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All comments by Russell Jones
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I remember our dinner together at the NABC. Good to hear from you again. As you can read in my past postings, I totally agree with you about clubs being our lifeblood and needing to do more for them. I don't think I agree about adding more members to the BOD. There are other ways to allow people to be heard other than placing them on the board. I don't know what the average age on the BOD is, but I would wager it is lower than the average age of members. I know that AJ Stephani and I are the two youngest!! I believe AJ is only a few years older than I :-)
Feb. 19, 2019
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Randy,

Clubs are very important and there are more people in the club department at HQ then the tournament department because there is a significant amount of work that Carol Robertson and her staff accomplish to keep the 3000+ clubs operating smoothly. The percentage loss of # of clubs, club tables, special games at clubs, etc. are all ranging at about a 1-1.5% loss. As previously mentioned, we have to spend more time working with club teachers and club managers. We need to provide them not only financial incentives and special game incentives, but also better recruitment materials, teaching materials, etc. This is our LIFE BLOOD.

I want to send out a big THANKS to all current and former members of the EOC, ACC, and other groups that have helped us to police our games and develop procedures to handle unethical behavior. We have made great strides in the past few years. We might disagree with a few of the outcomes, but I believe our track record is better than some other similar organizations. I know we currently have some motions to change current policies for collusive cheating to make the penalties more severe and to go a step further on stripping titles from proven cheaters. We will continue to work in this area.
Feb. 19, 2019
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Mike,

The Chair was added for continuity. The Chair has no official duties other than to serve in place of the President should the President be incapacitated. The outgoing President rotates into the Chair automatically.
Feb. 19, 2019
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Thank you Tanya. Linda and Risa did quite well in Jackson in the finals and we wish them well in Memphis. I believe Memphis is a great site for an NABC and not just because I live in the area. I hope you enjoy the bridge, BBQ, and blues!!
Feb. 19, 2019
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Alan,

I hope that all BOD members use their particular expertise in their assignments. As for me, I review quarterly reports from our ED, then CFO, continually. Currently, I meet with Joe and discuss our situation every two weeks in person since I live only 75 miles from HQ. In addition, we have a hard working chair of Finance, Joann Glasson, who is one of the most diligent workers I know.

My current financial area of interest is NABC costs/contracts and BOD costs. I believe you will see significant improvement in both of those budget items this year.
Feb. 19, 2019
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Membership - In my humble opinion, we are not going to increase membership overnight nor are we going to stop the loss immediately. Bridge, and card playing in general, will likely not be as popular with the new generation in its present format. Our front line for membership are teachers and club owners/managers. People don't come to NABCs to join the league or learn bridge. We need to provide better incentives for ‘signing up’ players. We are currently looking into providing better financial incentives to teachers for recruiting and retaining members for three years. We are looking at providing incentives to clubs (extra club appreciation games, REACH games, STAC games, etc.) for no extra cost if they are increasing in size, providing extra mentoring games, I/N games, social bridge games, etc. For those old timers that remember the old MP slips, we used to give bonus factors for 6 things that a club would do to provide a better environment for players. This allowed those clubs to issue more MPs to their winners. We then decided to give all clubs the same amount of awards. I am visiting with groups of teachers/club owners at every stop on the trail to get their input. We will try some new programs. Some might not work, but hopefully some will.

Legal - We live in a litigious society and people are suing everyone for everything (had any hot coffee spilled in your lap lately). I don't know that we can ever stop the lawsuits, but we can do our best to have the best procedures and follow them closely. Cheating will always rear its ugly head in every sport. We need to deal with them according to our procedures and make sure the procedures are fair and adequate.

IT - we have tried, unsuccessfully in some cases, to better integrate IT into bridge. We have many successes over the past couple of years also, many due to the amount of time and effort my predecessor and others have put into new technologies. We are working with others as we speak in the areas of team scoring, KO pairing, etc. along with the development of internal systems. We have a great IT team at HQ now and they are making great headway. We should have a great progress report for you by mid-year.
Feb. 19, 2019
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I began playing bridge with my parents and siblings at home at the age of about 7. We played all card games as a way of passing time as we lived in the ‘middle of nowhere’ on a farm. My 1st bridge game was a duplicate game in Forrest City, Arkansas where my mother dragged me in 1986 and we won a full 1.00 MP. We joined the ACBL that evening and I still have my postcard with the 1.00 Black. My best bridge memory was playing in a Flight A BAM team with my mom in Mexico and we played two boards against Paul Soloway and this partner and got two 1's. We ended up winning the Flight A pairs as <1000 MP holders and still have the silver set that was part of the 1st place prize.
Feb. 19, 2019
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Gary,

