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All comments by Kevin O'Brien
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Hi Nic,

Thanks for prompt response. So now it looks as if six of ten have been involved in some way before, and the previous work of BoD members Merlin and Russ on the April-June (somewhere in there) committee that recommended throwing away ACBLScore+ may have given them a bias to support/defend that committee's decision. That would stack the deck firmly against any possible resurrection of ACBLScore+ and in favor of continuing enhancements on ACBLScore – as otherwise ACBL has thrown $$ away on ACBLScore+ and now on ACBLScore enhancements as well.

If ACBL's CEO wants to quash negative actions, and feels on trial for his decsions, appointing himself as chief judge and stacking the jury gives him a good chance of being found not guilty. Let's hope that's not his outlook or his motive for forming the Technology Committee.

As the Technology Committee is now “the only game in town,” we on the outside mourn Jeff Johnston, and then wait to see what we are allowed to learn of what the Committee will be doing.
Dec. 31, 2014
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Jan. 6, 2015
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Names, please, Nic!
Dec. 31, 2014
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Kevin L,

Yes, what the Technology Committee says is important and can be of great use. My point was that what the Technology Committee says is of no use if its recommendations are ignored or cast aside.
Dec. 31, 2014
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Greg,

Are you at liberty to share the details of the Technology Committee's full charge, including to whom and when it reports, and how widely the record(s) of its proceedings may be disseminated, or are those topics forbidden from public knowledge at this time?
Dec. 31, 2014
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Third paragraph of Adam Parrish's article (see top of page):

ACBL CEO Robert Hartman announced the formation of a Technology Committee, chaired by him and composed of three members of the BOD, three members of management, and three outside experts. A preliminary composition of the committee was announced in Providence; it appears to have now been finalized. The three board members on the committee are Jay Whipple (District 9), Russ Jones (District 10), and Merlin Vilhauer (District 20), unquestionably the three most technically knowledgeable members of the BOD. The outside experts are Greg Humphreys of Bridge Winners, Uday Ivatury of Bridge Base Online, and Ralph Lipe, a former system architect at Microsoft. The members of the committee from management are Tony Lin, a consultant brought in this year, Ken Horwedel, the project manager on the ACBLscore update, and Bruce Knoll, the ACBL's Director of Information Technology. The committee's mandate is broader than just evaluating ACBLscore; it will assess and advise on all technology decisions. The committee (as it existed at the time–not all of the positions were then filled) met in Providence, and they are scheduled to travel to Horn Lake in early January for a hands-on assessment of current operations.
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So it's the CEO, three of his employees/consultants, and six not directly beholden to him. Six of ten presumably independent.

But what can they do? “Assess and advise on all technology decisions.” No power there – absolutely none. (As the CEO would probably say, “Entirely appropriate.” – and many would agree with him, from an organizational viewpoint.) Clearly the Technology Committee is nothing like a Special Prosecutor with power to bring charges. As others have said, “Don't expect much.”

Will this Technology Committee be open? Transparent? Able and willing to speak to ACBL-land (including the President and the entire Board of Directors) and not just to the CEO? . . . we wait and see; they start Monday January 5.
Dec. 30, 2014
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Dec. 30, 2014
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Larry,

The Technology Committee is headed by the CEO and has no power to do anything and nothing in writing (as far as I know) about anything about it. We all await Monday's meeting. I hope the question is WHEN, not IF, we learn what has taken place and how the Committee will work.

It doesn't matter what the Technology Committee recommends, or to whom it makes its recommendations. What matters is what ACBL does to do what is best for its members, specifically for purposes of this discussion, in the IT arena.

We can all hope for effective guidance from the Committee, in an open and transparent process, and appropriate action from ACBL management in accepting and acting on the recommendations. The Board of Directors seems to be out of the loop on this occasion; that may change depending on the CEO's decisions, the actions of Committee and BoD members Jay Whipple, Russ Jones, and Merlin Vilhauer, or the BoD's actions leading up to and at its New Orleans or Chicago meetings.
Dec. 30, 2014
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Brilliant move by the CEO! Seeing how the match was going, he pre-empted “One CEO's Technology Committee” – and the BoD passed, ending the auction.

Now we will see how he plays the hand, and whether the results will be favorable for ACBL members and ACBL TD's and ACBL's IT Department and ACBL's finances, as well as for the CEO.

If there is no adversarial relationship, that outcome is possible . . . but if the relationship between active, concerned, vocal members and the CEO becomes adversarial, then we suffer until this hand is over and see what the next hand, to be played out in New Orleans (or later if the CEO's Technology Committee is slow in reporting), brings to the table.
Dec. 30, 2014
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Hi JoAnn,

I cannot find the text of the Technology Committee motion on-line, but I believe the Committee can only evaluate and recommend and has NO AUTHORITY TO OVERTURN anything.

I believe we all want the Technology Committee to usher ACBL IT into the twenty-first century. With the current composition of the Committee, that will have to start with intra-committee dynamics. Non-Committee members (us) pushing for Committee membership and especially Chair changes will not contribute in any way to the smooth functioning of the Committee.

