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All comments by Kevin O'Brien
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Mark Leonard's Illustrative Questions
Is the current size of the BOD optimal for the board to accomplish its goals? What are the reasons for your answer?
What is your concept of the major responsibilities of the BOD?
Do you support reducing the number of in-person meetings and using technology to support virtual meetings?
Do you believe that every BOD member should be able to review all contracts entered into by the ACBL?
What is the correct response by the BOD to the Bahar Gidwani and the Hawaii Nationals incidents?
June 10
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If you have a lunch break, play TWO three-way segments, using (for, say, a 48-boards-for-the-day) boards 1-36 for the “morning” session, then (either shuffle-and-deal again or a second set of pre-dealt boards with different hand records) boards 1-36 for the “afternoon” session.

Remember this for the 2020 CoC; it allows teammates to share the same lunch table.

Possible bonus: Coopers may play again?
June 5
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Don't ask me, Jeff – ask Joe Jones.
June 5
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I was (?) on the original invite list (no retained e-mail evidence to prove this), was certainly on some kind of apparently re-invite list, took the survey, and have little to no memory of specific questions, and no re-access to the survey.

What we all know is what Joe Jones said in the current ACBL Bridge Bulletin (June 2019, page 9),
+ survey was sent to over 100,000 ACBL members and prospective members
+ more than 17,500 people invested time to share their thoughts and experience
+ a response rate of more than 16%

and what was shared by Len Fettig above, http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/joe-joness-recruitment-strategy-2-7ls92t8vp7/?cj=812604#c812604.

Useless to gripe about the survey's content; it's done.
Useless to gripe about not seeing it originally, either you ignored the invitation to take the survey or you weren't invited to. Either way, it's over and gone.

What can we do in an effort to help ACBL make a success out of the current situation?
June 5
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment June 5
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clicking the Begin Survey button leads to

This survey closed 3/7/19 at 8:00 am. Thank you for willingness to participate.
Get answers with surveys
June 4
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The ACBL needs your help

speak@redrovercompany.com via SurveyMonkey <member@surveymonkeyuser.com>;

Mon, Mar 4, 7:02 AM

to Kevin


American Contract Bridge League Member Survey

We recently contacted you about a survey, but haven't received your responses. We'd really appreciate your participation.

Click the button below to start or continue the survey. Thank you for your time.
June 4
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I was among the chosen ones surveyed. The e-mail inviting/requesting my participation rested undisturbed in my in-box. Red Rover sent a follow-up e-mail on March 4, and I took the survey then. I remember nothing about that, and just went back to see if I could re-visit the questions. No, I can't.

This survey closed 3/7/19 at 8:00 am. Thank you for willingness to participate.
June 4
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Richard,

ACBL is probably not interested in “random cranks to bombard management with their suggestions” – but are you willing to be considered a “random crank?”

Making a positive outreach to Horn Lake is not guaranteed to improve your reputation there, or to improve your relationship with them. On the other hand, it might – while remaining on the outside, and only sniping and griping, has every chance of not improving anything.

Thanks,

Kevin
June 3
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Richard, Jeff, Randy,

What kind of relationship does ACBL (Board of Directors or Horn Lake management) have with its sanctioned Clubs and the Club owners/managers, and with North American Bridge Tachers?

From what we read here on Bridge Winners and what we experience in our operations, not the best (that may well be an underbid).

How can we improve this situation?
(1) negative rants on Bridge Winners (which may include valid and perhaps even constructive criticism)
(2) supporting as best we can ACBL's efforts (which may include valid and perhaps even constructive criticism)

These are not mutually exclusive options; and I hope we will not ignore the second.

How should ACBL, at this point in its “roll-out process,” interact with Clubs and Teachers? Let them hear from you directly and not have to read Bridge Winners to get your input.

How should ACBL get information on leads generated from this project to the appropriate clubs and teachers? Let them hear from you directly and not have to read Bridge Winners to get your input.

Now that the information is here in public, how should ACBL approach Clubs and Teachers to inform us of details, and ask our support (and receive our advice)? Let them hear from you directly and not have to read Bridge Winners to get your input.

Is this (yet another) lemon from ACBL? How do we help make lemonade from it?

ACBL is trying to do something positive and productive here. We can snipe and gripe or try to help make it a success.

