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All comments by Nicolas Hammond
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Semantically the ACBL has used the word ‘restriction’ to apply to events that have an additional requirement. A Youth or Senior is a ‘restricted’ (by age) event. A Mixed or Womens' event is a ‘restricted’ (by sex) event.

Some events are MP restricted; if this has an upper limit it is ‘limited’ (e.g. 0-1500 Pairs, 0-5000 mini-spingold). If it has a lower limit, e.g. LM Pairs (must be a LM to compete), I haven't seen a consistent terminology.

Open generally implies open to all; but some ACBL ‘Open’ events, e.g. LM Pairs, are MP restricted.

In the context of the original post, I believe the term Open was meant to imply ‘not-restricted’.
March 2, 2015
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Just an aside:

Ultimately, and this would take some time, someone will create a DB of all hands ever dealt/played etc. so this can be easily looked up.

I've published software to map from a deal to a unique number. See https://github.com/njhammond/hand_record_utility

What's next is to start providing/calculating such a number for all deals.
March 1, 2015
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There is a formula for converting ABA MP to ACBL MP (I don't have it in front of me). When you but an entry, tell the TD, they will help you convert.

When you turn in your entry you turn in your reported MPs. Bracketed is based on reported MPs, not on actual MPs.
March 1, 2015
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I've already got the ability to look up a player name using multiple techniques (first/last/city etc.) in Bridgescore+.

Some copies of Bridgescore+ are installed on the Internet for each of the districts, but password protected. If the ACBL member database is installed, you can pull up any player, find out their MP etc.

It would be trivial to make this available to all players. However, this is against ACBL regulation.

So I already have the technology that you want, but ACBL rules prohibit it being used.
March 1, 2015
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My focus on this thread is Gatlinburg, a very large regional, about 9,500 tables over 6.5 days. ACBL is not the sponsor (the mother organization only runs 3 NABCs), D7 is.

D7 is a volunteer only organization, no full time staff.

We won't have on-line sign up for 2015. I know how I'd like to implement it, but support becomes an issue. It's not impossible for 2016. We'll see. The design is in ACBLscore+, but no implementation (not part of the original ACBLscore+ contract).

The cultural is the biggest problem. There's a lot of players to train, a lot of changes for TDs.

The ACBL culture is always to take your money, so they are excellent at accepting start of event entries. That won't change any time soon.

The problem with any form of bar code/QR at sale time is speed of processing. Currently ‘we’ process you in under 10 seconds. There is no way that we could do that it and scan 4 bar codes, which I assure you will most likely be crumpled. There is also an investment in infrastructure (bar code readers, etc.) although this is relatively small.

Hopefully not sounding too negative. I do have some ideas on improving all of these. Not sure if it will make Gatlinburg for 2015 or 2016. But changes afoot.
Feb. 27, 2015
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Debbie, if you are a club manager/owner (and you may be able to get that status through teaching youth), you can download ACBLscore, get the DB from ACBL.

Once you have this, run ACBLscore in DOS mode and you can search for players using different formats, including last name.
Feb. 26, 2015
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The ACBL member DB that clubs/TD can download contains the number of MPs that a player has. It does not contain a breakdown of each color. That information is in the main ACBL DB stored in Horn Lake.

At some regionals, you can use a laptop to look up a player's information, but this is not Internet connected.
Feb. 26, 2015
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ACBL is very good at processing entries at the last minute.

ACBL only takes entries 30 minutes before game time so as players we have been trained to buy entries this way.

This doesn't mean that it always has to be that way. BW have done a good start with selling entries at NABCs, but this doesn't help the TDs at all, as they have to re-type all the information.

Metrics will help.

At an NABC, a TD processes a pair entry every 6 seconds, on average at peak time. That's taking the cash, giving change, assigning entry, and moving on to the next person. Typically another TD may previously have walked down the line (queue) and made sure everyone had the correct change, but the TD behind the table is processing a pair every

I didn't do metrics last year for KO entry selling at Gatlinburg. In the big hall, there were 13 TDs at peak time. Let's say 12 brackets, 16 teams, 200 teams (rounding up). They may have had only 2 TDs selling entries, so assuming the last 150 teams were sold in the last 15 minutes, that's about 12 seconds per entry. I think it's probably a little quicker as they also use TDs to make sure everyone has the correct change and has a pre-filled out entry form (total # MPs, # players).

