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All comments by Jonathan Steinberg
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History will not be kind to Mr. Whipple's year as ACBL President in 2018. While the Hawaii $800,000 loss was a result of a horrendous ACBL contract signed many years ago, 2018 was the year when the CEO was abruptly fired without adequate reflection and clearly without sufficient legal justification. As a result, an arbitrator ruled that the ACBL was liable for $800,000 that had to be paid to the former CEO. Who is taking responsibility for that decision? As always, it is the ACBL membership that has to pay for the mistakes of its leaders.

I found the Florida Bridge News report to be a very sad read, especially coming from the 2018 ACBL President. He covers a lot of ground, far too much to be adequately covered on Bridge Winners. For those who really wish to make a difference, you need to volunteer, run for office, or at the very least ensure that your thoughts are targeted towards those with the power to make changes. Lobby your ACBL Board member, the new ACBL Executive Director, the 2019 ACBL President.

I totally disagree with Mr. Whipple's assertion that NABC entry fees are 30% too low and that ACBL members who look for cheaper hotel alternatives are the problem. In Mr. Whipple's world, only the wealthy would be able to attend NABCs and play bridge.

I do agree that the demographic realities are a major issue. So is the 25 member Board of Directors. They hire the CEO. How have they done over the last ten years? But they refuse to recognize themselves as a problem.
April 11
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I have just posted 80 photos of the Sights & Sounds of Memphis at: http://imageevent.com/jon911/2019sightssoundsofmemphis and 85 photos of bridge players at: http://imageevent.com/jon911/2019memphisnabc

Enjoy!
April 3
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The higher card fees don't kick in until Las Vegas. Memphis may have been ACBL's last affordable NABC.
March 31
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Final table count, a very successful 9,644 tables which surpassed the 2012 Spring Memphis NABC that had 9,626 tables. Very likely to return in Spring, 2024 (A great year: Memphis, Toronto, Las Vegas)!
March 31
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Not close to 10,000. Attendance drops sharply on the weekend. The Sunday schedule is hardly attractive and hasn't been for a long time. As of tonight, 9,080 tables. Expect final attendance to be a little over 9500, close to the 9600 number the last time the NABC was in Memphis. But well over the budgeted estimate of 9000 to 9200.

Given that Hawaii was a dud and Las Vegas and San Francisco are next, this was the ONLY NABC anywhere near the East Coast. also perhaps the last affordable NABC so solid attendance not a surprise.
March 31
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Aaron, instead of little bits and pieces of info, allegations of unethical behaviour, complaints about the TD rulings, etc… why not post both hands so we can all see them, the exact auctions, meanings, breaks in tempo (if any), what the TDs ruled and why? Were any of these rulings appealed? What was the final decision?

There is no reason not to mention which players sat East/West/North & South. Everything is recorded. Who are we protecting and why?

It has been almost a full week since the Platinum Pairs appeal and ruling but nothing has been posted in the Daily Bulletin. I would like to see the write-up and logic behind the final ruling. A clarification of taking inferences at your own risk. Exactly what are the rules and regulations regarding thinking at trick one?
March 29
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The Blue Ribbon Pairs Grand Slam, The Platinum Pairs hesitation at TRICK ONE, now no less than TWO late night appeals (apparently controversial with some strong feelings) deciding major events/ matches. It is so sad and a black mark on the professional high level game of bridge.

While I am pleased that it is the TDs and not players making these decisions in the wee hours of the morning… and more pleased that cameras record every action at the table so at least the facts are known (including exactly how long any hesitations were or were not)… it still sucks to have events decided by appeals.
March 29
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The Majestic Grille (where old 1930's movies never stop playing) and McEwen's both offer excellent quality meals. Reservations recommended.
March 27
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The good news was that his team was soundly defeated in the round of 64. But what choice did Mahaffey have? ACBL rules do NOT allow you to refuse to play against somebody without suffering severe consequences. The only guilty party is the ACBL Board and Appeals Charges Committee that allowed this to happen.

Equally sad IMHO and very bad for the game is to have key events won on appeal. The recent Blue Ribbon Pairs last Fall and now the Platinum Pairs here in Memphis.

Again, no easy solutions.
March 27
Jonathan Steinberg edited this comment March 27
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54 teams including the one I'm on had a first day Vanderbilt Bye. Alex Hudson & I took the day off and saw the Memphis Grizzlies defeat Oklahoma City Thunder this evening. Led by ex Raptor Jonas Valanciunas. Great to have a day off between the Platinum & Vanderbilt.

Two positive suggestions: 1) Most teams with a bye knew who they were going to play on Tuesday. IF BOTH teams agree, they should be allowed to play on Monday. The winning teams gets day 2 off to celebrate while the losing team does not waste a day and can play in a new event on Tuesday.

2) Establish a cash prize from the entry fee as an incentive for more teams to play. There were 54 eligible teams. Only 22 teams started this afternoon. There were only 7 teams playing this evening.
March 25
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Look, the ACBL lost $2 Million (give or take, who's counting?) in 2018. They have to recoup the losses somehow. Entry fees at NABCS increasing 25-30% across the board starting in Vegas.

I fear it won't be too long before only the wealthy and the bridge pros attend NABCs
March 25
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Human memories are notoriously faulty. Every table in the Platinum Pairs had cameras and there are videos of the play of the hand. Not open to conjecture.

Always unfortunate (and far too common) when events are decided on appeals. But it is what it is.

Congratulations to Zia, Curtis, Glenn & Barry for a great performance.

Note: I believe this was the second NABC where Glenn Milgrim lost an NABC title as a result of an appeal that had nothing to do with his table. Sometimes, life sucks!
March 25
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Perhaps it was an underhanded way of stopping Rona from being President for life? Instead of voting him out, they created an age limit to disqualify him (shortly). Perhaps it recognizes that Octogenarians are not the leaders the dying game of bridge needs nor would they be best to appeal to younger players? Perhaps in recognition that one is not supposed to serve until death? Instead of term limits, age limits?