Thanks,

Kevin
June 3
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment June 3
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Hi Jeff,

Do you think Horn Lake or Red Rover has a clue as to which teachers are the best, or which clubs are the best? Do you think they can and will funnel leads to only the best club/teacher in a geographic area?

I suspect (without, admittedly. any actual knowledge of their plans) that leads from any area will be tossed to all contenders in that specific area. and it will be up to us to work like all the follow-up people from the auto dealership to close the sale. Will we cooperate or compete? Will we bad-mouth the bridge teachers or clubs who have fewer resources or different approaches?

I suspect that funneling leads through Unit Boards might have a better chance of ultimate success, but you and I both know that not all Unit Boards are created equal, and personality differences can influence decisions on who gets leads, and complaints from those who don't get them would be quite disruptive.

What can you, as a Board of Governors member, do to help assure the best methods for ACBL/Red Rover to effectively distribute those leads?

What can you, as part of GNYBA, do to assure the best welcome at your local level for new leads while maintaining harmony among the local clubs and teachers?

Let's do all we can to make this work!

Thanks,

Kevin
June 3
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If/when Red Rover people read Joe Jones's Recruitment Strategy by Freyja Eddy with all the comments, won't they suspect they are operating in a hostile environment?

When Joe Jones himself reads the same, won't he suspect that it's not just the ACBL Board of Directors that wants to micro-manage ACBL's Executive Director and the Horn Lake staff?

Is any of the criticism here constructive? Is there any hint of willingness to offer ideas and support?

Would anything we wrote here be likely to lead Joe Jones or Red Rover's ACBL Account Manager to expect a warm welcome or positive dialogue if either were to accept an invitation to be In the Well?

As for the history of ACBL's marketing efforts, “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.”

As for the specifics of the ACBL-Red Rover contract, who among us has actually read the document and is competent to comment on its details? Could I be wrong to suspect that not even all 25 BoD members have access to that document?

ACBL is concerned about membership numbers and demographics, and has an agreement with Red Rover in an attempt to improve results. Let's not just hope results are positive, ler's also see how we can assist and cooperate to make this happen!
June 3
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1. Anything that eventually becomes a proven success starts out as a “Flavor of the Month.”

Perhaps funnels will become a success, but reading “It's become very popular in the online marketing world” sounds like it's still in the FotM stage.

2. Let's hope!

3. ACBL Management's answers to your four questions are hidden under Horn Lake's Cone of Silence.

4. As a Club Owner/Manager and an active Bridge Teacher, I have yet to see any prospective Bridge Players being connected to me from the funnel … but it's early in the month …

5. Maybe ACBL is in the process of setting up the transit system that drops prospects at my club or classes. Maybe ACBL is also in the process of communicating directly with the Teachers and Club Owner/managers about all of this … but I have yet to see anything from ACBL. Yeah, I know, it's early in the month.

6. Let's hope!
June 2
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Can't really “Like” that; but ACBL is set up perfectly to get the results it does, including number of players participating in tournaments.
June 1
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Game was mine in January 2013. Mentor told me game would never be big enough for Swiss so I could ignore teams. I didn't; worried and thought and planned about it all summer, waiting for Sept 01 start of GNT Qualifying season.

Seven teams showed up, I ran a board-a-match movement with pre-dealt boards; six four-board matches, a true round-robin. Used ACBLscore for the movement, changed scoring in ACBLscore from B-A-M to IMPs. Used Bridgemates for the scoring – no problems!

First team game for about half the players; first B-A-M movement with IMP scoring for all of them. Took me most of the next day to figure out how to present the scores, that too was a success.

End result: players accepted it all, and I got overconfident in my abilities and skills in running team games.

Drawbacks:
– no excitement of knowing your score after each round;
– no excitement of figuring who won each match;
– most players didn't learn their results and Masterpoints until the next day;
– Director had to manually convert the B-A-M results to team IMP match results so teams could earn match awards for each match win.
note that almost six years later, Director still awaits ACBL software capable of automating this task and producing appropriately-formatted output.

