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All comments by Kevin O'Brien
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Play Level 2 Bridge (module 4.1?)
HCP introduced, as “”A method to help you evaluate your hand" – no other methods introduced yet. Now they are playing mini-bridge.

Want your 20 GBP back, Chris?
Nov. 20, 2019
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“Power tends to corrupt,
Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
– Lord Acton, 1887

“Absolute power corrupts the best natures.”
– de Lamartine, 1848

“Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it”
– William Pitt the Elder, 1770
Nov. 20, 2019
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Tough decision as to when to introduce scoring when teaching absolute beginners. Introducing scoring before introducing vulnerability is questionable. It will be interesting to see how they continue the intro series.
Nov. 19, 2019
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Len,

Any ACBL Director who is reform-minded in any way (most obviously in believing that a BoD with fewer members could be more effective) could quote Walt Kelley “We have met the enemy and he is us” and be accurate.
Nov. 18, 2019
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Richard,

https://web2.acbl.org/documentLibrary/marketing/ArmyEmail.pdf

For questions and requests for pilot consideration, contact Patty Tucker at patty@bridgewithpatty.com

Direct questions there, please, not to me. I only know what I have read.
Nov. 18, 2019
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I'm among the many who fear it's too late. If not already, then certainly by the time an ACBL Board of Directors with thirteen members only turns its face toward the “Demographic Cliff” – either looking down as organized North American Contract Bridge falls over that cliff, or looking up as organized North American Contract Bridge lies injured at the bottom of the cliff.

At this point in time, dealing with governance issues is no better than rearranging deck chairs as the ship plows into the iceberg!

ACBL is already active with new marketing, going after military and others (see https://bridgewinners.com/article/view/bridge-and-advertising/ and https://trybridge.org/ plus ACBL's e-mail to Club Managers, Officers and Board Members earlier today, subject “Bringing Bridge to the Military.” Neither ACBL Management nor the marketing consultants is waiting around to see what the Board of Directors will do, or what size it will be when it finally takes some non-governance action.

Yes, they are spending what some want to save to bankroll ACBL's successor organization as it crawls out of the debris at the bottom of the “Demographic Cliff.”

And those who gripe and kvetch on Bridge Winners cannot do anything about it.

I don't doubt that a professional study of demographics and cash could provide valuable information to assist in future planning – but it ain't gonna happen under ACBL's aegis while we wait around for the ACBL BoD to bloat and then shrink.

Optimists may say that taking steps to increase membership NOW is good; pessimists (and there are several actively posting in this thread) may counter that it's a waste of money.

If we have appropriate professional direction, I say it may lead to good results. But these “Anointed Twenty-five” and the electors who choose them, whose main qualifications are in being good politicians and succeeding at organizing tournaments, may lack the appropriate qualifications to do what must be done.

Let's hope that they are better qualified than we think/fear, and/or that these new efforts may be lucky and provide success (whatever that is; do the ACBL BoD have any specific, measurable goals for these new efforts?).

Bringing in new members now is much more productive than messing with the size of the Board of Directors, the immediate return on which is zero, and the long-term result of which – wait! Is there a long-term?
Nov. 18, 2019
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Nov. 19, 2019
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arguing here does no good. Probably the same with complaining to ACBL, but NOT 100% guaranteed to get zero results.
Nov. 18, 2019
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If I take I-80 all the way to Omaha I'll miss the Regional (or have to make a U-turn!)
Nov. 17, 2019
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“What is the best thing to come out of Iowa? Interstate
80!”

Peg might prefer Interstate 35 headed north?
Nov. 17, 2019
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Hi Peg,

I neglected to take a tact pill before posting https://bridgewinners.com/article/view/who-are-those-guys-anyway/ here four years, one month, six days ago. Thanks for reminding people once again!
Nov. 17, 2019
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ACBL Live for Clubs does NOT indicate anywhere who directs the event! Not good. Not good at all. (or am I missing something?)
Nov. 17, 2019
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Thanks, Matthew, for being the leader in so much that benefits ACBL clubs. When I began directing club games almost seven years ago, I investigated Bridge Results and ACBL Merge, but instead went straight to The Common Game – pretty much the same format for results, plus the HUGE advantage of having a much larger field for score comparison.

My smallest club game frequently (alas!) uses Homestyle Pairs. I can't get all of the available information to post in either The Common Game or ACBL Live for Clubs. I have the same problem with Round-Robin Teams played with pre-dealt boards and post-game hand records. I can't even get ACBLscore to put all the available information in one event; I need to set up two separate events to get all the information. Details follow.

I run the Homestyle Pairs in ACBLscore first as a two-table Howell movement, scored as IMPs. Then I set up a second event, Homestyle Pairs in ACBLscore, and copy the match results from the 2-table Howell into the Homestyle Pairs event.

