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All comments by Nicolas Hammond
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Kevin:

Others covered it more succinctly than I could.

I'm trying to focus on Gatlinburg - lots of requests from different people to demo various features peripheral to what I was originally planning. My focus for Gatlinburg is improving team games, e.g. KO/Swiss, and the paper trail and back-end office work, offer pre-registration, simplify and improve player/TD experience.

I'm now getting requests to run pairs games run with Bridgemates (which ACBLscore+/Bridgescore+ can do but that area of code hasn't been a focus lately), so if anything will ever happen with the software, disproving some of the myths around ACBLscore+ are probably more important at the moment. ACBL management have created this myth that the software is no good. Remember: I've never been asked by management to demonstrate the software at a tournament, and they won't let it be run at an NABC.

If you want to offer any credible explanation for what ACBL has done/is doing other than what I have outlined, go ahead.

If the ACBL Board want to investigate, I will provide documentation. But they are choosing not to (perhaps because at least one board member had to go through a Star Chamber for talking to me and others feel threatened).

I probably won't post much, other than Gatlinburg stuff, because that needs to be my focus. Lots of TDs to train, players to educate….

I'm aware of at least one ACBL member (I don't know who) that has requested information from ACBL through the New York statute for non-profits so someone is doing something other than going through their DD.
April 4, 2015
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Jim started coding around 1982. I think his original product was called CompuScore. I think Jim started full time with ACBL around 1991 and the product was renamed ACBLscore and started a new version numbering scheme.
April 4, 2015
Nicolas Hammond edited this comment April 4, 2015
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They used outside counsel around summer 2013 for the Learn To Play Bridge contract. Look closely and you will see that ACBL owns the copyright to that code.

Same outside counsel was also hired to review the existing ACBL technology contracts, including ACBLscore+ at the same time.

You can get your friendly DD to confirm the above.

Summer 2013 is when ACBL found out about this copyright issue and the outside counsel advised them to get it, contradicting what the League Counsel had negotiated. It put the League Counsel - and the Board because presumably they approved the contract - in a very awkward situation. It would appear that ACBL did not do due diligence on the original ACBLscore+ contract. ACBL's league counsel did not seek outside counsel when the ACBLscore+ contract was written.

ACBL's negotiating strategy in late 2013 was to stop paying my company for the ACBLscore+ contract(!). Needless to say this had an impact on the schedule. They stopped delivering specs - whether this was deliberate or incompetence is still unclear. I do know that they prevented employees from talking to me on some of the integration issues that were important for ACBLscore+. Obviously this affected the deliverables. After several months of not paying, they finally did pay, but I still did not get some of the necessary specs.

By May 2014, they reached out to the outside counsel ‘one last time’, but his advice was still the same.

So ACBL ‘was forced to terminated the contract’. Their words, not mine.

In May 2014, ACBL had a PR problem on their hands on how to explain this issue. Their decision - spend $100K on a clone to prove the underlying technology didn't work - has apparently failed.

I went several months before I said anything as this was not my problem. I only said started to say anything when some BW posters suggested suing my company running up even more legal bills for me. ACBL have been very careful not to criticize the code or deliverables that was delivered under the contract, but rather they mention the large ACBLscore+ Project (of which ACBL was responsible for writing about 3 man years of code) as having problems.

Remember this code went from Gatlinburg April 2014 running some of the largest events in ACBL to being thrown away by ACBL in May 2014. If the board ever chooses to investigate I have all the emails/contracts/termination letters to back up my claims.
April 3, 2015
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I agree.

ACBL's outside lawyer is the one telling them that copyright is important “to provide … protection” but ACBL's in-house counsel did not negotiate it in the contract.

I do not think that the copyright information on ACBLscore+ has been provided by management/in-house counsel to the ACBL Board of Directors.

ACBL's in-house counsel has gagged the board from finding out more.

I keep re-iterating that IMHO the board should hire independent outside counsel. When the issue is something that the in-house counsel has done, or been involved with, he is no longer independent and cannot advise the board - this is a very simple conflict of interest issue.
April 2, 2015
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IANAL. Me flummoxed too.

Per ACBL, this counsel is “an expert in such areas”. According to this counsel “(work-for-hire) is necessary to provide you (ACBL) protection” and without it “(ACBL) will (be) forced to terminate the original agreement”. These are “pretty significant deletions”. Quoted terms come from ACBL, not me. Bracketed words give context to he/it sentences. These comments/quotes all pre-date the termination of ACBLscore+. First WFH request from ACBL is October 2013.

The question next is “What did the Board know and when did the Board know it”. It should be fall 2013 NABC (Phoenix). Ask your DD. I believe that the board is still in the dark.

