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All comments by Jonathan Steinberg
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Controversy seems to be a daily occurrence in ACBL land. Yes, the Conditions of Contest state before the start of the evening session prior to the start of the event. The Atlanta Daily Bulletin said 4:30 PM.

The deadline was 7:30 or 8 PM in St. Louis for the Vanderbilt. But in Philadelphia last summer, the deadline was 4:30 PM (same 10 and whenever starting times)

66 teams managed to register on time but the defending Champions were unable to? Crazy!

A sign was posted saying “66 teams, no byes, everyone plays tomorrow”. Later, it was removed and now there are 67 teams with 55 byes. Three four ways tomorrow to eliminate 3 teams.
Everyone else pays their money and can then do whatever they wish: The bye Swiss, a side game, or visit the pandas in the Atlanta zoo (perhaps the zoo is an appropriate spot for many bridge players :)!

Personally, I hope team #41 has an awesome week!
Aug. 4, 2013
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The resignation of the ACBL President mid-term was shocking. In the history of the ACBL, it has never happened before. No official statement or reason for the resignation has been announced. That is unfortunate because it leads to speculation and rumours.
Aug. 4, 2013
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The most significant item that I heard was that effective January 1, 2014, the Wagar Womens KO and NABC Womens Swiss Teams will no longer qualify for Grand LM status.
Aug. 4, 2013
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The Appeals motion was just a discussion item. As a result,it became clear that a significant number of Board members favour letting TD panels handle all appeals. Management strongly supports that plan. A motion will be submitted for the next meeting - Phoenix in November - where a formal vote will be taken to determine the Appeals Committee process for 2014 and beyond.
Aug. 4, 2013
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Not according to my friends on the ACBL Board of Directors. There is a significant number of ACBL Board members who believe TD Panels should be given the opportunity to handle all NABC Appeals. ACBL management strongly supports the move.

In Atlanta, the motion was just a discussion item. As a result of their discussions, a motion will be submitted for a formal vote at the next ACBL Board meeting - Phoenix in November. That is where the final decision will be made, re: Appeals Committees for 2014 and beyond.

Aug. 4, 2013
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Thank you, Adam, for all your volunteer work over the decades. Clearly, your ten year statistical analysis of appeals was a labour of love. However, as we all recognize, experts disagree. There are a few US experts who believe the St. Louis Vanderbilt ruling was correct. There are far more US, Canadian, and around-the-world experts who disagree. Does this case fall in the “too close to call, improve, or worsen category"? Does it really matter?

J. Ferguson referred to a case where a player made a slow double in an undiscussed auction. The TDs allowed the table result to stand; on appeal, the ruling was overturned. J. Ferguson believed the appeal to be frivolous! In the BBO discussion it became apparent that many players disagreed with the committee ruling. This case reinforces my view that depending upon the composition of the player committee, the result would vary. TD panels, I would argue, would be far more consistent in matters of this nature. The table result would stand. Players would listen, learn, and perhaps the trend towards fewer and fewer appeals would continue.

Bottom Line: Adam’s statistical analysis is predicated upon his judgment as to what the correct ruling should be. Experts do not agree. But even if 100% accurate, there are other issues that his analysis does not take into consideration:

1) The real or perceived inherent conflict-of-interest with player appeals committees.

2) The inherent unfairness of the midnight appeals system. It is unfair to both the players and the committee members. Who plays well the following day after having to argue their case into the wee hours of the morning? Does any committee member deserve the barrage of criticism after a controversial ruling? No, they do not.

Mike W. wrote: “Now let's assume, for the sake of argument, that when appeals are decided by Directors (bye-bye conflicts of interest, personal loyalty, “professional courtesy”, late hours, and a general all-around pain in the ass for tired, unpaid volunteers), the number of travesties will go up by 10%. Wouldn't this trade-off be well worth it?”

Even by Adam’s analysis, that would not happen. But Mike has a point. Taking all the factors into consideration, the ultimate goal…moving forward… must be to implement an appeals system that is best for the game of bridge.

I was a voting member of the ACBL Board when the decision to increase TD training, eliminate player committees in Regional events (at NABCs), and institute the TD panel system was first started (around 1998-1999). The goal was always to expand the TD Panel system to ALL NABC appeals if successful. People then said: “not today but in ten years the TDs will be capable”. In 2013, a relatively new ACBL Board member told me he agreed in principle that TD Panels were the way of the future but not today, they need more training, perhaps in ten years! Plus ca change, plus ca meme!

