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All comments by Allan Graves
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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Why can't competitors who were cheated by the “ good doctors” sue them for our tournament expenses and damages .
April 4, 2014
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Dear Gabor, Please feel free to provide your defense to every piece of evidence used to convict them that you feel was insufficient.
April 4, 2014
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Dear Gabor. I suspect all the hands are worth ten years and the sentences run concurrently
therefore board 5 will do just fine . Ten years it is.
April 3, 2014
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Our US senior Bermuda Bowl team in Bali was beaten soundly by Germany and the cheatin' medicos in the Round Robin with two matches to go which contributed to our missing the KO phase by less than .1/4 VP . Mind you perhaps we might have played .1/4 VP better at some other juncture during the round robin. What is only implied in this discussion is just how destructive cheating is. Everyone affected by these bozos had put a lot of time and tremendous effort into participating in this event. Obviously you don't play bridge to win or lose but rather because it is fun ( and winning and losing , essentially transitory flip sides of the same coin , take care of themselves )but to be cheated leaves an extremely unsatisfactory feeling. All bridge organizations should be extremely vigilant about any possible cheating. The ACBL recorder system is not adequate as it is left to local recorders to follow through ,and therefore it is subject to local bridge politics. Of equal concern is that all bridge players must be very careful in their accusations as unsubstantiated allegations can ruin reputations. A few good plays , bids or leads are not enough. People who cheat are always brought down by the “ tolerance factor ”. The main thing about these good old country doctors is the enormous number of ridiculous actions that worked out. I would like to know exactly when the suspicions started against these guys .As one of my team mates said “ What took them so long ” . There have been allegations against “ the good doctors ” for years. Lastly certainly hope their patients re consider their options as I for one, would be nervous with an unethical doctor prescribing medications etc. and that the German Medical association has a morality clause that could be used to disbar them from the Medical profession.
April 3, 2014
Allan Graves edited this comment April 3, 2014
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Well of course it is not going to change if we leave it to the ACBL board
It will only change if we “ take back the league”! in this day and age of instant communication and social media we can force the ACBL board to step away from micromanagement to fulfilling their duties as board members in the traditional role of oversight and guidance
Do a proper review of the current professional staff, and an honest assessment of why so many recreational players want nothing to do with ACBL style bridge .We the people need to organize and petition the board to look in the mirror and begin to change how they govern and manage the league.
Aug. 9, 2013
Allan Graves edited this comment Aug. 10, 2013
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The ACBL has become the quintessential example of the old truism that a camel is a horse designed by a committee Until the ACBL is managed by a competent professional staff and the board of directors stops micromanaging the process things will just get worse
The board has become a dysfunctional group of small time politicians who have created product called ACBL duplicate bridge that the millions of recreational bridge players in North American have rejected en masse , This fact is obvious yet the board continues on this path with zero regard to their overwhelming culpability in the poor governance model they developed that has created such an unpleasant experience that very few people , young and old alike who ever walk into an ACBL
Club or tournament for the first time ever return for a second.
Aug. 8, 2013
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Presumably the ACBL board though a committee of board members would oversee this new model. In 1970 ACBL membership was 170 000, average age only 20% over 65 and US population 203 million. In 1957 some 30 million played bridge. Today US population is 313 million. the ACBL has shrunk to 150 000 and the average age is 73. The ACBL , governed disastrously by its Board of Directors addicted to politics and constant micro managing has essentially destroyed the league with decades of lost opportunities and ridiculous decisions. Why would what's left of the expert community hand off such an important task as these committees to the ACBL ? Are you kidding ?
March 30, 2013
Allan Graves edited this comment March 31, 2013
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Thanks Kevin, if you get the time, perhaps you could tell us what the board does that could not be done better by professional management staff ? what the board has to do that cannot be done by management and lastly what does the board do for 11 days at each of the Nationals that requires that the “volunteer ” board get all their expenses paid. Money incidentally, that could go to hire professional management.
March 30, 2013
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Michael you make some good points. My comment was in regards to forgetting conventions , not mis explanations or misbids. IE I alert a convention that my partner is not playing, or he uses a convention I fail to alert because I am not playing it. In both these cases. regardless of the what the director does or does not to protect the unoffending side , there should be an automatic penalty. The misexplanations etc. often seen most as a problem using screens is under another more complicated cover ( although again if pairs were reguired to give materially similar explanations then they would make the wording of the explanation part of learning the convention. ) . As to my main point. if those pairs who take on conventions they cannot remember were penalized for forgetting they would either commit them to memory or drop them from their card and everyone would have a nicer game.
March 29, 2013
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Well I was told by someone close to the situation that it was more likely ballpark 700 000 G
( perhaps a current member of the board can actually tell us , and the justification for this money being spent on comping the board at all three nationals ) and what is the point of that when meetings can be held so easily over the net ?
The board is not engaged in “governance” it is engaged in “ management”. It would be wonderful if the board was acting as a board and hired professional managers but in fact it is not. It has become a corrupt parliament ,if you will ,with a small civil service it controls.
This is germaine to this issue here as I am sure that somewhere there is a board committee which is in charge of the ethics procedures . Who are they and what is their expertise in this matter ? While the ACBL shrinks and gets older before our very eyes we simply accept the status quo without question. The mis management of the appeals process, in so far as we continue to have extreme dis agreement over its implementation, is but the tip of the iceberg of an organization completely mis managed for decades by politicians, rather than paid professional staff.
March 29, 2013

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