It takes a good TD about 5 minutes to enter all the ACBL player numbers from a 16 team bracket. At least 64 7 character string. At least 468 characters, excluding Enter and/or Tab. The fastest I have seen was 3:30 (you know who you are, Mr. Texas). ACBLscore is single-threaded, you can only enter one bracket at a time, one team at a time. So, for a 20 bracket KO, one TD is entering player numbers for about 100 minutes.

Take a typical NABC Swiss, 150 teams, 600 ACBL player numbers, it is usually not until round 3 or 4 that all players are entered and we know the rosters.

What you as a player wants, is simple/easy for you.

From the TD perspective, it's different. What they are about is starting the event as quickly as possible. They can't work out the brackets (or movements in pairs) until they know who is there. A problem with pre-selling is making sure that the players are there. Selling at the event guarantees that you are there.

Yes, other places around the world do it different, but that's the current ACBL TD mentality. And it has worked “for centuries”.

Let's analyze some improvements.

This focus was on Gatlinburg, which is similar to an NABC, but different than most regionals so these comments are Gatlinburg-focused.

Credit cards. Way too long to process at game time. Some Districts (e.g. MABC - D6/D7) are selling vouchers, same as ACBL at NABCs. But trying to take a credit card instead of cash won't work using the current system of selling.

Adding up MPs. This will only work if ‘we’ know all the players on the team before hand. Getting a TD to enter all of your names won't work from a timing perspective.

The ACBL player/MP database is updated once per month, and available for download for TDs. Part of their job is to have the latest database for tournaments. It can lead to a strange situation where you can have say 1499 MPs on July 6, win 50 points at a regional before the NABC but still qualify for the 0-1500 Spingold. The rules are the MPs you have in the database. Remember that clubs don't report as quickly as tournaments so your correct total is always a few days behind. If you make LM, after the deadline, the DIC will quite often let you play in an LM event, if you can show you are a LM (even if the database is wrong). In both cases I think ACBL has the correct policy. Everyone wants you to play in an event if possible. Clubs can download the full MP database (or at least used to be able to, the rules may have changed). There are about 167,000 ACBL members; there used to be about 315,000 names in the full DB.

Clubs will often download only the players in their local Unit or District which is a much smaller file. The problem for club managers is the merge with their local information, and the master DB from ACBL.

ACBLscore+ fixed all of this; but that's a different story.

Most MABC tournaments (D6/D7) have a laptop where you can look up the player MPs. It is running ACBLscore in DOS mode with the current full ACBL DB. They have found it is easier/quicker to offer this feature than for you to ask a TD how many MPs a player has. In Gatlinburg, the laptop is usually close to the TD office, about half way down the wall in the big Hall. You can always ask a TD.

Online entry is a possibility. But circumstances change for many teams. The correction rate is as high as 5% (1 in 20 teams) will change their circumstances _after_ they have bought their entry. You can imagine what an on-line scenario can be.

We do have some plans for Gatlinburg that will address some of the above. I don't want to give out details because some issues are being worked out. It is likely to be a limited trial. We probably won't release details until Gatlinburg.

Using Bridgescore+ we typically start KOs within a minute or two of last entry being sold. The delay is waiting on the TD to decide the number of teams in each bracket, and also to decide which teams should play in which parts of the hall.

The current metric for Gatlinburg is that, pre ACBLscore+/Bridgescore+, the typical KO started 25-27 minutes after the last entry was sold. My definition is when all teams have a table assignment that can be read.

Barcodes require players to put the barcode on their entries. Some players do have pre-printed barcodes, but ACBLscore has no ability to read them. I did look at it for ACBLscore+ but it wasn't part of the original contract. ACBLscore+ does support a web service to input names so it could be implemented later.

Feb. 26, 2015
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“We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.” Oscar Wilde, The Canterville Ghost (1887)
Feb. 18, 2015
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The motion was, I think, somewhere in the 1990s.

ACBL's new web site currently only has board minutes on-line from 2000. The older web site had earlier minutes. I found the information on the old web site when trying to find out all the masterpoint rules. If ACBL want to post the older minutes, I can probably find it fairly quickly.

Perhaps one of the former board members can post the date of the board motion.

The reason it wasn't implemented is simple. It was complicated to do. Jim saw no reason to do it. Implementing this would have changed the structure of the game file. Throughout the code, nearly everything is hard coded to 3 strats. Making this one “simple change” would have changed the format of the game files and require lots of changes to ACBLscore and lots of testing. This is why it hasn't happened.

This type of stuff is one of the many, many reasons that ACBL opted to develop the replacement for ACBLscore. (ACBLscore+/Bridgescore can handle 5 strats….)
Feb. 18, 2015
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One of the issues with using a projector is support.

