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All comments by Nicolas Hammond
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A few weeks before Providence, I asked ACBL if they wanted me to run ACBLscore+/Bridgescore+ for some of the events. I was playing in the afternoon/evening sessions so I offered to run Bridgescore+ to help start the Regional KOs in the morning. I made it very clear that I did not want to be paid. I was volunteering my time. I would bring all the equipment needed - printer/projector/WiFi. I would work with whoever to help determine any future hardware needs so they could do this themselves. I was happy to brand Bridgescore+ for this tournament as ACBL software (e.g. display ACBL logo etc.). I was going to be there the entire time. I offered to do this for all the morning KOs (9-10 days). I wanted to do this to help train the TDs in ACBLscore+. Even if ACBL decides to throw all of all ACBLscore+ and rewrite the same code themselves, Bridgescore+ can help in the interim. The start times for KOs with Bridgescore+ is within a minute of game time. This saves a lot of time for the TDs and the players. We also need fewer TDs to start the event.

ACBL league counsel said no.
Dec. 27, 2014
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You can carve out the current Pascal code, or you can say that an ACBLscore replacement needs to have the following features/functionality. Two ways of looking at the same thing.

Jim had lots of #ifdef win32 because the DOS and Windows versions shared code. From memory, he used different versions of the compiler to generate the DOS and Windows code.

I'm not going to get into a numbers game. 200,000->40,000. ACBLscore+ has about 200K SLOC (Source Lines of Code). It has roughly the same feature set. ACBLscore+ has comments. About 37K lines of the ACBLscore+ code is the “workhorse”, i.e. the code that implements the business logic. So, we are not too different.

Rather than sketching out a design, you can do a data flow diagram. What data needs to go to where, when, how and why.

Note that the biggest cost of club games is customer support. Any changes to the code has an impact on customer support.

Let me answer some specifics:

ACBLscore is the only horse in the ACBL town. There are other software programs out there. I've referred to some previously.

Masterpoint calculations are easy (relatively). Masterpoint assignment/eligibility is not. The current ACBLscore masterpoint code is replicated in 3 different places. I never got the specs on masterpoint assignment/eligibility from ACBL. This was probably a 2 week project, 4 weeks elapsed for them. Trying to reverse engineer all the rules, all the rounding calculations is a lot of work. If ACBL can provide this document (it was in the contract), then we can do testing of Bridgescore+ much easier. The problem is that the specs are not in one place, the ACBLscore implementation does not match the masterpoint calculation specs leaving it very hard to replicate the current code.

There was litte/no scope creep in ACBLscore. If there was something outside the contract, we did not have time to do it, so we would stub it out. At one point, ACBL said “no printers (at tournaments)” (I'm serious!). So we had to find a way to run events at tournaments with no printers. Projectors became the only solution. So ACBLscore+ has a projector output capability. ACBL later changed their minds about printers at tournaments so what looks like scope creep really wasn't. So… projector output was not in the RFP. Printed reports were. As a CR, ACBL took out printed reports, we replaced it with projector output, then ACBL changed its mind and wanted printed output as well. Obviously we still have some printed output. Displaying on a screen, and printing are similar, but different with web pages. We just need a little more CSS. For example, we don't need to print the menus if outputting to a printer. At some point, I'll put up a Youtube video showing some of the screens and how the output is different on a printer than on the screen.

There have been several new features that I have added to Bridgescore+ that are not in ACBLscore+ because I see how TDs work at tournaments and sometimes there are much more efficient ways of doing things. But ACBL hasn't paid for any of this work, so it's not really feature creep. Just code I've written to help run tournaments. My District (I'm in D7) wants to use Bridgescore+, they've seen it in use at their regionals, I've committed to providing it, so I'm going to make our tournaments better. While I have no marginal costs (I've prepaid various Internet hosting sites), I've made versions of this available for other districts (at no cost).

I did talk to the folks from Bridgemates and the other Electronic Scoring Device (ESD) companies. Many times. I went to some WBF events to see how they ran (not on ACBL $$) and met with them there.

