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All comments by Kevin O'Brien
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There's nothing of substance in President Subeck's reply. “appreciate and share your concerns,” “experience with Score+ has made us wiser and more diligent,” “I can, however, assure that your concerns are being addressed.” – as Clara Peller so famously said over thirty years ago (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ug75diEyiA0), “Where's the beef?”

Wiser and more diligent now, the CEO's Technology Committee's beef is well-hidden. CEO's Technology Committee (“fox guarding the henhouse,” anybody?) operates under a “cone of silence” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1eUIK9CihA); “Subcommittees will only report back up to the full committee when a proposed direction is identified or with issues of significance” and “Group needs to be on same page with all decisions before they are announced and disseminated” assure this silence.

Timing of Committee meetings (“Face-to-face Technology Committee meetings will be held at each NABC on last day of the ACBL board meeting (the first Thursday of the NABC). These meetings will open to the public”) assures at least three months between a face-to-face meeting and the next ACBL Board of Directors meeting.

I find it very significant that those Jan 6 CEO's Technology Committee minutes say "These meetings will open to the public“ rather than ”These meetings will be open to the public.“

And . . . when will these meetings ”open to the public?" Doesn't say, they could be closed until the end, when the CEO/Committee Chairman opens the meeting to the public, makes a statement as full of beef as the President's letter above, then closes the meeting. There's nothing in “open to the public” that implies “the public” can do any more than observe silently; nothing indicating “the public” is allowed to ask questions, or that the committee is required to answer any such questions even if “the public” is allowed ask any.

We won't know how “open to the public” works until March 12; the above is the worst possible case. I doubt anyone here expects clarification from ACBL before March 12, and why should we? CEO's Technology Committee members are busy with subcommittee work, which is more important than replying to BridgeWinners forum comments.

Don't forget that six of the ten CEO's Technology Committee members are associated with the unanimous decision to abandon the software from the ACBLscore+ project, and ACBL IT burns through $50,000 each month re-inventing much of that software. Meanwhile, Turbo Pascal lives, and ACBLscore with all of the problems that led to multiple decisions to replace it, gets a new coat of lipstick.

Will something good come of all this? Anyone who has real knowledge is under the “Cone of Silence;” the rest of us (which might even include President Subeck) can hope and pray; other than that we wait for that cone to be lifted.

Anything we on the outside say before March 12 is largely unfounded speculation; it lets “them” know we remain concerned and interested, but it does not help the subcommittees do their work.

Let's talk again March 13.
Feb. 10, 2015
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Feb. 11, 2015
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If President Subeck wants a day In the Well, I'm sure BridgeWinners will be delighted to give her one. If she doesn't, we'll never see her In the Well. Time will tell.
Feb. 5, 2015
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Not “distrustful of BW,” ACBL has BW selling advance entries to many NABC+ events. Perhaps distrustful of questions from “not-fully-informed people posting on BW,” and the hostile (anti-ACBL management and BoD) environment they see in posts from such people here already.

BoD members are not involved in day-to-day operations at Horn Lake, and might well feel uncomfortable being queried about those operations and decisions in a public environment not under their control. They don't answer to the average ACBL member, only to the members of Unit Boards in their district, and then only once every three years.

And as Peggy Kaplan found out, the amount of work BoD members do and the time it takes is huge. The reward of free plays and some expenses at NABCs, even with paying the $1.50 per session for the International Fund, is not much (at least I bet that's the general consensus among them). The grief of facing a hostile crowd of questioners in a BW forum may be too much to ask.

We'll never know until one of them finds him/herself at the bottom of the Well some Thursday. I'm not holding my breath waiting for that to happen.
Feb. 5, 2015
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Hi Elianna,

We need to get the appropriate studies in front of the school board!
Feb. 5, 2015
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CEO Hartman was here In the Well almost exactly three years ago; http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/in-the-well-robert-hartman/

I seem to remember most of his “I'll get back to you” were addressed to individual questioners, not to the entire “Bridge Winners Community.” No, I'm not re-reading the article now.

Ask the individuals to whom he said “I'll get back to you” whether or not he actually did.

That was a long time ago, perhaps many items have been “overcome by events” since then (that was before the ACBL signed the initial contract with Hammond Software).

CEO Hartman would undoubtedly face a more hostile audience now, with very pointed questions such as those Nic Hammond has been urging us to ask our Board of Directors members (“When did Management tell you about x, y, z”) – questions he just might feel uncomfortable answering. I doubt under current conditions that CEO Hartman has any interest in returning here.

