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All comments by Joel Shapiro
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Ken - you are right. I should have phrased my comment as you suggested, because that is exactly what i meant. Thanks!

I'm not so sure I agree entirely with Steve's comments, because I think that a real beginner won't think that way at the table. Maybe a more intermediate player might. For real beginners, I still feel that a simple 2D waiting is the way to start.

Maybe in this thread we should distinguish more between intermediate players (the original topic) and real novices. What's okay for the former may be inappropriate for the latter, until they acquire more experience and develop more judgement.
June 20, 2018
Joel Shapiro edited this comment June 20, 2018
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You must be luckier than me, or have better partners. Every time I make a bid like that, partner then bids 3NT and the opponents reel off the first five (or six) club tricks.
June 18, 2018
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I held my nose and bid 3D, although I'm not totally thrilled about it. Still, partner must have something, perhaps both black queens and the major suit jacks wouldn't be too much to hope for. Or maybe just the ace of spades and the queen of clubs. I wish I could bid 2.5 D.
June 18, 2018
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Can they count on being ejected, or is it just a crapshoot?
June 18, 2018
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Players who don't, won't, or can't count think that players who do count are either sharks or using ESP.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” - Arthur C. Clarke
June 18, 2018
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My club in Toronto charged a basic fee of C$12 per game, but most players prepaid by paying C$100 for a 10-play coupon. Some of our games were discounted as low as C$5 for introductory or promotional purposes. We did not have an annual membership fee. We provided free coffee and cookies at all games 7 days per week, and bagels and cream cheese twice. Soft drinks were C$1. Our prices were about normal for everyday for-profit clubs in the Toronto area. Even the larger once- or twice-weekly clubs charge about C$9.

When my wife and I were not directing ourselves and we hired someone, the going rate was C$150 per session, regardless of table count. This also seems to be about normal in this area. TA's at tournaments get this, or close to it, as well.
June 18, 2018
Joel Shapiro edited this comment June 18, 2018
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I suggested a possible strength-of-field formula for club games to the ACBL many years ago and the response I got was “we are not considering that issue at this time”. My formula was fairly simple - factor the masterpoint awards up if there are significantly more “A” players in the field than some benchmark, and down if there are lots of “C”s. I know of a club that gets huge games, so that the awards are always at the maximum allowable, but probably a big majority of the players are C's. Those players are accumulating black attendance points at a frantic clip. Eventually many of them will crack the magic 750 level, LM's or no, and there go the Gold Rush games at our tournaments, because they won't want to play against the ‘sharks’ in the B game, and if they need partners or teammates, players with 1200 or so won't want to play with anyone who has ‘only’ 752.

I had no real quibble with ACBLScore, but for our database, email list, statistics and web results page, we used Pianola and were quite happy with it.
June 18, 2018
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Exactly. Kit is good enough to play anything well. Beginners should really keep it simple. Teach 'em less about bidding, at first, and more about play and defence (and ethics and behaviour) before adding conventional bells and whistles.
June 18, 2018
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I agree that control steps are better than point steps in that they can sometimes provide useful information, but my first two objections still hold. There is nothing wrong with 2D waiting (except for those rare occasions when responder actually holds a good hand with a good suit and can bid that suit without fear). Another problem with any kind of step responses is that they provide more scope for opponents to make lead-directing doubles, even though that may only happen rarely. Also, they're alertable, with all the potential issues that that entails. 2D waiting is neither alertable nor announceable.
June 17, 2018
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Sorry, commensurate with what? Cost of living or housing? In Southern Ontario at least, I suspect so. Also for tournaments - higher fees in Toronto, lower fees the farther you get from the city.

Much also depends on whether a club is a privately-owned for-profit tax-paying corporation, as mine was, or a member-owned non-for-profit. Also depends on whether the club is required to collect and remit sales tax on card fees, as mine was.

I think we both agree that Something Must Be Done. The devil, however, is in the details.
June 17, 2018
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Point taken. A flexible royalty percentage, or some other significant monetary incentive, that rewards clubs that give lessons, recruit members, and participate in ACBL special events could mitigate your concern.

I would not be surprised if housing costs in Toronto are even higher than in New York. Vancouver and San Francisco are even higher still.
June 17, 2018
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I hope that Don isn't implyin'
That BOG members were lion.
If they maintained decorum
In that august forum
Then there'd be no whinin' or cryin'.
June 17, 2018
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I see I kicked the hornet's nest with respect to exchange rates. So here's a suggestion - instead of charging clubs the same fixed sanction fee per table in US dollars regardless of any other circumstances (another example of the ACBL's one-size-must-fit-all mindset), why not do what all other franchisors do with their franchisees - charge a constant percentage of revenues? Let's say that's 2%. So a once-weekly club that charges $5 for a 5-table game in a small town takes in $100 per game and would therefore pay the ACBL $8 for the month (assuming four games). A club such as mine that charged an average of $10.50 (our regular price was $12 but most players bought prepaid tickets for $10) and had 500 tables in a decent month would pay around $370 for that month. Payment would be in whatever currency the club's revenue was in.

Calculation: $10.50 x 100/113 = $9.29 - this removes the 13% Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) that we had to include with the price and remit to the government every month. Some clubs may be in jurisdictions where game fees are not taxable. Mine wasn't.