I know that Greg had some issues when using ACBL-supplied computers/projectors. He's smart enough to know what the problems are/were, how to fix/work-around.

Part of the issue with rolling out new technology is support. Most of the issues are going to be not new software/technology related, but ‘simple’ issues like connecting projectors/computers/Internet/cabling etc.

This is new technology for TDs. Not trying to be a smart-alec about it, but the ACBL TDs are great at customer support, using the current software (ACBLscore), but the full time TDs have not been exposed to any modern technology.

Am making this statement because if you see TDs struggling with something new, bear with them. Same with the volunteers using Bridgescore+.

Getting some great feedback from Regional in Florida this week. Been sent some photos if anyone cares to see.
Feb. 18, 2015
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Yup.

Am familiar with the work that Greg has done. It is nice.

I am not sure who provided the projectors.

The IT/logistics side of the projectors (correct cables, no dangling power cords, connectivity to machines/Internet) is a skill set most TDs do not have. They would have to be trained.
Feb. 18, 2015
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Pretty much.

The videos listed were are all part of the ACBLscore+ project which ended last year. ACBL didn't even realize that they had this code! Probably shows you how much technical time they spent reviewing ACBLscore+ code. But they wrote off $150K to review this code. (I suspect most of it was lawyer fees).

Since then, on my free time, I've enhanced the software. If I'm running it at a tournament, players or TDs will come up with suggestions. The nice thing about the design is that you can make changes on the fly. It has been run for about 100+ events so lots of suggestions that I have incorporated. The version that I have now is better/faster than the version that ACBL has from a year ago. The videos I posted (see above) are actually from the code they have.

As my company has a license for the code for ACBLscore+, I've made it available on the Internet, for free, for Districts to use at their tournaments. There's a regional going on in Florida at the moment using the software. No cost. My company has no marginal costs for providing this software, or hosting this software on the Internet, through April of this year so might as well offer it for free.

Bridgescore+ is much quicker/better at starting a KO than ACBLscore is. For me, I typically have all the assignments up, posted on the projector within 1 minute of last entry sold, i.e. 1:01pm for a 1pm game time, sometimes quicker. Go to your typical regional and see how many TDs there are, and how long it takes for all assignments to be ready.

One of the items in the $600K budget was to make it easier to start a KO. In addition to the projector start, I wrote some code to automatically create a KO game file. Won't mean anything to players, but if you are a TD you have to re-enter the same information - Event name, rating, event code. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpTyN7tEviM for what TDs have to go through to enter data into ACBLscore. It's about a minute per bracket (ask your favorite local TD). With new code that I wrote, and posted for free on the Internet, it is less than a minute no matter the number of brackets. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqLxZLS1beA

Bracketed Swiss are even worse for a TDs. Typically more brackets than a KO. More data entry just to set up each bracket.

ACBL announced that they were going to spend $600K this year on several IT initiatives. This was presented at the ACBL BOG meeting in Providence.

I saw the list, and thought this was a little silly, rather a waste of money. Some of the things they were budgeted for they already had. I found out just recently that the ACBL didn't even know that they had some of this software. This only re-emphasizes that the reason for dropping ACBLscore+ was a legal issue, not a technical one. They hadn't even bothered to find out what ACBLscore+ could do.

From memory (if anyone has the list from the BOG in Providence, or knows what the $600K is being spent on, please post)

1. Speed up start of KOs for TDs.

2. Use projectors for players for start of KOs.

3. Use projectors for players for running of Swiss events.

4. Put ACBLscore under code control.

5. Speed up start of bracketed Swiss events for TDs

6. Use of projectors for players for start of bracketed Swiss

7. Use Bridgemates for running a Swiss.

8. Something to do with Fast Results/ACBL Live.

I may have missed something. If I have, please correct me.

The list seemed to be almost entirely written based on what Bridgescore+ could do, and what Jay Whipple's Fast Results could do.

I think it would have been a much better idea to focus on some of the things that the ACBL BOD have voted on in the past and directed ACBL to implement. For example, support for a 5 strat pair game at tournaments. This was voted on by the ACBL BOD years ago, TDs currently have to do all the masterpointing by hand. The players love the 5 strat pair games because there is more of a chance to win masterpoints, particularly if you are in the lower strat, but very few tournaments run it because the TDs don't like the extra work for them. This is a perfect example of the BOD directing the ACBL to help improve attendance of the newer players at tournaments, and management not implementing what the board directed them to do.