Bridge Winners has never told us who they have invited to appear In the Well, just who has accepted and will be next. It's up to them whether or not they would want to change that policy; I see no reason for them to do so. What positive could come to an invitee or to Bridge Winners by BW announcing “We invited Mr/Ms X to appear In the Well, and Mr/Ms X declined our invitation.”?
Feb. 4, 2015
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"The president-elect specifically addressed the comment boards on the BridgeWinners website where it’s easy to find discussion threads that attack ACBL management and Board policies. As with many comment boards, actual knowledge of a topic is not required, and trolling (posting unceasingly negative comments to generate further discussion) is considered a virtue. “It’s not the criticism that I mind; it’s the assertions made that aren’t true, because they can take on a life of their own. But in a way, BridgeWinners has done us a favor. The ACBL needs to be clearer on how it intends to make the game better. We need to be clearer we want dialogue and feedback, and we need to make our processes open. And all of this should happen without attacking anyone personally.”“

Does this sound like President Subeck is eager to enter The Well?

Remember when ACBL CEO Robert Hartman was In The Well? He addressed many questions, with many of his responses being in the ilk of ”I'll find out and get back to you later.“ Did he? I don't know, he didn't say that to me.

President Subeck is further removed from day-to-day ACBL operations than CEO Hartman. I suspect that she would have to answer many questions on specifics with ”I'll find out and get back to you later," as well.

I would not be surprised if she wants a different forum in which to engage in dialogue and feedback, perhaps a forum where ACBL has more control over its message, and the timing of what it chooses to say.

I'm pretty sure that Bridge Winners would be delighted to host President Subeck here, and even more sure that Bridge Winners has no reason to tell us anything about an invitation from Bridge Winners to her unless and until it is accepted.
Feb. 4, 2015
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Barry,

You forgot to take your “tact pill.” Like it or not, ACBL is run by the CEO and his staff, and it's quite probable that making changes requires a great deal of persuasion and cooperation. President Subeck took your idea to the Editor of the ACBL Bulletin, who had what appeared to him to be very good reasons to not jump on your bandwagon. Given the need for cooperation and allies in making any changes, I can understand President Subeck's supporting the editor – not telling how to do his job is only common courtesy. I understand that President Subeck also edits newsletters, so she has some idea of what is involved.

Telling us that this means she is “not able or willing to take us anywhere different than the status quo” as a result of this one interaction is a gross overbid, IMHO. She has passed on your concerns to Sharon Anderson and her committee, and also promised to get back to you about other ways to address your concerns in a public forum, once she has her facts straight.

"After that, I will get my ducks in a row and respond," President Subeck said. Perhaps it's correct for you to just be patient and give her the time she asked.

No one commenting here says the issues you list are unimportant. No one commenting here wants to be your adversary. I'm sure neither Editor Linxwiler nor President Subeck wants to be your adversary, either.

And if you want to change the ACBL Board, work from inside – do what it takes to become a member!

Thanks,

Kevin
Feb. 4, 2015
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Feb. 5, 2015
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Matthew Kidd and the La Jolla ACBL Unit 526 have a fine record of teaching bridge to students; see http://lajollabridge.com/Articles/YouthTeaching.htm

As for the United States Chess Federation (USCF), see what USCF says about their Scholastic program:
http://www.uschess.org/content/blogsection/27/131/
and any college chess program that wants to be listed:
http://www.uschess.org/content/view/8317/131/ (interesting – two of the top three college chess programs (UMBC, Webster U) are not listed!)
Key USCF Scholastic staff:
http://www.uschess.org/content/view/276/131/
Contact info:
We are also available by telephone during our office hours, Monday - Friday, 8am-5pm (central), and by US mail.

Mailing address:
US Chess Federation
PO Box 3967
Crossville, TN 38557

Building location:
137 O'Brien Drive
Crossville, TN 38555

Phone: 1-931-787-1234
Fax: 1-931-787-1200

Email queries can also be sent to feedback@uschess.org.
Feb. 4, 2015
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Feb. 4, 2015
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Howard,

If one's main purpose in playing the game is to win, you are right. If one's purpose is first to have fun, then to learn something, there's time for both games in most any student's life. And when they find that there's more fun in Bridge, and just as much challenge, then students will continue with Bridge. “Studies show” that taking up either game improves academic results, so either game should be looked upon favorably by the “academic/scholastic authorities.”

You state, correctly, that “Serious chess takes an enormous amount of study time.” So does serious bridge! But to learn at one's own pace, while enjoying oneself, takes only as much time as one wants to put in. It's not necessary to hire a Grandmaster Chess coach, or a Grand Life Master Bridge coach, to have fun and learn!

