fault , the atmosphere in the ACBL over time had become toxic and dysfunctional with regards to cheating. The recorder system option wasn't working and the the ACBL was also justifiably wary of legal action. The only remaining action for players were rumour and public accusation which are quite properly subject to severe sanction . The first option led to frustration and the second led to reprimand so the situation was Bateson's classic double bind. Any prospective cheat was aware of that, so the system had become the perfect enabler. It was clear that social media outside the ACBL was the vehicle , “Hey ,how about Bridge Winners ” said Newton as the apple hit him on the head and a separate website created by Boye to publish information. I think I suggested “ Place to publish weird information about bad guys .com” but he had a more direct name in mind. I never went on Bridge Winners to comment as i wanted to avoid being a distraction, to what others , especially Boye ,were saying. Sometimes it is best to stay silent and let others talk , give the situation some space as it were.
My role has been in the background, usually on the phone. I talked to Boye most everyday , sometimes more than once. He took about 10% of what I said to heart and some of the rest he used to sharpen his arguments. I also spent a lot of time phoning around the world encouraging old friends in other countries to follow up with their NBO and especially at the beginning throw in my dollars worth of encouragement privately to anyone who had stepped forward. One role I enjoyed was as liaison with some Americans who had stepped up and were working with the ACBL.
I do strongly resist the argument that outing Fisher and Schwartz could have been done better in some other , more “ due process” way. As it was the “due process” group had an open forum for their say but the substantive work was being done in the name of truth by those who were not afraid to call a duck a duck. Especially at the beginning that took a lot of courage. Busting through the wall of denial and fear that had plagued bridge “ due process ” for so long was going to take exactly what it ended up taking .
Note that once the network of those with the skill and motivation to do this work had been established by the Fisher Schwartz campaign, the offensive against Fantoni Nunes could be done behind the scenes. To their credit the ACBL was now on board with a team of Meckstroth , et all spending three days in Horn lake with permission to view the Spingold videos . This work will be very helpful in any prospective case the ACBL makes against both pairs. The Europeans had not been allowed to have this evidence so this was a welcome step for the ACBL to take. Would we ever have gotten the smoking gun vertical card observation from the Dutch Lady without the public campaign against Fisher and Schwartz? Would we ever have been able to get such qualified video guys ? or Code breakers ? or the thousands of comments calling a duck a duck . Well we will never know of course but lets assume that what happened ,happened because a myriad of well meaning actions coalesced to reveal the logical conclusions necessary to accomplish something very beneficial to a lot of people. The motivation to “do the right thing” had a lot a lot to do with the eventual success.
The speed of this has even been good for Fisher Schwartz and Fantoni Nunes. The sooner they can publicly admit the truth and “do the right thing themselves ” the sooner they can get on with the rest of their lives and accomplish something decent for themselves. It must never be ever again in the bridge world though. it is time they moved on. It is also time we asked both the Israeli Bridge federation, the Monaco bridge federation and the Italian bridge federation just what did they know and when?

Let me close with a poem by one of Spain's most revered poets.

The Wind one Brilliant Day.

The wind one brilliant day called
to my soul with an odour of jasmine.

“In return for the odour of my jasmine
I would like the odour of your roses ”

“ I have no roses , all the flowers
in my garden are dead ”

“ Well then I'll take the withered petals
and the yellow leaves and waters of the fountain ”

The wind left . And I wept. And I said.
" What have you done with the garden that was entrusted to you ?

Antonia Machado

I feel we have barely ,just barely , avoided being the heartbreaking insights of this poem.

The earth , our game, is good , we still have a few flowers , left and the fountain has water.
We can begin again weeding , planting and watering …
but we have a lot of work to do .
Sept. 14, 2015
Allan Graves edited this comment Sept. 14, 2015
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The rest of the bridge world allows drop ins to its major events if a qualifying phase overlaps and it is deemed to be in the best interests of the overall tournament.