Now, using Bridge Composer, I can get the board-by-board results with integrated hand record and double-dummy info from the two-table Howell event into HTML code. I manually copy the Homestyle Pairs recap over the two-table Howell recap, and add links to The Common Game's Leaderboard page for the session, so players can check their (IMP) results against a comparatively huge matchpoint-results field. Can't post anything but the Homestyle Pairs results on either The Common Game or ACBL Live for clubs, but I can still post on ACBL Club Results, and I send that URL to the players, telling them it's the best place to check their results. Lots of extra work – someone in the Software business (ACBL? Nic Hammond? Brenda Egeland?) should be able to do all this with software, but I guess the market is not yet big enough.

The process is similar for Round-Robin Teams; run a B-A-M event in ACBLscore, change scoring to IMPs, and collect all the board-level results. Bridge Composer works for generating the board-level display. Separate ACBLscore event for teams, copy in mach results manually created from the BAM-scored-by-IMPs to the team event, and I have results I can post/display for the players. All ACBL Live for Clubs and The Common Game can handle is the match results for the team game event; I manually patch together the HTML results for both events to post on ACBL Club Results. Again, not enough of a market for the software gurus to mess with – but it's excellent customer service for the players.

“Replay” button with results? Is that available in the software I'm using now? Where do I go to lrn how to implement it?

If there was an easier way available, I would gladly use it!
Nov. 17, 2019
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Nov. 17, 2019
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Messing with reducing the size of the Board of Directors does not work and has never worked. Asking them to cut the number of their colleagues, or (perish the thought!) their own position, will never work. That's why the current “Chicago Six” proposal tries the blatant bribe of offering an additional term with no need to stand for re-election, and an initial bloating of the BoD size to as many as thirty-eight, before quietly (??) subsiding to thirteen. See Len Fettig, above, for the details of this bad news – a quick summary is a possible high of 38 members in 2023, shrinking to 13 by 2028. Will the “Demographic cliff” and ACBL's membership falling over it be obvious by then? If it's not too late already, will we have passed the “point of no return” by 2028?

I don't want to find out. Whatever size “organized contract bridge in North America” is now, there will be some left in 2028. The size and composition of its governing body will be important, but of primary importance is what we can do NOW to leave it the best chance to do what any membership organization needs to do to survive and prosper - that is, to identify those who will benefit from membership, to attract them to join, to provide them the needed benefits of that membership, to retain them as members, and to have the means to continue doing so.

If we say “We need a reduced-size governing body before we can expect any progress on the basics,” we will fail because we will find it's not possible for us to reduce the size of the Board of Directors.

ACBL may indeed collapse – so what? Look beyond ACBL and it's probable demise. What's left? How will those of us living in a post-ACBL world continue competitive Contract Bridge? Will we all die off, one by one, until all the few survivors can do is compete against European, Chinese, and others on tablets from geriatric care facilities? Will there be any North Americans to mourn the last of us to die?

I expect most of us want better. We won't get it by working with the current ACBL Board of Directors, or by trying to tinker with BoD size or composition. We've tried that route and failed. Many times. Face reality, please!

So let's, as an alternative, do something that might work.

Enough for now. I have more to say, but not until after tomorrow afternoon's game and the post-game membership-retaining players' dinner.
Nov. 17, 2019
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Nov. 17, 2019
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Richard,

Forget about governance! That is POISON to the entrenched locality/District/Region-interested BoD member, as well as the self-interested BoD member.

Loot at Don Mamula's initial approach – take the “five people, good and true” and have them first come up with the details – operational solutions for the pressing problems of the organization. Research, analyze and present a comprehensive set of recommendations for the OPERATIONAL side of the ACBL. Create a fix for what's wrong with the nuts and bolts, figure out how to establish a solid fiscal stance, and develop reasonable, measurable marketing programs and goals. This most probably includes the demographic study you find so important.

A beyond-the-horizon much-higher-numbered step might maybe look at governance. But first we need a superb (not “the best”) working model where whatever organization is guiding North American Contract Bridge into the future has a solid foundation of a working model to identify the “customer,” identify their needs, bring them in, and meet those needs.

We can afford to ignore governance until we have the superb customer-facing solution working with the details in place. We CANNOT afford the waste of time that messing with governance first entails. Let's use what little time remains to build the part that we'll need in whatever the future is, not waste it deciding whether/how/when to restructure ACBL's governance! PLEASE!
Nov. 16, 2019
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Nov. 17, 2019
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If it's not already too late, we watch San Francisco BoD actions.
Doesn't matter what they do with the Chicago Six motion (sorry, JoAnn), size of current BoD is, for now, irrelevant. Easier if they reject it (avoiding the “imminent-bloat” which precedes the “eventual-shrink”), but doesn't matter anyway.

