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All comments by Richard Willey
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> The entire OKB membership is getting hosed; I am suing!

No you won't. You know why?

Because you won't be able to prove any kind of significant material damage. And even if you could, you won't be able to collect any money. If OKB is going bankrupt, there won't be much in the way of assets and your little lawsuit will be at bottom of the list of creditors.

I'm sure that you'll be able to find some lawyer to take your money. (Lawyers are nice that way). However, I expect that you'll just end up flushing a bunch of $$$ down the toilet.




Sept. 27, 2014
Richard Willey edited this comment Sept. 27, 2014
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I agree about what is needed. However, I also don't expect the ACBL to function in this way.

From my perspective, the ACBL is cashing out. They are doing everything possible to maximize their ability to extract resources from their existing user base whilst sacrificing any chance at a “soft landing”.

I think that the best chance for any kind of systemic change is waiting for the board to get swept clean and hoping something better emerges from the ashes.
Sept. 26, 2014
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Sure you didn't mean “If only the ACBL were willing and able to adopt the best and keep out of the way”
Sept. 26, 2014
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The most productive option might be to create a DOS tool to take down the existing closed source implementation. Might provide some useful perspective regarding just how secure the existing system is. (I'd bet dollars to donuts that they only reason that its up and running is that no one cares enough to target it). Then again, if folks knew the amount of PII that ACBLScore seems to be maintaining, someone might have have done something clever…
Sept. 22, 2014
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I don’t believe that this type of project can succeed without cooperation from the user community. If the ACBL or even a large group of tournament directors were out asking for an open source solution it would be one thing. However, from what I can tell, the organization is highly resistant to the idea.

As I mentioned on the other thread, I think that the best option is to look into radically decomposing the beast that is ACBLScore.

1. Identify a bare minimal set of functions that require secure communication with the ACBL backend. (Presumably these involve payment processing, identifying members, and recording masterpoints)

2. Write as simple as possible a system to do this and only this.

3. Determine what else needs to get done (running movements, printing results, what have you)

4. Figure out the best way to accomplish these secondary goals, be it using existing third party software, writing new programs, what have you.

Some of these projects might turn out to be suitable for an open source project.
Sept. 22, 2014
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Would have opened 1N playing a strong NT.
Happy to rebid 1NT now.
Sept. 18, 2014
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I'd normally consider backwards compatibility as an essential requirement. However, I no longer have much faith in this process…
Sept. 17, 2014
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Personally, I'd be surprised to ever hear any detailed explanations regarding what went wrong. Lawsuits aren't out of the question and I can't believe that counsels would let anyone talk in a public forum.

The more I think about this, the more I wonder whether the primary issue was actually related to transition costs for existing ACBLScore users?

There are a large number of ACBLScore users who

1. Are proficient in its use
2. Don't want to learn anything new
2. Have existing hardware that it will run on

I can envision situations in which this user base would be highly resistant to learning a new way of doing things and, worse yet, upgrading their hardware in order to run the new program.






Sept. 17, 2014
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“Screw the future generations, we're cashing out now” would (arguably) be a helpful acknowledgement…
Sept. 16, 2014
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What percentage of the ACBL's annual budget just got flushed down the drain?
Sept. 15, 2014
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Couple quick observations:

1. Running a 1.5 million dollar project without a requirements document seems dubious at best.
2. In my experience, the best way to judge these sort of projects to ask for APIs and system diagrams. (If no one can produce a good system diagram, this is usually a sign that something is going wrong)

And one big recommendation: Even if you’re starting with a large monolithic program that does “everything”, this doesn’t mean that you need to produce a new large monolithic program that does “everything”. For example, the ability to generate movements can (and should) be decoupled from financial accounting.

If it were me, I’d radical decentralize the system as follows

1. You need a transition plan by which ACBLScore and your new system will co-exist. You need to make sure that your backend is flexible enough that some clubs can use the old system as others transition to the new.

2. Next, look at best of breed systems from Europe, Australia, wherever. Learn what these systems can already provide for you. (Generating movements, scoring, what have you). Figure out if their going to cost you anything, and if so, what.

3. Finally, determine what the core functions that absolutely need to be built by the ACBL. From the sounds of things, you’re going to need a small standalone program that can be used to send financial information to the ACB, record masterpoints, (there’s probably some other things that I’m forgetting)

I could bring this all in for a hell of a lot cheaper than 1.5 million. (The only slightly complicated issue is backwards compatibility for clubs that can’t upgrade hardware quickly enough). Hell, put together an RFP and I might bid on it…

FWIW, I find the whole copyright issue ridiculous. I can’t believe that any of this code is unique or valuable.




Sept. 15, 2014
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> I can say that most people are clear

Lets not drag Scientology into this ;-)
Sept. 12, 2014
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Maybe I am resulting, but with the opening lead coming into the East hand, I'd want to be in 6S
Sept. 8, 2014
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> Richard, my guess is that you underestimated the increased
> longevity, lucidity, and mobility of the “baby boomers” and
> older.

I played in an ACBL sectional in Watertown a few weeks back.

The words infirm and feeble come to mind. Flight A wasn't in too bad shape, but the lower flights wasn't looking too good.
Sept. 5, 2014
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> “Fall off a cliff?” No that's not the way it happens,
> absent some catastrophe like a volcanic eruption such as
> the one that buried Pompeii. Did Richard predict the ACBL
> would be hit by a giant meteor?

