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All comments by Jonathan Steinberg
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Regrettably, the write-up will not appear in tomorrow's Daily Bulletin. At some point, it will be online and in the ACBL monthly magazine.

My facts are reasonably accurate. Many believe Graves/Schwartz were not in a Forcing Pass situation. But one is still allowed to play bridge. The TD polled ten players and 9 of them bid 5H. Thus the TD allowed the 5H call to stand.

Lotan was the last to speak in the Committee room. He claimed that he was in a force and had to bid 5S (REALLY?)! But if Graves/Schwartz were in a force, it should have been alerted and now his force was off so he would pass.

Apparently the 1 AM Committee bought his argument. What a disgrace for the ACBL.

The system must change and the ACBL must have the balls to start policing the game and taking the necessary steps required to level the playing field.

Will they? Past performance does not lead me to be optimistic.
Aug. 15, 2015
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A friend of mine e-mailed me regarding Bob H. gratuitous slur against me – sorry, Bob, I'm not in Manitoba on a 6 person team winning a KO. I'm actually at the CBF Regional in Kingston where my four person team - Richard Chan, David Sabourin, Shan Huang and I won a two session Bracketed Swiss today. Hey, I'm closing in on 1000 points this year :) But listen, Bob, for a nominal fee I'll give you an autographed photo of today's winning team. Ask nicely and I'll make two copies to give you in Chicago ;)!

As for the discussion, I haven't followed it as I tend to avoid BW unless something is brought to my attention. That said, I did read Steve's post (not the 360+ comments) and I agree with him 1000% on both BOD motions and his very relevant comments re: cheating.

I retired from the ACBL BOD at the end of 2008. Anti-WBF motions have been around for a long time. They are shortsighted. Ignoring the world at large does no good for either the ACBL or the US.

The motion to disallow a client to play the first match, sit out the second “money match”, come back and lose the third semi-final match but get the points for 3/4th was excellent. As is the strength of field concept. But the current motion, in my view, is both short sighted and punitive. What exactly would the benefits be for the ACBL? I don't see any.

There are serious issues that the BOD should be concerned about. Cheating ranks at the top of the list. I have been around a long time – the whispers (some quite loud) regarding unethical players is as bad in 2015 as it has ever been. When players are being paid $15,000, $20,000, $25,000, $30,000 to play in an NABC (perhaps double that if you win a major Championship), the incentives to do anything to win are quite powerful. As a membership organization, the ACBL has quite a bit of latitude in how they discipline members. IMHO, the current situation where “everyone” is talking about players who cheat is disgraceful – the ACBL MUST do a better job of cleaning up the game and removing unethical players – permanently.

End of my rant. Sorry if I've repeated what others have said. Time to return to winning more masterpoints. Good night all and see you in Chicago :)
July 29, 2015
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Chris, this thread has been posted by Danny Miles, not me – perhaps people should be questioning him?

I have no desire to debate ad nauseam the same question over and over. Last year the BoG almost unanimously approved the motion. In New Orleans, since the ACBL Board of Directors did not even vote on the first motion, they passed the same motion a second time - again overwhelmingly. I believe there were 5 negative votes.

No one is going to change their views no matter how many times people repeat themselves. Not the online players, not the F2F tournament players, not the outspoken folks who live on Bridge Winners. Give it a rest!

I will attempt to answer the two questions you specifically addressed to me. I will then stop following this discussion. 1) “Are NAP and GNT tournament awards counted as “online” points when they are held on the BBO server?” Answer: I have no idea nor do I really care – what I do know is that the BoG motion has nothing to do with your question. Today the ACBL has a yearly Top 500 masterpoint race restricted to F2F players. The ACBL has a yearly online master race restricted to online players. We have NAP and GNT games held on BBO. Masterpoints are won. The ACBL must place them in one category or another. Do they count towards the Top 500 or the Top Online? Perhaps Danny Miles has the answer. I don't. Or you might contact the ACBL or your District Director. Whatever the ACBL is doing with those masterpoints today and last year will not change regardless of whether the BoG motion is passed or defeated. Your question is not relevant to the motion.