I have found there is almost a cult like belief by some in the value of player appeals committees. The same individuals who strongly argued against TD panels ten+ years ago, are the same folks adamantly opposed to the change in 2013. Their views will never change, no matter how much training of TDs is completed, or how controversy-free TD panels have generally been. Many players remember a bad ruling they received from a club or sectional or Regional Director at some point in their bridge career and have forever since been opposed to TD rulings. But at the NABC level, the quality of TDs and the TD panel system have no resemblance to any specific ruling from years past at a lower level. Others have had a bad experience with player committees and will forever support TD panel committees as the better option. One needs to step back and examine the big picture.

I commend Mike Passell who actually attended an ACBL Board meeting several years ago to argue the case in favour of TD Panels replacing player Appeal Committees. It would be better for the game. Besides Mike and me, Gary Cohler, Danny Sprung, Allan Falk, David Grainger, Joshua Donn, Fred Gitelman, Geoff Hampson, Jeff Meckstroth, Lorenzo Lauria, Shan Huang, Bob Heller, and Michael Kenny all come to mind as expert players who have expressed support for the TD panel committee structure (my sincere apologies if I inadvertently mentioned anyone who does not belong in the pro TD panel group).

But this issue should not be decided by a popularity contest or a Bridge Winners poll. The ACBL Board of Directors must examine all the myriad factors involved (conflict of interest, quality of decisions, timeliness, consistency, fairness, even cost) and reach a decision that will be best for the game we all love both today and going forward.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to post their thoughts.

On a personal note to Robb Gordon: Sorry, you will not be attending the Atlanta NABC. Shall we have a drink together in Phoenix where the starting times will be 1 and 7:30 PM? Cheers :-)!
July 28, 2013
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ACBL polls indicate no consensus on starting times? Perhaps, but I was in Penticton, BC in June where waking up at 7 AM is like 10 AM EDT. Very easy to play in morning games ,wake up early, and maintain that schedule for the entire week. But for players flying in from the West, the 10 AM start feels like 7 AM! Very bad. Indeed, I was told that several players from the LA area were boycotting Atlanta for that very reason. Even some prominent East Coast players are boycotting over the starting times.

Personal preference aside, some people are physically and/or mentally unable to play two sessions of bridge with just a short lunch break. They discovered that in Philadelphia. They won't go to Atlanta.

Everyone who enjoys shopping, sightseeing, or even exercising (yes, some bridge players do work out!) complain that 10 and 3 leaves no time except for bridge and eating. They won't attend.

I know of no one who refuses to attend 1 and 7:30 NABCs.

Last, but certainly not insignificant, when you consider all the other activities at an NABC that include the Board of Governors meeting, Educational Foundation, Charity Foundation, C & C Committee, the list is long… there are lots of problems.

Does anyone think the scheduled Sunday 8 AM Board of Governors meeting will be well attended? At that matter, I am not holding my breath expecting record breaking attendance numbers for the Atlanta NABC.

Sorry for going off topic! See you in Atlanta (yes, I will be there even if I do not like the starting times).
July 24, 2013
Jonathan Steinberg edited this comment July 24, 2013
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And so does the quality of the players as you go down the chain from Regionals to sectionals to club games! People should get over their obsession with TD rulings, move on and just play bridge. Or perhaps it is in their blood to be argumentative?

But this post deals solely with NABC events and appeals from table rulings in those events. There are no changes being proposed for any other level of the game.
July 23, 2013
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Absolutely NOT. The Laws require the right to appeal. This debate is over who the appeal goes to - a player appeals committee as currently exists for NABC events or a tournament director panel committee that currently exists for events at ACBL NABCs below the NABC level.

The ACBL Tournament Director(TD) panel appeal committees involves input from other players. The process is continually evolving and being improved. ACBL TD training is ongoing and continuous. All rulings are written up and reviewed.

