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All comments by Nicolas Hammond
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The Reverend William Archibald Spooner was a real person so it should be Spoonerism with a capital ‘S’. Sadly modern dictionaries fail in etymology. Now I want my pedant points. I promise I'll share them with David.
March 17, 2015
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Let's meet at $** (Starbucks) in the Marriott at 10.15am on Wed Mar 18, 2015. The room is quite small. I did ask permission from them today.

I have no idea how many people may show up. If you can send me a BW email if you will attend. If numbers are ridiculous (the room can probably hold 5-10 for a workable demo), I will probably do demos at 10:45, 11:15 etc. $** wants me to be reasonable.

Given the size of the room, my plans will just be to showcase either ACBLscore+ (the version ACBL has) or Bridgescore+. My original offer - compare ACBLscore/ACBLscore+ wasn't accepted by Greg or anyone. I think that's a shame. What we are really looking at is what is the best way forward. A side by side comparison is needed. There's 3 - ACBLscore, ACBLscore+, Bridgescore+.

I haven't decided yet if I will show ACBLscore+ or Bridgescore+, probably the latter as it showcases where ACBLscore+ was going and will become. Best to show you the future.

Given the time constraints, I'll probably do a demo of starting/running a KO; running a Swiss; and if time a Pairs Game. I'll show off some of the additional features in Bridgescore+, and state what's in ACBLscore+ and what's only in Bridgescore+. I'm probably going to create the demo later today. I'm working on Bridgescore+ to get some features ready for Gatlinburg, so I literally will be showing you top-of-development tree code. That's a lot to show in 20-30 minutes. I'll leave time for some questions afterwards.

If the numbers get ridiculous, I'll look at doing another demo later in the week at a bigger location.

I'll invite Greg as well…
March 17, 2015
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David is frustrated, because he's only the second most famous bridge player to come out of Gonville & Caius College (Cambridge) so he keeps quoting others.

“The other place” is Oxford, still ranked number two behind you-know-where. Beeching (1859-1919) wrote the original poem about Benjamin Jowett, Master of Balliol College, Oxford.

“Whigs admit no force but argument.” is a quote from a poem by William Browne on why George I donated the Bishop of Ely's library to Cambridge, and not Oxford.

“The king to Oxford sent a troop of horse,
For tories own no argument but force;
With equal care to Cambridge books he sent,
For whigs allow no force but argument.”

The Tories and Whigs were the two dominant political parts at the time in England.

At this point, the former Warden of New College Oxford would congratulate me on being a shining wit.

March 17, 2015
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Jay is a smart guy. I laid out a plan of action for him that would seem to be a reasonable approach to get this all resolved. Why is he not doing something? Anything??
March 17, 2015
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Shame on quoting from the other place…
March 17, 2015
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And Robb.

Just sent you BW email.
March 17, 2015
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Jay Whipple - calling you out. You are on the CEO Technology Committee, you chair the Board Technology Committee, but I haven't heard from you about ACBLscore+.

You stated that the board was serious (I wasn't there, I haven't see the video).
Seriously, how serious are you??

You are probably the most qualified on both committees to review ACBLscore+. You have both the technical background, the background in using ACBLscore (I believe you own/run a club) and also have a background in working with the TDs and CDs through Fast Results so you know their needs better than most. You are uniquely qualified. You are independent, you don't report to management so your review would be trusted.

What should you be doing?

As chair of the Board Technology Committee, I think your first step is to review the legal situation of ACBLscore+, specifically:

1. Does ACBL own the copyright to ACBLscore+?

2. Has ACBL management been advised by Outside Counsel (OC) that they should not use ACBLscore+ without the copyright?

In order to resolve these two legal questions, you will need to get the appropriate documents from management. As part of your oversight role on the Board, these are documents that they should provide to you. Specifically, ask for copies of any emails from the CEO and/or league counsel to me regarding the copyright issues (sometimes referred to as ‘Work For Hire’). I can provide you emails if you can't get them from ACBL. Also, they should provide you with a copy of OC's opinion on the ACBL Technology Contracts.

