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All comments by Kevin O'Brien
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Actually, Richard, all of this is not being buried. The Management Technology Committee minutes are posted at acbl.org, and the new CIO is being very up-front and forthright about the current situation.

You want buried? Go back a couple of years. There appears to be a real move toward transparency here; perhaps the “Cone of Silence” is on its way from the operational parts of HQ to the museum!
Aug. 7, 2015
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Is the Hammond development effort now to be finally and completely discarded?

See July 23 minutes for details; “having looked into this program” (ACBLscore+) “we should not use the code base, we would be better off starting over from scratch”

but wait, there's more!

"Is it going to take more time to create a new design?
The fastest way to complete the project is to let Nicholas (sic) and his team finish the work as they know the most about the design.
 System is far from perfect and done
 Building this system from scratch will take a huge amount of time and money
 It’s not easy to dump a project like this
 We need to decide on prioritizes
o Work on the program we have
o Start new
 If we allow the team to start from scratch the believe by the Fall 2015 NABC we will have a KO start module and by March 2016 will generate Masterpoints and feedback it our system  
o Time frame and Cost
o Current staff 15 hours weekly
o Architect (Mr. Lipe) 20 hours weekly"

Apparently Hammond Software still has a horse in the race? We'll see; his current software Bridgescore+ has been in use in several places (mostly District 7 Regionals); although I haven't seen any post-Gatlinburg evaluation or plans for further development, that doesn't mean neither exists. Was Bridgescore+ used at all at the Greenville Regional? I don't know. Are there plans to use it at all at the Atlanta Regional? Again, I don't know.

Perhaps Mr. Hammond will enlighten us.

Will we have any working part of an ACBLscore replacement at the club level before 2020? We'll see; as stated above we have to get the horse healthy before returning to fixing the cart.
Aug. 7, 2015
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Aug. 7, 2015
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Recent Management Technology Committee meeting minutes linked to from http://www.acbl.org/about-acbl/technology-committee/ seem to be a catalog of disasters waiting to happen.

Check out the June and July minutes, since Mr. Hodus was hired as CIO. The open meeting yesterday held no surprises as to the current situation.

* June 19, after Mr. Hodus's first week:
http://www.acbl.org/acbl-content/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Technology-Minutes-06-19-2015.pdf

* July 23, after a week (2.5 days) of “knowledge transfer” from Nic Hammond at Horn Lake:
http://www.acbl.org/acbl-content/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Technology-Minutes-07-23-2015-MH.pdf (the MH in the URL hints that these minutes might have been prepared by Mitch Hodus)

* July 30, long list of woeful conditions:
http://www.acbl.org/acbl-content/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Technology-Minutes-07-30-2015.pdf

Hardware is outdated, security appears abysmal, disaster recovery appears a difficult (at best) task.

Fixing all of this may be a fairly simple matter of acquiring the appropriate currently available hardware, virtualization and security software

– but then there is the task of porting the ACBL-specific software and data to the new hardware/operating system/etc.

It seems to me that the current available resources provide a very poor fit for addressing the current problems.
(quoting)
 Only one developer can support Pascal
 Only one developer can support RPG
 One developer is a junior developer who was hired to be our webmaster but has been asked to develop in PHP
 Two developers have been on the job less then two months and I (presumably Mr. Hodus) am still evaluating their skills
 No Cross training of developers have occurred. Developers only know and support what they wrote.
 Limited Infrastructure Skills
 Our most senior infrastructure engineer is self-taught and has only ever worked at ACBL. As a result he is not up to date on the current technologies nor had he benefitted by seeing how other organizations implement technology.
 Our desktop support technician is junior and not capable of supporting all the technologies that the senior engineer supports.
(end quote)

Committee membership: CEO Hartman's three ACBL underlings are all out; Mr. Hodus is their sole replacement. Mr. Lipe is no longer an “outsider;” he now is an employee. So membership is now three from BoD, two “outsiders”, ACBL CEO, ACBL CIO, and one ACBL employee (Mr. Lipe).

I'm hoping that the next CEO's Management Technology Committee meeting will provide an incremental plan to put the IT/Technology house in order, and that first steps will already have been taken. How much will this cost ACBL? (Just curious; the cost must be paid, whatever it is.)

Aug. 7, 2015
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Thanks for the update, Adam!

It seems at this sad point for ACBL that efforts expended on new scoring software would be the equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, … or getting a new ACBL HQ building on a flood plain.