Advantages:
– no wasted time shuffling and dealing at the start of each match;
– no wasted time teaching beginners how to convert raw scores to IMPs;
– the time for post-match scoring and comparison with opponents was eliminated;
– no waiting for table assignments for the next match – all N-S were stationary, Bridgemates told E-W their next table assignment;
– players had post-game hand records so they could study and learn from each board;
– boards used were Common Game boards so players had a wider field in which to compare results;
– players were more than adequately acclimated to team games, and had no problems with “real” head-to-head IMP matches with shuffle-and-deal boards when they later played in such.

See http://clubresults.acbl.org/Results/229872/2013/09/130916E.HTM
May 30
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment May 31
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“It's too late for that” is a self-fulfilling prophecy, Richard. Worse, it encourages others to also give up.
May 29
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Attribute only $3 MM of ACBL's income to Clubs?
Why not subtract the $ MM that come from the on-line clubs, and diminish Club contributions even further?

OR, instead, add the $$ MM of membership dues that come from members who play ONLY in Clubs, or the even more $$ MM in dues that come members who play only in clubs or tournaments within 25 miles of home when their clubs are closed due to the tournaments?

Of course the clubs get $ZERO rebates on these $MM of dues, such rebates lining the coffers of the Units.

=============================================

Rather than look at the sources of the ACBL's diminishing-if-not-for-rate-increases-imposed-by-ACBL's-BOD income (increases imposed by the BOD to diminish the effects of their financially disastrous decisions), why not look for how to increase the number of Bridge players, to revive the health of our facing-a-demographic-cliff-and-already slipping-over-the-edge-of-that-cliff general membership?

=============================================

One Bridge Club Entrepreneur's Story

When I left my “day job” and formally “retired,” almost seven years ago, I planned to play a lot of Bridge and do a lot of traveling.

Instead, I was given a small Bridge Club to run. My first week, in January of 2013, armed with my rule book and a mentor and 32 boards filled with old cards (which the mentor had pre-dealt by machine, while also bringing the refreshments and 20 copies of hand records to the game), the mentor and I ran the game for eight players.

Advance the clock a couple of months, with the mentor bowing out. Was this “retirement income?” No, between refreshments, cost of having boards pre-dealt and hand records printed at the local Kinkos/Office Depot/Staples, and the monthly ACBL table fees and special game surcharges, on a good week I was breaking even. Not all weeks were good. So why continue?

Time for an attitude adjustment! I was learning my trade, and enjoying facing and overcoming the challenges. I was performing a service for the Bridge players who participated (by now the game was drawing five or more tables on a good week), and enough of the players were appropriately appreciative to provide me the non-financial satisfaction that kept me going.

I was sending out a weekly e-mail, buying a dealing machine, joining The Common Game, and on my way to getting up to nine tables each game by year's end.

By mid-2016 I convinced my local Unit's Board of Directors (on which I had served for two years by then) to add a 0-20 Newcomer Section to the weekly Unit Game, despite significant opposition and predictions of huge losses to subsidize the enterprise. Board members were shocked (shocked!) that I would actually take a SALARY to do the work myself! But no one else was willing to do any actual work to support the experiment. By the end of 2016, Newcomers was averaging five tables a week, and some of these players had actually become Junior Masters (5 Masterpoints) and were paying entry fees. Game was still losing money, and there was still opposition to it on the Board – but again, the appreciative players were providing me the non-financial satisfaction that kept me going.

End of 2017, Newcomer Game graduates were consistently winning Masterpoints in the 199er Section, playing in the local Sectionals, and in local Clubs. Newcomer Section was still burdened with a negative cash flow, but the game's graduates were providing significant income to the Unit Game and Sectionals. Opposition on the Unit Board, although still present, had diminished.

Local Octogenarian and Nonagenarian Club Directors were eager to retire, and desperate to find Club Directors to step in and replace them. I did. No more weekends at local and nearby Sectionals, now I had Thursday morning, Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday afternoon games to run in addition to the Monday evening game. (true, Saturday morning was started by me, as a small game to provide a place for the graduates of the Unit's Newcomer Game to play).

And no, I'm not overburdened with loads of income (but there are many more board sets, new cards in the boards, new cards in some of the bidding boxes, and new tablecloths to cover the taped-over ripped and peeling naugahyde table tops). But I AM looking to identify competent help and train some of them to replace me; I still want to play Bridge and travel. I identify with another local Director who says we are “failing at retirement.”