Only a select group of the top ACBL TDs would serve on NABC level appeals.
July 23, 2013
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The discussion item in italics was taken from the ACBL web site – it was posted by a current ACBL Board member (not me). I retired from the ACBL Board at the end of 2008. My thoughts followed the discussion item. I am not sure of the relevance of knowing how the 10 remaining board members from 2007 voted - the vote is posted and a matter of record so one could do the research, look up the names, compare the 2007 ACBL Board with the 2013 ACBL Board and you would have your answer. The future is more important: What is the best appeals policy for the game of bridge going forward…
July 23, 2013
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A family affair! Jenny playing for the Venice Cup, Gavin playing for the Bermuda Bowl, brother Darren playing for Canada in the Bermuda Bowl, and Mom Hazel is the NPC for the Canadian team.

Congratulations and GL to all the Bali bound winners.
July 18, 2013
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Whatever happened to bridge play deciding the results and winners? Now it is Appeals Committees, procedural penalties, ringing phones… don't forget that around the same time cell phones were ringing in Mexico, The European Bridge Championships were determined by Zia arriving at the table late!

From New In Bridge:
Ostend (Belgium), June 29th, 2013

“Sabine Auken (Denmark) and Roy Welland (USA) won the gold medal in the Open Pairs at the Ostend EC. After 5 days of gruelling play the couple stayed 3.5 match points ahead of Jan Jansma (The Netherlands) and Zia Mahmood (USA/UK/Pakistan). Immediately after the play was over the chief tournament director confirmed that Zia Mahmood was penalized early today because he arrived too late at the table. The penalty in fact was exactly 3.5 match points. Well, that information was told your editor right after the play finished. Later we were told that the penalty was slightly more: 4.4 matchpoints and therefore decisive indeed.”
July 18, 2013
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The appeals was only regarding 1 imp but that was enough to send the teams into an 8 board playoff after a 60 board 131-131 tie! Lebi won the playoff 10-2.
June 6, 2013
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I lived through those years so re watching it brings it all back to life. If you haven't seen the video (or even if you have), please take an hour of your time and enjoy it. There are a few gaps (commercial breaks), but the video will continue.

Andy Pedersen made the game exciting to watch. A monumental achievement.

Best is that despite the highs and lows, here we are in 2013 and all of the major participants (especially Gavin & Vince) have both done well and will undoubtedly continue to do so for decades to come.

Great memories!
May 21, 2013
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Remembering Joan… 33 photos at:
http://imageevent.com/jon911/rememberingjoangerard
April 5, 2013
Jonathan Steinberg edited this comment April 6, 2013
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I discovered that many players are not aware that the TD panel model of appeals from table rulings is how appeals at NABCs (below the NABC+ level)have been handled since 1999. Even fewer realized that for the last few years when the Cavendish Calcutta was still in Vegas, TDs decided the appeals, not players.

Perhaps few were aware because the transition has been so seamless, is working so well, and there have been no mega controversies such as the most recent Monaco/Auken brouhaha.

I am still waiting to hear from the under 40/under 30 players who are the future of our game. What do our young junior stars think of current and future appeal procedures?

There is no doubt in my mind that TDs will take over from player-based Appeals Committees. The European Bridge League
is moving that way. The only question is how long it will take the ACBL Board to change.

I urge all of you who are interested to make the effort to talk with the ACBLs top ranked TDs and learn more about how
TD panel appeals work. Discover how TD training has evolved over the past decade.

And please remember we are talking about NABCs, not local sectionals and Regionals where both player and TD expertise may be limited.
April 1, 2013
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Jan M and Henry B have questioned my comment regarding how appeals were handled at the Cavendish Calcutta. I confirmed with Sol Weinstein this afternoon (he is the District 2 Field Supervisor and is working this weekend at the Toronto Regional). Sol has been working at the Cavendish Calcutta for the last 25 years!

About 3 or 4 years ago the Cavendish organizers switched from player-based appeal committees to TD appeal committees.

