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All comments by Nicolas Hammond
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Historically the dot-matrix used a parallel connector.

A few years ago, computer makes dropped parallel connectors.

Some TDs use a serial<->parallel connector. But then computer makers dropped serial ports.

Some TDs use USB<->parallel, but not all cables work. TDs have found the best combination that works for their machine.

When a TD goes to a tournament they bring their own laptop/printer and only use their own cables.

If a TD goes to a remote tournament, they sometimes have to use local equipment. Given the variety of cables/configurations can go back for 20 years, it can be hard.

Just trying to explain…. TDs aren't computer experts. They have to work within the limitations of the hardware they have. And then sometimes we are so used to what we have at home, that we forget the basics.
March 10, 2015
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So Greg/I talked. Here's my take:

1. ACBL has not given him the last ACBLscore+ release. This makes it impossible to for to state what works, what doesn't work.

2. Greg had reported to the Technology Management Committee in February a couple of items that have since proved to be wrong - “18 months”, “ACBLscore+ not assigning masterpoints”. Unfortunately this was information used at the meeting, and now Greg has to go back and explain this. It invalidates the committee's findings. Even worse that information is also going to be used the Board Meetings this week. Some of you thought my tone was a little harsh, but the correct way of handling this would for Greg/Uday to have shared their written conclusions with me before sending to the Committee to give me change to correct any factual errors. The problem was is that neither Uday/Greg are users of ACBLscore so they don't even know what that software does let alone what ACBLscore+ does.


Greg finally got to see a live demo of ACBLscore+.

This was whatever version ACBL had given him. It's not the latest, but it is something.

It was running on his local system.

It was amazing. “ACBL says you can't do this”. Click here. Er.. OK.

If I were going to recommend to finish ACBLscore+, we would need to do it in steps, so I write a tool that would do A. So…. look in this directory at this tool. Here's what it does, here's how it work. Well, they never told me about this. Yes, never mind. Here are steps B, C, D, E. Look at this code, look at these tools. Here is how you would migrate.

I would modularize the software and package the software differently. So.. go to this web site, this is a version of ACBLscore+ that only does this one function. Oh… I see. I didn't know this existed. This is exactly what I would have done.

Here let me show you how we handle back-end support for Bridgewinners. Yes, that's great, you need that type of admin interface. Now go to ACBLscore+ and click on this menu. Ah. I didn't know about that.

There's some features of ACBLscore+ that are turned on from the configuration menu; they are not visible otherwise. No-one told Greg.

I think Greg was surprised that the code was a lot further along than he had been led to believe. There was also a lot more support tools and infrastructure that he knew nothing about.

“ACBL never gave me a list of what it could do”.

I will reiterate the point I keep making:

No-one from ACBL has ever seen a true demo of the software, i.e. what works, what doesn't work, what work is needed to complete various parts.

You cannot evaluate software unless you know what you are looking it.

For the first time, Greg got to see a demo - and it was a brief demo. Greg would have to comment on his true first impression.

In talking with Greg, it appears that ACBLscore+ has been implemented/designed along the same design path he would have done. What Greg/Uday were thinking could be a transition path from ACBLscore+ to a final version (Greg alluded to something in an earlier post) and the steps that would be needed to make this happen, it turns out most of the steps/tools are already in the version of ACBLscore+ that ACBL has. Greg/Uday just don't know it because no-one has told them it's there. That's all good news I haven't seen their plan. I would be willing to review it before they presented it to their committee because I can provide insight into the tools that ACBL has to make a transition easier.

Greg can only look at the source code, already some of the claims in the “Gap analysis” (what's missing) he said are wrong. I have never seen this Gap Analysis, I would encourage ACBL to make it public - it was their stated reason for dropping ACBLscore+.

Greg is going to be in a difficult situation on Thursday. He wasn't given the latest source code from ACBL. He hasn't really been given a proper demo (yesterday was too brief). He can report on what works (because he will have seen it on his local system), he can't report on what's not working because he doesn't have the latest code. He can't report on what's missing, because he doesn't have the latest code. There are lots of features and capabilities of ACBLscore+ he still hasn't seen yet. He can report on the quality of the source code that he has. He will have to explain that his preliminary findings as reported were wrong.

I think this very brief demo was a small turning point. I hope so. I'm still going to hold Greg's feet to the fire if he reports something on ACBLscore+ that is factually wrong…
March 10, 2015
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I'll just address some of the issues:

“… copyright….”

