Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Allan Graves
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
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
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
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
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
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
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
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
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
We need to stand up and demand transparency in issues like this. Exactly what impact do the board meetings at the host hotel have on the hotel rates charged the members? Does anyone know ?
Dec. 14, 2014
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Why is it that we, the membership, cannot say “enough is enough ” and not only get rid of this “ CEO” but also charge the Board to return to advise and consent. The majority of Board members I have met are well meaning people with good intentions but the culture of the ACBL board driven management model is inherently resistant to change and consequently good people either leave, stay and remain frustrated or simply go along with the small political in crowd who simply further there own ends and enjoy the perceived power and financial perks . Over the last 40 years US population has gone up dramatically but the ACBL membership has fallen. Bridge is the worlds best game and an endlessly enjoyable recreation. That a society starved for good recreation avoids ACBL duplicate bridge means the product is not something they want. Indeed the ACBL club experience is quite different than when i started over 50 years ago. Think of the barriers to entry for a home , social club , country club or community center rubber bridge or non sanctioned duplicate game player if they attempt the ACBL model. It is time to start calling a spade a spade , start asking the right questions with an open mind, replace whatever is proven incompetent in current management and return the board to advise and consent rather than micro managing the deck chairs of a sinking ship. I encourage every member of the ACBL , who cares about the future of the game in the USA to step up and join the dialogue with an open mind. The problems , solutions and way forward will come from that.
Dec. 12, 2014
Allan Graves edited this comment Dec. 13, 2014
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
That is a good point. The ACBL board talks a good game but the results of their micro management political trip the last 40 years speaks for itself. For instance their new ACBL live feature is quite weak compared to the fast results app that had been developed by a member. Would some ACBL type like to comment on why they spent money to give a worse product? Why didn't they stick with a tool that was working excellently?
Dec. 12, 2014
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
New acbl results web page is really poor. The 'fast results " software is much worse than the previous software. For some reason they replaced a very good product with something very poor while wasting a lot of our money. Does anyone know what happened ?
Dec. 9, 2014
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
yes , you are thinking of Hermine Baron
Oct. 18, 2014
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Does anyone reading this thread know how we could start the processs of finding out exactly what happened ? What best practices were or were not followed? Where does the responsibility fall ?
Aug. 5, 2014
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Well if this is the case, then we need to know who it was that signed off on this . Would one of our ACBL board members be willing to explain to us, if indeed a multi million dollar error by someone at Horn Lake was responsible for this ?
Aug. 4, 2014
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
This does not meet the smell test.We need to know what actually happened to cancel such an expensive undertaking and the professional competence of the new people doing the project . How was it possible that the project got so far along before anyone realized “ it was not meeting expectations ” That makes no sense whatsoever. Does anyone have any idea on how we can get the ACBL management to tell us exactly what happened in detail.
To say that the members of a non profit organization are not entitled to know what happened to their money strikes me as the height of hubris.
Aug. 3, 2014
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
The members of the ACBL need to know exactly what happened and who was responsible.
It is possible that this cost the ACBL a lot of money for nothing and that now it is being done “ in house ” by people who are not qualified. If they were qualified then why did they go outside in the first place? If they had to cancel or back away from the outside production
how much money was wasted and what kind of liability has the ACBL incurred at this point.
One doesn't just cancel outside contractors. There are usually penalties to pay etc.
What are the qualifications of the inside Horn Lake staff?
What was the current CEO's role in all this and did he handle this issue competently ?
I did notice at the Nationals that the fast results service went from working really well a few months ago to not working well at all in Las Vegas. How did that happen? What was the Horn Lake role in all of this ?
We should not take ACBL managements word for any of this, but rather we need some answers for these questions from people who do not have vested interest in what has happened.
Aug. 2, 2014
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I think the reasons for the “ falling behind schedule ” needs to brought to light. Membership and the Board of Directors are entitled to know the exact reasons and the amount of money that the mistakes made have cost the league. We need transparency in this matter.
Aug. 2, 2014
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Well the point is not about how hard people work but how much of benefit is actually accomplished
Would the interests of the paying members of the ACBL be better served by a professional staff , rather than an large amateur volunteer staff of elected bridge politicians . Most board of directors are appointed or invited. Many ACBL members would prefer an effective professional staff rather than a well meaning but ineffective volunteer political staff. The money saved by having a large group of non professional volunteers is surely false economy..
The issue is not with the efforts of good people such as Mr Levy but rather with the obsolete management and governance structure of the ACBL altogether. There are those of us who respectively suggest that the model . although useful 70 years ago when the ACBL and its board were quite small is now no longer competent to deal with the problems that beset the ACBL . It is too big, too political too inefficient and too random in its skill set to be managing the ACBL by committee and board meetings .
I suggest we start a thread here on bridge winners to define the problems besetting the ACBL and start presenting ideas , directions and solutions.
April 20, 2014
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Well as per membership “ growth ” it is hard to trust them in cases like this because I am not sure what their definition of member actually is. Moreover the average age is increasing , If the average age continues to rise well, as the Onion newspaper pointed out a couple of years ago , the death rate is holding steady at 100% . My point in my earlier post was the relatively high rate of inactivity of members which points to the inconvenient truth that the bridge playing public does not like the ACBL product . They like bridge, just not the ACBL product that is offered in the clubs. And , it is not the clubs fault as they are often simply implementing ACBL policy and stuck with ACBL “marketing” which is master point oriented at the expense of an enjoyable recreation. And again I want to point out strongly that it is fine to have volunteers doing volunteer work in suitable roles at the local levels but a multi million dollar national organization does not need volunteer management , it needs serious professional management. The current ACBL management structure is a volunteer board running the ACBL . Imagine IBM with a volunteer board of directors running IBM. Would the shareholders tolerate that ? Of course not it sounds ludicrous because , well , it is ludicrous. We the members are the “ shareholders ” and the stewards of this greatest of all games. We need to start having the conversations that will result in us taking back the league from the ACBL board management and transfer it to professional management.
April 15, 2014
Allan Graves edited this comment April 15, 2014
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I am getting so tired of giving incompetence a complete pass because they are “volunteers”
ACBL BOD Volunteers who get a nice expenses paid ride to the nationals by the way
At the local level there are wonderful volunteers who do all sorts of good things for local clubs and tournaments
However at the ACBL national policy level for all manner of issues for the health and growth of the ACBL I don't want “volunteer ” bridge politicians usurping policy , decision making a d implementation in all manner of areas in which they clearly would not be hired to do if they cAme in the front door of ACBL headquarters The ACBL Board needs to return to being a hands off board . It needs to Be much smaller and we need to hire professionals to manage the League
By any criteria the current dysfunctional system has been a complete disaster for organized tournament bridge in North America .
In a 2005 article in the New York Times Succesful banker and national champion Sharon Osberg wrote this

