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All comments by Nicolas Hammond
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There is no need for clubs to update their systems.

This is a myth perpetuated by ACBL to attempt to give reasons why ACBLscore+ was being dropped.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHnLURIKHmQ
This is a 2Gb Windows XP system running Bridgescore+ (ACBLscore+).
I haven't tried on smaller RAM, but think it should work. It does require a download of the latest Chrome or Firefox (the last version of Internet Explorer that Microsoft supported on XP will not work - same with lots of other web based software).

One of the goals for ACBLscore+ was to run on legacy systems, including XP.
Dec. 21, 2014
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There are lots of little bugs/nits, but this should be expected as Adam pointed out. It is new software.

Here's some more:

http://live.acbl.org/
Select Providence
Select Dec 07, 2014 Swiss/KO (10:00 AM)
Select Riba Brkted B Teams 1

You only get Bracket 1. Not any of the others.

https://web3.acbl.org/acbl-results/game-results/events/NABC143?date=ALL
shows all 10 brackets.

On the last link, click on Bracket 10, Results.
It only shows the top 3 teams.
These get overalls, but other teams get match awards.

Click on Recaps (for Bracket 10).
Now it shows all 7 teams, but the score fields don't make any sense.
The winner, according to this page, is team 3, but their score is 4.0.
Team 1 has a score of 27.0. But won no MPs.
I suspect this is a simple bug between VP won and matches won.
The screen has an option to select NS/EW as a direction.
But this is a bracketed Swiss event.
Makes no sense to select direction.
You can only select Section 20 (which is bracket 10), not see the other brackets.
(This is from the design of ACBLscore where each bracket is actually a separate event,
not a section within the same event - each bracket has a different event code).

There are no hand records for the final day Swiss (top placed teams played pre-dup-ed hands).

The personal scorecards (pick any pair event) are a good start. But nowhere near the quality or sophistication of some of the better tools in ACBLland, e.g. ACBLmerge, but a step in the right direction.

If it is a pairs event, and scored across multiple sections, then the board display will only show results in that section, not the other sections.
e.g.
https://web3.acbl.org/acbl-results/game-results/events/NABC143/0703/2/T/board?board_num=3
Only shows results from section T, it does not include section S (looks like S and T were scored together).

I am glad they got rid of medieval fonts (letters with different sizes) for display. (They do read Bridgewinners!)

These are all little nits. It takes time to produce a good quality output. ACBL are moving in the right direction. It would be nice if they had a support web site where you could post issues like this and they could be quietly fixed. Bridgewinners is probably not the best place.
Dec. 21, 2014
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If I understand correctly, ACBL introduced an MVC model for the interactive part of its web site some time ago. I believe that this happened after they saw how ACBLscore+ was structured. They are using a PHP backend, JQuery. ACBLscore+ was similar, except Ruby/JQuery. PHP/Ruby are similar (I don't want to get into a religious discussion on the merits of each - they are both modern languages - there are advantages/disadvantage to each).
Dec. 21, 2014
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There are several different club models within ACBLland. For-profit clubs, member clubs, private clubs. Then you have master clubs where one entity owns space and rents out space to other “clubs” etc. Doesn't really matter for the purpose of ACBLscore.

First step for a replacement for ACBLscore, is to replicate what ACBLscore does. Score. Report $$. Report masterpoints. That was the original plan for ACBLscore+. Then there was a CR about a year into the project to do more for clubs, or rather do different. Didn't make much sense to stick to legacy file formats for reporting masterpoints, $$ etc. There was a lot of benefit to reporting each game file (e.g. GNT/NAP/better $$ reporting etc. etc.). So this was the plan. Then ACBL fell behind (didn't start?) its piece of that code. So then we had to go back to square 1.

So… the best way to implement this slowly:

1. Have ACBLscore+/Bridgescore+ start to take over running games. Generate old style ACBLscore game files. Use the current ACBLscore monthly reporting tool.
2. Replace the ACBLscore club monthly reporting tool (this has major impact on ACBL as it handles all the $$ and all the MPs). This is non trivial.

It could be that step 2 is a 1-2 year process. Done very slowly to avoid migration problems.

The current ACBL club sanctioning model is similar, but different, than the fees use outside of ACBLland. I doubt that this will change soon because it has a big impact.
Dec. 21, 2014
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Kevin,

ACBL have budgeted about $600K next year to enhance ACBLscore. I don't have the BOG report in front of me so this is from memory. All the features they are adding (except for Swiss/Bridgemates) are features in ACBLscore+/Bridgescore+, e.g. quicker start for KOs, projectors, easier creation of game files for large KOs/bracketed Swiss.

Roll-out for Bridgescore+ is complicated. I wrote it up on a separate web page. Best way is a slow rollout. Ideally ACBL should do the work. Probably quicker/cheaper/easier if I did some, but ultimately this software should be written and maintained by ACBL; that was the plan all along. They have the code. They were behind in bringing people on-board. Instead of embracing the new technology, they are sticking with the old. That's the part that does not make sense. Unfortunately, except for Gatlinburg, they haven't seen it in use or asked to see it in use.

Somewhere I've got the handout from the BOG meeting (I was there; but not really my place to complain).
Dec. 19, 2014
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Things are changing with TDs. It used to be promotion more based on seniority. It's changing. There are other positive things happening with TDs and ACBL. It is v easy to criticize ACBL; when they do things right, there should be more congratulations to them.
Dec. 19, 2014
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TFR I did define the first time I used it, it's specific to a very small group of users. But TFR is a v. important part of ACBLscore. It's how ACBL generates a lot of their income so any replacement for code it has to be good. Very few people get to see this side of ACBLscore. Usually only full time TDs. And they have learned not to complain, otherwise promotions don't happen. I got a lot of feedback from the TDs, which I anonymized when I gave it back to ACBL. Sadly the internal HQ perception is that TFR is fine “worked for centuries” whereas reality in the field is different. But people won't complain.

Sorry about COTS. That's a software term. I should have defined it. Basically custom (pay for your own version) or use COTS. There isn't really COTS for what ACBL wants. We are naive if we think that we can take a foreign (there is no US competition) COTS software and get it working how ACBL want it (so you end up with COTS not custom). And remember, ACBL need to make sure that they ‘own’ and can maintain it when it's done (not being facetious on that, ACBL do need to make sure that they have a long term plan - with Bridgescore+ they do, they got lost on the copyright issue). Bridgescore+ is about 200,000 lines of code. Won't mean much to many, but about a 3,000 page book. Some is generic bridge scoring, but all the logic is ACBL specific. That's the level of customization. Current ACBLscore is about 200K (K=1,000) lines of code as well.
Dec. 19, 2014
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BBO=Bridge Base Online
BOD=Board of Directors
BOG=Board of Governors
BRP=Bridge Results Program
BSP=Bridge Scoring Program, e.g. ACBLscore
BWS=Bridgemate files (stores table results, can do a lot more). Same format for all electronic scoring devices.
COTS=Commercial Off The Shelf
CR=Change Request
DIC=Director in Charge
EU=European Union
HS=Hammond Software
HTML=Hyper Text Markup Language
IIRC=If I Remember Correctly
IP=Intellectual Property
MP=Masterpoint
JET=Microsoft database format
KO=Knock Out
RPG=Rocket-Propelled Grenade
RPG=Report Program Generator. IBM programming language from the 1950s.
OTOH=On The Other Hand
TC=Tournament Chair
TD=Tournament Director
TFR=Tournament Financial Reports
UI = User interface
US=United States
USCF=US Chess Federation
WBF=World Bridge Federation
WFH=Work for Hire (legal term for hiring contractors/consultants)
WTP=Winnie the Pooh/What's the Point/What's the Problem
XP=An emoticon, with one eyes crossed and tongue sticking out.

Perhaps someone at Bridgewinners.com can create an acronym page.

I keep updating this list as I see more acronyms used.
Dec. 19, 2014
Nicolas Hammond edited this comment Dec. 25, 2014
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No hint of sarcasm. This was a direct quote from my appointed contact at ACBL. This was after ACBL had agreed to have it done in Excel, the first pass of the work with a prototype had been done.