BTW, I like how comments on this thread have moved from attack/defense of the ACBL President to constructive ideas on how to save/improve/extend the game in North America!

Thanks,

Kevin
Feb. 4, 2015
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Feb. 4, 2015
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Hi Peg,

(1) Is it allowed that the “certified instructor” be assisted by non-certified “volunteers from our bridge community?”

(2) What local program do you have to reach out to the “certified instructors” (teachers) and get them interested in learning the game?

and not just for Peg,
(3) What program does ACBL / ACBL Education Foundation have to reach out to the “certified instructors” (teachers) and get them interested in learning the game?
Feb. 4, 2015
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Feb. 4, 2015
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Bridge offers more to students than chess, and many people of student age have time for both. IMHO, we should strive to emulate the USCF Scholastic success, at least at the fifth grade level and above.

Why doesn't every Sectional have a one-session “Scholastic Pairs” event and a one-session “Scholastic Teams” event? 1/2 hour lecture beforehand, pizza after, books as prizes. “Why doesn't my school have a Bridge Club?” Answer is “Here's how to get one started!”

Mr. Delfs at ACBL should be both eager and able to assist! ACBL Education Foundation as well.

Why doesn't every school library have bridge books available for interested students? Why doesn't every school library with computers have bridge software available for interested students?

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation assists many libraries.
Feb. 4, 2015
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Feb. 4, 2015
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Please, Barry, cut the lady some slack! She says “And then I leave for a week at the Bermuda Regional. After that, I will get my ducks in a row and respond.”
And when pressed further, she adds “Your comments about the future of the organization are serious. I will pass this email chain to Sharon Anderson, chairman of Strategic Review. This committee is working to extend our Strategic plan, focusing largely on the future of the game. They are concerned, as you and I are, about the aging demographic and any ideas to improve things are welcome.”
and "I believe you are sincere in wanting to improve what you can, however, you need to give me time to assess the situation before any changes are considered. I am being as forthright and prompt in my responses as I can . . . If you can wait till I have a chance to make myself aware of current status, I will be able to address this situation armed with facts.

It looks to me as if our ACBL President is asking for time to gather facts before she responds more fully. She has a busy schedule and many obligations. Give her the chance to gather the facts, and to respond on her time, not yours. Yours is not the only voice clamoring for attention/answers. Respect her decisions on how she allocates her time, and also her respect for the Bulletin Editor, and her allowing him to do his job.

Her idea ”One possibility might be a blog of some sort where we could conduct monthly interviews independent of the newsletter" is certainly not dismissing you, and waiting to see what she can do about this venue of open and transparent communication would have been, IMHO, much better than the approach you took to further communication.

I sometimes fail to take a “Tact Pill” before addressing issues important to me with people who have the power to help move things along; I usually have cause to regret not taking that pill almost immediately after I have said my un-edited piece.
Feb. 1, 2015
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Any chance that any full CEO's Technology Committee meetings (on-line) are scheduled before the face-to-face and open-to-the-public meeting scheduled for March 12 in New Orleans? If so, any chance minutes of such on-line meetings will be available on the ACBL website before March 12?
Jan. 29, 2015
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West was correct; anything said would give UI to East. East, on the other hand, should have disclosed his interpretation in answer to the question before the opening lead. That choice was not exactly available in the poll.
Jan. 22, 2015
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Hi Nic,

Thanks for answering the second of my questions, and for adding the ABA MLK tournament to your http://bsp.bridgescoreplus.com/?page_id=145 page. I guess you have your reasons (maybe as simple as “not enough time” or “not worth my time”) for not adding the names and dates and events of other ACBL tournaments where you used ACBLscore+/Bridgescore+ to that page.
Jan. 21, 2015
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Hi Nic,

You have notes on your Bridgescore+ website (http://bsp.bridgescoreplus.com/?page_id=145) about your running Bridgescore+ at 2014 ACBL (Mid-Atlantic Bridge Conference) Regionals in Atlanta and Augusta.

Elsewhere you mention running it at Gatlinburg 2014 (as ACBLscore+), some Atlanta Sectionals, and an unidentified District 9 (Florida) Regional, and IIRC, one event at the 2014 Spring NABC in Dallas. Above you refer to the ABA Atlanta tournament this weekend. You also say elsewhere that it may have been run at other tournaments without your presence.