Also, why has the Board not used (different) outside counsel to investigate the discrepancy between what the league counsel did in the original contract, and what the outside counsel recommended in summer 2013. That's a $1.5M issue. When the board is gagged by management/league counsel from investigating this, there's a problem.
April 1, 2015
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Frightened to publish something on April 1, but here goes:

ACBL owns ACBLscore+, but not the copyright. Long story. ACBL counsel didn't negotiate it thinking it was of no value. ACBL outside counsel told them they should not use ACBLscore+ without the copyright. So $1.5M wasted.

Functionally Bridgescore+/ACBLscore+ are very similar. Bridgescore+ is ACBLscore+ with lots of real-world testing, TD feedback, bug fixes, some but not many new features. I've also added some features that ACBL developers were supposed to have done during the ACBLscore+ contract.

ACBL has the technology/code from Gatlinburg last year. Could run KO event start to finish, pair games similarly. Could create ACBLscore game file/import ACBLscore game file so could run in parallel. It was ready for initial, controlled alpha release to TDs and get real world feedback. Went from Dallas (NABC March 2014) run by ACBL where not allowed to run anything, to Gatlinburg (April 2014) run by District 7 where you finally got to see some of what ACBLscore+ can do. But May 2014 last year their outside counsel told them to drop ACBLscore+. I still don't think that the ACBL board members have been told the full story by management, or been apprized of the copyright issue by management as ACBL league counsel put a gag order on the board from finding anything out.

ACBL haven't bothered to figure out all the features/abilities/capabilities of ACBLscore+ since. Rather sad. It is a very powerful program and even more powerful set of tools behind it, e.g. testing of Masterpoints, fast results etc. All going to waste.

ACBLscore+ fast results - see http://results.bridgescoreplus.com for details, http://results.bridgescoreplus.com/results/nabc/2012/01/120316-plat-aft-full.html for a specific section. This was March 2012. See where ACBL is 3 years later.

Gatlinburg you will see some features that ACBL have postponed developing for this year because too difficult, e.g. some pre-registration. Lots more stuff planned for Gatlinburg this year. Spent an hour on the phone with the DIC today. Exciting times. Will post something separately on Gatlinburg a few days before the tournament because not only do we need to train the TDs, we have to educate the players. Anything new should be easier or better for the players, and same with the TDs. TDs can be trained, those darned players have to be educated, not trained. Stay tuned…

(I still haven't watched the 2 hour ACBL Tech Committee video; probably won't until after Gatlinburg so can't comment on it).

Am almost certain that the $100K creating an ACBLscore+ clone/prototype was an attempted cover-up to show the Board Members that the technology wouldn't work so that management/league counsel would not have to explain the copyright issue. Unfortunately, from what I've heard and read, the prototype actually proved the underlying technology for ACBLscore+. Oops.

We just got ACBLscore+ running on Windows 8.1 Enterprise, 15Gb disk, 1Gb RAM machine as someone didn't believe it could work.

Developing using modern tools is so much easier, faster, cleaner than developing using legacy programs/utilities (e.g. Pascal, Windows XP, dot matrix printers).

I always have said that the major benefits of ACBLscore+ would not be Version 1.0, which was intended to be functionally equivalent to ACBLscore, but with Version 2.0 where you could layer new tools on top of new technology. That's what Bridgescore+ is doing. It's what ACBL should have done, and could still do.
April 1, 2015
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?
April 1, 2015
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The only person who can understand why the ACBL is better protected by owning the copyright is XXXX of YYYY and Peter Rank. For ACBL it is clearly a huge issue.

Peter Rank did not cover this in the original contract; XXXX of YYYY said it needed to be done. This is a p*ing competition between two lawyers to the detriment of ACBL.

It was a big enough issue that ACBL management was “forced to terminate” the ACBLscore+ contract.

I don't know if that is what management/league counsel informed the board or has informed the membership, but that's what happened.

Try and find any other rational explanation for what has occurred.

==

I agree that code in public domain and data in public domain are two different issues.

ACBL owns all the code done during the ACBLscore+ contract. Just doesn't happen to own the copyright per the terms of the original contract.

==

There is little liability in the contract terms. There was not much need for it. Plenty of protection for both parties during the contract.

==

A lot of the recent PII initiatives from ACBL have occurred because of the ACBLscore+ contract. From previous work, I had some experience in some of this although IANAL.

==

With ACBLscore+ there is no more waiting 30 minutes for TDs to bracket a KO.
March 27, 2015
Nicolas Hammond edited this comment March 27, 2015
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Peter:
Yup. Was aware of the change, and the reasons behind it.