“what we have isn't broken”
“what we have has worked for centuries”
“we want what we have now”

There was no recognition of the 1,000 tournament sponsors (~900 sectionals, ~100 regionals). Each of them (we estimated that because of duplication there were probably 300-400 volunteers) that typically would hand-enter the same information into their accounting systems.

So… the entire TFR was re-done inside ACBLscore+ using the current entry method. I'm almost too embarrassed to put a video on YouTube showing it.

The story gets funnier because I was then given the specs for a new format to use for sending the data. The document was v. similar to a document that I'd written as part of the work to bid on the project.

So… couldn't use Excel, but the format they wanted the data in was…… an uncompressed Excel .xlsx file. (XML to the rest of us). But I couldn't use Excel to generate this Excel file. I kid you not…

The hardest part of TFR was trying to find a single person at ACBL that understood the entire process from DIC, TD, local sponsor tournament chair (TC), local sponsor treasurer. Add in 1099s (my Unit has enough sectionals that we generate 1099s for caddies) and the TFR is far more complicated. All ACBL wanted was the data to support its internal accounting system. But the current data entry is badly flawed (don't stay in a hotel where you spend more than $999.99), the Windows version is buggy, there is no cash management system (I wanted to implement Doug's Excel spreadsheet). I could go on.

But because I was specifically told that the TDs were too old to learn Excel (that was the quote), we had to completely redo TFRs with the obvious impact on the schedule.

Even worse, when the work was done, the ACBL refused to provide feedback on the TFR work so it say for 5 months with no feedback.

Very frustrating. Sadly there was not the internal commitment needed to implement ACBLscore+. I suspect that the decision to kill it had already been made.

I guess it is still possible to release the Excel code. ACBL has it. It is very little work on my part to be able to take an Excel file and convert it to the format that ACBL currently use. This would have been the preferred approach until ACBL changed how it processed internal accounting data. There are plenty of Excel experts out there. New features could easily be added; however there would have to be back end changes made to support any new features. This may have been their problem. There is also a tie-in to TourneyTrax; what it is I'm not sure because ACBL would not give me a TT login ID.
Dec. 19, 2014
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I could go on at length about each of the individual components of ACBLscore+. For clubs, we needed to be able to score games (see previous discussion). All types currently run at clubs. Also each month they generate a monthly report for masterpoints, money owed ACBL etc. This is generated from the game files. Privacy issues are different in the US and EU. Clubs work differently. Over here clubs do not typically publish their “members”. All play in the US is intra-club (within the club), not inter-club (against other clubs). The latter more common outside ACBLland. Making it more difficult is you have some clubs here that share computers between multiple clubs. As part of the ACBLscore+ there was lengthy discussion with ACBL on ways to improve the current process. Sadly all this will be lost. The work needed for ACBL to support its clubs is custom, is not COTS.
Dec. 19, 2014
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To answer some specific comments in this thread so far:

Adam: “Mr. Hammond claims that ACBLscore+ is all but complete, and that the places it fell behind were a result of the ACBL's failures to properly manage the project and provide his company with necessary resources”

No, I’ve never claimed that. Some critical path items for ACBLscore+ were delayed by 6+ months by ACBL (not providing specs) putting the project at least 6 months behind. A full release of ACBLscore+, which is identical to ACBLscore, is therefore at least 6 months out. In elapsed time it is even longer because the developers that were working on this code are no longer on the project, so new people would have to be trained. See the roll-out plan for how I suggest this is addressed. The roll-out plan had be to revised based on reality.

By “resources”, I normally mean “specifications”. At the same time, ACBL were supposed to provide 1.5 man months of time per month of the contract. They were supposed to work on internal code. ACBL never provided any, putting them about 3 man years behind when the project finished.

“The ACBL denies that essential items were delayed.”

I have never seen them make that claim. I doubt they would. There is too much documentation to the contrary, including lots of monthly status reports seen by all developers, ACBL staff and some board members.

“The ACBL also says that little of ACBLscore+ is functional, and that its underlying architecture is flawed, resulting in a program that is slow and cumbersome on many computers. Fortunately, we now have some people whose opinions I trust and whose credentials are impeccable looking into things.


I’ve documented what works, what doesn’t, and why. I can run about half the events at a tournament. I’ve posted speed comparisons on YouTube. The underlying architecture was selected by ACBL when we did on the work.

==

Kevin posted “Fantastic news that some qualified techies… Has Horn Lake offered any advice for those of us who want the features of BSP without waiting for Horn Lake to get around to it?

I’d love to know the answer as well.

==

I know that many of you would like to claim that you know the reasons for the “failure”, based on your own background.

Terry: “…retraining in the use of the product…”

This was a very important part of the work. ACBLscore+ has a different design (deliberately). Its screens are different (deliberately). The intent was to help new (club) directors learn the software. The older club directors would migrate to the new software over time. The new software was intended to significantly cut down support costs for ACBL. There were lots of features to help with this. The reason for using a web based interface was ease of training for new TDs.

When I’ve run Bridgescore+ at a tournament, I will often use a caddy to do data entry. Training is about 10 seconds. Enter these numbers here. They immediately pick up on what to do, how to move around screens etc. because they are familiar with web browsing. Caddies aren’t used much before the start of a KO or Swiss – why not put them to work? This is all part of making tournaments more efficient. But put a caddy in front of ACBLscore and they have no idea. This is the type of work that we did to make ACBLscore+ the right product.

Mike “ dog and pony show “

Yup. I’ve always stated that nothing can beat an individual screen of ACBLscore in DOS mode with assembler code to refresh the screen. Can’t be done with modern UI bloat. What we can do however is to make an individual task much easier and quicker. See some of the YouTube postings. This was the goal. Make the TDs more efficient in the tasks that they need to perform.

For a typical TD running KOs in the morning and afternoons, we can save them about 20-30 minutes of their day by being more efficient on what we do and how we do it.

==

Tim

There is a big difference between a Bridge Scoring Program (BSP) and a Bridge Results Program (BRP). ACBLscore is both, but it only handles the results from an individual session. There are other tools that others have written that combine this data, but there is no good BRP in the US. Jay Whipple comes close with the Common Game, Matthew Kidd has ACBLmerge. Part of the ACBLscore+ work was that ACBL were going to write a BRP. It never happened. They are now starting to, but they have a long way to go. The good news is that ACBLscore+ was designed to capture all the data (see the Bali example). But this needs to be exported from a BSP to a BRP. The BRP was not part of the scope of the ACBLscore+ contract. ACBLscore+ needs to be able to be a local BRP, not a WWW BRP which would use a different database, different architecture.

==

Greg:

I wasn't involved in the ACBL decision to select the winner of the ACBLscore+ contract, so I don't know what other systems they evaluated.

Doing “scoring” is easy. Add up numbers in an array, sort them, display them.

The difficulty with the ACBLscore+ project is that there are many, many, “custom” features that ACBL members expect. The difficulty is writing all that code.

Remember it also includes financials as well. This is a different skill set from writing Bridge code.

Bridge is scoring, ranking, masterpointing. ACBL has its own rules for all 3 of these aspects.

I did look at some of the WBF code for this project. There are two separate products they use. Each requires its own operator. This is not something that would work at an ACBL club.

==

Ping

We did separate out financials into a separate program. It is where it belongs. They agreed to this.

Then ACBL wanted it put back. “TDs are too old to learn something new, like Excel”.

Dec. 18, 2014
Nicolas Hammond edited this comment Dec. 18, 2014
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One thing that you learn in business is not to bite the hand that feeds you, but at the same time it is necessary to protect my company's reputation, and also the reputation of those that worked on the ACBLscore+ contract.

Whenever someone posts a threat of a law suit, I’m likely to respond as it is easier to cut off the threat of a law suit before we spend even more money on lawyers (and this has been a very profitable contract for lawyers).

