Our summer ACBL Board of Directors (BOD) meetings prior to the North American Bridge Championships in Chicago were interesting and productive. I will report on BOD actions as well as some other things that happened that affect bridge players. I hope if you went to Chicago you took some time to enjoy being a tourist in that great area as well as playing bridge.
One bright happening was the recent selection to the ACBL Hall of Fame of Michael Rosenberg of District 21. He was inducted into the Hall during a nice dinner ceremony the night before major events began.
We in District 21 put on a good North American Bridge Championship tournament. In addition to frequent tournaments in the past we have been scheduled to host the Spring 2016 NABC in Reno and the Fall 2019 NABC in San Francisco. Added to this list at our Chicago meetings will be the Fall 2025 NABC again in San Francisco. The combination of a great city to visit and a great group of volunteers to run the tournaments is hard to beat.
Your BOD discusses and evaluates issues by email prior to our three regular yearly meetings. We then meet for four days prior to each NABC. We meet in various committees for two days and then in full BOD for two days.
One issue we have struggled with is how to make as certain as possible that players do not use electronic devices to cheat yet still have their use in real life. We modified the electronic device policy to allow them in the playing area but they must not be visible during the session. This policy applies to all pairs, team members, captains, coaches, play recorders and kibitzers with the exception of persons designated by the ACBL. There are significant disciplinary penalties for the first offense and disqualification from the event for a second offense. This policy change was approved by a vote of 25-0.
I am in favor of charging additional fees to players who play in sectionals but who are not ACBL members. We had a motion to extend the additional fees to players who are non-members and non-service paying Life Masters and who play in STaCs. The motion failed 10 in favor, 11 against, and 4 abstentions. I voted in favor. I believe that people who benefit from services offered by the ACBL should be members (with the exception of players with less than 20 masterpoints).
One issue that could affect District 21 representation on the ACBL BOD is the proposal of term limits. A motion was proposed to limit membership on the BOD to four consecutive three year terms. A representative could return after sitting out a full three year term. The motion failed 11 in favor, 13 against, and 1 abstention. I voted against. While I see some benefits in the concept of term limits I think each district can select their representation every three years. There are definitely districts that are happy with their representation that would have been changed if term limits were in place.
The entire ACBL has raised over $675,000 in support of the Longest Day which benefits the Alzheimer’s Association of America. While records are still being updated it is clear that one of our units did a great job. Unit 512, Sonoma Valley, under the direction of Barbara Lemme raised over $7,000 for the Longest Day. Barbara and all others in District 21 who contributed to this effort should be heartily thanked.
I feel fortunate to serve on a variety of committees for the BOD. The Appeals and Charges Committee I serve on is where players who have been disciplined have their final level of appeal. The committee itself makes the final decisions, not the full BOD. We also automatically review major cases. There are two cases I want to report to you.
Case number 1. A player who over the years has verbally abused his regular partner has been disciplined in the past. As the behavior continued the penalties got stronger. He has now been suspended from all ACBL play for two years, put on probation for two additional years, and barred from ever playing with that partner again. Our committee approved that discipline unanimously.
Case number 2. A player was caught cheating. He admitted to cheating on multiple occasions. He had done a lot of volunteer work for bridge in the area. His local disciplinary committee put him on suspension for two years and lifetime probation. The Appeals and Charges Committee automatically reviews this kind of case. We felt that the penalties imposed were not strong enough. We took the actions of expulsion from the ACBL and removal of 100% of his masterpoints. I strongly endorse this action. I believe once we have proven beyond a doubt that a player has cheated that person should be banned from the ACBL for life.
I hope you are concluding a great summer and are looking forward to an enjoyable fall season. You can reach me at RLSmithD21@aol.com or chat with me at the table. Take care.