The original contract took 5 months to negotiate. The wording for ownership is fairly standard. ACBL had no problem with it. They got a 10% discount, but at the same time my company had a license to the software. All common stuff.

It was only after the contract started, used outside counsel.

My lawyer still doesn't understand their outside counsel's opinion, but it was sufficient for ACBL to stop paying invoices and put the project in jeopardy.

It would be great if ACBL were to release that opinion.

I was certainly not negotiating with a child…

ACBL wanted to change the contract, and effectively remove my license, i.e. the ability to reuse the underlying software with no compensation to me. They were the ones playing hardball.

“…. stakeholders…”

The stakeholders are ACBL, both management, finance, back-end operations, support. They are all the users - TDs, CDs. Players are also stakeholders.

I talked to them all. I visited (my dime, not ACBL) clubs in different parts of the country.

When creating software, we'd create it, have TDs use it. Get feedback etc.

One year into the contract, I wanted an alpha release to clubs. ACBL said no.

“You want to demonstrate prototypes as you go along, as frequently as possible, to convince people you know what you're doing, and that you heard what they asked for.”

A prototype was put on line for management and board members before every board meeting.

“You must deliver something tangible with new benefits that weren't available before – within 6 months.”

Not sure you are asking for something to be shown now - happy to - or 6 months after the contract started.

Fast Results was the first product delivered with ACBLscore+. Demo-ed in Memphis, March 2012, before contract started. All code delivered to ACBL in April 2012.

Gatlinburg this year we will have (limited) pre-registration.

I can only control my side of the fence. I cannot control the other side of the fence for this contract. There was no-one on that side of the fence that was acting in a PM role. This was one of the risks I identified to ACBL before the contract started; they chose to ignore it.

Let me give one example, Tournament Financial Reports are a big part of ACBLscore. About 10 months into the contract we were ready to start on it. I got buy in from the customer (ACBL) to implement in Excel. Lots of benefits. We did a prototype to show how it would work. It was modular, i.e. we could use it with the current infrastructure (ACBLscore). To implement something like this would involve lots of internal resources within ACBL. After a month, nothing had happened. So I wrote up a project plan on what should happen. It was a 5 month plan - that's who long I estimated it would take to get all the various people involved, the work done. For TFR, the stakeholders are ACBL, DICs, but also include the Unit/District Treasurer, TCs etc. My plan included feedback from all of these players. After another month of nothing happening, I was politely, and probably correctly, told that this type of work was internal within ACBL (I had identified the individuals needed) and that this was their responsibility per contract. 3 months later still nothing had happened. TFR was critical path to the contract.

We had a meeting in Atlanta in October 2013. I had arranged for some TCs, TDs, DICs to give their input to the group from ACBL on TFR. They refused to meet with them. Claimed they knew better. This is the meeting where I was told, “we don't care about those people”.

I also arranged for the ACBL group (all Horn Lake based) to meet with some club owners that I wanted to use for alpha-testing. The club owner then expressed his frustrations with the current system. Two of the three from Horn Lake had never used ACBLscore, had no idea what a club owner did.

So I listened, I arranged for customer (ACBL) to hear from the stakeholders. ACBL/HS were negotiating a new contract;; the sticking point come back to the outside counsel's recommendation to redo the old contract as part of the new and take away our license for no compensation. We said no. Did not make any business sense.

ACBL's outside counsel has told them that they can't use the software (I know, very strange, but I have the email). So since then ACBL management/league counsel have done everything they could to cover up.

They had to find a reason to ‘throw away the code’.

The first review back in March 2014 (when we were transitioning the code) was very positive.

ACBL then spent $100K creating a mock-up, showing that to board members.

ACBL board members were threatened if they talked to me (ask the DD from the time), particularly if they mentioned the word ‘contract’. I think management even followed up with the threat.

I've been threatened with permanent expulsion from ACBL.

It sounds like a story you couldn't make up. Ask your DD to get a copy of outside counsel's opinion on ACBLscore+ contract. Ask your DD to get copies of emails from ACBL to me for May 2014.

Here's the problem: the ACBLscore+ code is good. Sure, there's some things that need finishing, but there isn't that much work, not when you compare what they need to do to ACBLscore to add the features the players want (features that are in ACBLscore+ because I listened to what people want).

All the tradition PM is there - at least from my end - monthly status reports etc. Warnings to customer (ACBL) that they were behind in X. If they didn't deliver A, it would impact B. Item C is critical path - we will need it a month. Item C is late, it's critical path. (One item C, a major critical path item, got delegated to a part time TD who had a couple of tournaments he was running so it would be 2-3 weeks before he might be able to start (!)).