I've posted about items 1-4 above. I'm working on item 5, it's almost done. I have item 6, I have used it for local tournaments, but I haven't posted a video or put it on-line yet.

Item 7 is a little harder to do, but Bridgescore+ has the built in ability to support all data for team events from electronic scoring devices (ESDs) (e.g. see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oj-EMNhOJX0 for the Swiss qualifiers from the Bermuda Bowl and the level of detail that Bridgescore+ can store). I just need to finish the interface from the ESDs to Bridgescore+.

Trying to put it another way: it doesn't cost me any extra money to host Bridgescore+ on the Internet. If I'm at a tournament, someone makes a reasonable suggestion, I'll implement it. Got to do something while I'm waiting for teammates to come back with their scores. The benefit for me is that when I'm at tournaments, I'm not spending all my time waiting on the TDs to set up the event. So I get to start playing quicker, I get to finish quicker.
Feb. 18, 2015
Nicolas Hammond edited this comment Feb. 18, 2015
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Not sure if that is a non-sequitur.

No/Yes is the answer to your question.

You can use Bridgepads, or use Jeff Smith's program for Bridgemates, see http://www.bridgemate-us.com/User%20Guides.php?subpage=Team%20Games%20using%20Bridgemates

In both cases I believe that you need to enter the scores manually into ACBLscore (lower case ‘s’).

Bridgemates for Swiss was never part of the ACBLscore+ contract.

I'm looking at adding it to Bridgescore+, but this is all volunteer effort for me at this point. Only got so much time….
Feb. 17, 2015
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From discussions with TDs, this was planned by ACBL 30 years ago. But never got done. It got added to the ACBLscore+ project when ACBL decreed, “no paper” during the contract.

It was shown to ACBL at a Sectional tournament in Atlanta in November 2013. Code was available to them since then. But they didn't want to run it at the NABC in Phoenix in November 2013, or the NABC in Dallas in March 2014. I have no idea why. Perhaps they didn't want to show code they didn't have the copyright for. I wasn't going to be playing in the NABC Swiss in Dallas so perfect opportunity to showcase the software, but they said no. They have had the software since the end of November 2013.

I offered to run it (for free) in Providence in December 2014. Also offered to make it available (for free) in Dallas for March 2015 (I hope I'm playing in the event), but they have declined.

It appears that they only just discovered the fact that they had this code. Rather embarrassing as they spent $150K “reviewing the ACBLscore+ code”.

I did look at the visual display of some of the other scoring programs out there. For Swiss, ACBLscore's matching algorithm will match and assign teams while scores from the current round are coming in so need to be able to handle that situation for displays. Not difficult, just different.
Feb. 17, 2015
Nicolas Hammond edited this comment Feb. 17, 2015
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Can someone make the edits to Wikipedia so we have all the data in one place. You don't even need to logon, you can make edits directly.

At this point, it is a cut/paste type operation. Cut something that works, paste it into the correct spot, edit it for the specifics.
Feb. 17, 2015
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The data should be objective, the results can be subjective.

Lies, damned lied, and statistics.

A spreadsheet could be created, interpretation of the results will depend on what you want to read into the numbers.
Feb. 16, 2015
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You can probably do the numbers yourself, you would not need an outside consultant.

The various table counts, average age of membership, number of tournaments are typically published as part of a report at the BOG meetings. You would just need to collate them.

One very important factor for determining these numbers is that each year there is a large turnover. I don't remember the exact number, but let's say it is 10%. So each year ACBL loses 10% of its current membership, and gains a new 10%. One important statistic would be the average age of the lost members, and the average age of the new members. As juniors would have a big impact on the average age, you may choose to factor those out. All of this is fairly simple to put into an Excel spreadsheet. I would guess that the average age of new members is fairly static, and below the average age of ACBL members. I would also guess that the average age of the lost members is above the average age of ACBL members. Pure speculation, but we should assume that someone, somewhere either has the spreadsheet or it can be easily created.

You can see the NABC attendance on Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_Bridge_Championships#Recent_tournament_highlights
Feb. 14, 2015
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This type of information is probably best put on Wikipedia unless there is a volunteer host.

I added a section on Districts to the Wikipedia page on ACBL.

I added the links above.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Contract_Bridge_League

If you have any additions, or I missed something above, please make it to the Wiki and not contact me.

It would be nice if we can get all District web masters to archive their DD reports.
Feb. 14, 2015
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Thanks.
quiet_assets is licensed under the MIT or GPL license.
I chose the MIT license.
Configuring quiet_assets reduces the number of log entries, thus speeding up the runtime environment.
Feb. 11, 2015
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