I doubt that any heads will roll for their parts in reaching the current situation.

We can all hope “that we are finally dealing with these issues head on and seem to be assembling the right team to fix them” – but we can also probably expect a hefty dues increase very soon to pay for it all.

Was there a video made of the meeting as at New Orleans?
Aug. 6, 2015
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It's nowhere near as big a deal as it was in New Orleans, but I'm hoping that Greg Humphreys will give us a report on the CEO's Management Technology Committee open meeting.


Recent meeting minutes linked to from http://www.acbl.org/about-acbl/technology-committee/ seem to be a catalog of disasters waiting to happen. Is there an incremental plan to put the IT/Technology house in order? How much will this cost ACBL?

Is the Hammond development effort now to be finally and completely discarded? Will we have any working part of an ACBLscore replacement at the club level before 2020?
Aug. 6, 2015
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Aug. 6, 2015
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The Danes have this product that pushes cards out to the players – then “deals” the next hand while the current one is being played. Its bells & whistles include entering contract and results. Coming up with a “tablecloth” that notes which card is played when, and cards to assist in this, is not rocket science. Neither is preventing insufficient/out of turn bids, if the auction takes place on the “console” instead of with bidding boxes or (gasp!) orally.

Keep your pasteboards, prevent many errors, collect all sorts of bidding and play data to assist in detecting unethical patterns – all we need now is for the price to come down.

Imagine the rollout at the Platinum Pairs in 2017 or 2018.

No, wait, ACBL still has its “Not invented here” mentality, not yet finally destroyed. And ACBL's “spare cash” is going into software upgrades and salaries for newly established positions.

Still, wouldn't it be nice!

@Peg, I bought the dealing machine and the boards and pasteboards, for my tiny club. I acquired other clubs as customers, so the dealing machine is at last paid off. I rent the Bridgemates. I'd need a business loan to buy the Danish machine or the laptops/tablets – but once the appropriate software is created and adequately tested, and the price of the hardware falls to affordable range, I'd apply for a small loan to be a Club with leading-edge technology!

Then I could donate the bidding boxes, boards, and pasteboards to some needy Luddite club!

But I'm not waiting; plan to replace the pasteboards with longer-lasting plastic cards at next replacement time – so the Luddite club would get plastic cards donated! :)
Aug. 2, 2015
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Alas, Peg, the initial cost to replace boards, cards, and Bridgemates with even the least expensive laptops or tablets will be huge – and won't happen before we have software that works to make it all smooth and secure. Still, if we live another twenty years, we may see it before we move to the game in the Great Beyond.
Aug. 2, 2015
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Sorry that I can “Like” Peg's comment only once. I hope that it receives many more “Likes.” and the large number of Bridge Winners members who have concerns about ACBL issues, who post, read, and comment on those issues here, will add their appreciation for Don Mamula's efforts on this site.
July 29, 2015
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Masterpoint award rules are analogous to the tax code, Peg. Everyone has the right to conduct their Bridge activities in a way designed to maximize their awards.

Many years ago, I persuaded a pair with a double-digit Masterpoint total to team with me so that we would be in a very low bracket and have a better chance to win. We didn't win, but we did make the finals.

They became great friends. I played on six-player teams with them frequently; usually we were in a lower bracket as a result and usually we had success. Even our four-player teams did well.

When the Masterpoint award rules/formulas are changed, I believe many players will still choose their events, partners, and teammates in a way designed to maximize their awards.
July 27, 2015
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Jeff,

Is it fair that:

* playing x boards in a Matchpoint Pairs event and winning the event against a field of Y players

has a different award than

* playing the same x boards in a bracketed KO event against a field of Y players and winning the event (varies wildly depending on average MP holding of the players)

has a different award than

* playing the same x boards in a Board-a-Match event against a field of Y players and winning the event?

As others have said in this thread, it's better to address Masterpoint awards in a comprehensive “reform” than to do it piecemeal.
July 27, 2015
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What is this “masterpoint fairness” of which you speak?
July 27, 2015
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I would have liked the post except for the ominous “if the disturbing trend of anti-pro legislation continues, they may find that established pros will vote with their feet and take more of their business to other countries, while aspiring pros will find it more difficult to establish a career. Representing the USA in international competition has been one of the greatest experiences in my life, and it would be a shame to deny future professionals that opportunity if we pass legislation that effectively forces them to play for other countries.” in the final paragraph. That could be taken as a threat.