March 10, 2015
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At the NABC, the ACBL is the sponsor, so they get to decide what happens, including use of side rooms.

They have said no to using Bridgescore+ at the event. I doubt they would let me use a side room for a demo, I haven't asked, it would be impolite.

I could show a lot more in a ‘showdown’, but the audience would probably get bored. I figured we had about an hour before boredom set in.

Everything you have asked for,

“- Tournament setup: database creations of events and players.
- Running a simple (single session) pairs event(s).
- Running a simple (single session) Swiss event(s).
- Producing the necessary printed reports or projections to show results to the players.
- Creating the necessary gamefiles or whatever to report the results back to Memphis.”

is probably best shown on YouTube videos.

I would also want to focus on some of the things that Bridgescore+ can do that ACBLscore cannot, particularly for clubs. Here's some:

1. Hand records.

Bridgescore+ can generate hand records, with double dummy analysis (DDA).

2. Integration of hand records/scores/electronic scoring devices.

All data in the same SQL database.

With ACBLscore, there are three different files and you have to use tools to merge the data.

3. Fast Automated Results.

A version of fast automated results is part of Bridgescore+. Whether this ever gets offered to clubs is a different story.

4. Modern printers/operating systems etc.


5. Projectors.


6. SQL Queries.

All data is in SQL, so you can query the data to do analysis of the players. Or export to Excel and do queries in Excel.

March 10, 2015
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Jim was very helpful to me during the project.

Jim is probably the only person who understands the entire scope.
March 10, 2015
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I was at a tournament last week in Pine Mountain, working with some of the TDs that will be in Gatlinburg.

One of the TDs said after the start of the session, “wouldn't it be nice if….”. In other words, he saw the software work, but saw a way that would be better for him.

The nice thing about the Bridgescore+ platform is that it is very easy to add new functionality. The TD's suggestion was useful, helpful. WIthin an hour I had added it. I got trained in some more intricacies of tournament management, Bridgescore+ got a new (useful) tool.

Training for the new software is very important. I've not given any formal classes. All Bridgescore+ has been hands-on training. In Pine Mountain, a TD said, I saw you do this yesterday, let me do it today. He was selling a KO. So he ran both in parallel - ACBLscore, Bridgescore+. This is exactly how I would see a roll out. Plenty of time to do both. At game time, he used Bridgescore+ to start the event. So he did it all with no training.

Training is an implicit cost of new software. TDs need to be trained. And then CDs. The easier the software is to use, the better for all.
March 10, 2015
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My version of Greg's car analogy would be this:

I delivered a box with a car on it an a sign saying “ReadMe First” that tells you how to get the car out of the cardboard box. Something like, remove these packing screws first.

Greg didn't read the instructions, took a sledgehammer to the box, and then was surprised it was full of separate pieces.

The fortunate thing about software is that you can start afresh.

Within a few minutes of being on the phone with him, we were able to get a reasonably working copy on his machine. This was a couple of minutes, not 6 hours.

Rest of this stuff technical, so switch off if not interested.

The specific problem was most likely rake. ACBLscore+ used rake version 10.1 (from memory). Bridgescore+ uses 10.3.2. Greg had 10.4 installed on his Mac. rake versions are not necessarily backwards compatible.

ACBLscore+ has about 70+ gems/shared libraries that it uses. You need to make sure that you have the correct one. For Windows, programmers, is the equivalent of making sure you have the right DLLs.

Greg shared his screen, I saw the problem, we got some of his problems fixed.

Greg, when you create a duplicate copy, change all references to ‘rake’ in the script to be ‘bundle exec rake’. In vi

%s/rake/bundle exec rake/g

This should fix the earlier version problem.

The problem that Greg ran into was a common computer problem - making sure that you have the correct libraries/commands for the code you are running. ACBLscore+ is over a year old, installing newer commands that may not be backwards compatible may not work.

Of far more concern was that Greg was not running the latest version of ACBLscore+ which was sent to ACBL in late May 2014. We verified by check the file sizes of some important files and they are different.
March 10, 2015
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I've been pretty good about estimating dates since the project started. It was a multi-phase contract. By Phase 3 we were under time, under budget. WIthin a year of start time (started April 2, 2012), we had delivered a working scoring system with pair games, electronic scoring devices, fast results. It was shown to ACBL in Gatlinburg in April 2013. Phase 4 involved input from ACBL and that is when problems started. By the end of the contract we had a working system, parts of which were incomplete, but it was ready for a staged roll-out.

