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All comments by Kevin O'Brien
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Money can buy you competent maintenance coders to fill in in emergencies. Enough money can buy you the equivalent of a fully completed ACBLscore+.
Jan. 11, 2015
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If ACBL has no key person insurance on Mr. Lopushinsky, perhaps they need to revisit the issue. The recent bug, and delay in its resolution, shows that at present he is indispensable. Not having key person insurance could be a disaster, and whoever makes the decision “no such insurance” escapes only as long as Mr Lopushinsky is healthy and competent and continues to work, or until his knowledge and skill set are shared enough with the remainder of the IT staff so that he is no longer indispensable.
Jan. 11, 2015
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“It doesn't make sense to re-write large parts of ACBLscore just for the sake of re-writing them.”

True, but if the intent is to keep using the ACBLscore product for the next thirty-five (or more) years, and the expectation is that Mr. Lopushinsky will not be available for continued maintenance/enhancement of the product for that entire time, then perhaps it DOES make sense to rewrite critical portions to streamline and centralize the code, and make it considerably easier for ACBL IT to maintain and enhance/change the code in the Lopushinsky-less future.
Jan. 11, 2015
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Thanks, Nic, for this behind-the-scenes look at current ACBL Masterpoint reality.

- - - - - - - - -

“But ACBLscore implements what it wants and doesn't follow the rules in the MPBOOK.”

So it seems that up until now it more or less doesn't matter what the Board of Directors mandates, ACBLscore does things the way its programmer implements them, and its results (except for the occasional egregious and embarrassing-if-exposed-to-the-public bug) are what are used for Masterpoints. Thus the many (?) differences between MPBOOK and reality (ACBLscore).

To return control of Masterpoints to the players (through their elected Unit Board members and the Unit-Board-Members-elected Board of Directors), this situation must change. Will it? Whether the MPBOOK or ACBLscore is changed is like a Bridge partnership's workings. It doesn't matter so much which page you are on, what matters is that both are on the _same_ page. Will someone with power and authority mandate this? Will the IT department and the Board of Directors and ACBL management cooperate to make it so?

We wait to see . . .

- - - - - - - - -

Three different sets of calculations in ACBLscore for Masterpoints is a nightmare. I bet ACBLscore+/Bridgescore+ in its implementation has only one, but I have neither seen its code nor confirmed my speculation with Nic Hammond.

Will the CEO's Technology Committee be willing and able to recommend massive reforms to ACBL Game Scoring such as streamlining/centralizing the Masterpoint calculations so that the charts and the gamefiles use the same underlying code? Will they recommend that the games as scored have a real chance to have 100% match with what the charts mandate?

We wait to see . . .

- - - - - - - - -

“There are requirements on ACBL TDs to manually check the results for MPs by using the masterpoint chart functionality but not all do as it is a very time-consuming process.”

“10% of game files have masterpoint errors in them. Usually it was a TD mis-configuration, because it is very easy to mis-configure ACBLscore for a “complex” event for masterpoint calculations/awards.”

Better software (more streamlined and centralized in the Game Scoring and Game Setup areas) could reduce the burden on ACBL Tournament Directors, ad this would result in a much lower percentage of game files in error. I'm pretty sure that ACBLscore+/Bridgescore+ has such software (maybe not complete due to lack of specs from ACBL), but again I have neither seen the code nor confirmed my speculation with Nic Hammond.

Will the CEO's Technology Committee be willing and able to make recommendations for the appropriate software improvements? Does ACBL IT have the necessary resources to follow up and get it done?

We wait to see . . .

- - - - - - - - -

Will the CEO's Technology Committee be willing and able to recommend that ACBL IT develop a modern and adequate testing methodology? Apparently ACBL IT already has (bought and paid for) the “gfprint” tool available for their use, and it would cost relatively little to receive appropriate instruction in its use, plus the examples of how Hammond Software used it in their own testing.

“Relatively little,” of course, depends on the availability and willingness and generosity of Nic Hammond and/or any of those who worked with Hammond Software to develop or use the “gfprint” tool. It would be a shame to discard such a powerful tool, or let it gather dust because no one knows how to use it.

“Setting up any of these test environments would take time. You then have to implement a process to make sure that a software release goes through a testing cycle. If you are the developer, or the test engineer, then you need to make sure that each time there is a software release that all the tests are updated. If there is a ‘bug’ you have to figure out if it is in the test code, or the in the production code. ACBL does not have that development mentality.”