But please be aware that anyone can post anything that states ACBL should sue….. What you don’t realize is the cost that has on the one threatened. In this case it took me a couple of hours last night to prepare this reply, then phone calls this morning with my lawyer to make sure that we are responding correctly. Even though it was nothing more than a throw-away comment in a bridge blog. Last time we didn’t respond quickly enough and then there was a poll asking how many people, with no knowledge of the situation, thought ACBL should sue us. This contract finished several months ago; I know that as ACBL members a lot of people are very frustrated with the situation, but random threats of law suits against my company cause us even more costs.

To make it quite clear, ACBL have admitted responsibility for the fiasco. See http://www.district7bridge.org/BridgeNews/2014_05/page32.htm which was a DD report from the Dallas board meetings (March 2014). At the BOG meeting in Providence, Robert Hartman also took responsibility for the situation. Before you post something threatening to sue, please ask your DD if the ACBL has any intention of suing. It would certainly help this discussion if this particular topic was directly addressed to someone at ACBL, either management or the board.

ACBL have been very, very, careful to state that the “ACBLscore+ Project” was a failure, but they have not said the same about the software developed under the “ACBLscore+ contract”. When they have made comments, they have been very careful in what they state. They may state that parts were not complete (true), but won’t say why (no specs delivered). I still stand by all the work done during the “ACBLscore+ contract”.

To clarify, the “ACBLscore+ contract” was the work done by Hammond Software (HS) for ACBL. The “ACBLscore+ project” is the totality of the work needed for ACBL to release ACBLscore+. They are two very different things.

The reason for the ACBLscore+ contract work being thrown away is legal, not technical. The current management team is the one that negotiated the legal terms of the original ACBLscore+ contract and the ones that later wanted to change them. Please don’t blame HS for this.

As there still appears to be lots of misunderstanding:

IANAL – I Am Not A Lawyer, but in the US there are 3 issues with software: ownership, copyright, licensing. There is an Exhibit “E” in the original ACBLscore+ contract which is entirely about ‘Code Ownership’. It was approved by ACBL when the contract started.

In layman’s terms, there was code that HS had done before the contract. HS owned it, and the copyright. ACBL was given a full license to it. Code done during the contract was ACBL’s, but HS would have the copyright and a license.

Both parties (HS and ACBL) have a free license to the final code. The two key sentences from the original contract are:

"Hammond intending to provide code they have already developed as part of this project. All such code shall be provided royalty free to ACBL and with an unrestricted license-to-use, license-to-deploy.“

and

”Hammond shall be provided with a free license-to-use and free license-to-distribute for all code developed during this project"

The original contract took 5 months to negotiate. It was negotiated by the current ACBL management + current ACBL league counsel. We had our own lawyers. There was lots of language we added to protect ACBL (e.g. access to source code, domain names etc.) that they did not originally have in their first draft of the contract.

The contract started in April 2012. Note that HS received no money while the contract was being negotiated (5 months). We could not commit to do work for other customers during this time as we never knew when the contract negotiations would finish.

The ownership terms are fairly common, despite what others may have previously posted. Cross-licensing is almost the norm these days.

ACBL wanted to change the terms of the original contract starting mid to late 2013. This was over a year into the contract. I think they had used outside counsel for the LTPB contract and were reviewing all their existing contracts. ACBL then stopped paying invoices. I was very surprised when Robert Hartman admitted to this in the BOG meeting in Providence last month. He didn’t say why they stopped paying, but ACBL went several months without paying invoices. When they did finally pay (after much legal work on our end), they backdated some of the checks (checks dated a certain date, but not mailed out until later). Do an audit, and some of these delayed payments won’t show up, until you look at the date they were cashed. We ended up photocopying date-stamps from the envelopes when the checks finally arrived. Please note that all of our contractors/employees were paid on time; HS had to take out a substantial loan to make sure they were paid. Robert did not state the reason, but the payments stopped when they first wanted to change the legal terms of the copyright of the original contract.

BTW, this non-payment of invoices had a direct impact on the contract work. We did put some people on “furlough”, unfortunately some of them were working on critical path items, so it did have a significant effect. It wasn’t up to us to fund this project.

Hammond Software (HS) terminated the ACBLscore+ contract effective March 31, 2014. It may be better to say that this was a mutual termination date (we agreed the date with ACBL) as there was a clause in the contract for mutual termination. Very easy for ACBL to terminate at any time (15 days notice after completion of any phase with no explanation needed). Much harder for us to terminate. Let’s politely say it was a mutual termination date.

We had done what we could, except for anything that had a 3 month or longer documented delay from ACBL, and anything that was dependent on something that was delayed. We left money on the table. We sent ACBL a 60 day notice of a material “a breach which is substantial, destroys the value of the Agreement and operates to excuse further performance by the aggrieved party” breach of the contract in mid January 2014. This was after much work in trying to get ACBL to do what they were supposed to do in the contract. We (HS) created a Wiki site to track these issues. There were 47 items in the “ACBL Integration” page as of the end of the contract. 32 of them were still open. This is work we were waiting on ACBL, some of it was almost a year old. Nearly all were at least 3+ months old, most much more. Most importantly were delays on critical path items. There were lots of these. The specs for the only item marked “complex” in the original contract was never delivered. This caused a substantial delay. In addition, delays in delivery of masterpoint specs, movements, tournament financials, results, etc. ACBL were put on notice about a year into the project that they were running behind.

The 11 page letter in January 2014 was extensive, covering the major problems with deliverables from ACBL. There was a separate 20 page document that gave specifics of the various delays. I’d given ACBL verbal notice that this would be coming, but nothing had changed so it was necessary to write the letter and start the termination proceedings.

On our end we used various program management (PM) techniques, including heavy use of Agile. It worked very well for us. For interactions with ACBL we had to use more traditional PM methods. At one point I was told that someone at ACBL was going to track all items using pencil and paper (I’m not kidding). We eventually set up a Wiki so that we could do more effective tracking. (We also tried a couple of Internet based project management tools but these were not effective with ACBL and were dropped – no point in using a tool if it is not going to be used).

We wrote about 250,000 lines of code for the project. It is all being thrown away. Modern code, using a modern, easy to read programming language. Web based interface. Easy to use.

Starting in early 2014, ACBL wanted a new contract so that the work could be completed. The original contract was time limited and dollar limited. We started negotiations in early 2014. Under ACBL’s proposed new contract:

ACBL wanted to hire HS employees and contractors directly.

ACBL wanted to re-write the original contract, taking away all HS rights.

ACBL wanted to own any derivative works HS created for other industries and control our use of derivative works.

The sticking point was ACBL's insistence on renegotiating the original contract. They wanted to renegotiate it so that they would own any derivative work, no matter the industry. They also wanted the copyright. They wanted to control any software we created. For example, if we used the underlying technology for a banking application, they wanted to own all the code for this banking industry application, and control who we could sell it to etc.

We said no.

We offered better hourly rates than before as we wanted to get this project done as well. Remember, I’m a bridge player as well. I want to see modern functionality at ACBL tournaments.

One of the reasons for a discount in doing the original work was that we could reuse the technology for other industries. It is how a contracting company makes money. We reuse what we have created. And we have. We can produce a web based app much quicker using the underlying technology (and getting rid of the Bridge stuff). We have successfully used for other customers in other industries. It is a very robust platform.

ACBL wanted to take away all of these rights so that they could “control” the code without any compensation to HS.

In April 2014, I ran ACBLscore+ (as it was then called) at Gatlinburg. There were people from ACBL there. ACBL then offered more money to get the new code used in Gatlinburg. We said sure. They extended the contract through mid May and paid us more money. We sent the code. This was the code that started a KO using a projector. Huge improvements in player experience. Since been used very successfully at other large regionals. Probably started > 50 (large) KOs using this software. Can also use projector for Swiss etc. etc.

We parted, from my perspective, amicably. It was a simple business disagreement. The disagreements were simple, and related to copyright. If ACBL chose not to re-hire HS for a new contract, this is simple business. Ultimately ACBL needed to support the new code, so it all made sense. As I have repeatedly stated, I bear no ill-will towards ACBL.