FWIW, I have frequently used the expression “Fall off a demographic cliff” to refer to the ACBL membership. I’ve probably exaggerated somewhat. I don’t think that we’re looking at a knife edge here. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a very sharp contraction in the membership rolls over a fair short period of time. (Say, losing 40% of your current members during a 5 year period and 80% over 10 years)
Sept. 5, 2014
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> In my mind, your credibility has been hurt because of
> past history. For years when I was on the ACBL Board, you
> were adamant about your theories/facts/? that
> ACBL demographic would fall off a cliff when the average
> age reached 66? 68? 70? 72?. you have been predicting the
> demise of the ACBL for years/decades. It hasn't
> happened nor do I think it will. Your theories did not
> materialize. That is a historical fact.

I readily admit that I have made statements in past that have not come true. I had expected that the ACBL would have imploded by now. I still believe that I have the long term dynamics correct, however, the date that things gets truly ugly is still a few years out.

FWIW, I make quite a good living doing forecasting for large companies. (I currently work at Akamai in their InfoSec department, spending much of my time doing demand forecasting and capacity modeling) The big difference between my statements wrt the ACBL and professional work is access to data. Up until this year, I never had access to detailed demographic information regarding the ACBL membership. My guesses about this were off. With this said and done, I do think that my high level description of the long term dynamics are correct.

Maybe you believe that an organization whose average age is 72 (and constantly increasing) is in good shape. It's not.

ACBL Masterpoint winners broken down by age

0% decile = 60
20% decile = 65
30% decile = 68
40% decile = 70
50% decile = 72
60% decile = 74
70% decile = 77
80% decile = 80
90% decile = 84

Median = 72
Mode = 71
Sept. 5, 2014
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> That F2F players want this change must be a given. I hear
> it all the time, in person,from private e-mails and
> in my travels to F2F tournaments.

Clay Christensen most famous book was titled “The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail”. If you ever set foot in a business school or worked in tech in the last couple decades you probably read it. One of Christensen’s core theses is that established firms are often structurally and constitutionally incapable of servicing emerging market segments. They prefer to focus their resources chasing the high end, high margin portion of the market. Things go well for a while, but they eventually end up hollowed out and get gutted from below.

Christensen almost certainly overstates his case, however, its hard not to think of his claims watching this thread unfold. Steinberg’s posts are a near perfect example of institutional leadership focusing its attention on a more and more narrow user base, even to the extent of actively alienating members of the emerging market segment.

I don’t doubt that Steinberg hears all sorts of stories from players just like him; Players with zero experience playing online bridge, who feel threatened and confused by changes in the society, and no long have the ability or the interest to adapt. And I don’t doubt that there is a profitable business opportunity in milking those players for every penny you can, before they finally exit the system. However, just a Polaroid, DEC, GM and all those other once dominant companies came to discover, this only works for so long.
Sept. 5, 2014
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> I keep reading “the Steinberg motion”. Maybe I should feel
> honoured that so many of you give me such powers but the
> reality is that it was the Board of Governors motion, about
> 55-60 in favor, 3 or 4 against.

As far, as I know, you have raised this same motion at least three times. Yes, the Board of Governors voted in favor of the motion, but this would appear to be your pet cause.

I am curious about a couple questions

1. How many times in total have you (specially) brought this motion before the Board of Governors and what were the results?

2. Has anyone else advance the same motion in the intervening years?
Sept. 5, 2014
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
> That F2F players want this change must be a given. I hear it all the time, in person,
>from private e-mails and in my travels to F2F tournaments.

Clay Christensen most famous book was titled “The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail”. If you ever set foot in a business school or worked in tech in the last couple decades you probably read it. One of Christensen’s core theses is that established firms are often structurally and constitutionally incapable of servicing emerging market segments. They prefer to focus their resources chasing the high end, high margin portion of the market. Things go well for a while, but they eventually end up hollowed out and get gutted from below.

Christensen almost certainly overstates his case, however, its hard not to think of his claims watching this thread unfold. Steinberg’s posts are a near perfect example of institutional leadership focusing its attention on a more and more narrow user base, even to the extent of actively alienating members of the emerging market segment.

I don’t doubt that Steinberg hears all sorts of stories from players just like him; Players with zero experience playing online bridge, who feel threatened and confused by changes in the society, and no long have the ability or the interest to adapt. And I don’t doubt that there is a profitable business opportunity in milking those players for every penny you can, before they finally exit the system. However, just a Polaroid, DEC, GM and all those other once dominant companies came to discover, this only works for so long.
Sept. 5, 2014
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> I keep reading “the Steinberg motion”. Maybe I should feel > honoured that so many of you give me such powers but the
> reality is that it was the Board of Governors motion, about > 55-60 in favor, 3 or 4 against.

As far, as I know, you have raised this same motion at least three times. Yes, the Board of Governors voted in favor of the motion, but this would appear to be your pet cause.

I am curious about a couple questions

1. How many times in total have you (specially) brought this motion before the Board of Governors and what were the results?

2. Has anyone else advance the same motion in the intervening years?




Sept. 5, 2014
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