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All comments by Jonathan Steinberg
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Attendance started a little slowly but was very solid Fri/Sat Sun. The change from Tuesday to Holiday Monday to Monday to Sunday appears to have been a success. Final attendance was 1654 tables this year compared to 1689 two years. Doen 35 tables these days is considered a success!
5 hours ago
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Titles keep changing… the ACBL used to have a Chief Executive Officer (CEO)… now it is called Executive Director. Same job. Different title.

My understanding is that the position held by Gary Blevins (they called it Director of Field Operations) is now held by ACBL TD Nancy Boyd who moved to the Horn/Lake Memphis area sometime in 2018.
12 hours ago
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There is no good news coming out of Horn Lake. I chatted with Carol on FB this afternoon. She was polite and friendly as always. Employee morale was not good before her job “being eliminated” and now it is worse.

In the field, ACBL Tournament Directors (TDs) are equally unhappy with little or no respect for the latest ACBL Chief Tournament Director (Director of Field Operations?) The titles keep changing.

Most recently management tried to increase the number of sessions for a full-time TD from 265 to 300, effective June 1st. It was pointed out that schedules are set up to one year in advance. Who would think?

Nationally rated Senior TDs have abruptly “retired”. Others are ageing and not as effective as when they were younger. Many parts of the country have a severe shortage of qualified TDs.

What was once a happy family with everyone working together is now more akin to a hostile working environment where everyone is concerned with keeping their jobs and adapting to whatever new rules and regulations that are issued.

It is hard to be optimistic, especially with little or no leadership from either Horn Lake or the ACBL Board of Directors who often appear to be living in their own bubble, oblivious to what is happening in the field and/or head office.
May 25
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One avid bridge playing friend of mine (a Grand Life Master) is a vociferous critic of the Soloway KO format at Regionals and has started boycotting some tournaments that advertise them. She calls them a “cash grab”. In a normal KO, if you win (or survive a 3-way), you advance. If not, you can take the evening off and use your entry fee money for a special dinner. Or you can choose to play in the “Losers Swiss” which in many places is a popular event.

How happy are you if you have an awful first session? In the Soloway format you are forced to continue to play the second session which has been prepaid. Why is this a good format?

The KO problem is a reflection of declining attendance and poor scheduling. It was created for Bracket One only but is now (at some tournaments) being applied to all brackets.
May 25
Jonathan Steinberg edited this comment May 25
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I'm playing here at the Richmond Memorial Day Regional. Great people, great hospitality. Awful KO tournament schedule.

A major part of the problem, IMHO, is lack of guidance from Horn Lake to Tournament Chairs. So the schedule becomes a free for all.

ACBL TD's are working every week at Regionals. They know what works and what doesn't. Do they work with management and Tournament Chairs. Hard to know.

Small Regionals (say less than 2000 tables) should NOT have new KO's starting every day… every second day. In between run some sort of team game be it Swiss, Bracketed Swiss or Compact KO (pros hate that one).

Soloway style two day KOs were designed for Bracket One ONLY when the numbers did not allow for a real KO. Having this format for all brackets IMHO is not what most players want.
May 25
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What happened to the Appeals from the Vanderbilt matches? did I miss them?
May 22
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That was the number one complaint… having to take a cab to get to restaurants. There were not enough to service the bridge crowd
May 20
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Birmingham should never have been approved for an NABC. Not because of the hotel but because of the lack of restaurants. That was the number one complaint.
May 18
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You have more room over 2H doubled. 2S is the weakest response. Relay and 3S is Invitational, direct jump to 3S is Forcing (5+). Jump to 4S would probably be a 6 bagger, no slam interest.
May 17
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Sorry, no! Leaping Michaels is a direct 2M-4x. No double. My mistake.
May 17
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Your exact agreements are not the issue. The issue is that you have agreements and know what they are. An expert highly paid professional pair should have agreements and system notes to back them up. That said, South, a high level expert player, has to “play bridge”. Trying to win in Committee after mis defending is far too prevalent in high level, high stakes bridge. Bad for the ACBL. Bad for the game. A pox on all of them ;)! Table result stands.