There has been a lot of discussion about the reasons for the termination. There was no termination. The original contract ended. There was discussion about a new contract, but no new contract was signed.

ACBL's proposed changes to the original contract sent in April/May 2014 which were required for a new contract, were, in part:

“5. Ownership of the Code. Hammond and the ACBL agree that the Work shall be considered “work for hire” under the United States Copyright Act and that the ACBL shall be the sole and exclusive owner of all right, title and interest therein, including all copyrights in the Work. In the event that for any reason the Work is not considered “work for hire”, Hammond hereby irrevocably assigns to the ACBL all worldwide right, title and interest in and to the Work, including, without limitation, all applicable intellectual property rights including without limitation copyrights and rights to patent. The ACBL has the unlimited right to use, distribute, reproduce, display, sell, create derivative works, assign and dispose of the Work without accounting. Hammond agrees to cooperate with the ACBL in the execution of documents necessary to prosecute copyright applications and to place the copyrights in the Work in the name of the ACBL or its successors or assigns. To the extent allowed by law, the aforementioned assignment includes all rights of paternity, integrity, disclosure and withdrawal and any other rights that may be known as or referred to as “moral rights, “artist’s rights,” “droit moral” or the like (collectively “Moral Rights”). To the extent Hammond retains any Moral Rights under applicable law, Hammond hereby ratifies and consents to any action that may be taken with respect to such Moral Rights by or authorized by the ACBL, and Hammond agrees not to assert Moral Rights with respect thereto. Hammond agrees to confirm any such ratifications, consents or agreements from time to time as requested by the ACBL. Furthermore, Hammond hereby represents and warrants that he has at least a non-exclusive, irrevocable, paid-up, worldwide license to use or practice the Third Party Materials and Preexisting Material incorporated into the Work as well as a right to license or sublicense such rights. Hammond hereby grants the ACBL a non-exclusive, irrevocable, paid-up, worldwide license to use or practice the Third Party Materials and Preexisting Material incorporated into the Work. .

6. Limited License to Hammond. Subject to Hammond’s full and timely compliance with obligations, warranties, and covenants contained in Agreement (including, without limitations, sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 of this Agreement), Hammond shall be provided with a free license to use and a free license to distribute for the Code developed under the ACBLscore+ Agreement. Any derivative work(s) created through use of the Work shall be owned exclusively by ACBL. The copying and/or distribution of such derivative work shall require prior written approval by ACBL.”

The original contract was NOT a Work For Hire (WFH) contract. Hammond Software owns the copyright.

As you can see from the proposed, and original terms above, we (Hammond Software) were being asked to give up all rights to the code, and any derivative work we created, and for ACBL to own any work HS derived from it.

It was somewhat ludicrous and there is no way any company would ever accept those terms.

We said no to sections 5 and 6.

On May 2, 2014, I got this email from ACBL

“Per our conversation earlier in the week, I said that I would reach out to counsel on last time to see if we had any flexibility on Sections Five and Six of the termination agreement.

Based on advice of outside counsel, who is an expert in such areas, the entirety of the language in these sections are needed. I've extracted a portion of his reply below.

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”

Their outside counsel added:

“Section 5 is necessary to provide you protection should claims of copyright (or patent) infringement arise (and you need to seek indemnification through a suit for breach).

Section 6 is necessary to ensure that you own all copyrights in any software that he might develop that is based on work he did for you. These are pretty significant deletions.”


So… we agreed to disagree. There was no follow-on contract. Our lawyer, also an “expert”, found ACBL’s position very antiquated. Modern software is typically developed in a cross-licensing type environment. It was a 1970s mentality.

Why we would want to renegotiate the original contract after it was over was mind-boggling. Why you would not have had outside “expert” counsel review the original contract beggars belief, particularly when it took 5 months to write/review.

This was the sticking point and the reason that there was no follow on contract.

ACBL were then in an awkward situation. They had this code. It worked. Lawyers now told them they couldn’t do anything with it. They had not spent the time during the contract on bringing people in-house to learn the code (we had been trying to get them to do this for several months). So they decided to abandon it. Now they need to find a good reason for doing this.

The first final ACBLscore+ status report (March 31 2014) was 141 pages. The May 2014 was 145 pages. Included in these status reports were the state of the project, what worked, what didn’t, what we were waiting on, etc.

In mid March 2014, we started discussions through ACBL with a new ACBL contractor/employee to take over the code. I had never met him, this was all done over the phone and email to bring him up to speed. This was all planned. I did whatever I could to help him. There was never any long term plans for HS to be the maintainers of the code. As an example, you hire someone to build a bridge, you typically don't hire them to paint the bridge and maintain the bridge. The plans were always that ACBL would take over the code, maintain and enhance it. With occasional help if needed. But the contract was always intended as a one-time contract. I did not want to become the replacement Jim. My strengths are in taking existing complex code and create new modern code.

I've been asked by some what it would take to “finish” ACBLscore+.

Difficult question to answer.

The original intent of the ACBLscore+ contract was to replace what ACBLscore did. No new features. Just do what it did. Gross over-simplification, but sufficient for this discussion.

As part of the work, ACBL were supposed to enhance some internal systems to make it easier to replace ACBLscore. That never happened (ACBL were 3 man years behind in the work they were supposed to do by the end of the 2 year ACBLscore+ contract). This means that “finishing” ACBLscore+ involves writing more code to interact with legacy systems as it is unlikely that ACBL will get their work done. The good news is that ACBLscore+ (now Bridgescore+) has lots of tools to interact with legacy systems. We can read ACBLscore game files, we can create ACBLscore game files from Bridgescore+. We can read/import various other ACBL data files. It would be little extra work to be able to write those files.

If there was an easier way of doing something, we were going to adopt that approach, rather than carry over legacy code. One example was Tournament Financial Reports (TFR). We got approval to do these in Excel. Much easier, much cheaper to maintain, much more flexible. Can now do reports for tournament sponsors, etc.. ACBL then changed their minds. Excel was “too difficult for the Tournament Directors to learn to use” and we needed to do it the ACBLscore way because that “had been working for centuries”. So we completely re-did the TFR using the ACBLscore way. Just one example of an expensive Change Request (CR). We never charged for any CRs, we just documented the impact it would have on the schedule. This was the mentality during the contract. As I wrote in one letter to ACBL, in business the “customer is always right”, even when they are wrong. Perpetuating legacy systems that are not supportable (ask any DICs how many use the Windows version when creating Tournament Financial Reports) makes no sense.

What would it take to finish ACBLscore+? I did a write-up at http://bsp.bridgescoreplus.com/?page_id=44

To do a roll-out “right” (and this project is on the smaller end of some I’ve managed) takes time. It is not going to take much more money, just time. Certainly much less than the $600K budgeted to copy the features of ACBLscore+ into ACBLscore. ACBLscore+ was at a state where it was ready to be tested live and to make use of the feedback from TDs. One lesson I learned very early on was that you needed real-world feedback from TDs. How they use ACBLscore is not documented. ACBLscore is very powerful, sometimes lots of different ways of doing the same thing (example: 3 / 4 playoff in an 8 table 3 session KO bracket).

Our basic code development was different than the traditional waterfall approach. We would develop the underlying database, the model(s) (“objects”) to access the data. Get this working using command line testing. Then, and only then, do the UI. The UI can then easily change. Historical software development was do the UI, then the underlying code. UI is then expensive to change. This is the new, more modern way, of designing code.

The example I typically used, was to ask a TD (or CD) how they would like to start an event. I used a 1 session, 2 section, 3 strat pair game at a Sectional (or club) as my example. I gave the TD/CD a blank piece of paper and asked them to describe how they would like a new system to work. EVERY TD/CD I spoke with described the process they wanted in terms of how ACBLscore worked. Not one could imagine doing it a different way. It made getting useful feedback early in the process difficult.

As a computer scientist, you approach the problem by breaking an event into different states (I think this event would have 10 different states, with some overlapping). You then find out what’s needed to go from one state to another. You end up with a state transition diagram. Then you build it from there. You can see the effects of this on the Bridgescore+ Youtube channel where I compare starting an event with ACBLscore and the same event with Bridgescore+. Adam posted the links.