2) “Do online points still fully count toward seeding for events that I care about like the Spingold, etc?” Answer: As has been clearly stated, the BoG motion does nothing more or less than create two separate lifetime masterpoint lists - one for F2F and one for Online. There are no other changes. Repeat: Nothing changes. Repeat again: Nothing changes. All masterpoints, online and F2F are combined for the purposes of seeding bracketed KOs, Spingold, Vanderbilt. All masterpoints are combined for the purposes of reaching ACBL rank changes, LM, Silver LM, Diamond LM, etc. Nothing changes except for the separation of lifetime F2F and Online masterpoint lists. No one loses or gains any masterpoints. No one's seeding points changes. No one's ACBL rank changes.

Finally, I do have one request for everyone. This is not my post – please do not personally ask me any more questions. By all means, post whatever you wish on this open forum. Share your views. But if you have specific questions, please refer them to your ACBL Board member. If you want your opinion to count, it is the ACBL Board, not me, not Danny Miles, not even Bridge Winners, who will be voting on the question – the members of the ACBL Board of Directors are the only people who have a vote. Talk to them.

But if you just want to sound off, by all means, Bridge Winners is open 24/7.

Shameless plug: Check out my New Orleans photo albums at:
http://imageevent.com/jon911/2015neworleansnabc
and http://imageevent.com/jon911/neworleanspartytown

Photos are fun. So is bridge.

Happy Passover & Easter to everyone. Cheers :)!
March 27, 2015
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I invite you to read District 7 Board member Bob Heller's interesting perspective, “A Robot Walked Into a Bar…” which was published in the Jan/Feb District 7 News publication. It is on page 24 at: http://www.district7bridge.org/BridgeNews/2015_01/2015jand7bridgenews.pdf
March 27, 2015
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I'm at the Hampton Inn on Carondelet Street (Bourbon on the other side of Canal), about a 5 minute walk. Hilton provides free WiFi/Internet access which has been excellent all week. Works perfectly in my room with my tablet and my roommates's laptop.
March 22, 2015
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The playing conditions in the first set of the Vanderbilt round of 16 today were unsatisfactory. I was at the “wrong” end of the room where we were subjected to continuous loud drilling, banging, construction noises. I have two hearing aids. It was intolerable. Matt Smith announced that ACBL meeting planners were aware of the problem…perhaps but after one hour, I took a washroom break and saw one of the two New Orleans DICs. He knew nothing of the noise problem. Back inside the drilling continued for the duration of the first set.

Completely unacceptable.
March 19, 2015
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The odious ACBL screen surcharge is in full force. Earlier this week an ACBL Board member told me players in the Platinum Pairs final were overcharged but they were not giving any refunds. Apparently there was confusion over the wording/intent of the screen surcharge motion/details/exact amount. What else is new?

Last night one of the Vanderbilt TDs told me the entry for the round of 16 with screens would increase from $160 to $200. I arrived with $200 and was told it was actually going to be $240. Play well, pay more – the new ACBL philosophy.

I proposed a motion at the Board of Governors meeting asking the Board of Directors to rescind the screen surcharge. Don't hold your breath. The ACBL Board of Directors routinely ignores motions from the Board of Governors.
March 19, 2015
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Don't give up, Ed! New Orleans is a fabulous location for many reasons – not surprising so many people are here. I always recommend avoiding the zoo that is the ACBL host hotel. Have a positive attitude. Avoid reading my next post!
March 19, 2015
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An awful lot of work goes on behind the scenes at any tournament. The playing areas, hospitality, etc. do not happen by magic.

RE: Hotels. As I have suggested, do your homework and avoid the ACBL host hotel. Poor value, overcrowded, elevator problems are almost a guarantee.

RE: Hand records. I asked the New Orleans DIC about that and he told me that often one location with hand records runs out but not a second location. Regardless, let the TD in charge know and they will print more hand records.

