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All comments by Jonathan Steinberg
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Run of The House means the hotel can give you whatever standard room they have available. You are NOT guaranteed a King bed or a room with two beds. For $200+ a night, you should be able to specify the type of room you require and have it guaranteed.
Jan. 15
Jonathan Steinberg edited this comment Jan. 15
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Another issue with the new ACBL Housing Bureau is that my confirmation under room type said “Run of the House”. which means that you are unable to guarantee/reserve a room with two beds or one. That is not acceptable to me. ACBL members have no problems dealing directly with a hotel when making reservations for Regional tournaments at the bridge rate. Why do we need to go through a housing bureau for NABC room reservations?
Jan. 15
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UPDATE: Sadly, just 5 and half hours after the ACBL online reservations opened at 11 AM EST, Le Westin shows NO ROOMS AVAILABLE for Sunday-Monday-Tuesday, July 19-21. Is it any wonder NABC attendance is falling and the members are unhappy with this kind of service? Gross incompetence, IMHO.
Jan. 15
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From my FB post this morning: HEADS UP! Reservations have opened for the Montreal NABC, July 16-26, 2020. You can book online at: https://nabc.acbl.org/montreal/plan/

All events will be held at the Palais des Congres de Montreal (Convention Center).

There are no less than five host hotels ranging from CDN $183 to $275 (US $140 - $211) plus taxes which add up to 18%! They all have pluses and minuses. However, one of them – Hotel Monville (primarily for the American Bridge Teachers Association - ABTA) is no longer available. It has been replaced by a Holiday Inn /Downtown (primarily for the Youth NABC) so very few rooms are available.

The three primary hotels for normal (ha,ha) bridge players are the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, InterContinental & Le Westin.

The Fairmont Queen Elizabeth is the least expensive (CDN $183/US $140) but it is 1 km (Google calls it a 13 minute walk) from the playing area. ACBL will provide shuttle buses. This may actually be a plus for those who enjoy fresh air and walking. All the other hotels are adjacent to the convention center.

Le Westin is a Marriott Bonvoy property. For the Marriott Platinum and Titanium high-rollers, please note that there is NO Executive Lounge. But you will receive points/miles and free breakfast in the restaurant. At CDN $192/US$147, I expect it to sell out within days.

Hotel Monville, opened in 2018, is modern and innovative (robots deliver room service!) but only offers rooms with one King size bed. Online reviews criticize the “very small” but well-appointed rooms. The hotel responds “All our rooms are made to optimize comfort and practicability. They all have king size beds, a rain shower, a 50 inch flat screen TV and a Nespresso machine.” ACBL rate: CDN $199/US $152. NOT AVAILABLE. ALL rooms taken by the ABTA.

Hotel InterContinental, as with Le Westin, Queen Elizabeth & Monville, are all rated highly but why is it priced higher than the other three hotels at CDN $209/US$160?

Finally the Embassy Suites (A Hilton property) provides suite style accommodations, “free” breakfast with made-to-order omelettes and “free” drinks during Happy Hour. Despite the extras, it gets mixed reviews and at CDN $275/US$211 you are paying a huge premium for your “free” omelet and drink.

July is Prime Time, High Season in Montreal. The tournament is near “Old Montreal” which has excellent restaurants and numerous attractions. An outstanding venue in an amazing joie de vivre city.

But there are no hotel bargains at that time of the year and as is usually the case, when the ACBL comes to town, prices rise. The weeks before and after any NABC are always less expensive. Supply and demand.

There are numerous modest accommodations available if you search carefully, use Priceline, etc. Montreal is a great tourist destination, especially in the Summer.

I urge you to book early as I expect rooms at Le Westin will not be available for very long. If you miss out, be sure to check back on or before May 12 which will be the last day to cancel a reservation without losing the first night deposit.

USA citizens require a passport. At current exchange rates, $1 US dollar equals $1.31 Canadian.
Jan. 15
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Excellent tourist area. It should be a winner. https://web2.acbl.org/Tournaments/Ads/2020/08/2008123.pdf
Jan. 9
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Canadians comprise about 10% of ACBL membership and our Thanksgiving is in October. Cheaper air fare and hotels, not to mention avoiding travel on the busiest US travel weekend of the year, makes a lot of sense.

In San Francisco, I mostly played in NABC events where it appeared that close to half the field were players from Europe, Asia, and elsewhere (Not USA). That number may be slightly high but adding Canadians to non US players and 40% or more are not celebrating the US Thanksgiving Holiday.

Of the remaining 60% of attendees, from every poll, BW article I've read, preferences are split.

There is NO clear consensus to change the current dates where the first NABC events starts the day after Thanksgiving.

I believe there is a consensus to make NABCs more affordable, choose cities with more options for the less well heeled, and to eliminate the per player entry rate and return to an entry fee per team.
Dec. 18, 2019
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“beautiful Puerto Vallarta - very affordable!”. For everyone. PVR is the opposite end of the spectrum from Waikiki. Everything is very inexpensive. The people are friendly, the weather is warm, the food is great, the prices are very low. There are multiple reasons why PVR is such a popular tourist destination and why so many Canadians & Americans snowbirds choose PVR.
Dec. 15, 2019
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Downtown Montreal in July is a fabulous vacation destination, especially for USA citizens who will benefit from the exchange rate and get $1.30+ CDN for every $1 US.