I think everyone would like to know the answers to the two questions above. There has to be some explanation on why the ACBL spent $100K creating a copy of ACBLscore+. My claim is simple: they created this clone to prove that one of the technology pieces of ACBLscore+ (“personal web server”) would not work; therefore CEO/league counsel could throw away ACBLscore+ on technical reasons without having to explain the legal issues. Oops, according to you the personal web server concept does work.

The answers to these two legal issues would clear up a lot for everyone involved.

Let's assume for the moment that the legal issues are resolved.

What should you do?

Call me. You have my number, you have my email. As chair of the Board Technology Committee, you should be asking me for a demo of ACBLscore+. In fact you should have asked me a long time ago, probably within a week of being assigned. Am offering to do the demo for free - don't worry about that.

A full demo will take about 3-4 hours. Seriously. There are several man years of work in ACBLscore+; it will take that long to show it all. It's about the same if someone wanted a full demo of ACBLscore. We don't need to meet; we can do this with screen sharing, or a demo over the Internet.

It could be that 30 minutes into the demo that you decide that you don't want to see any more because it's that bad. Fine. At least someone from within the ACBL management or the board has seen a full demo of the software. Currently, almost a year after ACBLscore+ was delivered, no-one has. Or it could be that after 30 minute you realize that wow, the software is that good and don't need to see any more.

Let's say you have a demo and you believe that the software is good. Then what?

Get 2-3 TDs and ask for their opinion. Again, there would need to be a demo, sorry - I'm probably the only qualified to give it at this point - we already know that ACBL can't. I'd much rather this demo be done in a live setting, i.e. at a tournament where it can run in parallel. Ideally with you watching what it does and how it compares to ACBLscore. Involve some of the TDs that have been running Bridgescore+/ACBLscore+ at tournaments.

You need to find experienced DICs, but also the younger TDs. They will be the ones that can see the benefits as they are far more comfortable with technology.

Ask about ease of use, ability to get the job done. Go through some real world scenarios that TDs face. Get some test scenarios in place so that this stuff is documented. Use cases should be been part of the test cases that ACBL prepared.

Assuming that ACBLscore+ passes this test, then what?

Get 2-3 club managers/owners and ask for their opinion. These are the real users of ACBLscore+. Try to find a brand new club director; one who does not know much about ACBLscore or ACBLscore+ and ask for their opinion on the two systems.

Ask the people that teach ACBLscore, let's do a demo to them. How hard is it going to be train new users?

Assuming that ACBLscore+ is still holding its own, then what?

Talk to some Tournament Chairs (TCs), talk to some Unit/District treasures. They are also users of the data from ACBLscore. Find out from them how ACBLscore+ would help them. Let me give demos to them. Ask the Gatlinburg TC what he thought about ACBLscore+ last year - that's the code that ACBL has. Ask last year's Gatlinburg DIC (now retired) what he thought. He may be the best able to make a comment; now he is retired he can be honest.

Assuming that things still look good…

Ask for internal demos for ACBL staff.

You need to get input from the support department. They would be supporting the new tool. Ask for demos of the various support tools within ACBLscore+.

You need input from the finance department. They would be handling data from ACBLscore+.

You need input from the IT department. They process masterpoints.

I don't know what group is handling results - the IT department, the marketing departmern or another department, but you need input from them.

You need input from the ACBL Live department. Compare the results from ACBL Live now with the results from ACBLscore+ three years ago ( How would ACBLscore+ integrate with what they have? I can show you.

You need input from the club department. What are the issues facing the club department that ACBLscore+ may solve.

For all these departments, you need a demo.

Players - players are affected by ACBLscore+ because of their interaction. Does ACBLscore+ help the player experience?

At all times during these demos, you need someone from the ACBL staff watching/listening. It's pointless giving all these demos unless someone from inside Horn Lake gets to hear/see the information.

Assuming the ACBLscore+ has made it this far, then what?

CBA - Cost Benefits Analysis

As part of the work, not only should you be looking at the software, but someone should also be preparing a cost benefits analysis (CBA).

