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All comments by Richard Willey
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The system is what it is.

I made the OK Boomer comment based on the attitude that you were displaying.

Shawn explained why the existing system doesn't work well for him.
You replied that he hadn't earned his place…
Nov. 19
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Thanks Kevin

Lon and Ivanie are old team mates of mine, so I suspect that I'll end up pestering him…
Nov. 19
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> It's not about earning MP. It's about earning your place.

OK Boomer.

FWIW, I find this entire posting emblematic of why the ACBL has such trouble attracting young players to the game. Yes, in theory, an individual new player has the option to join an established team and draft off their attendance points, however, what is a team of young player supposed to do?

My reaction to your post is that there are a whole bunch of other forms of entertainment competing for my time and money…
Nov. 19
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So, the ACBL is trying to target members of the military to come play bridge?

1. Could you please post the email in question. I'd be interested in seeing what they have planned.

2. What is the ACBL's goal? Are they trying to introduce the game to members of the military? (Just get members playing socially or playing online?) Alternatively, are they trying to get the target audience playing clubs (either local clubs surrounding the bases or potentially even establishing duplicate clubs on bases?)

3. Other than the marketing push, what steps is the ACBL taking to trying and achieve their end goal?
Nov. 18
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> Those are the charts you'd use at your club games.

Marty, the ACBL allows club owners broad discretion regarding how they run their games

Some clubs ban psyches outright and don't allow Precision to be played. Other such as MIT allow folks to play forcing pass in ACBL sanctioned games.

As long as folks pay their sanction fees, no one cares…

For that matter, for years ACBL sanctions regionals on both the East Coast and the West Coast established their own convention regulations by extending / restriction the convention charts.

The Conventions Committee created a set of guidelines and they did a good job of doing so. But it is ridiculous to pretend that these have any real force in anything other than National level events where the ACBL itself is the event sponsor.
Nov. 18
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I believe that there is a general consensus that both

1. The existing Board
2. The existing governance structure

are severely flawed

One observation: The motion that is on the table is quite moderate and seems to bend over backwards not to disenfranchise existing Board members. To the extent that there is significant criticism of this motion it seems to be that it does not go far enough / is not aggressive enough.

If this proposal is unable to gain support from the Board it suggests that the only option for reform is schism.
Nov. 18
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> ko's are at every regional and players at club level
> are a huge disadvantage only because rules change.


Randy, this is just another example of your constant whining…

1. As you've said on numerous occasions, you don't want your clubs players competing in tournaments because this hurts your cash flow. Your pearl clutching is really quite silly

2. YOU RUN A CLUB. If you want to make sure that your club players are prepared to compete in tournaments, you can use your club games to prepare them
Nov. 18
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> Yes, if a bid is not natural, it needs to be
> alerted or announced

I don't not believe this to be true (At least not with the ACBL)
I offer Stayman as a counter example.
Blackwood as another.
Nov. 18
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> I know how I would try to change this. How would you?

I think that it's far from clear that we should change thins.

As I have mentioned before, I'd like to see a real demographic model to see what's what, however, I consider it quite likely that making significant investments to try to prop up clubs is a waste of resources.

It's quite probable that the bridge club ecosystem is fatally damaged and that the right play is simply to let it achieve its natural equilibrium.
Nov. 18
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I found it interesting that Honors is now running Board games

Seems like a worthwhile experiment
Nov. 17
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While I very much agree that the ACBL is not in a good position to make material changes to the size of the North American continent, we can be a lot more sophisticated about recognizing that not all parts of it are equally important. Indeed, there's a whole bunch of that can be comfortably ignored. As a practical example, because Randy brings how large Canada is, the following image might be of interest:

https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/MQKB10lhbPMdSw3tZQ5hWTThJlk=/0x0:750x744/1720x0/filters:focal(0x0:750x744):format(webp):no_upscale()/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/6434131/pEoJoZ4.jpg

Here's a couple key charts that I'd want to see to get a better understanding about what's what.

First, a choropleth map, stratified by zip code, showing the number of F2F boards played ACBL sanctioned events (excluding Nationals and “destinal regionals” such as Gatlinburg).

Second, treat each zip code as a separate data point. Chart the relationship between the number of boards played and population density (ideally, the population density of people above the age of 60).

In each case, I'd like to see a time series showing how these numbers have been changing over the last 10 years or so.

The goal is to identify whether there is a minimum population density that is necessary to sustain games.

Nov. 17
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> Whatever size “organized contract bridge in North America”
> is now, there will be some left in 2028. The size and
> composition of its governing body will be important,
> but of primary importance is what we can do NOW
> to leave it the best chance to what any membership
> organization needs to do to survive and prosper -
> that is, to identify those who will benefit from
> membership, to attract them to join, to provide
> them the needed benefits of that membership,
> to retain them as members, and to have the
> means to continue doing so.

If I expected membership numbers to be stable, I might agree. However, I don't think that this is the right way to be framing decisions right now.

I think that it is vital to focus on cash reserves. In particular the relationship between Revenue = F(membership size), spending, and reserves.

I am highly skeptical whether immediate and short term spending will have a significant impact on membership numbers in 2028. I worry that schemes like this run the risk of drawing down cash reserves immediately before a collapse in revenue.

