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All comments by Joel Shapiro
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I am curious as to whether newspapermen in Yorkshire use journalist Leeds.
June 13, 2018
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Gee, I thought a mixed raise was when you didn't sort your cards or count your points properly, or when you forgot your system and didn't know what to do.
June 13, 2018
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Not long ago I ran a 3-session KO that attracted exactly ten teams. The only way to run this without having any one-winner round robins or 48-board finals was to break it up into two five-team brackets. There were two teams with oodles of points, two with nearly none, and the rest in the middle. So I handicapped each bracket - the cannon fodder teams started off with some IMPs and didn't have to play the plutonium life masters. Problem solved and everyone was happy.
June 13, 2018
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My comment re the ACBL and clubs - See reply to Randy above as to why my club eventually closed.

During the 8+ years we were in business, we grew from a completely standing start to over 7000 tables annually, in our best year. Due to the traffic, access, and parking problems outlined above, our final two years were 6600 and 6000, and as construction is slated to last for three more years at least, we could only see the decline continuing. Our landlord was not helpful with regard to giving us a break in rent, and in fact wanted a 30% increase with our next renewal.

We originally participated in almost all ACBL special events and games. However, during our final few years we stopped participating in almost all of them. Our players resented the ever-increasing special fees, which we never got to see any of. We especially quit participating in STaC's (except for 299'er games) because players (a) objected to the extra charge; (b) once they became LM's they no longer cared about silver points; and © results were always skewed by 5-table games in small towns with one A pair scoring 75% over 9 C pairs and thus taking all the district-wide (or even Canada-wide) points. Only the 299'ers cared about silver points, so we kept the STaC's for them only.

Our club was happy to publicize all local sectionals and regionals, and we encouraged our players, especially the 299'ers, to play in them. Of course, we never received any compensation for lost business and had at best half our usual table count when we tried to stay open.

A big complaint that we always had with the ACBL's Club Dept. (shared, by the way, with other local club owners) is the ACBL's insistence on sanctioning new clubs and games within mere blocks of existing clubs. The ACBL states that clubs are not franchises and thus can have no territorial rights. I am not a lawyer, but I sometimes wonder if, given that the product that clubs sell is masterpoints which are only available from the ACBL and are charged for by the ACBL through sanction fees, whether existing franchise law would indeed deem the ACBL to be a franchisor if so tested in court. After all, only a McDonald's franchisee can sell Big Macs, the raw materials for which have to be purchased from the franchisor or approved vendors, and royalties have to be paid on each sale. But, as I said, I am not a lawyer.

Another problem is quality control. Neither the ACBL nor the District nor the Unit makes any attempt to monitor the continuing competence of club directors, with respect to rulings and Laws knowledge, selection of appropriate movements, enforcement or even existence of ZT or other behaviour standards, and so on. IMHO, when there is a major change to the Laws, as we have just seen, or a major change to convention cards (coming in November) or Alert procedures, all club directors should be re-tested to maintain their certification. I know of one club which used a non-ACBL member as a game director for years with no consequence for the club, or for the players who ‘earned’ points at those games.

I just thought of something else - the ACBL's co-op advertising program is virtually meaningless in a city like Toronto - they used to pay a maximum of $750 per ad campaign, since reduced to $500. This won't buy squat in a big city newspaper or on a radio station that anyone listens to. And we can only use it to advertise lessons and memberships, not the games themselves, which seems a bit counter-productive to me.

Canadian clubs like mine collect all their revenue in Canadian dollars. It would be a nice gesture on the part of the ACBL if our monthly sanction fees could be in Canadian dollars as well. I realize that this would be more costly for us if the Canadian dollar should ever again rise to above par with the US dollar, but I would be prepared to swallow that if that were to happen while I was still in business. Approximately 10% of ACBL members are in Canada (I think), and I don't know what the proportion of clubs is, but the loss of the 25% exchange difference such a policy would entail would probably not be felt very strongly by the ACBL as a whole. (Maybe extend that policy to Canadian tournaments too?)

I understand that clubs differ - some (like mine) are privately-owned and for-profit, others member-owned not-for-profits, and still others unit-owned. Some are in large cities and others are in small towns. Some have competing clubs nearby and others have none for miles around. It has always seemed to me that the ACBL's policy with respect to clubs is one-size-must-fit-all. But what works for a one-a-week five-table $3 game in Buffalo Breath, Nebraska (no insult intended to Cornhuskers) probably would not work for a big-city, seven-day-a-week for-profit $12/game club like mine. It's too late for my club but perhaps some useful suggestions from this forum will filter up to the powers-that-be before it's too late for others.

Do bear in mind that I do not fault the ACBL for the demise of my club - that was entirely due to the traffic and parking issues, the upcoming demolition of our building, and the non-cooperation of our landlord. Still, while we were in business we got little or no support from the ACBL, the District, or the Unit with respect to our continuing operations.
June 13, 2018
Joel Shapiro edited this comment June 13, 2018
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Help for teaching from the district or unit? You must be kidding. I have, however, received a small stipend from the unit for directing the student game that precedes our Easter Regional.

My club closed mostly because the City of Toronto decided to build a rapid-transit line right along the street where we were located (Eglinton Avenue) with a station a block away, and this totally screwed up the access to our club and the available parking. In addition, our landlord successfully applied to tear down our building and put up condos. Moving would have been very costly and rents in midtown Toronto are sky-high - we were already paying $100,000 per year and a new place would have been even more.