What's important is that the BoD requests that a group of appropriately skilled individuals do said analysis (Willey, above). If this small, focussed team with the necessary skills (Paul Street's first step) is in place and working before 2020 under BoD's aegis, great.

If not, we know where reform/restructuring/future ACBL survival stands with “The Anointed Twenty-five,” and we must find/form/fund an independent small, focussed team with the necessary skills.

“Who are those guys, anyway?” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIie9OosnEM (29 seconds total) ) you may ask. Mr. Mamula says it well below. many, many stellar business folks in the ACBL membership who also have the critical talents. At this point we are looking to survival and future prosperity NOT of ACBL, but of Contract Bridge in North America. BoD has dealt themselves out of the game.

Next decision point is when the small, focussed team with the necessary skills reports its recommendations. Whether or not the group is under ACBL BoD aegis, said ACBL BoD gets an opportunity to accept or reject the recommendations for ACBL. Yes, Mr. Mamula, these recommendations must include
+ objectives in measurable form
+ a measurement process
+ an evaluation process
+ “general business sense and perspective”


If ACBL's BoD takes these recommendations and, rather than mandating their immediate implementation, continues rearranging deck chairs while the ACBL ship (and North American Contract Bridge) continue to approach the iceberg (or have already hit it), we MUST abandon ship and let ACBL sink, while we save what's left of North American Bridge. To me, it's that simple.

(1) get the small, focussed team with the necessary skills at work ASAP, whether under ACBL BoD's aegis or not. What's important is their recommendations.

(2) find and work with whoever will fund the implementation of these recommendations. Doesn't have to be ACBL's BoD. As Mr Willey says above, If bridge is going to survive something new needs to rise in its place. And this is going to require financial resources. If / when this happens, this is the request that you want to make of Gates and Buffett. But when you do so, you damn well better have your ducks in a row.
Nov. 16, 2019
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Nov. 16, 2019
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Bravo, Don! The ACBL Board of Directors and its size is now irrelevant.

The first step is to put in place a small, focussed team with the necessary skills.

We do NOT need ACBL's Board of Directors to do this!


Let's find these appropriately-skilled people, recruit them, fund them (not a penny of ACBL money), and put them to work. Let this skilled group come up with operational solutions for the pressing problems of the organization. Research, analyze and present a comprehensive set of recommendations for the OPERATIONAL side of the ACBL. Create a fix for what's wrong with the nuts and bolts, figure out how to establish a solid fiscal stance, and develop reasonable, measurable marketing programs and goals.

If this skilled group exists apart from ACBL and its Board of Directors, it may be able to do its work without their interference. All ACBL's Board of Directors needs to see is its final product – and they can take it or leave it.

If they leave it, we leave ACBL. That's simple enough.
Nov. 15, 2019
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Nov. 15, 2019
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I agree that working through ACBL's current governing Board of Directors to achieve an efficient effective organization to lead North American Bridge into the future is an "unattainable ideal.“

Richard and JoAnn, you are setting your sights too low. Taking three, four, six. ten, however-many years to reduce the size of the ACBL Board of Directors, leaving a smaller group of the same ”Bridge Politicians" to do what the current group and its predecessors has failed to do for almost thirty years now is a poor and irrelevant goal.

IMHO, ACBL's Board of Directors, geographically based and elected by Unit Board members, has proven its inability to deal with what we have been facing.

So what to do instead? Don't fight ACBL. Bypass it!

Look outside the ACBL box. Don't waste time and energy fighting the same battles you/we have fought and failed to win before. Don't try to amend their bylaws. That hasn't worked. Build a better Contract Bridge organization for North America, with better bylaws from the start!

Your “senescent members” are quite happy to play a weekly game at a local club, for the social benefits, the mental exercise, the refreshments, and the occasional Masterpoint fraction they win.

Good! Perhaps none of them care about a local Unit, perhaps a few care about the occasional Local, Regional, or larger tournament. All well and good.

In the meantime, ACBL, under the (euphemistically) underperforming Board of Directors, loses $(millions) on software, $(hundreds of thousands) on Hawaii NABC, $(more hundreds of thousands) on lawsuits and discharging a CEO, and so on.

Would the local club and its players care at all if the Masterpoints awarded came from (say) the North American Contract Bridge League (NACBL) rather than ACBL?

Would the local club affiliate with the NACBL rather than the ACBL if so affiliating provided better service and cost less?