My biggest concern is how many local players will support the tournament and how often they will play given that entry fees for NABC events will be in the range of $40 CDN per player per session.
Dec. 14, 2019
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Richard, you have been predicting that ACBL membership would fall off a demographic cliff for DECADES (I'm sure at least 20+ years). It hasn't. This year, I'm told it is down about 1%. The ACBL has done a good job of bringing in as many members as it loses… going forward… who knows?

Tournament attendance has dropped in 2019, although the numbers are all over the map. Some of the better Regionals (Penticton, beautiful Puerto Vallarta - very affordable! - have been solid or increased) while others have dropped. Overall decrease around 5% but that is just an estimate.

Palm Springs was always going to be down given that the NABC in SF was so close. But 500 tables is a lot.

Going forward, the two biggest issues I see are marketing and new members (always a priority) but perhaps overriding everything else and my number one concern is affordability.

Parking in SF was $80 a night! There were no viable cheap alternatives for housing. At least in Las Vegas, there were multiple less expensive places to stay. You could easily walk outside of the Cosmo, cross the bridge and have an excellent sit down breakfast for $4.99

ACBL management is working hard to address these issues and I hope they are successful.
Dec. 14, 2019
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I've received reports from the usually large Palm Springs, CA Regional (ends tomorrow) that it is going to be down 500 tables for the week. I've tried to check actual table counts for the past few years but the ACBL web site is down for maintenance right now.
Dec. 14, 2019
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Bill, even a broken clock gets it right twice a day ;)!
Dec. 13, 2019
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I find the method of score posting to be quaint (“attractively unusual or old-fashioned”). The way it has always been done. It is exciting as everyone crowds around to watch and calculate the final standings.
Dec. 10, 2019
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I heard that Greco became ill and had to go to the hospital last night. Does anyone have an update?
Dec. 6, 2019
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The host hotel Marriott Marquis provides excellent service. For those with Marriott Bonvoy status, the M lounge open 24/7 is outstanding. The B2 playing area temperature was much more comfortable yesterday. Only downside when staying at large host hotels are the elevators during “rush hour”. While there are 6 elevators serving floor 18-38, two of them are closed for renovations. We have been told that the service elevators may be used.
Dec. 1, 2019
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There are always reasons to say no and maintain the status quo. Kevin Lane was another disappointing no vote. All ten Board members who voted no have their reasons but the bottom line is that a proven dysfunctional failed governance model remains.

Every consultant the ACBL Board has hired has concluded that the 25 Board model cannot and does not work. During my tenure (1994-2008) there were several excellent well thought out motions to reduce the size of the Board. Not only for better governance but also recognizing the ever growing disparity in size among the Districts. It has only gotten worse over time. Every motion failed. There is always a reason to say no.

Look at District 8, a tiny geographical area where ACBL membership has fallen below 3,000 members. Should have been merged long ago. Today D. 8's Georgia Heth (of Appeals & Charges and Lanzarotti re-admittance fame) has just been elected as the 2020 ACBL President. To her credit, though, she voted in favour.

So many reasons why a 25 member Board is doomed to failure. Look at the Bahar fiasco. Did the ACBL Board have legal advice, review his contract before signing it? Did the lawyers advise the ACBL it was a bad contract, skewed in favour of Bahar? Who knows. Nobody is talking. When the 25 member Board decided to fire Bahar despite his iron clad 3 year contract, did the Board get legal advice? Did they follow it? Nobody is talking.

End result: they fired him, it violated the terms of his contract, $800,000 of the membership's money went out the window. Some might consider it negligence. The few Board members I still converse with point the finger towards one individual, exonerating themselves of any responsibility. Just not possible.

ACBL membership is falling, tournament attendance is falling, the long term prognosis is grim. But, hey, there are always reasons to maintain the status quo. The 25 member Board (where some District's have as few of 2800 members while other have close to 20,000) knows best and should never change.
Nov. 29, 2019
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As a Canadian, I was very disappointed to hear that Leo Weniger, Paul Janicki & Claire Jones voted no. Congratulations to the new D. 19 Board member Julie Smith who voted in favour.

Regarding Canadian separation this has been an on and off topic for decades. The reality is that while Canada is geographically huge, it is population small. Ditto for bridge players and the Canadian Bridge Federation. CBF membership has been falling for decades with somewhere between 20-35% of Canadian ACBL members paying their CBF dues. The CBF Board is comprised of 6 volunteers and one part-time paid position.

Separation is a no go.
Nov. 29, 2019
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Shuffling the chairs on the Titanic, moving players from one event to another. Not a viable solution.
Nov. 26, 2019
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There are several distinct issues.

1) Masterpoint Inflation. “We” all remember when you could only win fractions of a masterpoint at the club level. Once a month there was a special “Masters” game where the winners received one full masterpoint. It meant something!