Will the CEO's Technology Committee be willing and able to recommend that ACBL IT undergo the change to acquire that development mentality? Will they be willing and able to recommend that ACBL IT hire “someone with solid Test Management credentials?” Don't be surprised if such people exist among active ACBL bridge-playing members, perhaps not willing to relocate to Horn Lake but as Hammond Software has proved, working remotely is not out of the question.

We wait to see . . .

- - - - - - - - -

If the CEO's Technology Committee is able and willing to make such recommendations, is ACBL IT able to implement them?

And if the CEO's Technology Committee is unable or unwilling to make such recommendations, is the Board of Directors' Technology Committee willing and able to make such recommendations? Is the Board of Directors then willing and able to mandate that ACBL IT make it so?

We wait to see . . .

- - - - - - - - -

Finally, it appears that whatever ACBL is paying for “key person” insurance on Mr. Lopushinsky is not too much.
Jan. 11, 2015
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When a tournament has a choice of sites, negotiating for free WiFi for FastResults use might be a criterion for choosing between competing sites.

My small club has enjoyed free WiFi; it's how I can guarantee that players leaving the game will have (links to) their results from The Common Game in their in-boxes when they get home. As we change locations, that's big on my list of amenities for the new location.

At the same time, Nic is One Hundred Percent correct – internet access cannot be a requirement for either a club or a tournament.
Jan. 11, 2015
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Jan. 11, 2015
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Hi Tom,

As I understand it, ALL motions affecting Masterpoints must be approved at two consecutive Board of Directors meetings before they become official.

ACBL publishes the gist of the approved motions in the ACBL Bulletin, but not the details. People interested in the details have to track down the motion text if their District Director's report is not absolutely clear.

Although I am not in District 10, I found Russ Jones's write-up to be most clear. You can see it at http://d10bridge.org/700/RepReports/masterpoint_summary.pdf; it was posted after the Las Vegas BoD meeting.

The only problem I have with his explanation is he talks in terms of “% of Sectional Rating” when he means “% of pre-2015 Sectional rating.” Last year special club games had R factors of:
6.5 (quarterly club championship),
7.0 (ACBL Fund/Foundation games),
8.5 (Unit Championship games),
10.0 (GNT. NAP, Upgraded Club Championship, October Club Appreciation pairs/team, and a few others)

The 2015-01-01 changes to the R factors which affect special games at clubs are that the 6.5 and 8.5 games were both changed to 7.0, and the 10.0 games were all changed to 9.0. These seem to be relatively simple changes, and would be in any well-written code in a modern programming language. I don't know how the formula is coded in Jim Lopushinsky's possibly undocumented 1980's Pascal, modified each time ACBL tweaked its Masterpoint formula, but any competent programmer should be able to decipher the code and make the appropriate changes.

With the increase in the T factor for Pairs from 1.0 to 1.25, I believe all Club Special Games now award more Masterpoints than Club Special Games of the same size in 2014, but I haven't done the math to check that.

Any good test plan would test each type of Club Special Game and ordinary Club masterpoint game in all permutations and combinations, and have the tester (or appropriate software) compare the results with each test scenario Gamefile against the expected results. Set the date to 2014-12-31, run the gamefiles through the calculations, check that the results are as expected. Change the date to 2015-01-01 and do the same thing, against the NEW expected results. Lots of test scenario gamefiles to cover all the possible calculations, but over the years the appropriate gamefiles should, in the best of all possible ACBL IT testing worlds, have been developed and should be available for the testing. Actually, one could use .bws files as generated by the wireless electronic scoring devices, and have ACBLscore just input the player numbers and scores from the boards played at each table; then ACBLscore produces the gamefile as is done now at clubs which use the electronic scoring devices. Saving the .bws files for more testing is easy. Ask Nic Hammond how Hammond Software did its testing while developing ACBLscore+ and now Bridgescore+; I'm pretty sure he did something similar or even more simple and elegant.

Obviously ACBL IT failed to do this before sending 7.89 out to clubs and tournaments. I doubt they did it for 7.90 either, but I'll leave the investigation and reporting on that to the CEO's Technology Committee, and if they fail to so investigate, I expect the Board of Director's Technology Committee will do so.