What is the current cost of the software ACBL is using (ACBLscore)?

What is the expected cost of doing the same with ACBLscore+.?

For example, the support department.

The board should be given metrics on the support department. How many calls are handled per day, how many staff, average length of the call, top 10 support calls, complexity of the call, need to escalate, answers on the web, reason for the call? These are all standard business metrics.

Does ACBLscore+ help, or hurt?

Are there added costs? Savings?

After these reviews, there are then some business decisions to be made. We can address those later.

I'm going to be at New Orleans for the week, starting today. If you want to meet any time during the tournament, let me know. Happy to start the process showing you ACBLscore+ so that you can make an informed decision.

I think you are probably the only person that can be trusted at this point and have no conflicts.

Am offering my time to help with this evaluation, as described above, for free, so this should immediately remove one contention.

These are all simple steps. It's not rocket science. You don't need an MBA. It's Business 101. It's what everyone thinks you (both committees) should be doing. You are a smart guy, am sure you have figured all this stuff out already. I don't know why it hasn't happened already.

Let me know. Call me. About the only reason I can think that you haven't called me is that the CEO and/or league counsel have put you on a ban from talking to me and would kick you off the board if you did.
March 16, 2015
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My quote was in reference to someone else, not me.

I finally decided that the specs were what came out of ACBLscore. Doesn't really matter what the specs say - no-one checks them.

That's all anyone is going to compare to anyway.

In ACBLscore+, in some cases I had a flag for “ACBLscore way”, “Specs way” so we could toggle it at some point so the code matches the specs. But I was going to wait until ACBLscore+ had fully replaced ACBLscore before recommending changing it. And no-one would have been any the wiser.
March 15, 2015
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See ACBLscore+ - three years ago. Memphis. March 17 2012. Just saying.
March 15, 2015
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“there is plan to implement KO and Swiss events better in the next year”

This is the silly part. ACBL has all the code to do this. It's in ACBLscore+. They have the code used in Gatlinburg last year. Instead of using it, they are going to re-write it. Why?? (The only reason is the legal claims I keep making). This is the problem that _everyone_ is having difficult with. Me included. There are several TDs that have used Bridgescore+; so they have had the training. ACBLscore+ is simply an older version of Bridgescore+. Doesn't do as much, but it ran in Gatlinburg. You can even use ACBLscore+ to start the KO, then use ACBLscore to finish it.

All these seemed to be doing with the original $600K investment is to keep up with Jay Whipple's Fast Results and Bridgescore+ with no new original thinking involved.

“The comments in many places implies the KO plan effort is to possibly reflect the showdown effort acblscore + does. I've not seen your efforts other than my previous demos of your code at previous nationals and some of your showme items in bridgescore+. My understanding is this is very projector oriented”

It is projector oriented. But it doesn't need to be. I could do the same without projector. Just easier/better with projector.

“ Instead I would like the following: ”

I like you thinking, however, try harder. We can make this even easier for players and TDs. Just a little tease. Wait for Gatlinburg. I'll post something before then because I want to educate the players on new stuff.

My difficulty, even though I have a simple system, is getting the TDs to use it. You allude to that problem earlier in your post. It's difficult. I have to prove to the DIC it's better, less work, easier for all, and have to do it with a live system. I do have to thank the Gatlinburg DIC and TC for being patient with me, be willing to listen, and willing to try new things. They have both been very good. But Gatlinburg has a big directing crew, lots of players.

March 15, 2015
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I begged for eyes. A year into the contract, did the demo in Gatlinburg. I wanted to do an alpha release for 2-3 clubs. ACBL said no.

Class-room setting does not work well for ACBLscore+. Tried it. Didn't work. It needs to run live, in parallel, so the TDs get real-time exposure. It needs the developers there to see what happens in real life. The TDs can't explain all the interrupts they get.

It's hard to explain, but you although you need software that will run an event from start to finish, you also need to provide the TD the tools to get the job done during the event.