RE: Crowded playing areas. There is an excellent reason. Attendance in NO is up by more than 15%. Short of setting up tables on Canal Street, they are doing everything they can.
March 18, 2015
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Re: hotels: experienced players know that the ACBL host hotels tend to be overpriced, are often old, elevators can rarely if ever handle the rush hour crowds. But they do have huge ballrooms and selling the rooms cover the costs of renting the playing space.

Do your homework, plan well in advance, use the Internet, Trip Advisor and various other sites, and make your own arrangements. No one is forced to pay or stay at the ACBL hotels. I am staying at the Hampton Inn on Carondelet about a 5 minute walk. Free breakfast, large rooms.

Heads up for Denver in the Fall. Check out the Grand Hyatt Denver. A month ago they had advance purchase rates for $88 a night - senior refundable rates for $98. Today the prices are $10 higher, refundable rooms for $109, advance purchase for $99 - still significantly better than the ACBL host hotel the Sheraton which gets mediocre online reviews and is priced around $130. A 7-8 minute walk.

Many players including myself have done very well using Priceline. I have yet to have a bad experience. But you must do your homework, ensure you have checked the geographical area, correct number of hotel stars, correct dates.

March 18, 2015
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Correct. I was complaining about the principle of not taking the time to get the seeding accurate – I suspect that Bob Todd & Robert Todd's seeding points may be very similar but since it was not the team's fault, why shouldn't the TD's take the time to correct it (if required).

Re: Playing conditions – it takes a while to find the restrooms and know your way around these massive hotels. But it really isn't that bad – people always complain about it being too hot, too cold, too dark, too far to walk and/or not enough facilities.

You are also correct that I found the Vanderbilt room today too small and crowded. But in the big picture, so what? People take themselves and the game too seriously.

No one can argue that downtown New Orleans is not a popular destination and deservedly so.

Time for me to return to the playing area for the 4th set. Cheers :)!
March 17, 2015
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More than harsh, IMHO. The host hotel and playing facilities are very normal and more than adequate. Comfortable, even.

The city is AWESOME. The French Quarter, restaurants on every corner – many quite outstanding, ideal weather, what's to complain about?
March 17, 2015
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I reported the Robert Todd/Bob Todd error before 12 noon this morning - I was instantly informed that while they would correct the name, they would NOT make any seeding changes! Why not? an extra 10-15 minutes of work?
March 16, 2015
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As one of the technological illiterates my question, as a practical matter: is the work that has been done really useless? Hammond is promoting his software at ACBL Regionals for free, claims the project is 90% complete, the major disagreement is over “ownership”. Is there value in his work? Can it be salvaged?



Sept. 16, 2014
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I have met and played against Nic Hammond – seems like a very nice man. Clearly, he loves his software. As Adam reported he was demonstrating it in Gatlinburg and most recently at the 2014 Atlanta Labour Day Regional. In Atlanta, he was providing this service for no charge.

My photos #61, #62 & #64 at http://imageevent.com/jon911/2014atlantaregional show his software in action (double click on the thumbnail for a larger view). It looks like an improvement to me. Why should the ACBL throw it all away?

One issue appears to be a dispute over who owns the product. I'm sure there are multiple issues.

It does seem to be a shame after spending so much money. Nic Hammond told me in Atlanta that the program was 90% complete. He also admitted that he had to hire people and the project was costing the ACBL ballpark $25-30K every month. It adds up.

But I am not a computer expert nor a member of the ACBL Board of Directors – I do think we need a lot more information than we have been given and perhaps we will learn more in Providence. Or a new deal will be reached. One can always hope…
Sept. 15, 2014
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Perhaps Don can work out the numbers better than I can but at a minimum a Board member usually arrives on Sunday. There are committee meetings on Monday & Tuesday, full Board meets Wed-Thurs. Meetings start between 8-9 AM and usually finish between 4-5 PM. There are often Sunday evening meetings and if required evening meetings.