I should have better worded by saying that ACBLscore will typically only lists masterpoints that are won by an overall placement (i.e. 2 wins excluding a bye). I was agreeing with your reply to Peg.
March 24, 2015
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The ACBLscore+ fiasco is very simple.

Peter Rank (ACBL league counsel) and Robert Hartman (ACBL CEO) negotiated the original ACBLscore+ contract. I do not believe that Peter used outside counsel. The contract was not a Work For Hire (WFH) contract. Put simply: ACBL owns the code, Hammond Software owns the copyright. It took 5 months to negotiate, and was signed April 2, 2012.

In mid 2013, ACBL hired XXXX of law firm YYYY (I could name both, YYYY is a large law firm with offices in 6-7 states mainly in the South East ). XXXX was hired to review the existing ACBL technology contracts. Based on advice from XXXX regarding the need for ACBL to own the copyright, ACBL wanted to redo the ACBLscore+ contract as a WFH contract. Around summer 2013 ACBL stopped paying invoices, which had an obvious impact on the project schedule. I believe that they did this in order to put pressure on my company. They went some months without paying. On October 27, 2013 I received a request for amending the original contract to make it a WFH. My company declined.

On February 26, 2014, ACBL tried again to modify the original contract and make it a WFH contract.

In both cases the wording was a little unclear, but it appeared to take away my company's rights to later develop derivative software. We declined again.

On March 19, 2014, ACBL proposed terms for the mutual termination of the original ACBLscore+ contract. Again, their requirement was that we make the original contract a WFH contract.

On May 2, 2014, I received an email from Robert stating that he had reached out to XXXX “one last time to see if we had an flexibility on Sections Five and Six of the termination agreement”.

Section Five was ownership, and it wanted to make the original contract a WFH.

Section Six was changing the original licensing agreement. In the original agreement, my company has a full license to the code, and we own any derivative works we create. ACBL wanted to change this so that ACBL exclusively owned all derivative work, i.e. if we created a banking application using the underlying UI libraries, ACBL would own all of the work and decide if or when we could sell it.

My company said no. I don't know of anyone that could agree to those terms.

According to the ACBL email on May 2, 2014

“Based on counsel's advice, sections five and six are not negotiable.
Should you not agree to this wording, we will forced to terminate the original agreement.”

There was no way we could, or would, so ACBL was “forced to terminate the original contract.”

There was no negotiating on Section Five or Six, “Based on advice of outside counsel, who is an expert in such areas, the entirety of the language in these sections are needed.”

Peter imposed a gag order on the board somewhere around late 2013/early 2014. The gag order is still in effect. The gag order prevented any board member from talking to me and trying to find out this information.

I had a player in New Orleans come up to me (I was there for the last week) to tell me that at least one Board Member had to appear before a “Star Chamber” (that's what they call the disciplinary committee) charged, among other items, with “talking to me”. This was later confirmed by a board member. Both wish to remain anonymous for obvious reasons. Internal discipline within the Board is highly confidential, as it should be.

I also believe that at least one Board Member had similar treatment in 2014 charged with “talking to me” and had to appear in front of a Star Chamber.

The correct procedure for Peter would have been to recuse himself from providing legal advice to the Board on this matter as he is the one that negotiated the original contract. He has a very clear conflict of interest. He did not negotiate a WFH contract, their outside counsel legal expert mandated that this is a requirement. The Board should have hired different Outside Counsel (OC) to review what happened. The correct procedure would be for someone from the board to stand up and require this to happen.

With the ACBLscore+ contract terminated, management were in a bit of a pickle, to put it mildly. They had spent all this money, now had software that they had been advised not to use.

As my company was paid in full, termination actually meant that they relieved me of the requirement for being available, at ACBL's discretion, for a few hours each month.

From discussions with board members, who obviously I am not allowed to talk to…., it appears that the board were not apprized of the Copyright issue at the November 2013 board meeting, or subsequent meetings. This is a serious oversight.

So…. ACBL owns the code, but not the Copyright…. and Outside Counsel an “expert in such areas” has told them not to use it. I'll skip the legal arguments that their OC used for this requirement. Peter is in a difficult position because he negotiated the original contract, now an outside counsel has told ACBL that these terms, which were not in the original contract, are “necessary”.

Management has since spent $100K creating a clone of ACBLscore+ to attempt to prove that one of the underlying technologies (a “Personal Web Server (PWS)”) would not work so they had a technical reason for throwing away the code. Unfortunately it appears that the clone actually proved the concept would work, but this was an un-necessary waste.

All offers to ACBL to run ACBLscore+/Bridgescore+ at NABCs have been rebuffed. In all cases, I offered to run the software for free, just so that we would not have to suffer the long delays. Swiss results on projectors, KO starts on time etc.

