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ACBL Approves Universal Use of Mid-Chart

In a closed-door meeting at the New Orleans NABC, the ACBL Board of Directors unanimously approved expanding the use of the Mid-Chart to all events at ACBL-sanctioned tournaments. Clubs still are free to set their own convention regulations, but are encouraged to adopt these new policies. The Mid-Chart is currently used in NABC+ events, high brackets of regional knockouts, and the top flight of flighted events, such as an A/X Swiss Teams; other events are governed by the General Convention Chart.

The change, applauded by the many advocates of looser convention restrictions, does come at a price. Literally. The BoD also approved a Convention Surcharge for the use of methods covered by the Mid-Chart. This surcharge will be assessedimmediately upon the use of a call with a Mid-Chart designation. The surcharge for most Mid-Chart conventions is $2 per use, though there is a sliding scale based on a “Difficulty to Cope With” factor. A 2 opening showing either a strong hand or a weak-2 bid in diamonds, for example, is considered taxing enough to merit a $4 surcharge. The surcharge for Multi is $10.

The ACBL is still assessing the logistics of collecting the surcharges. For now, the plan is to call the director when a Mid-Chart bid is made and pay the surcharge in cash. If the partnership does not have enough cash to cover the surcharge, the bid is disallowed, and the director will assess whether a substitute call can be made or whether an adjusted score must be assigned. At the Summer NABC in Chicago, the ACBL plans to test a “use it or lose it” pre-paid system for the Convention Surcharge, whereby a pair can buy surcharge “credits” at a discounted rate ($20 for $24 in credits) along with their entry. However, these credits are non-refundable and cannot be transferred to another event, so any credits remaining at the end of the event are wasted. When a pair’s credits run out, they may no longer use any Mid-Chart methods.

The ACBL hopes to be able to offer a cashless option for paying the surcharge, and is developing a credit card reader attachment for BridgeMate devices. The ACBL's IT staff is already hard at work on the project; testing is scheduled to begin July15 to meet therelease date of July 15.When asked if he expected this system to actually work when it gets released, CEO Robert Hartman laughed and shook his head. The BoD has already formed a committee to determine how much of the investment can be recouped.Bridge Winners is proud to announce that we will be able to charge the Convention Surcharge automatically to entries bought online. We're just waiting on a few specifications from the ACBLto get this implemented, so it should be ready to go any day now.

In an “unrelated” move, several conventions have been moved from the General Convention Chart to the Mid-Chart. These include transfers, 5-card major openings, and all bids of notrump. An amendment offered by an unnamed prominent player that Flannery be deemed a "friendly" convention and garner a $2 refund per use was unanimously defeated 23-2.

The new rules go into effect April 1, 2015.

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