Kevin, all of your schemes are predicated on the assumption that trying to maintain the status quo in terms of table count as a function of geography is necessary/desirable/possible. I don't think that this is at all clear.
Nov. 17
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Kevin, please go back and look at what I wrote rather than babbling on about whatever bizarre straw man you are constructing.

I stated quite clearly that the first step needs to be basic research and fact finding.

You can't make a good decision about governance without understanding this type of information. (Nor can you make good decisions about how much money you want to be budgeting for market etc.)

And, while its all well and good to talking about potential customers and their needs and the like, the real question that needs to be asked is whether or not its time to wind things down.

When I stated that I thought that one of the most important roles for the wise men was to

“Hold back efforts to squander the ACBL’s reserve funds on ill-considered attempts to hold back the tide”

what I am worried about it the sort of stuff that you're talking about…
Nov. 16
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Kevin, let’s assume that you are able to gather five people, good and true, who are going to try and save the game of bridge in North America… Where should they start?

From my perspective, the foundational block of work that needs to be done is to commission a forward looking demographic model to determine which of three different worlds we live in.

World 1: Everything is fine. There is no demographic cliff. The recruiting and marketing strategies that the ACBL is using will be sufficient to sustain table counts over time.

World 2: Game over. The demographic cliff is real. Table counts will experience a catastrophic collapse in the near/medium term future

World 3: Something in-between. Perhaps a significant improvement in marketing activities allows the ACBL to recruit enough new members to compensate for the increase in attrition. This could mean that the game is able to sustain itself in a densely populated urban enclaves and retirement communities but the F2F game dies out in most of the coutry. It could mean that the F2F game all but dies out and that most bridge in North America is online.

Please note: None of this is rocket science. Most well run organizations that provide/sell services create models that they use to understand how long a newly recruited member is likely to continue to participate. In turn, this is used to understand how the cost to recruit a new customer compared to the net present value of the future cash flows from said customer. Organizations that hope/expect their members to participate for a significant length of time will typically incorporate a demographic model so they can understand how age impacts participation. (Insurance companies are the prototypical example organization that type of demographic modeling, but the same techniques often get used by churches, the NRA, NPR, fraternal organizations, yada/yada/yada)

I don’t see how you can do any real strategic planning without have a good understanding about this basic set of facts. So, short term, the critical piece of work is to either

A. Convince the ACBL to generate sure a model and publish the results
B. Convince the ACBL to share an anonymized version of the data set so other folks can do the work

FWIW, I personally believe that we’re living somewhere between World 2 and World 3. I believe that the critical work product for this new executive committee will be

1. Identifying what type governance structure is most consistent with whatever world we’re living in. In particular, if we expect to be living in a world with a much smaller membership base, how should the governance structure scale accordingly
2. Convince the ACBL BoD to take steps to efficient transition to the new world order
3. Hold back efforts to squander the ACBL’s reserve funds on ill-considered attempts to hold back the tide
Nov. 16
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There is a very limited number of times that one can go to this well. You don't waste your access to folks like Gates or Buffets on problems that you should be able to solve for yourself. Making requests for petty stuff (and this is a petty request) simply demonstrates that you shouldn't be taken seriously.

Restructuring is a hard problem because of the politics surrounding implementation, not because people don't understand what needs to be done.

My belief is that the ACBL is going to crumble and fold. If bridge is going to survive something new needs to rise in its place. And this is going to require financial resources. If / when this happens, this is the request that you want to make of Gates and Buffett. But when you do so, you damn well better have your ducks in a row.
Nov. 16
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>An acknowledgement that the BoD does not need
>to be the SOURCE of improvements, but needs
>to be the APPROVER of improvements

On this, we very much agree
Nov. 16
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I also suspect that the definition of “cheating” might be very different that many non Chinese would expect.
Nov. 15
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I disagree

The first step is to get the BoD to request that a group of appropriately skilled individuals do said analysis. If you want the BoD to take any such advice seriously, they need to be seen as leading the effort. This helps ensure that you'll get real buy in to the results.
Nov. 15
Richard Willey edited this comment Nov. 16
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Kevin, you are engaging in what is (disparagingly) termed “magical thinking”.

You are painting a picture of an unattainable ideal and contrasting this with a concrete plan that people are trying to implement .

My guess is that almost everyone reading this thread would agree that a small Board staffed by the best people with domain knowledge in all sorts of critical areas would significantly outperform what we are stuck with today. None of this is in question. And, the process that Mr Street has laid out is (one) reasonable way to proceed if/when a decision has been made to transition to such a system.

However, the problem that needs to be solved is a much more complicated one: How does one convince a self selecting Board of Directors to vote itself out of power? In the case of the ACBL, this problem is exacerbated by the fact that the BoD just neutered the CEO which is often one of the most important countervailing forces. And, to make things even more difficult, the bulk of the ACBL membership is senescent and likely to be extremely conservative with respect to major change.

I fear that the only real chance for major change is either schism or catastrophy. In the mean time, I'll take what I can get.
Nov. 15
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Just don't forget that Mechstroth also is at the vanguard of banning light opening systems that he doesn't happen to play.
Nov. 14
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