Not one TD/CD could see how an event could be started in a different way until we had some working prototype code, even then they struggled to see how it would work, until they used it, then they realized that it all made sense. The software mimicked how they ran the event, not the other way round.

Very few had seen software from other parts of the world. (As an example, the WBF code requires someone to manually click a button to ‘change round number’, not something that would ever be acceptable in the US). Without knowledge of what else is out there, it makes it difficult.

With this example, you can see that rolling out complex software is not easy. The rollout plan shows how it should be done. You take a couple of TDs, try it out live (I also learned that non-live testing has limited value).

Back to the question: what would it take?

It really depends on who does the work. I have repeatedly stated that it takes 3 months for someone to “learn” the code and be productive. That’s fairly typical for software projects. I’ve seen people post that it would never take that long for someone to be productive, but that’s the ball park for people on the project. For those that I hired (and kept) it was usually shorter. I can get someone coding within a couple of days, but it’s going to take 2-3 months before I give them a complex piece of code and expect them to get it done with no supervision. It is longer if they are going to be an architect (design complex parts of the code). Also add time if you are not a bridge player, or a TD. Nearly all of the developers were bridge players. Not all had modern programming skills (e.g. MVC environment). Those that were young, and bridge players, had full time jobs, and were not interested in a short-term contract with little future.

The final phase of the ACBLscore+ contract was to run the software at a major tournament. We started the first KO at the Dallas NABC in March 2014 and asked if we could run more. ACBL said no. Don’t ask me why. They had no interest in seeing more of the code or learning more of it. The decision to drop ACBLscore+ unless they could secure the copyright was probably taken in mid to late 2013. Just not shared with others until a few months later. The Board was instructed, upon threat of legal action (and I believe they may even have enforced it for one board member), from around March 2014 not to talk to me. So there was no supervision.

So… we reached the situation in May 2014 where the ACBLscore+ contract was over. HS had been paid for its work. ACBL could do whatever they wanted with the code.

I keep hearing talk about legal issues. I am not sure what ACBL can go after HS for. We did what we were paid to do, on time, on budget. We cannot deliver code where we don't get the specs. We documented the problems, as required by contract. Too much time spent doing CYA during the last year of the contract, at a time where ACBL were not paying us.

Even in some of the comments in this (new) thread there are suggestions that ACBL take legal action against my company. What you may not realize when you make such suggestions is that this causes additional legal work for my company, for a contract that finished several months ago.

And, no, we have no reason for sue ACBL. They paid in full for the contract. Not sure what we would, or could, sue ACBL for.

So… in May 2014, ACBL/HS parted company.

I was not asked to help with any work at ACBL after March 31, 2014. Was not asked to set up a demo, show the software to anyone. We had detailed instructions on the Wiki on how to compile the code etc. Other than the first KO in Dallas in March 2014, I’ve not been asked to demo the software to anyone at ACBL. Instead, at tournaments where ACBL is not the sponsor, e.g. regionals, we can run the software without any problems.

Some time in June/July I heard that ACBL was going to through the entire code away.

It made little sense to anyone except perhaps me because I knew the real reason which is related to copyright and control.

The first code review they did in March was, I heard, very favorable.

Apparently there was a review by some board members and others some time in April-June. I don’t know when, I was not asked to help set up the demo. At the time, I had not yet seen anyone from ACBL be able to put together a working system (all code was on GitHub, you downloaded it, installed it, ran some set up scripts) so I’m not sure that they looked at, the version of the code, or if they even ran it in production mode. This is basic type stuff, but ACBL had no-one in house that was able to do this.

Before every board meeting (3 times a year), we put copies of ACBLscore+ on the Internet so that the board members could review it. Same with management. There is no surprise in the code, or its layout, or its design. The architecture is the same as we proposed in our bid. No surprises there either. Management had full access to all source code during the entire project. The contract had 6 phases with management tracking each phase, the contract could have been cancelled at any time after each of those time-limited, dollar-limited phases.

As stated above, HS has rights to the ACBLscore+ code. We re-branded it as “Bridgescore+” (to avoid any ACBL complaints) and offered it for free to Districts/Units starting in July/August 2014. There is no marginal cost for us to offer this service. We had prepaid some annual expenses for Internet hosting assuming we would get extra work. I’ve made some volunteer commitments to tournaments in my District to use the Bridgescore+ software so it was easy to put out there. It was very well received in Gatlinburg 2014. It will be even better in Gatlinburg 2015.

Since then, I’ve continued to work on the code, as have some of the other developers.

There is a web site, http://bsp.bridgescoreplus.com/ that describes the Bridgescore+ software, its background, what it can do, what it can’t.

I heard at the BOG meeting in Providence that ACBL has a 10 page “Gap Analysis” (what’s missing). I haven’t seen a copy of it. I could have written it for them. It was basically what was in the status reports. They paid about $150K (numbers from memory in what was handed out in Providence) to deal with the analysis of the current code. Either some very expensive contractors, or very expensive lawyers.

ACBL announced in Providence that they were going to spend $600K over the next few months developing new functionality for ACBLscore.

Rather interesting that they were going to focus only on features which are in Bridgescore+ and not in ACBLscore. It all seems rather silly.

I don’t have the marketing bandwidth of ACBL. I don’t have a magazine distribution channel where an article can be written and read by 160,000+ members.

There is a YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Bridgescoreplus

I keep hearing lots of technical reasons why ACBLscore+ would not work. Each time I hear a new one, I post something on Youtube showing how Bridgescore+ would work to refute the claim.

For example, I heard that Bridgescore+ would not work on XP, was too slow. So I moved the current code base to XP (we had first done it months ago, ACBL has a copy), then ran in production mode and put it up on YouTube.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHnLURIKHmQ

This is starting a KO event on a Windows XP system. 2 minutes. All data entry. 78 teams. Start to finish.

ACBL are now spending a lot of money to add more data to Swiss events. Er… see Bridgescore+ with all the data from Bali 2013. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oj-EMNhOJX0

Bridgescore+ can store all the data down to the time a bid was made, a card was played. Yes, there isn’t hardware that can provide this, but it was easy to provide the software support for it. WBF kindly provided the Bali data, we imported to Bridgescore+, re-scored it, and displayed the results.

ACBL are now spending money to make it quicker to create a game file with multiple KO brackets. Er. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjgjW3l5tf8
I put this one up yesterday. Creating a large 9 bracket KO with random names, then creating an ACBLscore game file. If nothing else, they could use this software to speed up starting a KO.

The list goes on and on. Remember ACBL hasn’t bothered to ask or see what the software can do.

I’m a bridge player, I enjoy going to tournaments. I traveled extensively (not on ACBL money) to find out how tournaments (and clubs) were run around the world and the software that was used. I took the best from everything I saw, and either put it into ACBLscore+, or if it was a feature that would be added later, stubbed out the code and designed the software so it was easy to add later. ACBLscore+ makes use of approximately 70+ other software packages/licenses, including best of breed bigdeal, handviewer code from BBO, Bo Haglund’s DDS. Leveraging the work of others is how you can get a lot of code developed quickly.

What’s going to happen next?

Who knows.

I knew from back in May 2014 that my company would not be making any more money from ACBLscore+. ACBL management made this quite clear.

I believe in the software. It still needs work, some of the missing pieces from the specs that were never delivered are still missing. In some cases, we’ve had to reverse engineer them and have since implemented the code. I’ve made out a case for a roll-out plan. It is the proper way to roll out the software. There is still a lot of internal work to be done to make full use of the power of Bridgescore+. Much more efficient software support services within ACBL are needed but needs to be done using modern software support tools.

I continue to work on the features that will be useful for tournaments in my district. But this is work on my spare time. I would really hope that ACBL takes up the code, writes the specs that were never written, and finishes the work. It is frustrating for it to be so close, then thrown out.