Take a look at what Bridgescore+ can currently do - see the videos on YouTube,

The UI for EDMOV sucks. We need something better. EDMOV is also very powerful. In ACBLscore, movements are implemented as a pointer to a pointers to a pointer to a pointer to a pointer (5 pointers). Bridgescore+ uses 3.

I did talk to Ian McKinnon during the contract. I have two copies of his book. (One for me, one for developer). There's a lot of reading there.

Movements are sufficiently well self-contained that you would want to hire someone just to focus on movements.

Worse case scenario, I would implement the Movements code, or see if I could hire Greg to implement.

Real-world feedback is crucial to this highly specialized custom software. It is why I want to release on Day 1. Get feedback from TDs. Use the feedback to improve the product so that when Pair events are added, the TDs are more comfortable with the UI.
March 10, 2015
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Let's say finish date is absolutely everything. ACBLscore gone away.

ACBLscore+ has to have movements/EDMOV capability.

My estimate for that work is about 6 months. It include everything, from the design to implementation. We have a design. I had a part-time employee, retired programmer, club director, understood movements, he had already done some good other work on the project. He started on the work. I had to put him on furlough. I would rehire him to do the work. Understanding complex movements is not easy. Understanding EDMOV less so. My estimate is based on re-hiring him, but I haven't talked to him lately. I could do the work; but it's the type of work where you need to be un-interrupted. “It's complicated” as we say. Though I could roll out ACBLscore+ for simple pair games, it would run in parallel. You can't have it be the primary until EDMOV works.

BUT, and this is the big BUT,

I would release the code on Day 1 to replace ACBLscore with KOs. Start getting the necessary feedback from TDs.

The work on EDMOV would happen in parallel with the release. That's my plan.

What I still don't have is the best/recommended movements for BAM/Individual/Swiss.

You may not think it's a big deal, but in talking to clubs, the hardest part is in knowing what movement to run based on the number of tables, players, time constraints. ACBLscore+/Bridgescore+ fixes this - it is easier to set up movements, more intuitive etc.

So… the question is more semantics.

Roll-out: Day 1.

Last functionality roll-out: 6-7 months, assuming that time is the most important priority.

The work on EDMOV would start day 1. It can start without the specs for BAM/Individual/Swiss. EDMOV is critical path, so we would start on it without the full masterpoint specs.

Hopefully I'm making myself clear.

During the contract, there was a delay in delivery of movement specs. This happened at the same time that ACBL stopped paying, so the developer was on furlough from doing any work. We did get some movement specs - but it took several months. By then we were close to the end of the contract.
March 9, 2015
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“Does Bridgescore+ randomize the matches within each bracket at the start of the KO's?”


“Can Bridgescore+ sccept an assignment override for players with special needs, who need to be on an aisle or near an outlet?”

Yes. It's referred to as a “Stationary Table”.

“Can Bridgescore+ print out bracket sheets with the matches for round 1 already printed?”


It first prints out a sheet that contains all the information a TD would need to know to run the event manually. Say, someone spills coffee on the laptop; with the print out the TD can run the event manually (stand on a chair and announce assignments or use the rack).

It also prints out a special report for caddies; it prints it out in the format that is best for entering the data into ACBLscore. So it tells the caddies the tables to go to to pick up the information so it is sorted for ACBLScore.

It can print out a bracket sheet that you hang on the wall. I include more information in the “Press” sheet (ACBL terminology).

It can also print out the entry form for players what have played on the same team before. So they can re-use this entry form if they have bad hand-writing.
March 9, 2015
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I talked with Greg.

He was not running the last version of ACBLscore+ that was delivered to ACBL.

It explains a lot.
March 9, 2015
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The ACBLscore masterpoint code is complicated. It's in 3 different modules (at least). There is separate code for masterpoint chart and masterpoints. The calculation code is mixed in with the UI.

The last round of MP changes showed how difficult this code is to maintain in ACBLscore.

For ACBLscore+ we have a separate masterpoint module. It's written in C. It is about 8,500+ lines of code. Standalone tests etc.

The MP code is complicated, for example in the code to calculate the colors for a session, I think we have 43 different conditions (big nested if statement). Part of this code would have been copied from Jim's underlying code, but not all of it.
March 9, 2015
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The legal mediation is important.

Currently even if the KO software is great, ACBL wouldn't use it.