IMHO, the software is about a year from first alpha release to a final release. Nothing hard with the programming, we just need eyes on the UI. It's not rocket science. It needs feedback from real users. This is elapsed time. ACBLscore+ is custom software.

This past week, I got to look at ACBLscore+ as delivered to ACBL for the first time in 10 months.

I compare it (ACBLscore+) with Bridgescore+ and it is night and day. Difference is time in field. Bridgescore+ has had lots of use in the field. ACBLscore+ needs it.

Where do I board the train for Wichita?
March 15, 2015
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“Another option was to break the development into parts and just focus on pieces that were well defined, one at a time. Greg essentially suggested this at the last meeting. Then, after each part is delivered, the ACBL can evaluate where they are, and if they want to continue with the same contractor, and what the next piece is. Then they can release a specification for the next part, and so on.”

The project was, there were 6 well defined phases.

There was wording in the contract that they could fire my company with, or without, cause with 15 day notice after any phase. They did the evaluation then choose to continue after each phase.

We did run into issues (documented) where they did not have the specs for the next phase ready when it was due. They acknowledged this and continued with the work anyway.

“I really like incremental development. I've seen too many “big bang” projects in which the developers just redo the legacy code using new technology. They always fail. At the end of the day, the project has spent a lot of money and has nothing to show for it. Also they “roll their own” for everything, instead of slowly changing the pieces out one at a time, which is much more economical.”

Me, too.

There was incremental development. Phased approach.

I can only be responsible for the code on my side of the fence.

This is what I'm proposing now. Roll out KOs, then Swiss, then pairs. Incrementally.

I keep telling you, I'd roll out ACBLscore+ in 4-5 days.

ACBL has legal issues with doing this. So there is every attempt under the sun to prevent this from happening else those that negotiated the original contract will be under some scrutiny.

“But the real takeaway, I think, is that Nic's primary “job” was to do what is best for Nic. It was naive to assume that the interests of Nic and ACBL would automatically align.”

The business terms were such that there was an incentive for me to get the job done on time. We tried to make the business terms align for both of us. I resent the accusation that I didn't try and do what was best for ACBL; that's the basis of a contractor's reputation.

Larry: you may have been my most vocal critic. Because of this, I've given you access to ACBLscore+. Beat on it. Don't complain about little bugs, see the feature set. You're only seeing a small fraction of ACBLscore+, but the most visible part - the user interface. Try to be honest, you will have a natural bias which you have kindly shared. I repeat again - this code is not for final release to clubs - that's a year away IMHO - this is code that was ready to go out in the field and start the incremental rollout. So imagine you are one of the 2-3 TDs that ACBL had picked to roll out ACBLscore+. See the support features built in. etc. etc.
March 15, 2015
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I'm not sure that Greg has read the RFPs, so not sure he is qualified to comment.

What many may forget is that before ACBLscore+, there was money spent by ACBL in re-writing ACBLscore in Java. The project was not done by bridge players. It did not go well. The project was scrapped. I don't know how much money was spent - it predated any work I did for ACBL. Because of this, they asked me to write the RFP. I'll stand by the work done for the RFP; there was little/no criticism at the time. My role was the technical side of the RFP, not the business side - that was ACBL.

Larry: there were 3 different ACBL people that were assigned to me as my primary contact during the contract. None filled the role I would traditionally expect. I haven't named them. 2 of them are no longer with ACBL. 2 of them were not bridge players. 2 of them had no IT background (that I could tell), 2 of them did have any PM background or certification (that I could tell), 3 of them had never used ACBLscore nor wanted to learn it.

Probably for the first part of the contract (the first year), I filled the role that you would have expected ACBL to have played. For example, I went out and got feedback from clubs/TDs/TCs/DICs/players etc. We also got a lot of code done during that first year. Within 12 months, we had a demo of pair games at Gatlinburg, with Bridgemates, ready for an alpha-release to clubs. My first warning (i.e. documented) to ACBL was around a year into the contract when I told them that they were at least 3 months behind where they were supposed to be, or where they needed to be.

