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All comments by Jan Martel
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Thanks for being in the well. Now for the really important question:
Tell us more about the cutest member of your family - Rufus. I know you've had him for your last two Vanderbilt wins (I'm sure he deserves at least some of the credit). Is he related to any former dogs in your family? Did you know when you saw him as a puppy he'd be such a great dog? Anything else?
April 10, 2014
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Having the 3 day North American Swiss start on the first day of the Reisinger has been very good for the Reisinger. As a result of the Swiss, the Reisinger entry is small and reasonable cuts allow the field to be reduced to 10 teams for the finals. Even the first day of the Reisinger is a great event, and the final is probably the most select field we'll ever see anywhere. I'd hate to see that change.
April 8, 2014
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A few corrections about USBC (“trials”) seeding:

First, although in the Open USBC the Round Robin does not determine the seeding, it does affect it - the top 4 teams in the Round Robin get additional seeding points, which can change their position in the KO, and the Round Robin winner has the right to ask for a “re-shuffle” of seeds.

Second, the seeding points used for the USBC are different from those used for the Vanderbilt and Spingold. In addition to V/S seeding points, which reflect masterpoints and performance over the last 10 years, USBC seeding points have an element called Individual Positioning Points based on performance over the last year on a team with no more than 3 ineligible (foreign) players. Seeding points are capped at 50; IPPs are capped at 26.25. The IPPs tend to be a significant part of seeding points.

Finally, although Round Robin performance has limited importance in the Open USBC, in the Women's USBC it is determinative unless a team has a bye to the Semifinals, and in the Senior USBC it is 1/3 of the seeding for the KO phase.
April 4, 2014
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“And apparently there was very loud music playing above the room in which the Platinum Pairs final was contested. (Sadly I can’t account for that one first hand.)”

I happened to walk past the room with the loud music on my way down to kibitz the Platinum Pairs for a few rounds and was worried about it. But in the Platinum Pairs room I couldn't hear any music - the sound-proofing for sounds from above was amazingly good.
March 28, 2014
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With 4 matches in single digits, I wish I could show all of them tonight!
March 27, 2014
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There has been a lot of discussion about the choice of “morning” vs “afternoon” starting time. Some prefer one, some prefer the other and we'll probably never reach agreement.

The reason for the change from 1:00 to 12:00 for the Vanderbilt is that more time is allowed with screens and when they used to start at 1:00, the matches wouldn't finish until well after midnight. Then on the final day of the tournament, the Knockout started at 11:00, so you finished play at something like 1:00 am and had to play again at 11:00 am, which nobody liked. Moving the start time to 12:00 with screens means that the final day only starts an hour earlier than the semi-final day.

The 12:00 start also makes it easier for those playing in the KO to go to dinner with friends who are playing in the regular NABC or Regional events, since the dinner breaks are at about the same time.
March 26, 2014
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The bye teams pay table fees :)
March 24, 2014
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It is logistically very difficult to change matches at the quarter.
March 24, 2014
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IME 1st and 2nd is most common, with 2nd & 3rd probably next (that has the advantage of not forcing either of the pro pairs to play 3 sets in a row).
March 24, 2014
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My agreement is that when the opponents have shown 2 specific suits over 1NT, the cheaper cue bid (2 here) is like a negative double, looking for a stopper. That's similar to your second option, but there's no requirement for opener to bid 2NT instead of choosing a minor.

I wonder how many of the people who abstained (as I did) did so because you didn't include our preferred meaning or give us the option of choosing “other”?

If what you're really after is “what is standard?” I don't think there is a “standard” treatment.
March 13, 2014
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Thanks, Chuck. Guess this is as good a place as any to say that I do still need (a few) Vugraph operators for the Vanderbilt. ACBL expects that there will be between 36 and 66 teams in the Vanderbilt, so the first round (on Monday) will be the Round of 64, and the event will end on Saturday. I have operators for Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, but still need one or two on Friday, and would cover an extra match Thursday evening if I find another operator then.

If you are available either Thursday evening (the Vanderbilt will start at 7:00) or afternoon (starting at 12:00) or evening on Friday, please email me - marteljan at gmail dot com.
March 5, 2014
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@ Steve Bruno: You are mixing apples and oranges here. The money that USBF distributes on behalf of ACBL to our World Championship teams is International Fund money. That money comes from International Fund games and the surcharge on some NABC+ entry fees. If you don't want to support our World Championship teams, don't play in those games.

The only payment based on the number of ACBL members is WBF dues. You are entitled to your opinion that paying WBF dues does not benefit all ACBL members. The ACBL Board disagrees with you and that is why ACBL pays those dues. That money benefits the WBF, not the USBF or our international teams (and before you say it allows them to play in World Championships, although the WBF isn't very good about sharing financial information, everything I have ever seen suggests that the World Championships are self-supporting). WBF dues support other WBF activities, most of which are aimed at promoting bridge.

Speaking personally, and as the person who probably suffered most as a result of the Shanghai incident, I think that if we can't put things like that behind us, we are fated to live very unhappy lives. A group of people thoughtlessly took a foolish action. They have acknowledged that the time and place at which they expressed their personal political views was inappropriate. Measures have been put in place to protect against something similar happening in the future. Isn't it time to set this behind us?