The EBL is now moving forward to TD appeal committees.
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Jean-Charles: And the last point is that all this confirms that we should move very fast in order to cancel the Appeal Committees : when there is a group of very good TDs, who discuss the case and take a decision after a long discussion, how is it possible to have an Appeal Committee with lower level TDs and lower level players?? Really a joke in this case (who knows the members of the Appeal Committee??), but it often happens…

Sabine: As Jean Charles undoubtedly knows there will not be an appeals committee at the European Championships in Ostend later this year. I have lately become very impressed with the standard of TD decisions at the European level. All the directors are very skilled and knowledgeable and they take every case seriously, discussing it thoroughly with one another for a long time and polling true top players on all the relevant questions. So I welcome that change to no appeals committee.
Sadly I cannot say the same thing about TD decisions in ACBL territory. That is not to say there aren’t any good ACBL directors, there actually are many. But the overall standard is simply not nearly as high as at EBL tournaments. Personally I do not feel ACBL is ripe for the no appeals committee era.
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I find Sabine's disparaging comments towards the ACBL Tournament Directors to be misinformed and somewhat insulting. I served on the WBF Executive Committee from 2009-2011. Matt Smith is always at WBF tournaments as well as interacting with the WBF Laws Committee. He is considered to be one of the top Tournament Directors in the world.

Sol Weinstein and Chris Patrias have been the Chief TDs at the USBF Trials for years. Their rulings are excellent. Appeals are exceedingly rare.

Matt Koltnow and Olin Hubert, among many others, are top ranked ACBL TDs who would be involved in TD Appeals Committees.

There are misconceptions as to how a TD Panel Committee for NABCs would work. It would not apply at your local sectional or Regional. It is only at NABCs where you have the ACBL's top ranked and most knowledgeable TDs working.

ACBL TDs have been handling Appeals for all events at NABCs (below the NABC+ level) for almost 15 years. They have been trained and are ready and prepared to take on the additional task of handling NABC+ appeals. Just review their work over the last 15 years – no controversial uproars that pop up regularly with player-based NABC Appeals Committees.

As Sabine wrote regarding the EBL TDs, the ACBL follows the same model. Consultation with expert players (who do not know the names of the individuals involved), proper write-ups and reviews of all decisions.

The ACBL TDs do not claim to be better or smarter than bridge players. Nor will they be perfect. But they have been well trained. They will be more consistent, rulings will be more timely, there will be less bias and conflict of interest, and there would be even be a modest cost saving to the ACBL.

Surely it is time to give the ACBL TDs a trial run for one year and then review their performance.

March 30, 2013
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This type of post is pure garbage and unfortunately illustrates what is the worst about unmoderated forums.
Perhaps Bridge Winners will come up with a solution. Censorship is not always bad.

RE: Sabine interview. What I found most objectionable are her final comments:
________________________________________________________

Jean-Charles: And the last point is that all this confirms that we should move very fast in order to cancel the Appeal Committees : when there is a group of very good TDs, who discuss the case and take a decision after a long discussion, how is it possible to have an Appeal Committee with lower level TDs and lower level players?? Really a joke in this case (who knows the members of the Appeal Committee??), but it often happens…

Sabine: As Jean Charles undoubtedly knows there will not be an appeals committee at the European Championships in Ostend later this year. I have lately become very impressed with the standard of TD decisions at the European level. All the directors are very skilled and knowledgeable and they take every case seriously, discussing it thoroughly with one another for a long time and polling true top players on all the relevant questions. So I welcome that change to no appeals committee.
Sadly I cannot say the same thing about TD decisions in ACBL territory. That is not to say there aren’t any good ACBL directors, there actually are many. But the overall standard is simply not nearly as high as at EBL tournaments. Personally I do not feel ACBL is ripe for the no appeals committee era.
________________________________________________________

For those who have read my posts on Appeals Committees, you know I believe having TDs handle all appeals is the way of the future (the sooner the better). The objectionable part of Sabine's comments are the way she praises the European TDs but puts down the ACBL directors as not being good enough. Frankly, I find it insulting.

Finally, what do our young players think? Do they favour player based middle of the night appeals committees? or would they prefer to let the players play and the referees referee? They, after all, represent the future of our game.
March 29, 2013
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Allan,

It has been more than 4 years since I retired from the ACBL Board. I doubt if BOD expenses have doubled. My recollection is that ballpark $350K was the figure and the total amount spent on “governance” was around 2.5% of revenues – a number that compared favourably with other similar organizations.

Convention disruption originally came from Bobby Wolff who advocated automatic penalties. But that is not ACBL policy
(nor anywhere else in the world that I am aware).

Both of the above topics may be of interest to some but are not germane to the issue of whether Player-Based Appeals Committees or TD based Appeal Committees (with player input) are best for the game of bridge.

Michael K's observations are dead-on!
March 29, 2013
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