Do you want BridgeScore+ to be embraced and finished and used by ACBL? Then your route is to go to your District and ask them to use it at their Regional tournaments. I believe Nic Hammond has offered the product, with his personal on-site support, to any District requesting it, at no cost.

What's in it for your District? Paying less for ACBL Tournament Directors (according to Mr Hammond, fewer are required for KOs and Swiss teams, anyway), making working TD's life easier, and enhancing the playing experience of the players (faster pairings and table assignments, projected rather than racked for much easier visibility).

The more BoD members who see the product in action, the more BoD members who will realize how illogical it is for ACBL to pay (relatively) big bucks to “re-invent the wheel” when ACBL already has license to use (most of) the code. Is your District's BoD member so exposed and educated?

This is what I will suggest to my District.



Dec. 29, 2014
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Nic,

You write here “I've been threatened with a permanent ban from ACBL by management/league counsel if I continue doing what I'm doing,” and earlier, “ACBL senior management and league counsel threatened board members with disciplinary action (and may have followed through with this). No board members were allowed to see the original contract”, and “The Board was instructed, upon threat of legal action (and I believe they may even have enforced it for one board member), from around March 2014 not to talk to me.”

Going public with the above allegations makes it hard to believe there is NOT now an adversarial relationship between ACBL Management/League Counsel and Nic Hammond, no matter how amicably the ACBL-HS contract was concluded.

There is a large vocal group here on Bridge Winners that would make ACBL Management/League Counsel VERY uncomfortable if they actually tried to impose ANY discipline on you for demonstrating BridgeScore+. I'm quite certain that a larger hue and cry would come forth from enraged tournament sponsors (at least tournament sponsors not worried about obtaining future tournament sanctions from ACBL) and TDs (at least TDs not worried about job security) in District 7 and other places that have worked with you in using BridgeScore+ (and previously with ACBLScore+) to enhance the tournament experience for players and directors alike.

If you are willing to share, here on this forum, anything ACBL Management or league counsel sent to you in writing with any such explicit threats to you, I'm sure the place would explode immediately (that's this virtual Bridge Winners Internet forum, not any Horn Lake MS real estate).

Likewise if you are willing to share any proof that ACBL Management or League Counsel refused to let any BoD member see the original contract between ACBL and Hammond Software, or threatened any Board members with disciplinary action (and specifically commanded Board members to not even talk to you), the uproar here would be heard at least as far as Horn Lake and the Subeck Mansion.

Without any such proof coming out, what prevents ACBL Management/League Counsel from saying “baseless, unproved/unprovable allegations” about these points and by association just about anything else you are saying here on Bridge Winners – or elsewhere – about the entire sorry debacle?
Dec. 28, 2014
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Dec. 29, 2014
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Hi Nic,

I concede we don't need “state-of-the-art,” but I'll add, in addition to “easy-to-use, accurate, fast and dependable,” well-documented (including comments throughout the code) and easily maintainable/enhanceable, with ACBL IT staff familiar enough with the programming language and the code to be capable of doing the maintenance and enhancements efficiently and accurately.
Dec. 28, 2014
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Hi JoAnn,

I hope we are on the same team here – wanting ACBL to have and use state-of-the-art scoring software and reporting software, plus state-of-the-art IT in the office at Horn Lake.

We don't know what the President and BoD and Hartman and staff are doing; they may feel no need to tell us.

We may not need a new CEO or new IT staff or even new BoD members; what we need is the easy-to-use, accurate, fast, and dependable software. If we start from an adversarial position, we probably have less chance of success than if we start from a cooperative “we're all on the same team, seeking the same result” attitude and viewpoint. Give the “Powers that Be” (Pres, BoD, BoG, and CEO) every chance to be open and cooperative, and see if they respond.

If they don't, we know what we have to do, and we've lost time and (ACBL) money – but if they do, everybody wins!

The Technology Committee has forward thinkers with proven success (at least Bridge Winners, BBO, and The Common Game/Fast Results) and may be able to work for good. Let's at least see how they start out before condemning their membership and chairperson.

None of us needs more enemies!
Dec. 28, 2014
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Peg,

Don't overdose on those tact pills! Be careful, “they” may draft you to become a Bridge Politician.

:)
Dec. 28, 2014
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Hi JoAnn,

“Show up at the Board of Governors meeting and ask questions.” . . . “In Providence I believe 3 people (myself included) took the mike to question Hartman. If 100 people show up instead of just 3 it would send quite a statement.”

You stood up in Providence, I hope more join you in New Orleans. If I go, I'll be there.

“Lobby many BOD members. Don't just limit yourself to your representative.” . . . “Send a mass email to all BOD members demanding that Hartman be removed from chairing the technology committee.”

The structure, chair, membership, and function of the Technology Committee was set at Providence. Don't expect any of that to change without another BoD vote; why would the CEO relinquish position and power when he can instead suppress both dissidents and dissent?

So ask the BoD or BoG to write up the appropriate motion (who should chair the Committee, how open its meetings and correspondence should be, etc.), and make sure it gets on their New Orleans agenda.