Starting the second year, I tried to transition what I had been doing to ACBL. We were now at the point where we needed more detailed specs (for example, Tournament Finance Reporting (TFR)) that would involve a lot of people from ACBL.

Unfortunately, no-one ‘owned’ ACBLscore+ within ACBL. TFR was frustrating. I finally wrote up what was needed for TFR - this was work that ACBL should have been doing. I documented what their PM needed to do, but was politely, firmly, and probably correctly, told that this was ACBL's job. Nothing happened. Greg et al have access to this from the status reports and project wikis.

PM is both an art and a science. As a PM, you do different things for different size projects. As a contractor/consultant you work within the constraints of your customer. I'll stand by the PM work we did on our side of the contract.

“But what I don't hear about is obsessive devotion to satisfying users at reasonable cost, a sense of urgency, clear goals, clear features, and early deliverable items that can be tested and verified.”

I wish I could let you see the status reports/wikis/letters etc.

The first delivery we had was Fast Automated Results - about one month into the contract. Take a look at This is from the NABC in Memphis 3 years ago. Compare to ACBL Live today. Compare the results format, with what you get at the NABC in NO. (The results are from Jon Gustafon's code).

It took 2 1/2 years to go from delivery of code for Fast Results to ACBL rolling it out. The contract said we delivered the code - we did - but the roll-out and integration into ACBL's data center was ACBL's work to do, not ours.

It's a broken record, but I stand by the work done for ACBLscore+. There was a clear goal, there are clear features. The lawyers got in the way, not the technology.

Larry: I've given you access to ACBLscore+. I know you are a vocal critic. Call me (I sent you my number) so I can explain more if you want to - I have nothing to hide. You are smart enough based on your comments to be able to look at the software and see it, decide if it looks good, looks like it is headed in the right direction from a technical standpoint. There's a lot more that I can't show you (see for details). You know what ACBLscore does, probably better than most. Greg/Uday/Ralph have all said the quality of the code is good, there's been no dispute on that part of it.

All I have ever asked is for ACBLscore+ to have a proper review, even now no-one has on the CEO Technology Committee has had a proper demo. Why?? Same with the board committee. What's the problem?

“He mentioned having to work out the logic of the Swiss Teams pairing from the code. Some time back, Nic said that that was pretty much the extent of what he had to work with. Nothing at the meeting contradicted that”

No, there's the code, but there is also a written description from Jim on how the code works that is quite good. The code is a little ahead of the specs, but it's reasonable enough. I've made previous comments about that phone call and attention to detail during the call. There was a 9 month delay with the Swiss team stuff from ACBL. Finally got an answer about 2 weeks before the contract ended. Sigh.

Swiss Team Matching (STM) is something that still needs to be done for ACBLscore+, not denying it. Freed from the constraints of the contract, I'm hoping to get this done through Open Source so when it's done ACBL can get the benefits as well. I doubt that the implementation will match what ACBL has.

A complete spec wasn't possible. Still isn't. There's a trade off between level of detail in a spec. I've posted on this before. You can get down to the level of detail in a spec of specifying the height, width, color, location of a help button icon. Or you can say the program needs to have help. Huge amount of difference between the level of detail in the two specs. I found it very hard to get good feedback from users (again, I have posted previously), because everyone's reference in ACBL land is ACBLscore. Almost no-one can think outside the box, look at the problem, figure out how technology can solve that problem. You'll see some of what I mean in Gatlinburg this year. Different thinking to solve the same problem, but without the constraints of ACBLscore.

March 15, 2015
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It's not ready for testing, in the sense of how everyone understands testing. If ACBL ever does anything with it, I'll pass on your name as a tester.

It's ready for a review by independent third parties. ACBL never gave it a fair review.

Even now, the people I have added as reviewers will not have been given a demo so they are doing this somewhat blind.
March 15, 2015
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For the reviewers, I have opened it for anything.

My claim is that within 4-5 days it was ready for release to 2-3 TDs to start running KOs. This is the code that ran Gatlinburg 2014. Certainly not perfect, but you have to remember the state of the contract/project back then.