Was Rona not over 75 when he was recently reelected? A recognition that it was not the WBF's finest hour; hence, new rules.

Perhaps the ACBL Board should do the same although age discrimination is undoubtedly illegal in North America.
March 11
Jonathan Steinberg edited this comment March 11
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It does seem incredible that the ACBL would offer some sort of sweetheart Regional At Sea deal to someone they wanted to kick off the ACBL Board (2014 - a 5 year deal). Frankly, it is incomprehensible to me. No one has given me any reasonable explanation for what was done. Many blame the late ACBL League Counsel Peter Rank. Difficult for the dead to respond!

Equally incredible to me is why the ACBL believed they could break agreements/contracts with both Blakely and Gidwani and not have to pay damages. What kind of legal advice are they getting?
March 2
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If the ACBL were a restaurant or clothing store… and they had to raise its prices due to gross mismanagement, we could take our business elsewhere. But if we want to play competitive duplicate bridge, we have few choices. The ACBL is a monopoly. It is a sad state of affairs.
March 2
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The rather dry litigation report does not reveal much information. I would like to emphasize, for the record, that the Bruce Blakely case does NOT refer to allegations of cheating or unethical behaviour at the bridge table. Totally different issues.
March 1
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I have been impressed with your responsiveness and ACBL Pres FB page (sorry, I'm not on twitter). Many of your goals such as Strength of Field (SoF) for masterpoint awards are a must. The current system is a shambles – stand alone Open Pairs pay little; if there is a Gold Rush – even if only 3 tables, awards dramatically increase. Best is an A/X, Mid-Flight & Gold Rush. Same number of players and identical SoF but huge differences in awards. You have informed me that single session club championships will be capped at 8 points starting 1/1/2020. It's a start.

Your goal to dramatically reduce the size and expenses of the BoD is admirable but many have tried and failed in the past. I wish you the best of luck.

The ACBL must stop writing off huge sums of money, be it failed technology projects, poor hotel contracts with huge subsequent penalties, overpaying CEO's with poor contracts… leading to subsequent court battles to assess final settlements. It is a path to bankruptcy!

The ACBL needs members. It also wants them to attend tournaments. The concept of price elasticity suggests that the 20-25% across the board entry fee increases at all NABCs starting in Las Vegas will lead to many players saying they can no longer afford to attend. Why would a Regional player want to pay more for a hotel and $40 a day in entry fees at an NABC. Far better to attend any District 7 Regional with less costly hotels, awesome hospitality and $24 a day entry fee. Why would a non professional husband/wife pair want to spend $240 in entry fees to play for 2 days in the NABC Mixed Pairs?

Wouldn't it be more logical to raise membership dues a buck or two every couple of years rather than hit them every session they play bridge at an NABC. NABCs are awesome but they may soon be out of reach for all but the pros and the wealthy.

May The Force Be With You in 2019. Good luck!
Feb. 19
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Which is an excellent reason why Mr. Blubaugh has not responded. He was suspended a few days ago and his comment removed when he basically posted a threat against me that was flagged!

The sad history of cheating at bridge can be found at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheating_in_bridge which focuses on World Championships and high level cheating. It barely scratches the surface and omits many “Regional” players who cheated including the infamous Dan Requard & Moses Ma (USA) and from Canada the late Pat Roy, Wayne Timms, Ken Warren and many, many more from North America and abroad. It is indeed very sad.
Note that when Requard was readmitted he was put on permanent probation.

See: https://www.nytimes.com/1984/07/31/nyregion/five-bridge-players-taken-out-of-play-cheating-suspected.html

In the matter of the request for full readmission from Dan Requard, ACBL # L712249:
Effective March 7, 2007.
1. The geographic limitations previously imposed on Mr. Requard are removed.
2. He may now play in all ACBL sanctioned events for which he is otherwise eligible including the NAP and GNT.
3. Mr. Requard remains on permanent/indefinite probation.


My best wishes to everyone for a Happy and Healthy New year to you and your loved ones. May 2019 be a much better year than 2018 was!
Dec. 31, 2018
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The obvious and simple solution if someone has a physical handicap that prevents them from shuffling cards in ACBL Swiss & KO matches (without seeing who is dealt the Ace of Spades!) is to NOT shuffle. Whether your fingers were bitten by a hog, you have arthritis or any other condition that would prevent a fair shuffle, you don't shuffle. Other players and Tournament Directors are more than happy to accommodate players with special needs. Mr. Blubaugh was a professional bridge player. All professional bridge players must be held to the highest standards of conduct & ethics.
Dec. 26, 2018
Jonathan Steinberg edited this comment Dec. 26, 2018
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Gary, very quickly (leaving for Charleston, SC awesome New Years Regional :), it was always a struggle getting the Board to pass progressive legislation. Usually took several meetings(sometimes years – see raising senior age from 55 to 60). Equally so regarding “sensitive” issues. I always argued for transparency and publishing the results of A&C hearings. It was an endless battle. Do we wait until the appeals process is over? Do we print in Daily Bulletin, monthly magazine? How much do we say or not say?

The ACBL Governance structure with a 25 member board of local politicians from Districts of hugely varying sizes has proven to be ineffective. It doesn't work. Which is one of many reasons I fear for the future.

In my opinion the last ten years have seen no improvements; in fact, perhaps worse. As you mentioned the BoD turning down it's own task force report and motions from the BoG – but the Board has always ignored the BoG except to use it as an excuse to get an extra day or two free room and per diem.

Time to play bridge. Happy New Year!
Dec. 26, 2018
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