In 1985, 15 players surpassed 1,000 masterpoints led by the late Grant Baze, Paul Soloway & Ron Anderson and the still alive and well Eddie Wold & Mark Lair. In 1999, 29 players did it. In 2018, 81 players reached that milestone in one year. That's inflation. Get over it.

2) Strength of Field (SoF) and masterpoint equity. In its simplest form, the same 16 teams could travel around the country and the KO awards would not change, regardless of how many brackets, what other events were being held, etc. But after successfully implementing SoF for KO events, the Board defeated any and all attempts to expand SoF to Pair games and Swiss teams. Someone always found a “flaw”.

Gold Rush events have been hugely successful but in today's world, an event scheduled opposite a Gold Rush pays significantly more than a stand alone event (Pairs or Swiss). This is not equitable. The Board has been aware of the problem for years but always has an excuse to not act (ACBL Score is too fragile to make any changes, a “new” Masterpoint Committee will be looking into it “next year”…)

3) Soloway KOs and the new small 6 team brackets where 4 qualify. Hardly a panacea to reverse dwindling attendance. Some call it a cash grab. You have a poor afternoon with no hope of qualifying but you MUST continue to play and pay rather than have the option of taking a session off, a side pairs or “Losers Swiss” where you might actually win.

The format was originally designed for the top bracket ONLY because many players did not want to play against the pros. It has been expanded to include everyone. Some like it, some don't.

But to deliberately create small 6 team brackets with 4 to qualify (when there is little masterpoint difference between the bracket above or below) is a travesty. It is at best a temporary and desperate fix to save what many believe to be a dying game.

4) ACBL Board of Directors. History has shown that the current Governance model does not work. The arrogance of some (not all) current and former ACBL Board members never ceases to amaze me. I know, I was one of them from 1994 until 2008. Why listen to the experts, the Tournament Directors, bridge players… we know best.

It is never easy to hire a CEO. What qualifications does the political ACBL Board have? Result: They hire Bahar with an ironclad three year contact. No probationary period, no termination for cause, a contract that borders on negligence. End result: they fire him and payout $800,000! Has anyone taken personal responsibility for this fiasco? Just silence.

Consider how many decades and failed motions it took to raise the senior age; consider how many well thought out motions to reduce the size of the ACBL Board have gone down to defeat. Today we have at least one District with LESS than 3,000 members. There is no equity with either masterpoint awards or the ACBL Districts/Board of Directors!

The motion in SF to change the ACBL Governance model may not be perfect (nothing ever is) but it is a long overdue first step to try to save the organization. In my opinion, any Board member who votes against it deserves to be impeached.

See: http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/bod-restructure-vote/ for more on this item.

See you in San Francisco. I'll have a copy of the February 1986 contract bridge THE BULLETIN with me if anyone wants to verify my Top 500 numbers for 1985!
Nov. 25, 2019
Jonathan Steinberg edited this comment Nov. 25, 2019
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Masterpoint inflation is a given and that's the way of the world. My concern is that there is little logic, fairness or equity in the ACBL masterpoint payouts among different events. A very different issue than inflation. I have written about it and lobbied the ACBL Board multiple times, but to date, the problems remain. In its most simplistic form why should a 30 table daylight Regional Pairs at an NABC pay almost twice as much an afternoon/evening Regional Pairs at the same NABC with the same number of tables? Don't get me started on the Strength of Field concept which I believe should be applied to all events. The reason some events pay so much more than other similar or stronger events is based one what events are run opposite them and how the events are structured.

Which leads to another issue. Many tournament Chair are new and inexperienced. IMHO they do not have a clue as to how to schedule events in order to maximize masterpoint awards for its players (given the ACBL's byzantine masterpoint formulas, rules and regulations, that is easy to understand). There is no equity and little guidance from the DIC, let alone management. It is a major problem. In fact, it is an issue that the fired former CEO Bahar was working on with the goal of simplified masterpoint formulas and standardized suggested schedules for Regionals.

Call me a Federalist if you like but I believe that the local sponsoring organizations do not always know what is best (for multiple reasons including consistency and fairness). Much better guidance is required from management.

Today it is a free-for-all and Soloway style KO's are being used in multiple ways. Everyone will have their own opinion and mine is that 5 or 6 team KO's where 4 survive to Day 2 and receive overall awards is a travesty. There is a valid reason why the small size should be restricted to the top bracket. Players do NOT want to play against Joe Grue or Geoff Hampson, perhaps not even Alex Hudson & Jonathan Steinberg! So allowing the pros to play against themselves in a small bracket is an excellent solution to the problem of declining KO attendance.

It is NOT favouritism towards the so called elite. It does separate the pros from everyone else. This is good for increasing KO attendance (of course, there are other reasons for the KO decline such as the huge increase in masterpoint awards for pair games). But there are few rules or regulations and as I travel and play around the country, it is indeed a free-for-all.

Which is why, I suspect, the San Francisco agenda has the motions Peter Marcus is so upset about. I am not.
Nov. 24, 2019
Jonathan Steinberg edited this comment Nov. 24, 2019
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Not sure how accurate that chart is but it is a well known fact (at least to Canadians) that about 90% of the population live within 160 km (100 miles) of the US border.
Nov. 17, 2019
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