Would Tournament players care if the Masterpoints they won were NACBL Masterpoints rather than ACBL Masterpoints – especially if NACBL accepted and included previously and currently earned ACBL Masterpoints as equivalent? (Of course they would need a different name, due to copyright law, but that's a minor detail.)

Would Tournament Organizers prefer affiliating with NACBL for better service and lower cost rather than the status quo of ACBL affiliation?

We can work outside of ACBL to put the experts to work and build the appropriate structures and functions for a growing and thriving 21st-century-and-beyond Contract Bridge environment in North America.

What can ACBL offer? History, contracts with sites for future NABCs, hard-working support personnel in Horn Lake, and Tournament Directors. A working NACBL could hire the last two, appropriate the first, and run better tournaments at the same (if ACBL transfers the contracts) or different sites. BBO? Once NACBL has proven itself, negotiating a contract with BBO is merely a matter of mutually profitable details.

So build the NACBL, see it begin to work well, and then offer ACBL the opportunity to fold, offer its assets to NACBL, and fade gracefully into the sunset.

The players can continue to play, the supporting personnel can continue to support, the TD's can continue to Direct, the Clubs can continue to run Club games, the experts can rejoice in a job well done as their NACBL creation thrives under their intelligent, compact, and effective guidance, and hardly anyone will miss the ACBL Board of Directors making foolish financial decisions and rearranging their deck chairs. Indeed, if its final members go gently away, they will be praised for their wisdom in doing so.

Start now. We may not have the years to wait for ACBL.
Nov. 15, 2019
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We don't need and can't rely on ACBL to lead any effective effort to “save competitive bridge in ACBL land.” How is it that we have not learned this already, based on our experience of the last almost thirty years?

"The first step is to put in place a small, focussed team with the necessary skills." Let's find them, recruit them, fund them, and put them to work. We do not need the ACBL Board of Directors, and I fear we cannot wait for them to get on board – certainly not if they aren't expected to act differently from their predecessors.

Let's get busy and do this. Now.
Nov. 15, 2019
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Don't count on a Court, Chris. Don't wait that long. Don't waste time tinkering with the BoD size. Work OUTSIDE the BoD box.

We have a pretty good idea of
+ what needs to be done (Steve Moese and others have set out the goals/objectives fairly well),
+ and of how to go about it (Paul Street's five-step process).

Let's start doing what must be done now, with Step one of Mr. Street's process, before it's too late.

The first step is to put in place a small, focussed team with the necessary skills. Let's find them, recruit them, fund them, and put them to work. We need neither the ACBL Board of Directors nor ACBL Management to do this, and I fear we cannot wait for them to get on board – certainly not if they aren't expected to act differently from their predecessors.

Let's get busy and do this, Chris. Now.
Nov. 15, 2019
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Nov. 15, 2019
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JoAnn, that's why we must bypass the however-many-member board. Reducing its size will not change its composition. The goal/objective is not to reduce the Board size!

Our goal must be to design and implement an organization capable of moving forward into the future with effective membership recruitment, marketing, and membership retention, which can grow the game of Bridge in North America, so that more may enjoy its multiple benefits.

The present Board has proven and continues to prove it is unable to do that, and a future 25, 13, or even nine of the same sort of Directors, chosen in the same way, has the same chance of succeeding as the present bunch and its predecessors have demonstrated over the past two or three decades.

They have proven incapable of designing and implementing anything effective. Bypass them!

Your experience (in your own words):
"I did devote years to various restructuring efforts led by Paul Street and the latest was the gang of 9 where we spent about a year and a half trying to perfect a restructure. Both efforts were DOA."

Take Paul Street's five-step process, and start outside the current BoD; find the experts we need, fund them, and let them do their work. Once the experts have what North American Bridge needs, the BoD will either buy in or not; either way we can fund implementation of the experts' plan – with whatever is good from the current ACBL or without it.

Tinkering with the Board of Directors has never worked; IMHO it's insanity to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.

I hope that whatever the current BoD does in San Francisco will prove me wrong, JoAnn, but just planning to change their number is rearranging deck chairs as the ship continues toward the iceberg. Right now that's all they are being asked to do, and it's not enough. It's even counter-productive if they adopt the current proposal and grow their membership to far upwards of thirty!

And I don't think we have the luxury of waiting long enough to see a 13-member BoD prove it too is unable to move forward constructively.

We have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done (Steve Moese and others have set out the goals/objectives fairly well), and of how to go about it (Paul Street's five-step process).

Why wait around for the BoD, with or without wasting its time on a bloating/shrinking BoD membership process, to prove it can't/won't move in that direction?

Let's start doing what must be done now, with Step one of Mr. Street's process, before it's too late.
Nov. 15, 2019
Kevin O'Brien edited this comment Nov. 15, 2019
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