I set up a meeting in Atlanta 2013 at the NABC between me, ACBL and Bridgemate to define what we would want for Swiss teams. ACBL didn't show up “too busy”. Without a long term commitment from ACBL, Bridgemate were not going to invest the time/money to provide some add-on features.

I still want to see this project succeed. I met with the Bridgemate folks in Providence, last month. I outlined what we would want to be able to run Swiss events in Bridgescore+. The current implementation of Swiss events in Bridgemates is a little complicated. You have to mimic various pair game movements. It can be done, it's just a horrible way to do it. Bridgemates are coming out with a new firmware release next year that works better. The Bridgemate folks are very receptive. I described why various features would be needed (in ACBL land we have different expectations of a Swiss than other places). Some of these changes are probably trivial for them, but will make running Swiss easier. I think after they met with me (I've been meeting with them for 2+ years), they then had a meeting with ACBL. Our design for Bridgemates (and other ESDs) is simple - we have a simple client that runs on a Windows box that has the ESD server. This client communicates to the scoring machine. This design keeps the code away from the scoring engine. It also allows one scoring machine to handle many servers (in current ACBLscore the practical limit is one server per scoring machine, which works out to typically 6 sections).

I had a prototype of a Swiss solution that I ran in a recent regional in Augusta. Unfortunately the regional was understaffed. When testing new software at any event, the current players should come first. We should not impact them. So I could only do a couple of Bridgemates at two tables. But even then, could not always run them because the TD was struggling to run the event, so I spent most of my time acting as a TA. I always asked players if they would mind running the Bridgemates; during one round a player politely, but firmly, said, “no”. So we didn't run Bridgemates for that round.

I've been paying the developer who worked on the ACBLscore+ Bridgemate code for the last couple of months as it is a feature I'd like to see. We have a good design for it. But I may wait until Bridgemates come out with their new firmware before we spend any more time on it.

There are current solutions to running Swiss on ESD. Bridgepad has one; it has been used at NABCs. There is a software package from the UK that runs Swiss on Bridgemates. Some clubs/tournaments use it.

Before the RFP, I provided ACBL with a “Risks” document. It identified the known risks, how to mitigate and how to mediate. One was that they needed to have a competent project manager working on the project from within ACBL. My role was as the program manager/product manager (call it what you will), but only for the software as it applies to the ACBLscore+ contract. ACBL internally were responsible for ACBLscore+ project. So, I was not the “ACBL ACBLscore+ Project Manager”; I was simply the contractor running the ACBLscore+ software component. ACBL had 4 different ACBLscore+ Project Managers that I reported to during the tenure of the ACBLscore+ contract. Two are no longer with ACBL.

To give one example, ACBL were supposed to provide “1.5 staff personnel equivalents” to work on the ACBLscore+ project. Their role was to provide “information and co-ordination… to assure that ACBL responsibilities under this Agreement are performed.” This didn't happen. So lots of co-ordination work didn't happen. It puts the project about 3 man years behind. To make it worse, when someone was assigned to work on something that was related to ACBLscore+ work, their manager would not let them talk to me (separate topic). Couple of quick examples: I requested a TourneyTrax login ID around Jan/Feb 2013, soon after TourneyTrax launched. By March 2014, end of contract, I still didn't have one. It took several months to find out how they wanted ACBLscore+ to send data to ACBLscore, during this time they were sharing information with other companies, but refused to provide any information to us on what the protocol might be, or the format might be. I was told, we are working on it, got some issues, got some security issues, but we will tell you when we are ready to tell you (this one is not a direct quote, I'm paraphrasing.

Agile means many things. We had software that was ready to be released just over one year into the contract. Contract started April 2, 2012. In April 2013 at the Gatlinburg Regional we showed our ACBL contact ACBLscore+ running a pair game. We took Bridgemates from the I/N area during the break between the afternoon and evening sessions, entered the results from the afternoon I/N game on the Bridgemates (two of us from HS, one from ACBL), rescored it in ACBLscore+ and showed that the results were the same, same printed output (printers allowed at this point!), same masterpoints etc.