“Get a critical mass of people who demand answers.”

I don't think anyone gets a critical mass of people; it just happens – and it happens by BECOMING ONE OF THESE PEOPLE.

Of the 169,000 or so ACBL members, I bet less than five percent care beyond that they can play at their local club and an occasional tournament under familiar conditions, and their monthly magazine shows their month-old Masterpoints total. Most of them won't read this because they don't know or care about either Bridge Winners or ACBLScore+. Worse, some of those 95 percent may be CEO-apple-polishers serving on the Board of Directors or Board of Governors.

Have the Technology Committee meetings recorded, and the video posted on the ACBl website (unless filming and posting is seen as a hostile move, then maybe Bridge Winners will post the video); do the same with the Board of Governors meeting in NO.

In other words, be even louder, become even more active, encourage and welcome others to the cause, be very patient, and still don't expect much.

I'd rather be the optimist than the realist, but I have seen and heard too much.

Here's hoping the Technology Committee can lead ACBL IT into the twenty-first century, and that no one suffers from holding their breath waiting for this to happen.
Dec. 28, 2014
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Dec. 28, 2014
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Georgiana, you're close . . . ex-members of the BoD already pay for their rooms at NABCs (if they go).
Dec. 28, 2014
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“Exactly what can a displeased or concerned ACBL member do now to ensure “something good and helpful” develops out of all this, and in a timely non-secretive manner?”

Sadly, nothing. The best we individuals can do is to lobby our District's BoD member to push for the Technology Committee to have transparent proceedings and report clear recommendations, and then to work in the BoD to fully implement those recommendations.

If we find our District's BoD member is unresponsive, we go to our Unit Board and lobby those individuals to replace the BoD member at the next election.

Note that this may require actually BECOMING a Unit Board member, or even becoming a candidate for the BoD in your District.

This whole process will take a while (BOD members are elected for three-year terms, so it will be Spring 2018 NABC before all current BoD members have stood for re-election).

In the meantime, the Technology Committee investigation has the classic “Fox guarding the henhouse” setup (or in current events terms, the North Koreans in a joint investigation with the USA of the Sony Internet hacks).

Make your views and concerns very well known to your District's BoD member, your Unit Board, and even ACBL President Suzi Subeck and CEO Robert Hartman himself – directly, in all cases. Posts and comments on Bridge Winners are not enough.

Posts and comments on Bridge Winners are not enough!

And, in case you missed it earlier, posts and comments on Bridge Winners are not enough!

So, be very loud, become very active, and don't expect much.
Dec. 28, 2014
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Nic,

You know the reception ACBL CEO will supply to your most generous offer, and you know the reply you will receive.

All you are doing is embarrassing ACBL management, and you know this too.

Too bad it has come to this.

I doubt that Jay Whipple, Greg Humphreys, and the rest of the new Technology Committee will be able to make a dent in Management's intransigence, (the Committee can only assess and advise, not command), although we can all hope the Technology Committee succeeds in ushering ACBL Technology into the Twenty-First Century.

Again, too bad it has come to this.
Dec. 27, 2014
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Dec. 29, 2014
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Thanks, Alan – I'm far from an expert on movements.

If Mark Aquino wants to start reviving the Individual (not just at Newton) with a Jimmy Fund exhibition with pros donating time and amateurs investing time and donating money, all he needs for a start is himself, six other recruited pros , and twenty-one philanthropic amateurs with sufficiently deep pockets – plus of course an appropriate location, some equipment, and a lot of publicity and a volunteer Director.

Maybe he or someone else will do something similar for The Longest Day , maybe even on BBO.
Dec. 25, 2014
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Dec. 25, 2014
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We did something similar in our college dorm, only one season – eight players and two or three substitutes when needed to fill in. No Masterpoints, shuffle and deal. Proved I still had a lot to learn about the game – just like I do today.
Dec. 25, 2014
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In the Rainbow Movement, North is stationary. It's a variant of that movement here, but doable – three-board rounds, with E, W, and S rotating for one board at each of those seats at the same table. Presumably, the Rainbow movement can be used to get the players to their next tables. Original S goes up one to S at the next table, boards down 1 table, original E and W up/down 2 tables for most rounds (all rounds if there are a prime number of tables in the section, if I remember).

Phil, there was an Individual at the NABC even beyond the Masters Individual mentioned above. The Keohane Trophy, now awarded for Swiss Teams, was originally for an Individual winner – but repurposed after the last NABC Individual event was removed from the schedule. I don't know the details, perhaps some other poster here is more familiar with that part of ACBL/NABC history and will enlighten us all.
Dec. 25, 2014
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Hi Mark,

A while back, Zia got a bunch of pros to join him in an exhibition game at an NABC, amateurs donated big bucks to play, and they all got together to play – the $$ raised went to relief from an earthquake in Pakistan.

Phil Clayton, above mentions a “Playing with the Pros” event at a club. Recruit some pros who play in New England, and hold a benefit “Playing with the Pros” exhibition Individual event at an upcoming NE Regional to benefit the Jimmy Fund. That's a first step. Good luck!
Dec. 24, 2014
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