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5 recent BW comments on ACBL technology

Good news: the current trajectory of ACBL technology is that several large and small technology problems will be solved/improved in the next few years. The progress will be (and has been) slower, more costly, and narrower in scope than is necessary, but it will be substantial progress. The CEO, to his credit, has committed both effort and money to technology which inevitably must produce results.

With that relatively upbeat preamble, I draw together five candid technology comments from recent BridgeWinners threads. I don't know any of the five contributors personally so I've omitted names:

From BW contributor #1:

"Standing between rounds in the Roth Swiss this past Saturday [a 10-time Bermuda Bowl winner] struck up a conversation - not about venue but about the madness of not having technology to score rounds and assign tables automatically."

BW contributor #2 expressed two-fold frustration:

  1. that the wrong results were calculated or posted about whether he qualified for the next stage of the NABC Fast Pairs. He qualified, but could not sort out the problem in time to play in the next stage.
  2. that he emailed two separate people at Horn Lake and was frustrated that nobody timely responded.

 

From (ACBL volunteer and) BW contributor #3:

"The most interaction I get [with ACBL headquarters] is with [employees] upset that I've not used their dysfunctional computer system to do useless stuff that doesn't help me run my damned sectionals. I've never received anything helpful from them. And I suspect no other volunteer has, either."

BW contributor #4 assumed that a convention methods database would be impossible since ACBL [technology] "is mostly a volunteer body composed of people that still do not have online registry for national events and automatic scoring [...]. This is a big big problem."  Of course, Horn Lake is not volunteers. A large number of employees work on technology for the ACBL.  The ACBL has touted (on BW!) the enormous amount of money now dedicated to technology, so obviously there's a disconnect if members still (mistakenly) think it's all-volunteer.   I welcome word from BoD or Horn Lake on the total technology budget for 2013: salaries, contractors, purchases/leases.

The exchange "Time for online registration" - "Sadly, were this 1995 you'd still be right…." perfectly captures the 5th thread. The ACBL should have implemented online registration, long since used by the USBF and at special regional events, a process that could have prevented the Spingold registration issue.

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These comments represent a partial sampling and need more publicity. I assure everyone from extensive personal involvement with trying to improve the ACBL technology situation that the key Horn Lake folks don't yet "get" the frustration of players/volunteers reflected in the above comments. Nor does Horn Lake yet "get" how modern technology bears on cost-effectively modernizing the ACBL technology situation.

In conclusion, I encourage folks to address their district director. In particular, politics have prevented a number of effectively no-cost technology advances. I suppose politics is also stopping progress on bidding conventions as well, but given the vast money involved in ACBL technology, it's particularly important to transcend politics. Money saved is money that can be spent on marketing, USBF, reduced card fees, ...

 

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