Instead they would re-write the software, use the ideas and concepts. This is the underlying problem, all based on an outside counsel's opinion. ACBL management have the opinion that they can't use the ACBLscore+ software.

There is no difference/dispute between HS/ACBL. Everyone keeps trying to say that there is. We had one contract. It got done. We were unable to negotiate a second contract. We both moved on. Doesn't mean that we couldn't negotiate a new one.

Take a look at
page 34 for comments on the personal web server concept.
March 9, 2015
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Totally agree that you need to have a back-up system in place any time you introduce new technology. We have just come to expect new systems to work (e.g. electronic scoring devices).

There was a separate thread about how this could be done (electronic sales). One solution ould be similar to how KO events work, or how seeding in pair events work. You get an entry number, when assignments ready, your table assignment comes up on the wall. It's how KOs work in Bridgescore+, you've got something similar for BW. Combine the two, you've got a solution. For KOs, it's even better because you can capture player numbers at registration time.
March 9, 2015
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There are some simple things that can be done.

The first problems with the ACBLscore+ contract were actually with the board, not ACBL. Cost the project about $70-$100K. I complained but was told that we had to eat the extra cost. I wrote Robert and gave details on how to avoid this type of problem in the future (e.g. shredders at board meetings for confidential information), there were also some common steps that are taken at board meetings that ACBL don't follow. Still don't.

First problems were documented about a year into the contract.

ACBL has some good people. They work hard, they work long hours.

ACBL is severely lacking in people with project management skills; my recommendation to Robert long time ago was that certain people should go get training in PM. For example, take a PMP class, get a PMP certificate. Good for the employee because they get extra training and this can rub off within an organization. I think ACBL only had 1 person with a PMP certificate (or equivalent) when I was there. Without understanding the formal process that a project goes through, it's difficult to manage it. One of the risks that I identified to ACBL before the project started was making sure that they had a qualified project manager within ACBL for the ACBLscore+ project. The code touches all areas of ACBL - TDs, backend DBs, CDs, finance and all should be involved at different times.

That recommendation still applies: I would encourage ACBL to send more people to on-going work training, PMP being one.
March 9, 2015
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Let me be clear:

Roll out starts on Day 1 with the current code. It does not need the ‘missing specs’.

It will take time to train the TDs on using the new software. It will need to run in parallel for some time with a limited number of TDs giving feedback. This will make the software better for all.

This software has to be supported, so there is training of the back-end support staff that starts as well. It is incremental.

As the first TDs are running the software, we are working on adding the code for the missing specs. In parallel. We make it fail-safe, can always go from Bridgescore+ to ACBLscore game files for example.

The major missing specs are Movements, and Masterpoints (eligibility/assignment). We would not need them day 1.
March 9, 2015
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I'll defer to Greg and others for best UI; my UI is OK, but I typically hire others to do the final CSS/Javascript - that's almost a specialist job these days. I'm better at taking a complex task and breaking it down to the necessary sub-components.

One important part of the ACBLscore+ design is to make the software flow the way that the directors work (or should work), not the other way round. Currently a lot of the process of running an event is based on how the software works.

An example is KOs. After a KO starts, the TD gives a list of tables in each bracket (typically hand-written) to a caddy, starting with the round robins, then the head to head matches. The caddy must then sort in the correct order - RR, then HH. It's one of the reasons that they want you to write the table number down - they sort by hand at the TD table based on the table number. The reason for all of this sorting is that ACBLscore inputs ACBL members in this order - RR, then HH. All teams must be sequential.

It is an incredibly cumbersome process. TDs won't start doing input until all the entry sheets are in the correct order. This is how it has worked “for centuries”.

So… if you look at this process and get to design something new, you re-invent the wheel.

With a modern UI you can scrap the need for sorting. You can display more than one team on the screen.

The current paper process puts your entry number on the entry sheet. Bridgescore+ knows this.

Why not do name entry before the KO starts?

Currently we don't because ACBLscore doesn't have the concept. Bridgescore+ is SQL based, we know your entry number. Let's pre-register you.

It will be tried out on a limited basis in Gatlinburg. My goal is to make the TDs job easier and to cut down on the massive line to buy entries for the KOs.

I'm not knocking ACBLscore - never have - it does a great job but is limited in its abilities by the underlying design from years ago.