FWIW, my tournament partners and I play (after weak 2 doubled)
Direct jump to 3NT == To play No 4+ OM, stopper(s)
Direct jump to 4M == To play (5+M)
Relay and 3NT == 4 cards in OM and a stopper
Relay and cue bid == 4 cards in OM, no stopper
Direct cue bid == GF, no stopper, no 4 card M
Leaping Michaels at the 4 level
May 17
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I couldn't agree more. At the highest levels should it not be mandatory to have written system notes which must be made available if there is a dispute?

I have played against professional players who are in the Top 10 of the Barry Crane Top 500 on a regular basis (and are likely in the Top 10 among total sessions of tournament bridge played) and yet I frequently am told “we have no agreement”. Amazingly (or not) they defend and/or bid on these hands as if they know exactly what their partner has (“just bridge”).

No one is paying me (nor am I paying) $100,000+ to win National titles and World Championships but I do have 52 pages (more in larger type; less in smaller type) of basic system notes. Page 38 “Lebensohl in Non-NT Auctions” “Over their Weak Two Openings” covers this auction in depth. How often it does or does not arise is irrelevant; every professional pair has discussed it.

As for the “damaged” appealing side, I believe that players at the highest level have an obligation to ask the right questions and protect themselves. Far too many look for any opportunity (often only recognizable to the “expert” mind) to seek redress from Committees. See Blue Ribbon Pairs, Platinum Pairs, Vanderbilt matches, DONN vs FLEISHER 2019 USBF Team Trials. The high priced teams who are experts at lawyering have huge advantages.

So much money exchanging hands, full-time professional bridge players, yet “We have no agreement” and no system notes! WOW!
May 17
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Before the ACBL wisely changed the Appeals system at its NABCs (removing players from committees and replacing them with TDs), there were always FIVE players on a committee. What I found interesting was the the USBF Team Trials Appeals Committee was comprised of just THREE players. Is that normal for the USBF Trials? Just 3 person Appeals Committees?
May 16
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Far, far too many events are won in the committee room. Most recently there was the Joe Grue/Bobby Levin appeal that won the Blue Ribbon Pairs. Curtis Cheek & Zia appeal that won the Platinum Pairs. The Vanderbilt Coren VS Rosenthal appeals that decided the match.

It may well be the “nature of the beast” but I don't have to like it. Nor does it improve the image of bridge in the eyes of the world.
May 16
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Bonjour Patrick. The USBF web site is exceptionally good with accurate, timely results, easy to see who the team players are, a class act all around.

But nothing is perfect especially late at night with so much going on. I'm pretty sure that when people wake up this morning after a long night of appeals, the incorrect scores in the Kranyak VS Kriegel match will be corrected.

Kriegel is playing Fleisher in today's semi-final matches.
May 16
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One thing is certain. Whatever the ruling(s) will be, there will be players who will be 100% adamant that it was CLEARLY wrong or CLEARLY correct.
May 15
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That's what happened in Hawaii. Not a winning formula.
May 15
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The ACBL web site has Planet Hollywood for $112 plus $37 resort fee = $149. Only a $4 difference.

The Cosmopolitan for $159 (includes Resort Fee) is better value. A 5 star luxury hotel. And it is now available on the ACBL web site for every night (as of May 15, 8 PM EDT). As is usually the case, there were multiple cancellations today – the last day to cancel and not lose your 1st night deposit.

Which is exactly why the ACBL instituted the non refundable deposit policy. Two months out, rooms can still be sold. One week out, the ACBL is left having to pay penalties for not filling its room block!
May 15
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Yes, in fact I think the last two SF NABCs were at this location
May 15
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As did I. The Las Vegas Cosmopolitan is under the Marriott Bonvoy brand – part of their Autograph Collection. This is a great opportunity for players who couldn't get the host hotel in Vegas. It is now available.

While many players have complained about the ACBL charging a non refundable first night deposit 60 days or so prior to the start of the NABC, this is a perfect example of why they do it.

Just prior to the Toronto NABC, there were 500+ room cancellations about a week before the NABC started. The ACBL had to pay thousands for not filling their room block!

That was the major reason then CEO Bahar Gidwani instituted the new policy. Two months prior, gives the ACBL lots of time to sell the rooms that were cancelled. One week does not.
May 15
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