I offered a challenge in another post on BW. Take ACBLscore, Bridgescore+ and do a comparison at a tournament. Run both in parallel. For those items where Bridgescore+ has been given all the specs, I can run most events much more efficiently and better than ACBLscore. There is a Luddite mentality within ACBL; it requires fewer (but better trained) TDs to use Bridgescore+. I can see why the older TDs might feel threatened. But the software was really designed for the occasional club manager, not the full time TD. It just happens to make the full time TDs job a lot easier. We can save 20-30 minutes a day in TD time at tournaments. The player experience is substantially better.

Remember, ACBL management (+ Board) have never really had a demo of what Bridgescore+ is capable of. Not my fault. It’s been offered, but neither management or board are interested. It was offered in Providence, no takers.

The National Swiss, and 0-10K Swiss in Providence were embarrassing to see with everyone huddled around the racks. ACBL has had the code since August 2013 to display on a projector, but won’t use it. Don’t ask me why. Go to a regional where we are running Bridgescore+ and see the difference.

Unfortunately ACBL’s position is that it wants to “control its own destiny” to quote words from the BOG meeting. There is a very strong NIH (Not In House) mentality at ACBL HQ. While this mentality persists, there will be little new development.

The good news is that all the good ideas from ACBLscore+, e.g. Fast Results, use of projectors, automatic assignment of tables in KOs/Swiss are going to be implemented. We just don’t know when, or how much the final price tag will be ($600K was quoted). But they will be developed in-house. Unfortunately the in-house experience isn’t good.

I am often asked why do I continue? It’s a complicated, but simple answer. I made a commitment to some local tournaments (regionals in my district) to support the software for a few months. Even though I’m not paid, I’m going to honor that commitment. If other districts want to use the software (remember my marginal cost is close to zero), then I’m happy to provide.

ACBL Management + Board are trying to do their best to stop the software being used. Some of the board motions from Providence were designed to do that.

For the independent board members on the Technology Committee, I have copies of all the status reports, copies of the Wiki pages and other project management tools. Unfortunately they won’t tell you much that hasn’t already been speculated upon.

And, what does anyone want the outcome to be? There were problems. ACBL has admitted as such. Some of the individuals at ACBL that were on the project are no longer there (2 of the 4 project managers I was assigned are no longer there). Lessons were learned, very expensive lessons unfortunately for ACBL. Back in late 2011/early 2012 I provided ACBL with a “Risk Identification/Mediation and Management” document. I was concerned, even before the contract started that ACBL were going to struggle with the project. It identified 18 risks, what they were, how to mitigate. This was ignored during the project. I am not sure what else I could have done to avoid the problems that occurred. We even wrote into the contract the number of man years of effort required by ACBL for a successful roll-out, but this was ignored. ACBL’s response after 2 years of the contract on how they were going to support the code was, “we were hoping to hire someone you found”.

Sadly there was no-one at ACBL who understood what it would take for a software roll-out, and the effort required.

Would I have done anything different? No. I provided ample documentation ahead of the project about the risks. We did everything we signed up to do. In fact, we did more. We documented the problems as they occurred. I could not control what ACBL did. Some of the new features that you are starting to see at tournaments are a direct result of the ACBLscore+ project. I’m sorry it has taken so long. The long term prognosis is not good. The management and board has just written off $1.9M so there will be little incentive over the coming years to revisit this project. Both management and board are trying to cover up what has happened. We will all suffer, long term. ACBLscore was a great product, ahead of its time, but it had become old. ACBLscore+ was a leap ahead of all other programs out there and would put ACBL at the forefront of bridge scoring. It turns out that “control” of the new software and “control” of the data that it generates are something ACBL decided many months after the original contract was signed that they wanted to “own”. In reality do you really care what company’s name is listed on a third level screen somewhere under Help->Copyright?

The new Technology Committee will probably do little. The problems with the ACBLscore+ project have been documented. I doubt current management would want anyone to dig deeper into the problems with the ACBLscore+ project, there is little benefit other than finger-pointing. The Board don’t seem to care too much, there was an attempt to stop spending money and research where ACBLscore+ really was, but instead there is a Technology Committee formed.
By the time this committee gets to researching what happened, I am sure that ACBL will have played catch-up with Bridgescore+. It’s going to be harder to justify going with ACBLscore+ when it will be claimed that ACBLscore will be equivalent. For those technologically savvy, you understand the difference between a closed architecture written in Pascal, and an open environment written in a modern programming language with a SQL database.

It may seem like I’m complaining. Partially. It seems such a waste.

I posted a lengthy response, see http://bsp.bridgescoreplus.com/?page_id=183 when Adam posted his first article on Bridgewinners.

Remember, I’m a businessman. We got paid. We moved on. ACBL management made it clear that there would be no more work for our company because of the copyright issue. I don’t make any money by responding to articles on Bridgewinners, all I’m trying to do it to keep my company’s legal bills to a minimum.

ACBL has since decided not to use the software that was developed. This is their choice to make, not mine. It affects me because I’m a bridge player as well. It would be easy for me to not care, but I do. I’ve been a long time volunteer in bridge. As HS has rights to the code, it makes sense for us to set a system so others can use the code. If you don’t like it, don’t use it. I don’t charge for it. I am happy to run it at tournaments I go to because the software works, it makes everyone’s life easier –players/TDs etc. And we are only using a small fraction of the overall original ACBLscore+ code. If we had a full-time upport staff, I would encourage more use of the software.

There was an opportunity for a vast improvement in the use of technology within bridge clubs and tournaments within ACBL. The ACBLscore+ code was ready for roll-out. Management has decided because of legal advice that the copyright was too important and dropped the product. You may think that there are technical reasons, but all I can do is post Youtube videos showing otherwise (or you can see at a tournament that runs Bridgescore+). That window of opportunity has almost passed. Under the current management, and board that has been complicit in what has happened, this is not likely to change.

Sorry. I did my best. I really did. I hate to see this opportunity being wasted.

There are some members on the Technology Committee that I have personally got to know because of the ACBLscore+ work. I’ll let them vouch for my technical abilities.
Dec. 18, 2014
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It does not matter what data.

By answering a survey you may be providing all of that information to Google who may then use that for targeted marketing.

The fact that you may not think this information is useful or relevant doesn't matter.
Dec. 12, 2014
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Google forms may/will collect the data and use it to “improve” their service to “their” users.

See https://www.google.com/intl/en/policies/privacy/

My kids' school had to stop using Google as it was in violation of the school's privacy policy.
Dec. 11, 2014
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There are lots of comments about results etc.

At some point I guess I need to write up what Bridgescore+ (the former ACBLscore+) is capable of and what ACBL are throwing away, but that's probably a separate topic of its own.

I played in some of the National pairs events, the one day Reisinger and am still in the 0-10K Swiss.

For the pair events, the first day started (the time that the last board was out to the last table) at 22 minutes (LM Pairs) and 18 minutes (Blue Ribbon). Metrics are important because that is how we can measure progress. I have a lot of metrics from the ACBLscore+ project, not sure what is still covered under NDA but somewhere I've got 2+ years of data.

I played with a pick-up partner in one of the National pairs and they were commenting how hard-working the directors were and what an amazing job ACBL was doing.

I said, yes, the directors are all working very hard, but I pointed out that it was 20 minutes past game time and we still didn't have boards. Our opponents were not from ACBL land. They were amazed at what was taking so long. They said they assumed it was a 1:30 start time. The problem is expectations. In ACBL land we expect National pair events to start 20-40 minutes (last NABC was 40+ minutes for start time). Around the rest of the world, they use a different system and expect pair games to start on time. Talk to some players from overseas and they laugh at some of the ways that ACBL runs events. Not to say we don't do some things better than elsewhere, but the lack of use of technology is embarrassing.

For the Reisinger, it was comical to see all the players (I think ~48 teams, so around 200 players) crowded around a print-out trying to see who qualified. (They each knew if they did, they wanted to see how everyone else did).

For the national events (Blues, Reisinger, Swiss etc.) “we” are all relying on folks like Jan to take a photograph of a print out and post it somewhere. There are no real time results. Imaging the NBA, NFL or MLB working this way.