We wanted to release this software to 2-3 clubs but under strict control. The software would not be the primary scoring machine (ACBLscore would be). We wanted to get feedback from these clubs in ACBLscore+ usage, make improvements based on real world usage. We had identified the clubs we wanted (bigger clubs, Internet connected, smart club owners/managers, physically close to developers, willing to work with new technology). ACBL said no.
Dec. 26, 2014
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Joe: Not sure what you mean by “buffer underrun”. Let me know and I'll give an answer.

Ed: ‘Selection of movement’ is one of the ‘problems’/'issues' with ACBLscore. Particularly for a new user. “It's complicated”.

With ACBLscore+ I wanted it to be a lot easier to start/run a pairs event, the most common thing with ACBLscore. I asked ACBL for a “best” list of movements for 2-25.5 tables. “Best” is subjective. What is mathematical best is very different from what you may choose. You may run a 6 board, 4 round Mitchell with 7 tables if they are I/N players. Not the best mathematically, but I/N want to play, they take longer to play each board. At the same tournament you may do something different with I/N, gold rush, open pairs even if they have the same number of tables. Your club may not want to run Howell, because everyone gets lost, so you always run a Mitchell. Anyone, don't want to get into a religious argument about ‘best’ movement. But improving selecting a movement was a big part of the new design. The request took about 5 months (I'm traveling, not on my main computer, so this is from memory). I had estimated it as less than 1 week of work from ACBL, probably 2-3 weeks elapsed because the work would need to be reviewed by several TDs and an outside limit of about 4 weeks to allow for some delay. That was my estimate, I asked for this about 6 weeks in advance of when we needed it. And I made sure that ACBL knew it was critical path. Around the same time, ACBL had stopped paying invoices. As I was waiting on movements, and HS was not being paid, we put the developer working on movements on ‘furlough’. Basically all work on movements stopped. The delay on movements code was about 6 months. That was the 5+ month delay in delivery of movement document (and I only got pairs events, never got a BAM or individual movement document, so BAM/Individual never completed). Movements were a critical path item when the contract started (TFR was the other), so a final rollout of the pairs code is delayed by 6 months.

We can run a simple pairs game, we can import a current pairs event from an ACBLscore game file irrespective of how complicated the movement is, we can re-score, re-rank, re-qualify, re-masterpoint the pairs event in Bridgescore+. The part that we don't have is the EDMOV functionality in ACBLscore. So, we can run in parallel, but not take over completely from ACBLscore. When I wrote the roll-out document, this was the work that I would have someone do in parallel. Re-creating the EDMOV functionality is difficulty. ACBLscore uses 5 levels of indirection to go from a section down to a table result. ACBLscore+ uses 3 (board->board_table->board_table_score). For each board, you have a set of board_tables (who plays that board at which table in which round), and for each board_table you have 2 (pairs) or 4 (individual) scores. Most of the time, the EW scores and NS scores are the exact opposite of each other, but not always. Pretty much all Pairs event work stopped around August/September 2013, about 17-18 months into the contract. For testing, we import tournament/club game files into Score+, re-score everything, then compare. For a roll-out, I'd want to run Bridgescore+ in parallel with ACBLscore (we can read the BWS file that ACBLscore is also reading). While we were working on improving the UI for CDs/TDs for pair events, we would finish out the movement code. The developer I had for movements (this was the hardest person to find, you have to really understand the mathematics behind movements, fouled movements etc.) is still available; but it is still quite a bit of work both in the design, the UI, testing and implementation.

On the list of contacts that I had for ACBLscore+ were some new club managers. Smart. Young (let's define that as young enough to grow up around computers). But had no desire to learn the intricacies of ACBLscore. I used them for feedback on how easy it should be to start/run/edit a pairs event. You can see the work in This video is from some time ago.