The primary goal of every member of a World Championship team to whom I have spoken (and that is most if not all of them) is to win World Championships. I would have thought that is a goal that all of us support.
March 2, 2014
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Henry is correct - the International Fund money is distributed by USBF to support US teams. What one means by “funding” USBF is of course up to each individual, but to me it means funding USBF operations or tournaments, which the International Fund money doesn't do.

The requirement that one of the three Zone 2 teams must be from countries other than the US (at the moment that's Canada & Mexico, used to include Bermuda) is imposed by WBF.
March 2, 2014
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The CBF and I think FMB as well share in the International Fund money, based on where the money comes from - so CBF gets funds raised in Canadian clubs, USBF gets money raised in US clubs and I believe FMB gets money raised in Mexican clubs. Money raised at NABCs goes to USBF from NABCs held in the US and to Canada from NABCs held in Canada.

WBF treats the USBCs (the selection events run by USBF to select the two US teams eligible to enter the Bermuda Bowl, Venice Cup and Senior Bowl and the one US team eligible to enter each of the Mind Sports Games events) as the Zone 2 Zonal competition for the purpose of awarding WBF masterpoints and Placing Points. There is also (sometimes) a playoff between Canada and Mexico for the third Zone 2 teams in the Bermuda Bowl, Venice Cup and Senior Bowl, but that is no longer treated as a Zonal competition for masterpoint and Placing Point purposes.

The International Fund supports Open, Women's & Senior teams. The Junior Fund supports Juniors.

I thought I had already responded to Mr. Bruno's questions, but I don't see the response here, so maybe the gremlins ate it :). Individual players on US World Championship teams receive money from the ACBL International Fund to help defray their expenses for the World Championships. ACBL distributes that money to USBF and USBF establishes the procedures by which it is then distributed to the players. USBF also uses that money to pay the teams' entry fees in the World Championships. None of the International Fund money is used for any other purpose. ACBL also gives USBF some Junior Fund money to support Junior International teams. That money is used for training Juniors, selecting Junior World Championship teams and paying the expenses of those teams. In my personal opinion, developing our Junior players is one of the most important things that anyone can do for the future of bridge and so I believe (strongly) that these activities benefit all of us.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say $1 per capita fee, but I'm guessing you mean the dues that ACBL pays to WBF, which are based on the number of ACBL members (perhaps not counting Junior members). You and I will have to continue to disagree about what people are benefited by having the ACBL pay WBF dues for its members. I'm guessing that you think only USBF members benefit from the payment of these dues and so you consider this payment as a contribution to USBF. I believe that all ACBL members benefit from the existence of the WBF and the fact that there are bridge World Championships, as well as the fact that ACBL teams often do very well in those World Championships, so I don't consider the payment of WBF dues as a contribution to the USBF.
Feb. 28, 2014
Jan Martel edited this comment Feb. 28, 2014
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ACBL International Fund money does not fund USBF. It is used SOLELY to help defray the expenses of ACBL teams (US and usually Canadian, but sometimes Mexican) in World Championships. USBF (and CBF) are self-supporting. ACBL helps both organizations raise money by including a request for donations to USBF and CBF in ACBL dues requests, but Sadie Cumquat (and Steve Bruno) don't have to support USBF operations unless they want to.

Obviously, Mr. Bruno and I disagree about whether ACBL teams in World Championships deserve the support of the ACBL rank and file, and whether having ACBL teams that win World Championships is good for the rank and file. That's what we should be discussing with regard to the International Fund, not funding or defunding USBF.

@Ed - it is true that ACBL, USBF, CBF and MBF don't fit comfortably into the WBF descriptions of NBO's and Zonal Authorities, but that's mainly because we are significantly different from the rest of the world - where Europe has 46 NBO's, each representing a different country in which it organizes bridge competitions for everyone, North America has 3 countries and bridge competitions are organized by one organization (ACBL) for all of them. As it was once explained to me, ACBL is in some ways both the “bottom” organization - the one that organizes competitions among all bridge players in the Zone - and the “top” organization - the one that governs the NBO's. USBF, CBF and MBF are in the middle - they organize the selection events for our National teams in World Championships.
Feb. 28, 2014
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I (and anyone with access to the USBF website) do have the pair's convention card if, as I suspect, Julie was playing with her Rona Cup partner Isha Thapa in one of the USBF's Junior practice sessions. In fact I have an even easier place to find out about carding - their USBF System Summary Form (I've blanked on how to put in a link - it's at and can be accessed by clicking on Julie's name on the list of Rona Cup players in the Junior USBC), which says:

- priority goes to giving attitude then count
- standard present count
Feb. 12, 2014
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Although I know it's not what's specified in the Alert Procedures, it always seems sensible to me to announce 1 as “can be 0/1/2” whichever you play. Behind screens, most people hold up 1 or 2 fingers, or sort of make a circle with their thumb and forefinger if they can have a void. That seems very clear to me and much better than alerting or saying “can be short.”