On Dec 29, ACBL (Manager, Club and Member Services) told me “We are also currently working on updating the masterpoint charts and all places where masterpoints information needs to be updated. It’s very possible that everything will not be updated before January 1, but several people are diligently working on the updates.” One hopes and expects that several people are still working diligently on the updates. I won't hold my breath waiting for complete and accurate updates, but I expect we'll see them posted in the next month, perhaps even before the end of January – although we all know these ACBL employees also have other duties of perhaps higher priority.

I'll bet they miss that Platinum Points are now awarded in the 0-10K events at NABCs which DO have upper Masterpoint limits, though. We'll see, eventually.
Jan. 9, 2015
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Jan. 11, 2015
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Tom,

The new Masterpoint calculations were first approved in JULY 2014 at the BoD's meeting at the Las Vegas NABC. If ACBL IT were not busy trying to reinvent code already tested and proved in FastResults (Jay Whipple's or Nic Hammond's from ACBLScore+), ACBLscore+ fast starts to KOs and Swiss Teams competitions, and other tested and proven new features in ACBLscore+, they could have been writing and testing the code for the proposed Masterpoint formula changes, under the hardly-any-risk assumption that the Las Vegas BoD approval would be followed up by Providence BoD approval.

That they were busy re-inventing the wheel instead, in addition to their proven-inadequate test-before-release process, is the problem,

One hopes the CEO's Technology Committee will address at least the test-before-release process, and the appropriate culture change will take place in ACBL's IT department.
Jan. 9, 2015
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I was at that North Charleston Regional, and I visited the Tournament Office and read with interest Doug Gtrove's memo to the TDs there about the ACBLscore 7.89 bug, and a workaround for the 3K strat problem.

Sure looked to me as if Doug was the only tester of that release.

A listing of th problems Tom Moore's club has had with ACBLscore would be a good start (if no start has yet been made) for a set or regression tests, to insure that bug fixes and product enhancements do not un-fix previously solved problems.

I doubt that hiring a full-time QA/testing IT professional would lose anything for ACBL from a cost/benefit analysis, especially if ACBL continues on its “We must invent it here if we are to use it” path rather than embracing proven working products they own (parts of ACBLScore+) or are offered for free (e.g. either Jay Whipple's or ACBLscore+'s FastResults).

At least ACBL IT took Matthew Kidd's ACBL Bulletin Viewer software and is using it, even though they did not invent it.
Jan. 9, 2015
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Jan. 10, 2015
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Hi Greg,

It's good to hear the CEO's Technology Committee has begun its work. As far as “we've identified a number of preliminary technology projects / issues that require our immediate attention. Sub-groups of our committee were formed to tackle each one.

”More specifics will surely be forthcoming when the minutes are published, which I expect to happen soon." I have a few questions:

1) Who is responsible for taking the CEO's Technology Committee meeting minutes?
2) How soon, and where, are these minutes to be published? Specifically, will they be available to any interested ACBL member?
3) Are CEO's Technology Committee members ordered or even requested to be silent about what occurs in these meetings so that the eventually-published-somewhere minutes are the interested ACBL members' only glimpse into what the CEO's Technology Committee is doing?
Jan. 8, 2015
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True – only the voters (and the Grim Reaper) have the power to oust the incumbent. The rest of us can, Unit by Unit, oust the voters - but that's a long process. So for the BoD members (if any) who, as most elected politicians, have the prime objective of preserving their incumbency, the electorate to whom they listen are first and foremost the Unit Board members.
Jan. 8, 2015
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No problem downloading here; Windows Defender found no virus or malware, and it seems to have installed correctly as well.

Next Monday's evening club game will give me personal reassurance; this weekend's local Sectional will come first and reassure every bridge player in the area.
Jan. 7, 2015
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Hi Greg,

It's the CEO's Technology Committee “outsider” members and those with proven records in bridge and bridge-related software who are the main reason I (and I presume most of us posting skeptically and cautiously here) have any hope at all for any success (i.e. real change) from the process you are about to begin. That's at least you, Uday, and Jay. To the extent that you guys can “make it happen,” we're sure that you will. What extent that is, we're unsure of.

See what happens if, at the first formal face-to-face meeting of the CEO's Technology Committee, you place a pocket voice recorder on the table and turn it on . . . the reaction of the others and especially the Committee Chairman, will give you a good clue of the atmosphere in which the CEO's Technology Committee will be doing its work.