Being able to define your own movement is also important. But this is a very small audience. ACBLscore has this ability. In ACBLscore+ we import the same files.
Dec. 25, 2014
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I've heard the 5% number as well. ACBL has about 3,000 clubs. I think about 100 still turn in paper sheets.

We were expecting the same with ACBLscore+. It would be some time before everyone transitioned to ACBLscore+ from ACBLscore. What would drive people is that support for ACBLscore would slowly be dropped and as new masterpoint changes were implemented in ACBLscore+ (and not put in the legacy ACBLscore), or new months with “triple masterpoints” became available only in ACBLscore+ then people would migrate.

As ACBLscore+ can import an ACBLscore game file, worse case scenario would be clubs would just email/FTP/upload old game files to the next system. We could automatically process them.

Anyways, that was the plan. Not sure what is going to happen now.
Dec. 25, 2014
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Probably the next large IT project within ACBL will be a DB upgrade and migration from RPG. There is a lot of internal RPG code; but at some point the developers/maintainers will retire. Either they need to be replaced, or an upgrade to a more modern environment. IBM keep supporting RPG so there is no worry about upgrade. But, there is a lot of code in RPG, lot of work to replace it with a different language. There are some legacy “features” within ACBL's environment (see earlier).

But this project may be many years out.
Dec. 25, 2014
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The ACBLscore+ contract was not terminated. It finished.

The ACBLscore+ contract was a time-limited and dollar-restricted contract.

ACBL are attempting to portray this as something that it isn't in attempt to shift focus. HS actually terminated the contract early (OK, I'll be nice and say it was a mutual termination) effective March 31, 2014. ACBL agreed. We walked away from money in the contract. But I could not do work where they would not provide specs and it felt wrong to take their money. We had given them the required 60 day notice to fix this material breach in mid January, 2014.

ACBL then came back and wanted to change the contract end date to mid May to include the code that they saw demo-ed in Gatlinburg in April 2014. We said sure. It was the first time a large number of players had seen the code, and the first time a lot of ACBL TDs had seen it. We agreed to change the date. I continued to work on the code through mid May 2014. We billed them the remainder of the money in the contract. We sent the code. At that point the contract was over. Over. Finished. Done.

We had done what we said we would in the contract. ACBL had paid in full. The last item in the contract was to run at a major tournament. ACBL stopped this demonstration at the first event at the Dallas NABC in March 2014. They didn't want to see any more.

ACBL are attempting to claim that they terminated the contract. This is not true.

ACBL/HS could not agree on a new contract. The sticking point being re-negotiating the old contract and ACBL wanting to remove all of HS rights to the code. So we agreed to disagree, and move on.

The good news is that HS has rights to the code. I'm offering it for free to any District that wants it. That's the irony of this situation. ACBL are claiming it is useless. I'm claiming otherwise and running it at tournaments. ACBL are now spending more money to put the features of Bridgescore+ into ACBLscore. That is the disconnect that everyone is finding puzzling. If it is useless, why do I run it? The results speak for themselves. See where I wrote up each event along with the time savings.

Of course, my claims could be a POS (Piece of, well you can figure out the rest). I'm willing to stick my reputation on the line to state otherwise. And have done, see the tournament where the software has been run. See the comments from various TCs. See the comments from the players where Score+ has been run.
Dec. 21, 2014
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I'm just quoting what I was told to do.

History of TFR:

Agreement to use Excel (this is still the correct technical implementation) was somewhere around April/May 2013.

First prototype done June/July 2013. Needed feedback. Basic prototype showing how it would work. Locked cells. Color. Filling in custom defaults possible before shipping XLSX file. Could be stored/worked on in cloud.

Demos given in Atlanta July 2013 at NABC. NABCs are good because everyone that needs to see it is there. At the same time, they are also very busy running the NABC and not enough time to look at stuff.

Code added to ACBLscore+ so that we could run custom SQL queries to extract all the data needed and automatically export to Excel.

August 2013. Getting frustrated because TFR is a critical path item and no feedback from ACBL.