What would be great if they gave their honest opinions of how this compares to the current ACBLscore.

ACBL initially claimed it was all throw away. And wrote off all this money.

My claim is that the software worked, it had been in a state of needing feedback from users for about a year.

I haven't looked at this software for about 10 months. After the contract was over, I worked on improving some of the code/adding new features, but as this wasn't under contract, I haven't given anything to ACBL. This code is now Bridgescore+.
March 15, 2015
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It is known that ACBLscore does not implement the rules correctly. I won't get into specifics.

I have automated test tools that can take an ACBLscore game file, import to ACBLscore+, re-score, re-rank, re-masterpoint, compare ACBLscore+ MPs with ACBLscore MPs.

The error rate for the tournament I primarily used for testing was about 10%, i.e. about 10% of game files had incorrect MPs based on the published specs. Most of this was user error, i.e. TDs incorrectly configuring the game, some was ACBLscore not matching the published specs (“well, it was easier to code it this way rather than the specs they wrote”).

We did lots of testing with lots of game types, e.g. club data for a year, ACBL gave me access to lots of tournament data.

Going forward, I think ACBLscore+ should match the specs. However something as simple as working out the averaged number of masterpoints on a team (e.g. add all player MPs, then divide by the number of players) needs to be defined. In some cases, ACBLscore+ gets a different answer than ACBLscore, which will then lead to different MP values for the event. Yes… it gets down to that level - ACBLscore, based on Pascal math libraries, and implementing its own version of rounding, combined with the Pascal math library rounding (banker's rounding) can generate different results than ACBLscore+ even with the same written specs!!

I think if we explain away the 0.01 errors as rounding (and it can get as high as 0.05 because ACBLscore rounds, then multiplies, then rounds again), that players will be happy. Seriously, when was the last time anyone verified the MPs they won?

I spent way too much time on this problem. My view is that we should come close, but not need to match. The rounding issues were a huge time-waster.
March 14, 2015
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I've posted a separate thread for ACBLscore+ reviewers.

I've sent email with URL/passwords to Ed, Adam, Kevin, Larry, Greg, Jay.

March 14, 2015
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Ed: OK.

My internet connection where I am is bad; it failed after a partial upload. I've restarted it. I am out all today, probably not going to get back until around 10pm EST.

I'll finish the upload, sent you all a private BW email, and will start a new thread.

Guess I'm forming my own CEO Technology Committee…

You guys can all give me good insight into what you want. We can make it public so can share with ACBL. You can also give an idea of how far along you think the software is, warts and all.

I have nothing to hide with any of this stuff.
March 13, 2015
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I haven't seen the video. I haven't heard the audio. The first two “project managers” assigned to be my ACBL co-ordinators are no longer with ACBL.

I would consider this a small/medium project; not a large one. It may be for ACBL. It depends on your background/experience. It's only 200-250K lines of code.

I smile when I see “get feedback from stakeholders”, FD etc. They were all in ACBLscore+.

It took 5 months to get the contract negotiated, a large part of that was FD.
March 13, 2015
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I'm traveling. My Internet connection is much, much slower than Greg. I haven't watched the video, probably won't have time/Internet access.

I'm uploading the ACBLscore+ code that I have. It's slow ;-(. I have various other things on today, including meetings late afternoon/early evening. I've started the upload to my Internet site, but it probably won't be until tonight that I get it done and set up.

I'll add Kevin, Larry, Adam (no last names necessary??). Robb, you too. I'll send you private BW email with URL/password.

If there is anyone that is going to be at the BOG meeting, that has the appropriate background, I can add you too.

Greg: if anyone on your committee wants access, let me know.

Jay: I'll send you email about this site; to the best of my knowledge no-one on your committee has seen this either.

I'll put up a page where you make comments; I don't want to hijack this thread.

Remember: this was intended as a release to TDs. It's not perfect. Never claimed it was, but take a look at where the code is/was, so you can see how close it is.
March 13, 2015

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