Sorry I didn't get to greet you and Adam at the North Charleston Regional. I did want to pass on a few words of both thanks and encouragement.
Jan. 7, 2015
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Jan. 11, 2015
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If the CEO wants the CEO's Technology Committee deliberations and decisions and recommendations to be closed until the final report is released, and all of the outsiders and all of the “we want an open process” members like Greg quit in response, then the CEO's Technology Committee will have closed deliberations, decisions, and recommendations until their final report is released. And for all we know, that report will be released only to the CEO himself.

I don't think that's what we really want, Greg . . .

And why, pray tell, would ANY item be explicitly confidential? What does ACBL IT have to hide from ACBL members? Who decides that any particular item is explicitly confidential in/to the CEO's Technology Committee? I would not bet, no matter how favorable the odds are, on that answer being anything except “Committee Chairman/CEO.”
Jan. 7, 2015
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Jan. 7, 2015
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Lopo's vacation is over.
Jan. 7, 2015
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Doug Grove may be the only one who tests ACBLscore changes! And that's an in-the-field test, not an in-house test. It wouldn't have been released as is if Lopushinsky had tested it first.
Jan. 7, 2015
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Your second paragraph has the key question, Jonathan.

I'm sure that even the CEO's Technology Committee will make appropriate recommendations here, but totally unsure that we will ever see those recommendations or that ACBL IT Department will embrace and attempt to implement them or that the “culture change” required will happen in the ACBL IT department's employee ranks.
Jan. 7, 2015
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Jan. 7, 2015
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Larry and Kevin L,

The maker and withdrawer of the BoD motion is Rich DeMartino of District 25. He says in his Providence report at http://nebridge.org/media/userdocs/2014/12/10/December_2014_Report.pdf:

“I submitted a motion that recommended we stop work on updating the old system and conduct an independent review by outside Systems experts to evaluate the decision and to decide how best to move forward. When I learned of the plan described below, I chose to withdraw my motion.
”The proposed plan is to have a committee evaluate the current ACBL Score plan both to determine whether enhancing the existing ACBL Score is viable and, if so, to evaluate the work planned for 2015. The Committee will have three Board Members, including Jay Whipple, three members from ACBL Staff and three outside systems experts (bridge players). Jay assures me the three outside systems experts selected will be outstanding and he further assures me he is confident the group is fully capable of carrying out the task assigned."

I have no idea why he withdrew the motion, but any of you interested Bridge Winners posters on this thread who know him, feel free to ask him and post his reply! He's a member here, he may see this . . .
Jan. 7, 2015
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This topic ties in with the previous articles about ACBLscore, ACBLscore+/Bridgescore+, and ACBL's IT department. Crack investigative reporter Adam Parrish brings to light the current practices of ACBL's IT staff in pre-release software testing, and ACBL IT department's non-Lopushinsky rapid-response software maintenance abilities.

We should expect some discussion of this incident and what it shows about ACBL IT department, when the much-discussed-on-Bridge-Winners CEO's Technology Committee holds its first meeting. Greg Humphreys, Adam's partner at the Charleston Regional, is presumably at least as well-informed as Adam about the situation, and will sit on the CEO's Technology Committee when it sits. Will we – or the Board of Directors – or even ACBL President Suzi Subeck – be informed of the CEO's Technology Committee's agenda and deliberations abd reports? Time will tell.

As for Doug Grove, the one person who actually did test the software, I know of no more conscientious and knowledgable and hard-working Tournament Director. I met him ten years ago at the Keohane Individual Regional in Newton MA, two years before I got serious about my own bridge-playing. He has always been present at my local (Washington DC area) Sectionals and Regionals, and at most of the tournaments I've played in from Hilton Head and Atlanta and Gatliburg in the south through Saratoga Springs in the north, often as Director-in-Charge. Alas, he is retiring by the end of this month.
Jan. 7, 2015
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Jan. 7, 2015
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Newton MA Keohane Individual Regional results included: one section (15 tables) Saturday, one section (13 tables) Sunday.

How sad!

Any comments from any of the participants at the Regional, whether or not you played \any Individual sessions?
Jan. 6, 2015
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Larry,

The maker and withdrawer of the BoD motion is Rich DeMartino, a Bridge Winners member who has never posted here (may have commented?). You can message him here to ask why he withdrew the motion, or read his report (link above) to see what he has already said on the subject.
Jan. 6, 2015
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