March 9, 2015
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This thread started out with offering a challenge between ACBLscore and Bridgescore+. The reason that I made this challenge was that NO-ONE from ACBL management had seen a demo of ACBLscore+, nor seen its abilities/capabilities, including those on the CEO Technical Committee. That Committee appears to be in disarray - the CEO last month claiming that ACBLscore+ could not handle KOs - I don't know who is advising him but Greg/Uday/Ralph are on that committee so it's clear to me that no-one knows what's going on. I reported 7-9 months to finish, the committee minutes stated 18.

It now appears that after the ACBLscore+ code was delivered in May 2014, that ACBL spent $100K creating a “proxy” (similar software) to ACBLscore+. I am speculating that this code, not the real ACBLscore+, was shown to the ACBL Board Members (Merlin Vilhauer, Russ Jones) in May/June 2014. Based on this they recommended dropping ACBLscore+.

In other words, management spent $100K to create a demo to convince the board to drop ACBLscore+. They did not show them the real code.

I have no idea what code Greg has reviewed, or been shown by ACBL. All I know is he stated that the code in the cloud was different than the local code he had.

Please see
Page 34. Even though Bob is my DD, I had no idea that he had written this.

It also appears that management tried to discredit the technical approach (web based software), and failed.

I stand by all the statements I have made in this discussion, and others, regarding ACBLscore+.

It's time for all the mis-information about ACBLscore+ to stop.

It's time for some people to get a demo of the real software.

It's time to see what ACBLscore+ can do, not what a $100K imitation couldn't.

Bridgescore+ (basically ACBLscore+ 2.0) is ready to deploy. See I haven't updated that page in a while. Everything still applies.

I will be in New Orleans; I'll try and find a location to give a Bridgescore+ demo.
March 9, 2015
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ACBLscore+/Bridgescore+ can assign masterpoints. I have no idea where this mis-communication has come from. It can do a lot more. I posted a list of features of ACBLscore+ in August 2014, see
I haven't update the site since, it can do a lot more now.

There continues to be a huge amount of mis-information about ACBLscore+, what it can, and cannot do. If you re-report the mis-information then the myth worsens.

ACBL management are trying their best NOT to let anyone see the software because the root causes of all of these problems is legal, not technical.

A year into the contract in Gatlinburg 2013, I demo-ed ACBLscore+ to my contacts at ACBL. We took the printed results from a 0-299er game, set up Bridgemates and 3 of us (2 from HS, 1 from ACBL) entered the information into the Bridgemates. ACBLscore+ scored it, ranked it, masterpointed it. At this point I wanted to release what we had, in a very limited manner to clubs, so that we could get early feedback on the UI. ACBL said no.

ACBLscore+ has also been able to run/score/rank/masterpoint KOs and Swiss for some time. Part of the testing is importing a game file into ACBLscore+, re-score, re-rank, re-masterpoint, output the result from ACBLscore+ and compare with ACBLscore.

Bridgescore+ obviously can do the same (it's basically ACBLscore+ 2.0). In addition, it can write an ACBLscore game file at any time so that the two can run in parallel.

“The relationship between the ACBL and Hammond Software is beyond repair. Assigning blame isn’t helpful, and there appears to be plenty to go around on both sides. What’s important is understanding that any plan to move forward will not include Hammond Software.”

I disagree. There are certainly individuals within ACBL that may have some issues. Particularly the couple that negotiated the original ACBLscore contract. But if you are at that level, you are supposed to be able to put personal issues aside and do what is best for the organization. Long time ago I stated that the dispute between ACBL/HS was a simple business issue. ACBL's CEO/league counsel wanted a new contract to include redoing the old contract. I said no. We agreed to move on. Nothing sinister, simple business. I've continued to do some work, sometimes indirectly, for them, but it's easier if it is done quietly, and done on a volunteer basis.

Remember: I've been through a lot. ACBL negotiated a 10% discount before the contract was signed, in exchange my company got a license to the code. ACBL started stopped paying invoices just over half way into the contract in order to force HS to drop that license/change copyright but with no compensation. We said no. The company had to borrow a large sum of money (into 6 figures) in order to pay our employees/contractors but we put some on furlough. We continued the work. The contract ended (twice!), and we delivered all the code. It's good code. Everyone who has seen it says the same. ACBL are just stuck with some legal issues.

I firmly believe in the software. More than anyone else I know what it can do.

I've spent the last year enhancing the software, adding the features I know it needs, but were not part of the contract.

I'm not saying that a new contract would not be difficult. Almost certainly I would add wording that we would get paid on time (that was in the new proposed contract). What ACBL's outside counsel could not agree to was wording regarding copyright/licensing.