Two questions:
(1) Will you provide in one place a list of the tournaments where you have personally run the software, or update http://bsp.bridgescoreplus.com/?page_id=145 to list all events at all tournaments where you personally have been involved in running the software? (I'm not asking for timing details, etc – just tournament, dates, and events.)

(2) Will Bridgescore+ be used at the Wilmington NC MABC/District 7 Regional next week? If so, for which events?

Thanks,

Kevin
Jan. 19, 2015
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I'm with you, Sam. “I will plug along running my small club and using ACBLscore, because nothing better is available to me.” If ACBLscore+ had been available, I would have been among the first in line to use it. All of us club directors are victims of the “stupid clicks.” But at least we don't have to matchpoint by hand, unlike the few clubs not yet using computers and ACBLscore.

On a lighter note, make up your own pun about “stupid cliques.”
Jan. 19, 2015
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Greg has told us everything he is allowed to say according to the Technology Committee minutes from January 6. I hope he hasn't divulged more than he is allowed to.

If he thought he was crossing a line with what he's said here, he wouldn't have said it. Let's let him and the rest of the ACBLscore Subcommittee do their work, the best way they can.

Will the ACBLscore Subcommittee talk to Nic Hammond, or ask him to demo Bridgescore+ for them? We may never know. That doesn't mean they will, it doesn't mean they won't. Let's just let Greg and the rest of the ACBLscore Subcommittee do their work, the best way they can.

When it's time to report, the “all on the same page” report will come to us from the full Technology Committee. That's just how it is – and will be.
Jan. 18, 2015
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Aah, Roger, I agree. BUT Russ, Tony, Merlin, and Ken (a majority of those on the ACBLscore subcommittee) all were involved in the unanimous decision to discard the ACBLscore+ software and write off approximately $ 1,905,328, and ACBL IT is already hard at work already spending the $600K to re-invent the wheel.

Much as I would like to be extremely comforted, I can't expect that to happen. As for addressing important aspects, we already know what the subcommittees can say: “Subcommittees will only report back up to the full committee when a proposed direction is identified or with issues of significance.” We already know what the full committee can say: “Group needs to be on same page with all decisions before they are announced and disseminated.”

The CEO's Technology Committee set up is designed so that we will never hear any minority opinions or viewpoints, and never hear anything from any Subcommittee that has not been agreed to by the entire CEO's Technology Committee.

Mr. Hammond has already told us what he thinks is necessary to complete and roll out the ACBLscore+/Bridgescore+ software, and much of it requires specs from ACBL Management and IT. ACBL Management and IT's inability or unwillingness to provide specs to the software developers in a timely manner, according to Mr. Hammond, is the major reason the ACBLscore+ development was behind schedule and not completed by the end of the contract. That lack of specs probably remains a huge problem for any changes to/rewrite of the old Turbo Pascal code.

Reverse-engineering to determine exactly what the currently-in-use ACBLscore (TurboPascal) does in the specs-missing areas may not be feasible – thus (perhaps) the ACBL Management decision to keep what they have been using for thirty-plus years and enhance ACBLscore by building around the old code, rather than rewriting it in a modern and more easily maintainable language from still non-existent specs.

We may know more if either the $600K subcommittee or the ACBLscore Subcommittee get to look at both the Hammond Software-developed code and the Turbo Pascal code, make their own evaluation, and get some facts and decisions and reasons for the decisions. It looks like a long process, though. The Subcommittee will then have to get its conclusions through the full CEO's Technology Committee, expressed in such a way that all on the full committee are on the same page; only then may there be an announcement and dissemination.

And don't forget that six of the ten on the full CEO's Technology Committee were involved with the unanimous decision to discard the ACBLscore+ product that ACBL management bought and paid for, and write off the approximately $ 1,905,328.

All these people on the CEO's Technology Committee have non-CEO's Technology Committee lives, some with full-time jobs. I would be very surprised to see anything substantive from this CEO's Technology Committee before their New Orleans meeting Thursday March 12, time and place not yet announced. That meeting is open to the public (“Face-to-face Technology Committee meetings will be held at each NABC on last day of the ACBL board meeting (the first Thursday of the NABC). These meetings will open to the public”). I'd like to see a video of that CEO's Technology Committee New Orleans meeting posted on the ACBL website; failing that, a posting of the video on the Bridge Winners site would suffice. Will it happen? Wait and see . . .
Jan. 18, 2015
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Jan. 19, 2015
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Thanks, Greg. You and I are not saying anything contrary to each other. Good luck with your task, even as present plans for ACBL IT and its enhancements to ACBLscore continue, unchanged, as announced at Providence.
Jan. 18, 2015
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