Yes, I'm still directing and will be in your unit for the Kitchener regional next month, as well as sectionals in Tillsonburg in August, St. Thomas in September, and Stratford in November. I hope to see you at one or more.
June 13, 2018
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From a teacher's point of view, here goes… (I have posted this before on BW, years ago.)

For nine years I taught bridge to a group of high school students. I had them for an entire calendar year - the last half of Grade 9 and the first half of Grade 10. Bridge was held in class time as part of their regular math program, not during lunch or after school. This was in a special program focused heavily on math and science, that students had to apply to and be accepted. They came from all over the city, some from hours away.

Over the course of the year I was able to cover the entire Club, Diamond, and Heart Series books, and some of Mike Lawrence's excellent Counting At Bridge software.

For the first seven years the ACBL provided the first two books free of charge but not the third, which I was able to get the school to pay for. (This is a public school, not a private school. Imagine the paperwork.) The ACBL did provide the Heart book the last two years. Before that they sent hats, T-shirts, and other stuff which were worn once and never seen again.

At least two of my students subsequently represented Canada on our national team, and one was on the winning team at the ACBL's college championship a few years ago.

I generally had two separate classes of approximately 28 students each. Numbers varied slightly from year to year, but always over 50 in total. The ACBL used to pay me a stipend of US$350 for EACH 8 students, to a maximum of five stipends per semester and ten per year. This amount was never raised for inflation in the entire period I taught.

Then the ACBL's Education Dept. decided that the stipend should be paid per class, regardless of the number of students. So my $3500 per year suddenly became $1400 - and I had to argue for that because the ACBL's Education Dept. wouldn't believe that I actually had two separate classes instead of one big one.

I also was originally able to submit my class list to the ACBL's Education Dept. once the class started and be paid shortly thereafter. Once the stipend was reduced, the ACBL's Education Dept. started to require far more paperwork (for ordering books, for example) and would only pay me weeks after the semester ended.

So I quit. There you have it. I used to prepare pre-dealt hands and notes on bidding and play, and the original stipend was sufficient to cover my time, the photocopying, the commuting to and from the school. etc. No longer.
June 13, 2018
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Linda is correct again. But someone has to enter the data. Can't be the players - garbage in, garbage out. The only way to get this done is to have the players provide their ACBL numbers on the registration form and to have a director sitting there, not taking the money, entering them all.

And then you get those players who don't know their ACBL numbers.

On the other hand, anything that provides more work and pay for us TDs sounds good to me.
June 13, 2018
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“I have yet to find a director who would conclude that responder is taking advantage of UI and who would roll back the final auction to 3S.”

Come to the Kitchener ON Regional July 2-7 and you will find me. (Kitchener is one easy hour west of Toronto.)

You will also find your US dollars buying you at least $1.25 Canadian. A good deal!

Happy 4th of July in advance.

(3S it must be)
June 13, 2018
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Linda is quite correct. It would take far too long to check every player's points, and then add them up team-by-team and calculate the team average, before the game starts. We have to trust the teams' self-reporting. Once all the names are entered the computer can very easily tell us who's misbracketed, but by then we're well into the first round or even the second. We don't generally mind if a team reports a total that is out by a dozen or two points but those that miss by several hundred cause problems for everyone.
June 13, 2018
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Next time you see me at a tournament, Randy, I'll bend your ear. (Kitchener coming up - maybe Tillsonburg or St.
Thomas?)
June 13, 2018
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I honestly don't think a lot of teams would choose their own brackets - a handful at the very most. The time taken to accommodate those few requests is minimal. A bigger problem is teams that end up in a bracket that they don't like because they mis-report their total points when registering. It's easier to accommodate the few teams who would do it deliberately than to move around those that do it accidentally after the game starts.
June 12, 2018
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Who was it that once said that the two things one should never watch being made are sausages and legislation?
June 12, 2018
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How about a voice for FORMER club managers and teachers, who no longer do those things, and would like to explain why as object lessons for current or prospective club managers and teachers?
June 12, 2018
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I have never received such an instruction. It may exist, though, and I will abide by it in future if so instructed by the powers that be.
June 12, 2018
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I didn't say opening one spade was a good bid - I just wondered if any of the other players bid it. I remember Marty Bergen once said that any suit with four honours in it can be treated as if it is one card longer. Many less-experienced club players swear by his advice, and I just wondered if any here bid that way, and how they fared.
June 10, 2018
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I am curious to know if any of the other North players, after three passes, chose to open one spade instead of one diamond, and how their auction went and ended up after that.
June 10, 2018
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Of course not. Just get the TD to assign you enough extra points so that you get to play where you want.
June 10, 2018
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My tongue-in-cheek response earlier was to have an MYOB event. Make Your Own Bracket. Indicate on your entry where you'd like to play and the TD will accommodate you.
June 10, 2018
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“Also, if it is possible for a DIC to assign extra points for bracketing purposes for a (non-foreign) player, please give us some more details.”

In ACBLScore, go to the player record in the database, hit F2 to edit masterpoints, then add as many points as you like in the Eligibility box.

I have done this a few times for players who I know are good players, but who for one reason or another never joined the ACBL. So they have no recorded points and want to play as 99ers. I won't let them.
June 10, 2018
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If it's a limited game (Gold Rush or lower), then I use a relay/bye-stand since they only play 24 boards anyway. A section this small almost never happens in a tournament's open game, but at my club I usually would put out 32 boards and had them play seven four-board rounds with an EW skip. Never heard a single complaint. Playing 28 boards really gives them their money's worth. Open players would complain bitterly if they had to play only 24.

With 7.5 tables I always use the H8ROVER movement.
June 8, 2018
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