March 9, 2015
Nicolas Hammond edited this comment March 9, 2015
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It probably won't help much to bash each other in public.

1. “My counter-showdown was satire”

Darn-it. I thought you were being serious. I almost bought a stop watch.

I still think a head-to-head public comparison is great. I don't think you have seen ACBLscore so you don't know what is being replaced.
I'm still willing to take you up on the USB stick offer.
Let me know which version of Windows you'd like to do this on so I'm properly prepared.

Let me know which version of Mac you'd like to install ACBLscore on.

2. “…They did not work….”

The last entry for the Wiki was March 31, 2014. If you have any software components on your Mac which are after that date then there is no guarantee of backwards compatibility. In fact, I'm almost certain they won't work.

As new developers came onboard, or as we upgraded components (e.g. Ruby 1.9.3 to Ruby 2.0) we updated the Wiki. We had some who wanted to develop on Windows, some on Mac, I didn't care what development environment they were on. We tended to leave the old comments in the Wiki and not simply delete. We may have upgraded from Mac 10.8 to Mac 10.9 but still have some developers on Mac 10.8 so we left the old text in but annotated it accordingly.

It's a bit like having a software installations for a Windows XP program and then you complaining it doesn't work on Windows 8.

I am happy to help. I offered to help. I had no idea that you would spend 6 hours trying to do this.

BTW, I had no complaints/comments/questions from ACBL after the original delivery so I strongly suspect the problem is installing on a newer machine.

3. “I'm reasonably certain that the code I tried to install locally, and the version we are running in the cloud, are the software that you delivered.”

If you have any doubt, let me know.

I hope the version in the cloud is configured correctly, i.e. not running under Apache etc.

4. “4) There are absolutely parts of ACBLScore+ that have value. As you say, they're being used, and people like them. We would like to extract, deploy, and integrate those parts. It is part of the plan that Uday and I proposed.”

This is great news.

It is all I have been asking for.

Previously ACBL has stated it was all throw-away.

5. “5) All estimates for how long things would take and what's missing from the software are from my phone call with you. I took notes, I know what was said. I'm not making them up. None of this is coming from the ACBL.”

I followed up with an email because I wasn't sure you got everything in context.

To finish the job, there is still 6-7 months of critical path work that was delayed.

So that's the minimum.

What I said on the phone, that knowing what I know now, and that various components of the original contract have changed, I would roll it out differently. The lowest cost/safest approach is probably a 9-18 month roll-out.

See the transition plan in the final status report (page 64). See a rollout plan at The latter has been up for several months, I haven't updated it in a while.

Somehow what I stated to you on the phone got translated into “18 months minimum”. That's not the case.

My suggestion is that you roll out the code tomorrow. It needs time in the field. It needs time with users.

“The ACBL has a huge laundry list of things that it found missing or deficient in its initial analysis, and we wanted to get your side of the story since it seemed weird that you hadn't weighed in, and we were having some difficulty understanding the laundry list.”

I have never seen this laundry list.

That's why I haven't weighed in.

If you can release it, send it to me. If under NDA, fine.

Most people, myself included, would want to know why if ACBL has had this for a year, they haven't shown it to me. After all, I know more about what's there than anyone else and have been very open/honest about it (see the status reports).

The most recent claim from ACBL (last month) was that they didn't get the code that would start a KO using a projector.

So i went back to the DVD that was sent, and explicitly referenced the code.

If the ACBL CEO is being told that large components of the software was not provided, yet they were, I'm not sure how good this laundry list is.


“The authors of the list have themselves said that they should have done a better job separating the big ticket items from the small stuff.”

I don't know who the authors were, or what they wrote.

All that is documented is that they spent $150K creating this list.

“We all know that ACBLScore+ can start and run a KO like gangbusters.”

No. The ACBL CEO specifically stated last month that ACBLscore+ could not start a KO.
So “We all” do not know that. I know it.

“We also know that it can run a swiss, assuming that you're willing to run ACBLScore in parallel because of some missing logic. I've not seen that in action personally, but I'm willing to stipulate that it's nothing short of amazing.”

It is :-) (Amazing).

It does run in parallel so that we guarantee the matching algorithm.
I want to get the matching algorithm done as an open source project so that ACBL would have access to it (see previous posting) when the code was done.