Even if those aren't precisely what's specified in the rules, they do provide your opponents with clear and accurate information, which is surely the purpose of the Alert Procedure.
Jan. 28, 2014
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The WBF has not yet issued Conditions of Contest for Sanya, but if the event format is similar to previous World Series of Bridge events, there will be one or two qualifying stages for each event. Looking at the provisional play schedule, the first three days of the Mixed Pairs will be qualifying, followed by two days of final. I believe there was an announcement that everyone who entered would play for the entire event, so there may also be a consolation event opposite the finals.

I am confident that you will not be able to skip a day of play and then continue to play in the Mixed Pairs.

WBF sometimes has side events, sometimes not.

The usual procedure for entry fees is to have everyone pay for at least the qualifying stages “up front” - sometimes in pair events like this, they have separate entry fees for qualifying and final stages.

The WBF website has information about hotels.

I'm sorry not to be able to give you more definite answers, but I'm afraid you'll have to wait for WBF to provide more information. I'm sure that if you do go, it will be a wonderful experience.
Jan. 24, 2014
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Sometimes I wonder where people get their “facts.” There has never been a USBC in Rye. I assume that Steve remembers the 2006 USBC, which was held in White Plains. It was the USBC with the largest entry ever: 32 teams. 28 teams started in the Round Robin, 2 teams had byes to the Semi-Finals, and 2 teams had byes to the Round of 16. As a result of the large entry and small number of slots in the Round of 16, only 12 of the 28 teams in the Round Robin qualified for the Round of 32. With such a steep cut, it was not surprising that teams that were plus IMPs in the Round Robin failed to make the cut. Whether that should be considered “upsets” I leave to you to judge.

At any rate, the International Team Trials Committee decided that the format was not a good one and it was changed for the future, so that Round Robin matches would always be 6 boards or longer (the 2006 matches were 4 boards) and no more than 40% of the field would be cut in any Round Robin stage. Making the Round Robin more true to form may have discouraged “amateur” teams from playing, but that certainly was not the intent.

The 2006 USBC was the second to be held at a site other than Memphis (I leave it to you to decide whether Memphis was, as Steve thinks, a better site than any at which subsequent USBC’s were held). The 2005 USBC, held in Houston, lost money in spite of major efforts by the Houston Unit. As a result, Joan Gerard, who was then serving on the USBF Board and as its Meeting Planner, decided to see whether she could organize a USBC in White Plains that would break even. She got an excellent hotel contract and provided wonderful hospitality at very little cost. In addition, generous donors contributed $10,000 towards the expenses of the event. The event lost only a nominal amount. Future USBC’s were not going to break even.

The USBF Board therefore appointed a committee, chaired by Bill Pollack, to recommend ways to make the event self-supporting. That committee came up with two options: raise the entry fee or substantially reduce hospitality (for those of you who don’t know, USBF serves breakfast and lunch to all USBC participants and their friends, as well as staff and volunteers). The committee took a vote among recent USBC participants and the sentiment was overwhelmingly in favor of raising entry fees. Pollack’s committee next looked at how to raise entry fees. They decided that the fairest way to do so was to leave the session fees alone, but charge an “event fee” to cover the fixed costs of running the event. The Board agreed and that has been the approach since. None of this was done to discourage “amateur” teams. In fact, one of the reasons to hold the USBC at sites other than Memphis was to make it more accessible to players all over the country.

Steve also says: “WBF events run longer, with more guaranteed playing time, at much lower per session costs.” I’m not sure what WBF events he’s talking about. The 2013 Bermuda Bowl, Venice Cup and Senior Bowl entry fees were $4500. All teams played for 7 days in the Round Robin. Thus the fee per day of guaranteed play in the “main event” was about $642. Teams eliminated after the Round Robin were entitled to enter the Transnational Teams with no additional entry fee, getting an additional 3 days of guaranteed play, for an average cost per total day of guaranteed play of $450.

The entry fee the 2013 WBF Transnational Teams was $1500, or $500 per day of guaranteed play in the qualifying Swiss.

The 2014 USBC event fee plus session fees for the Round Robin, if it is 2 days long, is $960, or $480 per day. Over 60% of the Round Robin teams will advance to the Round of 16 (otherwise the Round Robin will be longer), where they will play an additional 2 days and pay an additional $600 in session fees. Those 4 days of play will thus average $390 per day.

Danny, I don’t know what things you believe the WBF does better than the USBF. Is it the fact that the tables are so close together it is difficult to avoid hearing things that are said at nearby tables? The fact that everyone pays the same entry fee, whether they lose in the qualifying stage or play in the Finals? The fact that the local hosts have to pay WBF $200,000-300,000 to hold a World Championship? The minimal hospitality? I’m afraid I don’t agree that any of these are improvements. As for ACBL, I’m not sure what you’re talking about there, so I’m not going to try to respond.
Jan. 23, 2014
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See for ACBL announcements about changes to the GCC and MidChart. Presumably the approved defenses for 2 showing 45 in the Majors (both with and without the 5 card suit known) and 2 showing 5 hearts and a second 5 card suit, which can be Spades, will eventually (hopefully before the Spring NABC :)) be added to the defense database.
Jan. 19, 2014

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