Wrote up a project plan on how to get TFR implemented. Would be separate timeline for ACBLscore. Could be implemented now. Worked with both ACBLscore and ACBLscore+. This project plan was something ACBL should have written. I estimated it would take about 20 weeks (elapsed). Would probably involve input from about 50 people.

September 2013. Cryptic feedback from ACBL. Spreadsheets good, but should not be a substitute for the current process.

Seems to have a big misunderstanding on the difference between data input (e.g. Excel not ACBLscore) and the data output (can be in whatever format they wanted).

September 27 2013. Waiting to find the best person to talk to at ACBL. Needs to be one point of contact (POC) not several as mixed messages.

October 21, 2013. No feedback. 3 week delay. Nothing happening at ACBL.

October 2013. “TDs too old for Excel.”

November 2013. TFR rewritten in ACBLscore+.

December 2013. Delivered prototype TFR UI. Wanted feedback. Dec 10. Demoed.

Jan 15, 2014. Still no feedback.

Feb 17, 2014 Outcome of meetings with ACBL is that it is unclear where is the best place for TFR: Acbl web site, ACBLscore+, TTRax (Tourney Traxs), standalone utility. My view is that a stand-alone utility (i.e. Excel) is still best. It can be integrated easily with TTrax.

Original contract wording:
“The software shall support the same tournament financial reporting that is supported in the current version of ACBLscore. This is defined as support for the same data that is transferred at the end of each tournament, but not necessarily in the same format.
There is no requirement to have the same look and feel as the current version, simply the ability to transfer, at a minimum, the same information from the club/tournament to ACBL HQ.”

ACBL could not decide the UI or the format.

ACBL sent a requirement for additional features in the format, data in an uncompressed Excel file format (xlsx) but to not use Excel. But this was sent several months after the work was done.

Can't use Excel.

Must write code that is as good as Excel, that does what Excel does, but runs from within the scoring program, using similar screens to what we have now.

We did that (!), despite the fact that Excel probably has had $100M invested in it.

When we got to the second CR (i.e. third request at writing it after getting agreement on the first two proposals), I said no more work on TFR without a CR. And the CR needs to define exactly what ACBL wants.

This was the biggest problem with TFR, there was not a single person at ACBL who knew the process from start to finish and how the data flowed, and why.

Dec. 21, 2014
Nicolas Hammond edited this comment Dec. 25, 2014
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PBN is probably your best choice.

In ACBLscore, it tracks who played who, which boards, and the table result. It does not track bidding, or play.

The board result may be different than the initial table result (director ruling).

BWS (Bridgemate files) can track bidding and play. That feature is almost never used in ACBLland.

Hand records are separate. They are not stored in ACBLscore. HND or DUP format is common.

Analysis of a hand should probably be a separate thread.
Dec. 21, 2014
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ACBL has a legacy database system on which all of the masterpoint records/member profiles are stored. Surrounding that DB is lots of custom code/scripts to access the data. I believe most of it is RPG. There is also an interface, sort of, for the web access. This is a little more complicated. Details not needed here. All of this is used by customer support/clubs/financials/management etc.

Doing regular backups is part of typical maintenance.

Changing their legacy database, or hardware, RAM or hard drives, is all expensive stuff. Even the annual maintenance of the software is expensive. But this is a legacy system. Well supported by an in-house team.

You can assume that there are separate functions/DB/systems for accounting, HR etc. Typical corporate stuff.

Though it all sounds easy to replace, it's not.

These are legacy databases, legacy systems.

Let me give you one example, let's assume that this is apocryphal.