$9.29/player x 4 players/table x 500 tables/month x 2% royalty to the ACBL = $371.60.
June 17, 2018
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Sorry, Steve, I respectfully disagree. Step responses of any kind are IMVHO very bad bids (as is 2H to show a ‘bust’) for the following reasons:

1. they can take a major suit or even NT away from the strong hand.
2. they can take up too much bidding space before a fit is found
3. they don't give the 2C bidder any immediately useful information. Even that lonely Jack in a ‘bust’ hand can be the 9th trick in 3NT or the entry declarer needs to take a finesse.

Reminds me of an old story:

Husband: Two clubs.
Wife: (taps her chest a few times) Two hearts.
Husband: Two notrump.
Wife: (taps chest, more forcefully) Three hearts.
Husband: Three notrump. Goes down one.
Wife: Didn't you see what I did? I wanted to make sure you knew I had hearts!
Husband: Sorry, dear. I thought you were telling me you had a bust.
June 17, 2018
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1. Using any kind of step responses after partner opens a strong 2C.

At a recent sectional, one 299er player opened 2C, partner gave a step response of 4D (really!) and the opener then bid an insufficient 3NT. Good grief.

2, Asking questions during the auction when you have no intention of doing anything other than pass. Especially asking questions about non-alerted bids that can have only one possible meaning. (Example - opponent opens 2H or 2S. Newbie asks “Is that weak?” Or worse - asking what a Blackwood response means when you and your partner have been passing throughout.)

At that same sectional, I gave a 5-minute talk about that, and why it's a bad idea, before one of the 299er games. I almost got a standing ovation and sure enough, no one did it (that I know of) for the rest of the day.
June 15, 2018
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I don't think Randy or Barry were advocating ignoring top-end players altogether - just concentrating our efforts on maintaining and adding to our much larger base of less serious, more social, and less expert-level players.

Now bear with me for a bit. I teach accounting at university and was a CA in an earlier life. The idea of ‘divisions’ in the ACBL strikes me as exactly what the accounting profession has done recently with respect to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) for public versus private companies. In Canada and in hundreds of other countries, public companies must prepare their financial statements in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which are lengthy and detailed, and prescribe quite a lot of specific disclosures as to the company's performance, position, and prospects. In Canada, non-public companies can choose instead to follow Accounting Standards for Private Enterprises (ASPE), which are less cumbersome, less detailed, and in many cases offer more flexibility. The difference is that the users of financial statements of private companies are usually insiders who already have access to the information, whereas investors and prospective investors in public companies do not, but are often more sophisticated investors who can assimilate the mass of detail better.

So how does this apply to the ACBL? While tournaments should always be considered ‘serious’ games, subject to the existing rules and standards and supervised by trained TD's, many club games could be classified as ‘social’ with relaxed standards as to alerts, allowed/prohibited conventions, and perhaps even zero-tolerance or some of the Laws. Of course, masterpoints awarded at ‘social’ games should not be transferable to ‘serious’ points on a one-to-one basis, but should be discounted and/or not eligible for LM status, much like unpigmented points today.

Note that in this scenario, it is the games that are bifurcated, not the players or the ACBL itself. A club can have both types of games, but any game designated as ‘serious’ should be subject to strict quality control and inspection by the ACBL (TD's maybe) and its directors re-tested and re-certified every time there is a major change in the Laws. "Social' games would be subject to less stringent standards but would still generally have to follow the rules.

Just as IFRS and ASPE are considered equally valid standards within GAAP, social and serious games should also be considered of equal value within bridge - one is not meant to be inferior to the other, just different in practice.

It is quite possible that I am all wet with the above, since I am nobody's idea of the king of bridge. Not even the jack or the deuce. But I do believe it's worth consideration.
June 14, 2018
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Our sectionals generally charge between $10 and $14 per session - $14 in Toronto and less the farther from the city you go. Regionals would be $15 to $17. Mind you, these are Canadian dollars, and our American friends paying in US dollars would get 20%-25% off. The $4 non-member surcharge is also in C$.
June 14, 2018
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I suppose it depends on where you are and your type of clientele. My players (the open players, anyway), always complained about the extra fees for special games, which were at least $3 and sometimes more. I was already charging $12 to play (one could buy a 10-play coupon for $100) which is the minimum accepted going rate in Toronto for a for-profit club. My club, by the way, did not charge an annual membership fee. We never saw a nickel from those extra special event fees.
June 14, 2018
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This would work only if we either get rid of black masterpoints entirely, or only award them at clubs whose directors are regularly tested, certified, and re-tested and re-certified when the Laws change, and whose clubs are subject to strict quality control enforced by the ACBL's tournament department and overseen by national directors. Awarding the same masterpoints at ‘serious’ or ‘law-abiding’ clubs as at ‘social’ or ‘lax & loose’ clubs seriously degrades masterpoints and all the rankings they produce.

What, you say? Masterpoints and rankings are degraded already? Forsooth, methinks thy horse has already departed thy barn.
June 13, 2018
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If I pay by credit card would I be billed in US or Canadian dollars? I have cards and bank accounts for both and would like to use the right one without having to pay the bank their pound, er, dollar, of flesh for the exchange.
June 13, 2018
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