In Chicago the losing Spingold quarterfinalists, some 24 of the better players in the world were now ineligible for the Roth Swiss as this major event had been expanded to 6 sessions from 4. Moreover there were no events they could enter other than regionals. It seems a routine policy to allow those 4 teams to enter the semi final stage of the Roth Swiss at the median score. I talked to BOD members 4 or 5 days prior and some were concerned and unaware of this unintended consequence some were very aware. I found out. a) it was on the schedule to discuss but they ran out of time. b) it was impossible to have a phone conference of the committee that decides these things to temporary delay the policy until Denver. c) Players who wanted to really play in the Roth Swiss could choose not to enter the Spingold. d) if the players didn't like the policy they didn't need to come ( “Zia go home” is probably no the best marketing strategy for the ACBL ) ( this was primarily to my argument that it was very expensive to change air tickets at the last moment and unfair to have so many players with nothing to do for 2 days. e) it was unfair to allow players into the semi finals who had not earned their way there.
Of course some BOD members who commented on my question were planning to play in the Roth Swiss but would never let that influence their decision. They were simply protecting the “ rights ” of their members to have a “fair”event. I wonder what the participants in the Roth Swiss would say to this ? Let me say this is not in any way suggesting that Resigner losers can drop into the Nationals Swiss, that is clearly a one of the other event. Perhaps however Gand National Team members should be allowed to drop into summer national LM pairs semifinals if they lose on Friday. I really think the BOD should consider limited drop ins for the losers of flag ship events , obviously based on the merits of the situation, and seriously rethink fiddling with events etc ( such as expanding them to 6 sessions from 4 ) The reasons for declining attendance at Nationals is not because of scheduling and the Nationals are not better off if the best players in the world are told to not bother coming The iconic flagship events , the Vanderbilt , Spingold or Resigner, the great 2 day team events, the blue ribbon, life master pairs and the latest , the Platinum pairs , are a major component of the Nationals brand. The Roth Swiss and Spring Nationals Jacoby Swiss used to be the best Swiss events in the world. They were the best Swiss events in the world because it attracted the finest field in the world. That is what NABC events are about. This is the tradition of the US Nationals. Blocking 24 world class players from entering the Roth Swiss cheapens the event ,cheapens the Summer Nationals and cheapens the ACBL. Yes these events attract only a very small percentage of the ACBL members but that is not the point. Where would the PGA tour be if they had told Palmer Nicklaus and Palmer to stay home so the other guys could do better . The BOD is the protector and keeper of the game of bridge and its traditions, not the owner with the right to buy and sell parts of those traditions based on faulty reasoning or whim. Major policy decisions often have unintended consequences.
Sept. 12, 2015
Allan Graves edited this comment Sept. 12, 2015
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There was a heartfelt post earlier somewhere on bridge winners regarding how to honour bridge or restore honour to bridge. One honours the game by one's individual actions that reflect an unshakeable commitment to that value. This decision by the four individual members of the Israeli team and the Israel Bridge Federation honours the game of bridge. These four talented young men will go on to have many wins in bridge but none will be greater than this one which is a victory of their heart essence and human spirit over the false elation and deflation of mere winning and losing. The old sixties saying “ If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem” is as true today in mind sport bridge as it has always been in other areas , some , of course, much more important than our great game. Through inaction we have allowed our bridge organizations to deteriorate , failing to charge them with protecting and growing the game for “ the love of the game” . There is no blame here as all of us are responsible but it is now time for each and every one of us to reflect on what we can do going forward. We have seen a lot of fine examples of this kind of leadership over the last couple of weeks. Bridge is a “mental” ( or mindsport ) martial art. Martial arts are practices that in order to do properly one must synchronize mind and body and engage as much as possible in the present moment. Through doing that the practitioner recognizes and realizes his or her deepest humanity. The initial motivation of “ winning or succeeding ” gives way to the realization that there is never any winning or losing and indeed that those motivations are false seductions in the service of ego . One has already “won” by being at the table doing one's best from ones primordial heartmind for the “ love of the game” . The practitioner then takes that realization into their everyday life knowing that one never masters the practice. i applaud these four young men for achieving this true victory. and applaud the Israel Bridge Federation for stepping forward and honouring the game in such a profound way.
Sept. 5, 2015
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Paul that is an excellent point. Could you follow up just how that process could begin ?
thanks
Sept. 2, 2015
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Magnus, no NBO, not the WBF, ACBL, EBL etc has done anything about this. What is required now is for us to encourage these organizations to convene serious committees to hold court. Surely there is enough here to suspend them pending
proper hearings that arguably may need some time to put together. That would be a good way to begin to honor Boye.
Sept. 2, 2015
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This process will be Israel's' final decision on the matterT so it is appropriate that it has been set up in this manner. Justice must not only be done but seen to be done and this setup seems fair to everyone. Perhaps one would wish it was quicker but this process leaves ample opportunity and time for both sides to submit to the committee hands , videos etc and there is a fair amount of transparency in the final phase.
Sept. 1, 2015
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Same as the rest who bid 5h . we play sound
2 level overcalls . I expect a X with a trump trick
Hence the values are outside spades . I have other passed hand types that bid 3S that would pass or X on the way put This hand type is an automatic 5 H bid as there are three ways to win and I am prepared to pay a small insurance premium if both contracts are down one. With all due respect Carl you know this logic inside out .