=============================================

And no, we in the area have no realistic expectation of migrating club games and teaching to a local full-service Bridge Center such as they have in Virginia Beach, Richmond, Nashville, Cincinnati, or St. Louis. Between startup costs, comfort with local “church basement” arrangements for small weekly clubs, can't-afford-it monthly rental, can't-risk-it purchase costs, and questionable income projections based on declining local club and tournament attendance, the “local full-service Bridge Center” concept is a fading mirage that appears far away.
May 29
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment May 29
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Horn Lake Cone of Silence – as usual.
May 28
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Hi Jeff,

Since when is “not just empty-nesters/retirees” a knock on that demographic? ACBL – and a huge majority of the clubs it sanctions – need all the new players we can get!

I'm a slow writer; slower when it's late and I'm tired. It was shortly after midnight when I took a break from post-game cleanup and results-formatting and posting to check Bridge Winners; almost three hours later I finished the two somewhat lengthy comments I posted here. You too were up late, posting comments here.

I don't remember taking down the crude cardboard “window shades” I stuffed in the higher west-facing windows to save the East players from “sunset discomfort;” they'll probably be gone when I return to the site next Monday so I'll need to bring more cardboard and the box-cutter so I can do a better job of fashioning replacements. I just added the removal of these to my post-game checklist for the site for the future.

And I edited the above “I'd like to see” comment just now.
May 28
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment May 28
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Hi Jeff,

My club doesn't qualify as a “Bridge Center.” I'm a one-person “organization” with no support staff, and no place the club can call “home.” The teaching and development program, such as it is, is the unit's, not mine – as is the 0-20 Newcomer Game.

That said,
+ I'd like to see a “Parent Organization” (ACBL or its successor/replacement) research and develop “Best Practices” for attracting/recruiting/educating newcomers of all ages, not just empty-nesters/retirees. I hoped to find some useful information here in this Bridge Winners Forum, and I have found some – but need more.
+ I'd like to see the “parent organization” develop a strong youth program, with nothing less than the depth and breadth of penetration that USCF has for Chess in Scouting, K-12, and college/university, throughout North America.
+ I'd like to listen to what the once-a-week “church basement” and member-owned non-profit clubs want and need, and see the “parent organization” make headway in meeting those needs.
+ I'd like to see the “parent organization” have adequate financial reserves (I Am Not An Accountant), and enough cash flow to finance regional and North-American-wide competition, and support local (Sectional) competition as well, in cooperation with local clubs of all varieties.
+ I'd like to see the “parent organization” (with professional expertise) use its potential North-American-Wide clout to make financially attractive deals for NABCs and Regional Tournaments, getting the most attractive deals on room rates and playing space in the most popular locations from the best hotel chains. We have what these hotel chains want; we should be able to get what we need from them in return for giving them our business. Even if many younger and more agile member participants in these events find cheaper facilities nearby.
+ I'd like to see the “parent organization” have best-in-practice, state-of-the-art (or close to that) Internet presence supporting individual players and participating clubs.
+ A chicken in every pot, a car in every garage, and a partridge in a pear tree.

I don't see how we get “there” from “here” with the current ACBL organization with the same people currently on the BOD deciding how to keep their perks and privileges as either Directors or Senators, and the cash all bottled up in Unit and District treasuries, and the aging membership and aging volunteers, the constant drain of experience as we age out and any replacement from newer members lacking the experience and expertise of their predecessors.

I wish I could be more optimistic. I wish I had the energy and enthusiasm I had 10-15 years ago. But I do the best I can with what I do have, share freely of what I've seen work well (or made that works well), and despair at the results of trying to find people interested in acquiring the competence to replace me when I leave.

3 am. I need to finish packing up from the Monday evening game, leave the playing site, get home, and grab a few hours sleep.
May 28
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment May 28
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Hi Jeff,

You asked my thoughts. My thoughts are that getting a bunch of owners/managers of many various types of clubs together and asking them, starting from scratch, to create an organization and define the organization's structure and specific purposes (“platform,” if you will) is asking the extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Throw out/ignore the “clubs” that fail to meet your full-service “Bridge Center” definition and you may have enough in common with those remaining close-to-peers to form the type of organization you want.
May 27
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