I just completed about 5 paragraphs and actually hit the back button and lost my text. Let me start again:

I will start by saying that the A&C Committee is one of the toughest committees to serve on for the BOD. I have ‘steered clear’ of appointment to that committee whenever possible. I will also say that I have great respect for Georgia and her committee and the many countless, THANKSLESS, hours they spend not only reviewing appeals, but also updating and revising the Code of Disciplinary Procedures. I will not speak to the decisions they made, but will simply say they followed the current procedure.

I definitely see advantages to some of the changes you are proposing. There does need to be a separation. I also believe this separation is partly what caused the reinstatement to not be known immediately upon being passed by the A&C. The BOD, at large, is not privy to the discussions and details of the A&C and only receives a summary report from the committee. There decisions are not open to a vote by the BOD and are only received. This is because of the necessary separation you speak of in your question.

I would be happy to review a proposal to change the process and would promise to vote in the manner that I believe best serves bridge and the league.

Hope this answered your question,

Russ
Feb. 19, 2019
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The members of the new committee have been nominated and will be formally instituted, as with most committees, at the Spring NABC. There priority will be simplification of the General Formula for tournaments and the development of a SOF. The committee is composed of 2 BOD members, 2 HQ staff, and 3 members from those nominated from BOG Chair Popper.
Feb. 19, 2019
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Chris,

Having been an original member of the “Committee of Nine”, I continue to support a more effective governance structure. I have asked the Governance Committee to have multiple e-meetings and then come into Memphis a day early to review several options and research which would work best for our league. In my personal opinion, a number of 7-9 seems reasonable for our size.

I believe in transparency. I have recently added a Facebook account (ACBLPres) and a Twitter account (@acblpres) to help stay in touch with the members. This is your (the members) organization and you should be able to discuss matters with your district representation at the BOD and BOG levels. There will always be legal/personnel issues that cannot be discussed, as with any organization; but the strategic plan and annual objectives should be clear and open.
Feb. 19, 2019
Russell Jones edited this comment Feb. 21, 2019
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As with my predecessor, I am very concerned with finances and membership. My two main ‘policies’ for this year are to reduce BOD expenses and NABC costs; and find new methods of incentives for clubs/teachers to recruit and retain members.

As far as single year terms, I think they are not as productive as 2 or 3-year terms and there are several BOD members currently looking into possible changes in that area.
Feb. 19, 2019
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Ping,

As you know, I am a firm believer it that the two main items to be considered when calculating awards is Strength of Field and table count, with the larger influence being SOF. I believe that defeating a similar number and strength of opponents should pay the same regardless of the competition type. The main problem is that we don't currently have a SOF indicator, we have a lifetime achievement award. The new MP Committee will be charged with determining possible SOF components and how to implement them. Thank you for all the work you have already completed in this area and I look forward to working with you more in the future.
Feb. 19, 2019
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Absolutely! I recently sponsored the motion to form an external Masterpoint Committee which will be established in Memphis next month. I feel many of these types of items could be better handled by external committees and leave more strategic/financial decision for the BOD's time and effort.
Feb. 19, 2019
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I believe the problem with the GNT is lack of centralized advertising and promotion from the league. I have always thought it would be better to have the GNT organized similar to the NAP. We just recently added the capability for districts to send a 2nd team in B/C in district participation is 8 tables or more. Perhaps that incentive will help. I know, as a player, I always looked forward to NAP/GNT as a way to represent my district at the NABC AND win some GOLD points.

Thanks for the question, Gerald!
Feb. 19, 2019
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Jeff,
While the ACBL is a 501c4 organization (membership), both the Charity and Educational Foundation are 501c3 (charitable) organizations. The previous grant recipients you refer to were partially funded with additional funding to be given as they achieved milestones. Those future milestones were not achieved and the pair is no longer working on the project to my knowledge.

Hope that helps!
Jan. 30, 2019
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