According to the American Contract Bridge League, 25 million Americans over the age of 18 know how to play bridge. These people are well educated (79 percent have a college degree), affluent (the average income is $62,000 per year), primarily white (71 percent) and older (the average age is 51). Of these 25 million adult bridge players, only 3 million play the game at least once a week. This is a huge decrease from the 1940's when 44 percent of American households had at least one active bridge player.

The ACBL BOD with their policies and management have managed to corner this market to the tune of 175000 “ members” a shocking percentage of whom are inactive
The average age is now 70

For heavens sake how much whistling past the graveyard do we have to whistle before we realize that bridge players simply do not like the ACBL product being sold ?

Who is to be held responsible for this ?
The people who have initiated policy and implemented it of course
And this overwhelmingly has been the “ volunteer ” micromanagement
If bridge politicians calling themselves the ACBL board
Very little responsibility can be laid at the acbl office staff and certainly not at the acbl tournament directors who are the worlds best by a country mile
It is time to completely revamp the way the ACBL does it's business and manages its affairs
I call on everyone reading this post to begin to have meaningful conversations in your bridge circles in your clubs units and districts regarding the unquestionable dying of the ACBL and what can be done about it

I especially call on all the wonderful community owned clubs and club owners to have your voices heard as you see how hard it is to attract and keep new members in spite of your enormous effort
Why don't the millions who know how to okay want to pnsy in your club
Why don't recreationally starved Americans want to learn and play in acbl sanctioned clubs ?
These are the hard questions that need to be posed with an open mind

We cannot expect the current structure and organization to revive the tournament game because it is thus structure which had been unable to respond for decades and whose various initiatives for decades have led to the brink
It is not particularly the individuals , it is the management culture they have had to operate within
And I call on every board member to be honest about how your board actually function and start the process to transfer policy and management control to a professional staff and return to and oversight role with much fewer members

Everyone who cares about the health of the ACBL
Should participate in thus discussion through word of mouth and social media
We can “ take back the league”
We must take back the league
If not now when ? And if not us Who ?
Feel free to email me
April 13, 2014
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Michael makes a very good point that I take to heart. I should have said the German Bridge Federation executive, not Germany nor German bridge players . My complaint is only against the GBF executive given their resistance to the WBF finding and their refusal even to this day, to correct the result of Geneva. My point is that once one has does something whether virtuous or non virtuous some seeds have been sown that bear fruit. Virtuous actions , those for the benefit of others ,just seem to engender more such heartfelt actions naturally. Non virtuous actions ,invariably for some short term benefit at the expense of some one else also bears fruit, a poisonous rationale where it is OK to do it again. Now perhaps this is too much of a stretch back to 1990 but until the GBF executive and the recipients of those Geneva medals actually stand up and give them back and vacate the title of 1990 world champions, a crown that surly lies uneasy on their heads , then they, and the GBF executive , will always bear that burden of victory unfairly gained . However I do sincerely apologize for the sloppy and inappropriate generalizations while also standing by any comment I made to any individuals and my call upon the GBF executive to do the right thing regarding the Bali “situation” and subsequent WBF findings.
April 5, 2014
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Well this was partly my take on bringing up the Geneva disgrace. Germany has already crossed the bridge where wining at the world level is more important than doing the obvious correct thing regardless of what technicalities they can co opt as a rationale. A member of the Bali German team is also a member of the German Bridge Federation that is resisting the WBF findings. The evidence against the “Good Doctors ” is the most overwhelming ever presented at the world level. It is 100 % that they were cheating in Bali. At the very least GBF member Herr Wenning ( and other German team members ) should recuse himself from the GBF response to the WBF findings. Certainly the German federation is entitled to examine the situations from all relevant angles. Recusement will open the door to some unbiased fresh air and to the overwhelming majority of German bridge players who find this as abhorrent as the rest of the world. They can step forward and take the necessary steps that accepting the WBF findings entails. What is still to be looked at in my opinion is any hand records we have of the Good Doctors performance for Germany at other WBF events and if the pattern of way , way, too good to be true leads and bids is present then those accomplishments be vacated as well ,and therefore all awards and Master points etc be stripped of those teams.
April 5, 2014
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Well, just take away their medal and give it to USA 2 the last honest team standing( if you will) . While they are at it how about taking away the German medal from 1990 when they they beat Canada in the Olympiad semi final. German sportsmanship was under full sail when they refused to correct an incorrect score that both teams agreed was wrong because of a ludicrous committee ruling on the technical meaning of “ manifestly incorrect”. ".
April 4, 2014

Bottom Home Top