Matching the ACBL algorithm is a bit of work. Trying to extract the logic in the ACBLscore code is difficult. I had 3 different developers try and do this during the ACBLscore contract, none was able to do it. The algorithm is heavily mixed in with the UI code making it very hard to extract. They were trying to match Jim's Pascal code with equivalent C code.
If I were to do it, I'd estimate 1-4 man weeks coding. 2-3 months elapsed; not trying to be immodest, but would take others longer, I come into the project with more background. Reason for big difference between man weeks and elapsed is testing and feedback. ACBLscore+ is custom software, it needs feedback.

However, I want to make it open source. Got some developers interested. If I did the work, then my company would own it. Believe it or not, altruistic motives in making it open source.

However… I would not match ACBL's algorithm. It's overly complicated. It is not well understood by the users. Most people - TD/CDs don't change the default settings. But they are changed at the NABCs.


“Will you be running the old, as-delivered version of ACBLScore+, or will you be running the newer Bridgescore+?”


I've made many, many improvements to Bridgescore+ since ACBLscore+ was delivered in May 2014. It's better, faster, more capable, more printed output, better tested, better displays. There is no reason for me to run ACBLscore+.

Basically what I've got is what I would have called ACBLscore+ 2.0. ACBLscore+ 1.0 was to replace ACBLscore, delivered May 2014. It was designed so that new improvements could be added.

When ACBL announced they were dropping ACBLscore, I put a version up on the Internet for districts to use. It is code up to September 2014. It's free. I've had a lot of feedback from them, and incorporated it into Bridgescore+.

“Demos of the latter are of less interest, since it's not what was given to the league and we don't have any access to it to do any independent evaluations.”

You are welcome to see it in action at Gatlinburg.

I offered to run it (for free) at the NABCs.

“I naively expected ours to be a short phone call, since answering those two questions (what's missing, and how hard are they) seems straightforward to me, even though I'm well aware of how hard it is to estimate development time”

What you want is a dollar/time estimate. I know that. Everyone wants that. But it's complicated. If there was a contract, I'd spec it out, but there isn't so I can only give estimates.

Development estimate is hard because of resources. It's code so you can put man weeks next to an item. But it's highly customized code, so you need the right resources. My output ratio for the developers on ACBLscore was about 20:1. In other words, what some developers would take 20 hours to do, would take others 1. Higher ratio that most projects, but there is a learning curve for ACBLscore+. So any estimate of man weeks has to factor in output ratio. For example, ask ACBL what the estimate was for ACBL Live, and how many man weeks/elapsed weeks has taken (I picked this at random, nothing sinister).

The other factor which is harder to impress on people is the elapsed time. It's custom software. It needs feedback from TDs/CDs. They are the users. You can't ask them what they want because they can't tell you (I've tried). You have to show them, get feedback, and implement their suggestions (this works).

I'm reluctant to commit to any dollar/time because of unknown resources.

If I had to do the work, I can put some hard fast numbers next to each item.

I gave you a 6-7 month estimate, minimum, for completion, because that's the delay in the critical path items. That gets the code done. Meets the requirements. But I'm not sure everyone is happy. Leaves almost no time for feedback from users.

I gave you an estimate of 9-18 months. The slower the roll-out, the cheaper the cost, the safer the roll-out is, the better the quality of the code and final result. Someone that is now perceived to be 18 months minimum. It's not. Rollout would start at day 1.


“The contract is over, the result is not deployable, and it's not close”

This is where we disagree. Perhaps it is semantic terminology on the scale of deployability.

It was deployed in Gatlinburg in April 2014.

Parts of it are ready to be deployed now, others not.

Even if everything was ready today, you would still do a slow roll-out. You need support trained. You need alpha-testing. Look at any other ACBL project, e.g. ACBL Live - you roll it out at some test tournaments, get feedback, before implementing it across all tournaments. Look at TourneyTrax - same issue. That took many months of feedback.


“By the way, I asked you repeatedly, in Providence, for a demo, and never got one.”

I honestly don't remember. I did demo it to several people; I have no reason not to have included you as someone to show it to. Perhaps our playing schedules never meshed. I“ll have to dig through old emails/texts but I don't remember. I know we did talk about projectors and usage etc.


”I'm not really sure what you're trying to accomplish here. If you want to convince us that we should try to extract workable pieces from ACBLScore+ and roll them out, there's no need.“

That's about all I want to accomplish.

”If you want to try to convince anyone to create another contract, you're not succeeding"

That's not likely with the current management. I walked away from the last contract that was offered.


10 items.
Let me create. I'll put in a separate thread. My fingers are sore.
March 8, 2015

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