The Swiss for me was even harder to watch. ACBL has the code to run Swiss and display on the wall. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JN70OsOVHo
This is an example of ACBLscore+/Bridgescore+ using the data from the Atlanta 2013 NABC Swiss event and showing how it could be run. First day. 154 teams. The Swiss here is similar.

For each round of the Swiss, ACBL were using 3 TDs: one for score entry, one for writing the team total, one for putting new matches up on the rack. All players were crowded around, trying to read the rack. This would all be replaced by 1 TD, entering the data, with all the information displayed on a projector.

Because ACBLscore is single-threaded, non-networked, it is difficult to work with for larger events. ACBLscore+/Bridgescore+ allows multiple inputs, and is networked.

At the Memphis NABC (Spring 2012), we rolled out Fast Results (yes, before the ACBLscore+ contract started). This had results to your phone, on-line display of results that were Javascript enabled. You could click and go to any board, any other section etc. etc. 2 1/2 years later, ACBL are rolling out something similar, only not as good as what they had 2+ years ago, and not as good as Jay Whipple's fast results. I am sure that the ACBL Live will get better, but it is very frustrating for me to see software being rolled out that hasn't been fully tested when I spent the last few months of the ACBLscore+ project wanting to run ACBLscore+ in parallel at NABCs (e.g. run in parallel for Swiss so could display results, run regional KOs etc.) and not being allowed. It is also extremely frustrating to navigate the various screens. Basically it looks like it was not designed by a bridge player, nor does it look like any mock-ups were done and the screens run by bridge players. Once you have a basic design in place, it can be very hard to change. I hope this is not the case, but I suspect that it might be. I heard, unofficially, that the developers were told, “just make it as good as Jay Whipple's”. They still have a way to go.

ACBL has the code to run KOs, run Swiss, using projectors. My Districts and others are using it. The list of “features” being added to ACBLscore are all features currently in Bridgescore+. But it would run under DOS, but then they are going to get rid of DOS… Go figure. Looks like they are spending $600K to re-do what they already have. Probably cost about half of that to finish Bridgescore+, including the roll-out testing, and doing the work where specs were never provided during the contract.

There were some motions at the BoD meetings that are deliberately aimed at making it harder for someone to use Bridgescore+ as an alternative to ACBLscore. One club manager told me that a board member had told them earlier this week that ACBL would do whatever it takes to stop Bridgescore+. It all seems so silly. There is innovation that happens outside of Horn Lake.

There is a new Technology Committee, but I hold out little hope. Perhaps I should throw down the gauntlet and have them come to a tournament where we can do a comparison between ACBLscore and Bridgescore+ and see which one is better. For the players, TDs, DICS and the sponsor.
Dec. 7, 2014
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Some of this may be a lot closer than you think.

As part of the ACBLscore+ project, I asked to sit in (quietly and with permission from all) on some of the NABC appeals. Belated thanks to Michael Huston for allowing me to do this. My intent was to find out how technology might be used to help with the appeals process.

If this is an event with hand records (e.g. Pairs), then ACBLscore+ can import the hand records and provide a better hard copy than the 18 to a page format currently used.

I asked BBO if they could update their HandViewer technology so that someone can run Gib (their Double Dummy Analyzer) during the play of the hand. This will help with the “how many tricks can I take now” analysis. They kindly and quietly improved their code and the change can be seen on the current version of BBO. Can't always use the DDA because you will assume that declarer does not drop the stiff K offsides, but can be useful in tricky 1NT (or 3NT) contracts where the best line of play may not be obvious.

For team games, ACBLscore+ has the ability of inputing a hand (using BBO's handviewer code - thank you to BBO for the free license), and then running a DDA (ACBLscore+ uses Bo Haglund's DDA, see http://privat.bahnhof.se/wb758135/).

Deep Finesse (see deepfinesse.com) can also do the same thing as can some other tools on the Internet, including some phone Apps.

Thomas Andrew's deal program, http://bridge.thomasoandrews.com/deal/, can help generate deals based on known parameters (i.e. single-dummy simulation). The data can then be fed into a DDA to generate outputs and results averaged.

As others have pointed out, Bridge is a single-dummy game. The knowledge that you may have because of your system may be different than others so the personal element of appeals is necessary.

The technology is out there. It takes someone who knows the technology to be able to provide it in an easy-to-use manner for TDs, screeners and the Appeals committees.

Bridgescore+ does all that ACBLscore+ can do, and more. At some point, I'll create a video and post on YouTube so you can see how some of this would/does work. I've used it at a couple of regionals to help the TDs make table rulings on most likely outcome.

Beware the dystopian future. I think there will always need to be a human element. But if we can use technology to help reduce the number of appeals, and improve the process within the appeals process, then we should.
Dec. 4, 2014
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I will be at Bar Louie, 1 Union Station, Providence, RI 02903 after the afternoon session today (Friday Nov 28). I will bring my laptop and be happy to answer any questions that anyone has about Bridgescore+, demo the software, how to get access to it for your district, how to use it for your district etc. Sorry for the short notice; having this on Saturday would take people away from WaterFire.

Depending on interest I may do another demo mid next week. I'm in Providence the whole tournament.

There is some room behind the bar at Bar Louie so I will try and set up there. Should be easy to spot - I'll be the one with the laptop.

I heard some rumors about performance and running on XP so I created an XP version of Bridgescore+ and a demo yesterday. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHnLURIKHmQ. Nothing fancy, starts and runs a KO but everything is native XP - software and browser.
Nov. 28, 2014
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Corey:

The intended rolll out of ACBLscore+ was tournaments first, then clubs. Simple reasoning: a lot of clubs use their local TDs for customer support, many ACBL TDs also run club games. Much easier to train tournament TDs then use them to help with clubs (in addition to ACBL support).

Pair events were a critical path item when the ACBLscore+ project started. (Tournament financials was the other). One year into the project, in April 2013, we had basic pair events functional (scoring, ranking, masterpointing) and demo-ed to ACBL in Gatlinburg. Between sessions, we took some Bridgemates, ACBLscore+ and ran a test pair event with our ACBL person helping to enter scores. Everything went very well. We entered the scores from, I think, a 299-er game that had just happened. All data in to ACBLscore+, game file created etc. At that point, I wanted to do a very limited release to clubs so that we could test the club interface and get some initial feedback on the UI from clubs but ACBL said no.

We then wanted to add the more complex movements to Bridgescore+ and asked ACBL for some more information on movements. We essentially put Pairs events on hold until we got that information. It took ACBL 6 months to provide this information (my estimate when we asked was about 1-4 weeks for them to do the work). We only got this information with a few weeks left in the project.

Long story, but take a critical path item, delay it 5-6 months, and the project is now 5-6 months behind. It's a critical path item. There were other issues, but these have previously been discussed.

As such, we haven't done much with pair events in over a year.

We've re-done the interface to Bridgemates (+ Bridgepads) so this needs new testing.

As part of our masterpoint testing, we import game files from ACBLscore, re-score them, re-rank them, re-masterpoint them and verify the results, so the core of the code is done. Just needs lots of testing.

The UI for clubs needs real-world testing. Small number of clubs running it in parallel with ACBLscore for 2-4 months. This needs to happen before a roll out to clubs. ACBL has the infrastructure to make this happen; we don't.

We decided the biggest impact for Bridgescore+ was team games. ACBLscore is very good at pair games, and handling all the issues that can occur; particularly with any errors in players or boards moving incorrectly between rounds. Therefore we have focused on team games.

We did do some work on making movements easier for clubs. This is a complicated topic. It is the reason for the 6 month delay. We do have some diagrams for Web based movements (these are actually provided under MIT license by Jon Gustafson). Jon was working on updates to his Web movement diagrams, they really help in understanding common Web movements which are becoming more common, even in club games, and particularly out west. I'll see if he has something he will release. The other printed diagrams from Bridgescore+ are similar to ACBLscore. So some new help with movements, better than ACBLscore but still similar.