“Representing the USA in international competition” has little to do with ACBL (ACBL is only the vehicle through which the dues are paid) and everything to do with USBF as it is USBF which sets the conditions of competition to determine the teams that represent USA in the World Championships.

What you call “ACBL” is, so far, only the makers of the motions and those who support them – NOT all 165,000 (less the Bridge Professionals) members.
July 26, 2015
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment July 27, 2015
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How much fun is that, Peg? Probably more if you won than otherwise, but who cares? Fun is fun, and facing a challenge is more fun than doing something that's a “no-brainer.”

:)
July 26, 2015
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I played in an evening side game at the 1970 Summer Nationals (I believe this was before the invention of the term “NABC”) in Boston.

I believe this was before they had 299er games.

Partner and I came to a table; I glanced at the opponents' Convention Card and saw the elderly (when you're not yet 21 everyone seems elderly) gentleman had the surname “Jacoby.” I was incredibly excited to be playing against the famous Oswald, and told my partner so.

Imagine my disappointment when I was told “Sorry to disappoint you, but I am Hans Jacoby from Chicago.”

It says something that I remember this more than half a lifetime later.
July 26, 2015
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None of the "ACBL wants … “ statements/allegations above is true. As of now, it's ”Ken Monzingo, Bob Heller, and Sharon Anderson want … "

After the vote in Chicago next month, we will know what the majority of the ACBL BOD members want.
July 25, 2015
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There's more than USBF and ACBL here – CBF and FBM also exist in ACBL territory.
July 23, 2015
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Hi Allan,

Evening games are indeed probably not sustainable if marketing only to ACBL's chosen demographic (Baby Boomers and Juniors); but successful marketing to 20-, 30-, 40-, and 50-somethings will increase attendance at the current evening games and spark demand for more evening games. See Jack Feagin's comment below.
June 29, 2015
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Hi Bob,

Valid points – so we need to change.

My evening club players have links to recaps in their e-mail in-boxes before they get home. They have a field of around 140 pairs against whom to compare their results, and computer-generated analysis of the contract and number of tricks taken at their table – all thanks to The Common Game, www.thecommongame.com.

ACBL and its face-to-face Club affiliates need to market to a younger demographic; it's a matter of survival. It will happen. It has to.

The benefits of playing Bridge are more from the social interaction than just the mental exercise. That's why players will get to the Club (and tournaments). In today's (and probably tomorrow's) entertainment world, we can offer a shorter game to compete with all the other shorter-length alternatives.

Bridge Clubs will adjust; ACBL will facilitate this. It's a matter of survival.



June 27, 2015
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I beg to differ, Mr. Bloom. Conditions have changed in the past however-many years, and ACBL's demographic continues to age.

People crying “Evening Club Bridge is Dead” are really no different than people crying “Face to Face Club (and eventually Tournament) Bridge is Dead.”

What we need to do is recognize the trends, and that we cannot return to the past. Find what works in the competition for the “disposable entertainment dollar,” adjust what we do to succeed in that competition in today's (and tomorrow's) environment.

Don't limit our target of participants to baby boomers, retirees, and anyone else with only one foot in the grave – market to students, to twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings, and forty-somethings as well. Magic-the Gathering and other card games are attracting people who could be getting at least as much enjoyment out of playing Bridge with their peers. Learn how to market to them!

This topic has drawn many comments with good ideas;
* club owners will cull the comments, discover what works in their circumstances, and use it all with good results.
* ACBL will chip in with cash from the cooperative marketing program;
* ACBL Club Managers (quarterly) Newsletter may help spread good ideas to Club Owners who aren't Bridge Winners members;
* ACBL Resource Center will come up with other useful items/assets/programs.
– they all have to do this to survive. It will happen!

Don't plan to dance on the grave of Eveniong Club Bridge; we're not dead and buried yet!
June 26, 2015
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Hi Gary,

I'm long since past 2500 now, so will never compete in the Red Ribbon Pairs. I believe my “bricks” (Blue Ribbon Qualifiers, BRQ's) will allow me to compete in Silver Ribbon as well. I'll need more skill and luck than I have now to do well in that event, though.

I don't usually hang out in the Intermediate forum, just dropped in to see what my friend Mike Ladd was sharing/learning here; I discovered he's asking good questions.

Thanks,

Kevin
June 24, 2015
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