But the formal gatherings three times a year prior to the NABC is just the tip of the iceberg. Electronic communications are year round, there are numerous committees that must work between meetings, proposing agenda items, discussing them, working on the numbers, etc. I often served on Appeals & Charges – one must do your homework, read all the submissions, think about them well before the Board meets. Finance & budget committees, masterpoint formulas, etc. Lots of committees meet during an NABC…there are special committees such as when the ACBL was investigating a new location for the head office, new CEO search committees, etc.

Don't overlook one's local unit & District. You must report to your local District, write reports, attend local unit & District Board meetings.

The three Canadian Board members must also work with the Canadian Bridge Federation, communicate with them,
and usually attend their annual meeting.

As with any group, some Board members work harder than others. I used to call the position being equivalent to a “full-time part-time job” whatever that means. Some board members are able to continue with full time employment but it does use up a significant (all?) chunk of ones vacation time. Many are retired.

As with ACBL membership, the Board is older, better educated, and wealthier than the average person. That may well apply to most “volunteer” Board of Directors in any field.

Perhaps Don or someone else can add up the hours but I think you get the general ides.

BTW, I'm not aware of anyone who believes “it's a completely altruistic sacrifice to serve on to BoD.” That's going to the other extreme.

As a bridge player, being able to combine the Board meetings with an NABC is a great perk, even if the room and per diem are just for the first three days of the NABC. The free plays throughout are well deserved.
Sept. 14, 2014
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The compensation is not overly generous. No one would volunteer to serve on any not-for-profit Board if they had to pay their own expenses to attend a meeting. One would have to be very wealthy indeed to volunteer air fare and hotel rooms nights. Which would be a very bad policy – only the rich could afford to be on the Board!

The actual compensation is for the Board member (not his/her companion), the room (actual cost) and meals (per diem as per govt. rates depending upon the city). From the day of travel up to the first Sunday of the NABC - the ACBL Board of Governors meeting (last paid for room night is the first Saturday).

Board members who do not go home on the first Sunday
(with a few exceptions, the ACBL President, Director of Appeals)are now on their own time, re: rooms and meals. Free plays are a perk (only for the Board member, not a companion)but that just applies to NABCs (not Regional or sectional tournaments).

When I was on the ACBL Board, the total ACBL expenses on “governance” have always compared favourably to industry standards. I doubt if that has changed.
Sept. 14, 2014
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Richard W, you are one of the more outspoken contributors to BW (is that possible?) but just because you state something, does not make it a matter of fact. In my mind, your credibility has been hurt because of past history. For years when I was on the ACBL Board, you were adamant about your theories/facts/? that ACBL demographic would fall off a cliff when the average age reached 66? 68? 70? 72?. you have been predicting the demise of the ACBL for years/decades. It hasn't happened nor do I think it will. Your theories did not materialize. That is a historical fact.

I prefer the glass half full rather than half empty. Regarding the motion, I see no effect on online growth and recruitment of new players. But that's just my view.
Sept. 5, 2014
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JoAnna, you are correct – the motion is not about cheating. The history of the game, sadly, makes it clear that there will always be unethical players. Sometimes the reasons are psychological, other times it is all about money – the pressures and payoffs for winning are enormous. But at the moment, the controls while playing online at home are very different than the controls in F2F play. Just one of many differences which is why I believe lifetime online points should be compared against online points while F2F are compared against F2F.
Sept. 5, 2014
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Richard W, you are one of the more outspoken contributors to BW (is that possible?) but just because you state something, does not make it a matter of fact. In my mind, your credibility has been hurt because of past history. For years when I was on the ACBL Board, you were adamant about your theories/facts/? that ACBL demographic would fall off a cliff when the average age reached 66? 68? 70? 72?. you have been predicting the demise of the ACBL for years/decades. It hasn't happened nor do I think it will. Your theories did not materialize. That is a historical fact.

I prefer the glass half full rather than half empty. Regarding the motion, I see no effect on online growth and recruitment of new players. But that's just my view.
Sept. 5, 2014
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