As someone pointed out previously, I am not a victim. My company got paid, and paid in full. We are fortunate that we have rights to the code so continue to develop it. It won't get ‘lost’.

I refer to the reason that ACBL terminated the contract as a business dispute. Others have referred to it as bullying, or big brother tactics, it's not. It's simple business. My company was made an offer we could refuse, so we did.

Once that happened, the reasons for explaining this to the ACBL Board and Membership are not my responsibility, so I stayed silent. I only started to say/write something when there were threats of lawsuits against my company, or if anyone started to question the work that was done. I will protect both my reputation, my company's reputation and also the work of those people that worked on the software.


March 24, 2015
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Peter, almost certain you are correct. The report only lists the overall winners, not the MPs won in the event.

I also heard that the match award was wrong as well. It was changed 1/1/15 but the software was not updated. But this does not show up in the report.

Historically you always needed 2 wins to earn overall awards. A bye is not a win. It is a bye.
March 24, 2015
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See http://www.acbl.org/acbl-content/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Convention-Chart.pdf

I hope that these are the latest convention charts that ACBL uses.

Under General. Disallowed. #7.

“7. CONVENTIONAL RESPONSES, REBIDS AND A CONVENTIONAL DEFENSE
TO AN OPPONENT’S CONVENTIONAL DEFENSE after natural
notrump opening bids or overcalls with a lower limit of fewer than 10
HCP or with a range of greater than 5 HCP (including those that have
two non-consecutive ranges) and weak two-bids which by partnership
agreement are not within a range of 7 HCP and do not show at least
five cards in the suit.”

So you can open 1NT; however if you open 1NT with less than 10, you cannot play conventional responses. After 1NT (<10 HCP) 2C/2D/2H/2S are all natural, 2NT is invitational, 3 bids are forcing (I assume), 3NT is to play, 4minor is forcing, 4 major is to play. 4NT/5NT are quantitative. etc.

It also means that if they interfere over your weak 1NT you cannot play Lebensohl. Double is penalty. All other bids are natural.
March 24, 2015
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1NT opening bid is permitted if the agreed lower limit is less than 10.

However, you are not permitted conventional responses.
March 24, 2015
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I believe that there were 10 teams. 8 rounds.

So every team plays every other team, except one.

From what has been said, it looks like the leading team, Baker, had played teams in positions 2,3,5-8,10 after the end of round 7 and could only play 4 or 9. This narrows down the remaining possible matches.

The ACBL Swiss Team Matching algorithm is actually very good. Before suggesting a match it checks that the event can complete without playbacks. Unfortunately almost no director knows how to use the sophisticated options within ACBLscore for Swiss Team Matching. Even if they did, I don't see a way that this type of problem could be prevented - it is the simple mathematics behind Swiss Teams when you have almost the same number of rounds as teams. This event was almost what ACBL calls a Round Robin Swiss where every team plays every other. The DIC would have to be clairvoyant to avoid this type of problem.

In this case the problem is not the TD, nor ACBLscore, nor the CoC, it's the simple issue of running a Swiss where the number of teams is close to the number of rounds.
March 24, 2015
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I've probably spent more time than anyone looking at this problem. I watched the pairs selling and cross-overs for about 6-7 NABCs.

All of the proposed solutions above involve a compromise of some sort. There's no need; we just need to change the process slightly.

ACBL has the technology for KO events to start quickly and display on walls using projectors. A pair event is, from a computer viewpoint, the same as a team event but with a team of 2, not 4-5. Adding human seeding to overrule the default computer seeding needs to be done, but it is not hard. There was a separate thread about this.

It would probably take less than a week of coding, that includes testing, to get this done.

Whether ACBL would use it is another matter.
March 24, 2015
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Irina is also a class act.
March 23, 2015
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See http://results.bridgescoreplus.com/results/nabc/2012/01/120317-plat-eve-full.html. Try clicking on something to go from hand record to player to opponent etc.

Full information at http://results.bridgescoreplus.com/ along with Fast Results.

This is what ACBL had 3 years ago… rolled out in Memphis, March 2012.
March 22, 2015
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There may have been a carry over. Also they score with the ACBL/WBF/USBF 20 point continuous scale (two decimal places) but will only write the scores (without decimal places) for the first 2-3 rounds because no-one cares about the decimal places until the last couple of rounds.
March 22, 2015
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For Andrew and Richard's first bridge TV appearance, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFmp595UdNs.

They first show up about 17 seconds into the clip.

You will also see a young Patty Tucker.

I think this was filmed about 7-8 years ago. Some of these kids have now graduated from college!! Patty - remember the date?
March 18, 2015
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