Full support for a small club game is still some time off. Some code needs to be finished, but the longer delay is in testing with clubs, also the delay in setting up customer support to be able to handle support calls. The plan was to create a modern web based customer support system (think what Microsoft and others have with a knowledge base system), but also to have the traditional telephone support. That work was on ACBL's side of the ACBLscore+ project, but never happened. If we were to offer Bridgescore+ to clubs, we'd want to set up this type of customer support system or piggy-back off another company. Club times range from Bermuda to Hawaii so customer support hours can be long.

Michael gave the right answer, just trying to provide some background on why things are the way they are.

Nov. 26, 2014
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Kevin,

1) I believe the reason for BOD being ‘gagged’ is that league counsel has told them that there might be a lawsuit. Neither me nor my company has any intention of suing ACBL. Not even sure what we would sue them for as ACBL ended up paying contract in full even after we ended the contract early. Perhaps ACBL could sue me or my company, but again, it's difficult to see what for. They came back for more code in April/May 2014 after contract was ended. I suspect this ‘gag’ has been done to prevent investigation into the copyright issue.

2) If I've not been accurate, I'll be the first to correct it. Obviously I can only give my perspective, not ACBL.

3) Herein lies the paradox. And why everyone is confused. Me too.

Except that if your (new) lawyers tell you not to proceed with the software/project unless you have the copyright, and you can't get the copyright, and you negotiated the original contract and failed to get the copyright, you are a little stuck. You don't want to admit you messed up with the original contract (it was a lot of money after all), and it's smoke and mirrors time because you don't want people to find out the real reason.

All I can do is to release the software so that others can make up their mind on the real reasons behind ACBL management/lawyers decision.

4) I haven't released the contract figure, because ACBL hasn't. It was a fixed amount. Travel (had to be approved by ACBL) was extra. There was a lot of additional travel that I did that was not covered, but I thought it important to see other software in use at other bridge tournaments so my company paid for it. ACBL's internal cost will be extra. I don't know what it is. ACBL were supposed to provide 1.5 staff for 2 years for the project; this didn't happen so the project is about 3 man years behind (please distinguish between the “contract” and the “project”). ACBL did send some people to some tournaments to see ACBLscore+ in use so there are some internal costs that will be expensed to the project.

There were several people working on the software, not just me. I tracked the total man years in the project, ACBL has the numbers somewhere. It's man years, not some number of man months. The rates we had to pay were in line with other's estimates. It was hard finding good subject matter aware (SMA) programmers. I was fairly brutal if someone didn't perform because there was no margin for error. The rates we had to pay went up substantially after the board (a couple of members) publicly announced one year into the project that the project was ‘under budget’. This was the time when we were about to hire several new programmers and all of a sudden everyone's rate went way up. That problem alone cost an additional $80-$100K of a fixed-price contract.

Accounting for this becomes an interesting accounting issue.

If ACBL ‘throw it all away’, the software cost has to be written off, and it would be in the books.

If they choose to use some of it, then this amount can be depreciated over time. What they ‘throw away’ has to be written off.

Both of the last two paragraphs are accounting issues. ACBL is a non-profit, so ultimately it does not matter from a tax perspective. It does matter on how the books look. Therefore there will be a fiduciary ‘incentive’ to not write it all off. How much of ACBLscore+ ever gets used is a separate issue.

5) I haven't seen any ACBLscore timetables.

ACBLscore+/Bridgescore+ was intended as a replacement for ACBLscore. They were intended to run in parallel for a period of time during the transition phase then ACBLscore would be dropped.

Bridgescore+ certainly could be a competitor to ACBLscore. It does the same thing (run bridge events at tournaments/clubs). But it's hard to compete with software that is given away for free and supported by sanction fees. If ACBL chooses to drop ACBLscore+, then I will probably continue to offer a version of Bridgescore+ to Districts/Units for use at tournaments for some time.

If I was just a typical contractor, I would have taken my money, said thanks and moved on to the next contract. Which is basically what I (and the others) did earlier this year. When ACBL announced that they were going to throw away all of the code, I thought this was silly and I don't like it when lawyers win and we (I'm an ACBL member as well) all lose out. I believe in the software enough that I've paid others to continue to develop it and invested more of my time and effort because there are some substantial improvements to players and TDs with the new software. Whether ACBL management now try and block it (there are some board motions in Providence), we shall see. If that happens, we all lose out.

ACBL have not publicly stated anything on open source for ACBLscore (or ACBLscore+), but privately have stated that it is unlikely to happen. The problem is support for any changes that are made. It becomes difficult for an organization with a small development staff to provide full support for open source code. Changes that someone may make to an open source product may not be in-line with what management wants. I strongly doubt ACBLscore will ever be open source.

I have actually tried to get some open source work done for Bridgescore+ (if it's Open Source then ACBL can also use it for no cost if they decide to continue with ACBLscore+).

==

ACBL management are in a difficult situation. No scenario is good. Either they wasted all this money and didn't realize it until the end. Or they failed to track the project sufficiently. Or they didn't supervise their end of the project correctly and failed to provide the necessary specs so that the work could get done. Or they didn't realize about the Copyright until they hired new lawyers. Or we did a terrible job of writing software and fooled them for 2 years. Or the new software is much better than they thought and they did a bad job of analyzing it. Or they failed to provide the necessary resources to get the project implemented. There is no good spin.

My position is well stated. ACBL got new lawyers in mid 2013/early 2014 who told them that without copyright, they can't protect the code, so they are going to throw it all away. During the ACBLscore+ contract, ACBL were supposed to provide certain resources (3 man years) and failed to do so. The ACBLscore+ “project” is now about 3 man years behind. The ACBLscore+ “contract” may be fine, but they can't roll out everything until the “project” is done. So they now have catch-up work to do.

Two of the four project managers I was assigned are no longer with ACBL.

The BOD is in a similar difficult situation. Who do they believe?

All I can do it put the software out there and let the marketplace decide. Which free product do you want to use? People are only going to choose Bridgescore+ if it is better than the existing product (ACBLscore). I know what the folks in my District are doing; I know what Gatlinburg is going to do for 2015.

There's a couple more things I still want to do with Bridgescore+. I will probably implement the new masterpoint rules if they get passed in Phoenix, so the software can be run instead of ACBLscore. After that I may be done, unless there is a compelling reason to continue. As long as Bridgescore+ can create an ACBLscore game file, then no-one will be any the wiser. Tournaments will make more money because they can use fewer TDs. TDs will be happier (if they are willing to learn new stuff) because the software takes care of lots of tedious data entry. As a player, I'll be happy because everything will run much smoother/quicker.
Nov. 21, 2014
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I've posted a Bridgescore+ status report at http://bsp.bridgescoreplus.com/docs/Bridgescoreplus_status_report_141121.pdf

The status report describes where Bridgescore+ is, what it would take in general terms for it to be rolled out. It's quite long (33 pages), but intended to be reasonably detailed. I also list nearly all of the original set of Risks/Risk Mitigations that were given to ACBL before the ACBLscore+ project started. A little too prophetic.

The ACBL BOD has a motion to look at the current state of ACBLscore+, so this document was intended to help with that process, should the motion pass. If the motion doesn't pass, then there are some districts that are curious on where Bridgescore+ is and what features can be used. Bridgescore+ is about 6 months further along than where ACBLscore+ was so it has more features/easier to use, more testing behind it, more real world use etc. etc.

I ran Bridgescore+ at a regional last month. Details at http://bsp.bridgescoreplus.com/?page_id=145 It describes real world usage, including some useful metrics. If you read nothing else, see the Bracketed Swiss entry on November 2, 2014 as this is the most interesting example of how new technology can help. Event would have finished at least 15 minutes earlier and would require far fewer TDs.

I'm going to be in Providence for the entire NABC.

I will try and find a bar/restaurant close to the playing site and give a demo between sessions to anyone who wants to see/learn Bridgescore+. It will be easier to get into more specifics of Bridgescore+ at that time. Any Districts/Units that are interested in running the software can find out more information. Will probably try and do this the first Friday or Saturday of the tournament. I will post something here about the meeting.
Nov. 21, 2014
Nicolas Hammond edited this comment Nov. 21, 2014
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