The field to hold your telephone number was 10 characters. Then they wanted your home and work so it become 20 characters (not two separate fields) with 1-10 your home, 11-20 your work. To write your work number, they take the home number and write additional characters at the end of the string. In the code, the telephone field is only 10 characters long. In the DB, it is now 20. There was no need to change the underlying code of a 10 char limit, because there was a “feature” in the original DB code that allows you to write beyond the limit of the text string and it automatically over-wrote the next value in the DB. In other words, it relies that the data will be stored sequentially on the disk. This “feature” was used extensively with other fields. Modern programmers may scoff at this notion or recoil in terror, but, that's the way certain things were done. Now you have thousands of lines of legacy code, that makes use of this “feature” from years ago. You would have to go through 30+ years of code and re-write all scripts that handle “telephone”, then debug and test. Only now would you be ready to move to a new DB system. Or, you can keep going as you are and as/when there is time available start to get rid of legacy code. Oh, now we also need foreign telephone numbers, so these are somewhere between 10 and 20 characters.

So… as an outsider, it's easy to say, just do blah/blah/blah. However when you look at it, “it's complicated”.

I had a developer working on ACBLscore+. Sharp guy. Every time I'd explain a problem, he'd said, “that's easy, just do xyz”. I said that's fine, but we also need to handle situations a/b/c. Ah! Hadn't thought about that, he'd said, or more likely, “are you serious? This is what they do?” Almost every project he worked on started out with “that's easy” to the standing joke being, “it's complicated”. It became a buzz phrase for the project, ‘it’s complicated".

Tape drives are likely to stay around for a while. There is comfort in being able to see your backup and the hardware to restore.

I've been fortunate to have had a tour of the ACBL data facility, and know some of the internal workings. Efficient backup/restore of critical DB systems is high priority as well as good Disaster Recovery (DR) scenarios (floods).
Dec. 21, 2014
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ACBL Live also includes the “Fast Results” concept of email/text.

This is probably worth a separate discussion.

There were teething problems with this in Providence as well.

But I think most of these have been reported to folks at ACBL. They really need a modern front end support system so these bugs only get reported once.
Dec. 21, 2014
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A standard game file format is difficult.

ACBLscore has its game file. It's proprietary format. It allows them to change it easily without any problems.

There is an XML version of this game file. This was part of the work for ACBLscore+. We have tools that can read a game file and generate XML. Great news is that we can also go the other way, we can take an XML file and generate a game file from it. This is incredibly useful for backwards compatibility. Having an external tool (the tool is called ‘gf’ for game file - written in C, runs on Windows, Linux, Mac) is great for fast results, etc. etc. ACBL don't want to release this tool because it allows access to their internal data. This is how we use Bridgescore+ to create game files that can be read by ACBLscore.

The UK has its own XML format - USEBIO. It works for the UK. It would not handle all the various game files over here. Its structure is different and inconsistent with the ACBLscore view of the world.

The WBF has its own XML format. This is mostly driven by TV/Broadcast requirements. It would not work well in ACBLland.

Ideally the WBF should chair a committee to create a “standard” XML file format. But there is little initiative at that level. (I tried a couple of years ago). It needs someone to drive it, someone that could understand the different requirements in different countries. At the time I suggested it, I was probably the most qualified, but this would not have been helpful for ACBLscore+ work so I did not volunteer myself.

Bridgescore+ has its own XML file format.

There are various documents that were created during the ACBLscore+ work that would be helpful. I'm not sure what ACBL would agree to release. There are a couple that come to mind that would be very useful.

To give an example. A Bridge Event is logically

Session ->
Section (or Bracket) ->

In ACBLscore, this is not the case. Its game file does not have a hierarchical relationship between, say, Bracket 1 and Bracket 2 of a KO. These are separate events in ACBLscore.

We _could_ have a separate XML that is minimal. (Bridgescore+ has this, at some point I probably should publish a sample XML file showing how everything is structured).

There are other ‘standards’. PBN is the probably the closest. But this doesn't have all the wealth of information needed to recreate an ACBLscore game file. BBO has LIN.

Coming up with a XML file format for a single hand is one level. PBN/LIN does this. But being able to wrap all the XML needed for a tournament on top of this is the harder part.

There are several tools out there for PBN processing.

Dec. 21, 2014
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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.

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:
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.
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.
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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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
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 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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