Aug. 17, 2015
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Well the issue of what was or was not a forcing pass by either side was something new . It was not part of the “ at the table ” director call. It was a new issue and , if considered relevant, should have been treated as would any director call. What was clear to the committee but not to me , was that this match was going to be decided by them on an issue that we were not apprised of in a timely manner and given time to collect our system notes etc . Was there a failure to alert?, Are we sure what their agreement was etc. Had this been handled correctly then it would have been clear what our system agreement was and, what their system agreement was or was not , and we would have proceeded from there. As it was their assertion of what their agreement was , was simply accepted per se. And we were not asked to present our real agreement backed by our notes. I told the committee after the ruling that that was not our agreement and was basically told that that was not longer relevant. Too little too late ? It decided the match. One would think the committee system should be most interested in doing the right thing rather than the expedient thing.
Aug. 16, 2015
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Let me try to set the record straight. First, our team had numerous opportunities to win a couple of imps and we didn't.

Now to the hand and our agreements. We play sound, 70's style 2 level overcalls. We do not play, and I have never played, in all my 51 years of tournament bridge, the auction in question as forcing. Our notes say in section 880: “A direct pass is nonforcing when it is uncertain as to whose hand it is.” This understanding clearly applies to this auction.

The committee hearing was late, after 1am, and the only ruling being appealed was the director's ruling of the 5H bid to which he had polled 8 out of 9 world class players who agreed with my 5H bid. He ruled that pass was not a logical alternative, and we agreed in the committee to our share of the tempo violation that resulted in the director call.

After a long argument by Fisher against the 5H bid, to which a director's ruling had already been made, Fisher produced a new complaint that we failed to alert the pass of 4S as forcing and he claimed that if that was the case then he would not have competed to 5S. I missed the ramifications of this new complaint. I did not think this was relevant to the resolution of the appeal of the director's ruling allowing my 5H bid and the subsequent table result of 5S X'ed down 3 , -500 and 2 imps to us against 450 in the other room.

First, what has been left out is that Ron Schwartz did not alert Richie on his side that his pass of 5H was forcing, although Fisher went to great lengths to alert me he thought it was forcing.

The committee did not ask Fisher to produce any evidence to support his claim that that was indeed their agreement, and Ron's failure to alert is surely quite relevant to this.

The committee did not suggest I go and get any notes I had that would shed evidence on our actual agreement of Richie's pass. It is true that Richie did give an answer to a direct question about our agreements to the effect that “if a bid is above game then pass is forcing” but this refers to a 2 over 1 in competition that has been preempted by a direct advance above our likely game by the opponents. Section 880 of our notes: “Partner has just made a 2/1 or 2/2 in competition and they have just bid above our possible game.” It certainly does not apply to a passed hand opposite an overcall.

When the ruling was given that the failure to alert 4S as forcing meant that Fisher can now pass 5H, I realized what had happened but was not allowed to revisit this issue and was not allowed to follow up in any way.

If a director had been asked to rule on our agreement and possible failure to alert at the table, then we could have produced the notes as to our actual agreement. If it is introduced in a committee then surely the same due process should apply. Notes are the best proof of the actual agreement and regardless of whether Richie thought his pass was forcing, it was not our agreement and it is not why I bid 5H. I bid 5H for the same reason as everybody else.
Aug. 16, 2015
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Hi
Just to set the record straight.
The initial letter to the board was extensive and fact based regarding the current state of affairs. It included a fact based Situation report. 8 strategic recommendations . A section on maximizing success . and a final summary. The first strategic recommendation was to reduce the size of the board to 8-12 members to streamline decision making. Although privately a number of board members thought this to be a good idea, it quickly became a non starter but rather part of a “ points of departure ” . The actual half hour presentation and subsequent unscheduled one hour discussion with the full BOD on Thursday morning by Bob and Paul made no mention of any BOD resignation .
Aug. 8, 2015
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The letter signed by a couple of dozen of the ACBL' whose who " from the USA and Canada , most of whom are not full time professional bridge players ,basically was proposing a fact-based approach and that the underlying structural problem of the ACBL is that business-experts must set ACBL business strategy. It correctly pointed out that the average age of the ACBL was 72, 30% over 80 and only 1% less than 35. It also correctly pointed out that there seemed to be problems at Horn Lake resulting in very expensive mistakes. Part of our plan was to recruit from among the 16700 members people with track records of success , mostly in commercial enterprises,in the key skill areas that we need to ensure the survival of the game, including : marketing, information technology and finance. The signers of this letter are certainly not involved in any way in trying for any sort of personal advantage or profit nor to be part of any new management group.
July 20, 2015
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