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Vehicle for increased funding for grass roots events has been created

In a 14-10-1 vote in Philadelphia the ACBL Board passed an amended motion to establish a Grass Roots Fund (see the July 24, 2012 comment)

Motion for Philadelphia:Item 122-55: Establish and Define Purposes of the Grass Roots Fund

New News: Sharon Anderson, this year's ACBL President, has appointed D6 BOD rep, Margot Hennings, to be the chair of a new "Special Events Task Force" to

Explore new grass roots events/strategies and

Recommend programsthat encourage participation in bridge both at the local level and in tournaments/NABCs

The first Task Force report to theACBLBoard:


The GNTs are a league-wide grass-roots competition that once conferred a spot in international team trials and once received ACBL support. The GNTs currently receive ZERO financial support from the league.

Your prize for winning a trip in the NAPs is a check for $700 and free entries at the Spring NABC. For the GNTs? A widely varying subsidy from your district ranging from $0 to $2,000/team (less/player than the cost to fly to the summer NABC) plus the obligation to pay for your summer NABC entries, $160/team/day this year.

Winning a trip in one of our grass roots events, ought not mean you have the right to pay for one. We can do better.

I've been the D14 GNT coordinator for over 4 years and have worked hard to revitalize a competition that was dwindling badly in our 5 state region. One of the ACBL's primary goals is "to develop, promote and support programs that encourage participation in the game of bridge". There are no cash prizes for performance, masterpoints are the coin of the realm. The success of the mini-spin's and mini-blues, and Gatlinburg's 30 KO brackets is clear evidence that the market for peer-based competition is there. Why not work to ignite interest in attending NABCs by offering the league's true 'grass-roots', the club players, an incentive for competing to win a trip to the Nationals to compete against your peers if you prove to be the top team in your flight in a district final?

The GNTs are broken at the top, in a competition where the usual suspects dominate and the largest districts, population-wise in the country, cannot even field 5 teams in the Open flight in district finals. Only 6 of 25 districts in 2011 had enough teams in the Open flight to award more than 2 overall places. Most districts no longer have club qualifying play. What happened to "grass roots"?

The ACBLs treat the GNTs as an unwanted stepchild when it could be a steppingstone to increased participation and interest in competitive play providing potential future NABC participants. I'd like not to be sitting in front ofa computer screen in 20 years, should I live that long, playing unseen opponents in lieu of the excitement of at the table NABC play.

I am not opposed to supporting international play, but when we raise hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in the International Fund, and Junior Fund, and top that with $165,000 from our membership fees, and do nothing for an event designed for our own members.... something is seriously askew.I recall Dr. Spock'sTrekkianstatement: "Were I to invoke logic, however, logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

The idea of a Coordinator's Forum re. the NAPs and GNTshad it's inception at the Toronto Board of Governors meeting after a vote to confer free entries at the NABCGNT finals failed on a 12-13 vote. The forum was convened and met in Seattle and Memphis.

The Special Events Task Force is on it's way to presenting a plan that will enable the ACBL to provide more top down logistical support for the GNTs via marketing and promotion, and financial muscle as well so that the burden of supporting district champions is not solely on the shoulders of the districts.

Can the GNTs or something like them become a more viable portal to increased participation at NABCs in the future? How can team play in the clubs be better promoted, particularly for the less experienced players? Are the GNTs broken at the top [they are] and how can the event re-enfranchise strong club players (5,000+ MPs) who are not participating in the GNTs.

The first Task Force report to the ACBL Board:

I'll be adding more commentary and perspectives here and welcome input.

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