You might rightfully wonder why this report is coming from me instead of Jackie Zayac, who was recently elected our District Director. Jackie was unable to represent District 21 in Philadelphia because she had major surgery the end of January. She is at home recuperating and hopes to be back at the tables by the end of April. Let's all wish Jackie well as she recovers from her ordeal.
In her stead, as the 1st alternate I am representing D21 at the ACBL Board of Directors meeting here in Philadelphia. If you have a good memory for other things beside bridge hands, you might remember I filled in on the ACBL board in 2014. This is getting to be a strange routine.
Philadelphia is the home of Liberty Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, and is the city where the Liberty Bell hangs, Those who have learned about or seen the bell, complete with its famous crack, know that it has "Pass and Stow" engraved on its side. But the North American Bridge Championships (NABC) are taking place in Philly in mid-March and I have it on good faith that for these 10 days someone has changed the Liberty Bell to read "Pass or Correct"! Accompanied by an Alert, of course.
This report is being written on a tight deadline to make the April edition of the Forum. The board meeting concludes just one day before that deadline so in order to submit this on time there might be some late night burning of oil. If anything sounds wrong, either let it pass or send it to the editor to correct. He'll then alert me. That's my excuse for errors, and I'm sticking to it..... but oil is slick and won't let me stick to it for long!
General Board of Directors actions:
The board is developing strategies to attract new members and increase the ACBL membership. Under investigation are better ways to reach prospective new players, including online advertising, more outreach to grade schools and colleges, expanding our role to include rubber bridge players, contacting players of other card games, and many other ideas. These strategies are still under evaluation and there will be more definition this summer. OK, you've heard this many times before. One of these days we might even hit upon the right formula.
The board spent a good deal of effort modifying the bylaws to conform to changes in the New York state laws. The ACBL is incorporated in NY and our bylaws have to conform to their laws. During the meeting, one line in the bylaws suffered 3 amendments and 2 motions to sever. Thank you, Robert, and your rules of dis-order!
We also made changes to the way the board is run internally and a few other legalities which are mostly of interest to those who deal with governance. I'll spare you the details and concentrate on what changes might affect your bridge playing.
New Convention Charts:
First and foremost, it's official, all the Convention Charts are being replaced. The Limited Convention chart, the General Convention Chart (also called the GCC), the Mid-chart, and the Super-chart will no longer be used. In their place will be Basic, Basic+, Open, and Open+ charts. This is more that a mere name change. The Basic and Basic+ charts are mostly for limited masterpoint games. They spell out what conventions are allowed. If it is not stated in one of these charts, you can't play that convention. The Open and Open+ charts spell out what conventions you CANNOT play. If it is not prohibited in these charts, you are allowed to play it.
A new concept is that these convention charts will be in effect for all ACBL tournaments, with the Basic applying to events for 0-750 MPs, Basic+ up to 3000 MPs, Open to most events with a limit over 3000 MP, and Open+ to most national events and most open (unlimited) regional events. Local tournament conditions-of-contest will no longer be able to control what level of convention card, or which specific conventions, you are allowed to play. However, clubs will still be able to decide what conventions are allowed or denied.
All this takes effect on Nov 22, 2018, at the start of the NABC in Hawaii. That way the changeover will not take effect in the middle of any regional tournaments. In the meantime, look for a series of articles in the upcoming ACBL Bulletins explaining in detail what these charts entail.
Regionals at Sea:
A motion before the board proposed that management could contract up to 8 Regionals at Sea (RaS) events per year. The current limit is 4 per year, which is the number that have been taking place for the last few years. ACBL management has seen a much bigger demand for RaS events, with the present ones selling out and players still asking for more.
Unfortunately, about 3 years ago there was a RaS that sailed out of San Francisco during the same week we held our Sacramento regional. This was a schedule mistake that should never have happened. D21 lost about 20 tables to that RaS cruise as determined by our D21 tournament manager. Our district board was adamant that it never happen again without their prior approval.
The original motion before the board only stated that management would
attempt to avoid conflicts with all land-based regionals. With recommendations from Jackie Zayac and Tom Pajak, our D21 President, I opposed this motion in committee. When it came to the vote of the full board, I proposed an amendment that management shall obtain the approval of all districts in which the cruise has a port of call. This amended motion passed 15 to 10.
When you play in a Sectional Tournament at Clubs (STaC) you earn silver points and also a chance to earn many more if you have a big game and finish in the overalls of a STaC pairs event. Right now the overalls for STaC pairs are determined by using the percentage you finish with in your club. Since other clubs aren't necessarily playing the same hands as you are, the scores are not very comparable. To remedy a big portion of this discrepancy the board approved making clubs use the same set of pre-dealt hands to get full masterpoint awards from the STaC. After the game is over, your results will be matchpointed against all the other players participating in the STaC. This may cause your percentage in the STaC overalls to be different than your percentage in your club. Your overall standing in the STaC will be determined only by your STaC percentage. Just to make sure you don't lose out because of an altered percentage, your will be awarded the higher of your STaC matchpoint award or your club matchpoint award. Note that STaC Swiss events are unchanged.
Sharing regional allocations:
A board motion removed the ability of one district to loan a regional allocation to another district unless they share a common border. This motion was precipitated by D21 'borrowing' a regional allocation from D7 (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and part of Tennessee) so that we could hold 5 regionals this year and have both Modesto and Reno on our 2018 calendar, along with our usual Monterey, Sacramento, and Santa Clara. This motion passed 24 to 1. As a matter of principle, I cast the dissenting no vote, since it was my discovery of the 'loophole' that set up the availability of this 5th regional in the first place. Luckily, we will not need a 5th regional in 2019 or the foreseeable future.
NAP and GNT:
The masterpoint awards for both North American Pairs (NAP) and Grand National Teams (GNT) have been increased for the district finals. These increases apply to all 3 flights of the NAP and 4 flights of the GNT. Additionally, for flight C in both the NAP and GNT the proportion of gold master points awarded has been increased for the district finals and the national finals.
Next year the flight B and C NAP finals, held at the Spring NABC, will be moved from Sunday/Monday to the last Saturday/Sunday. This should make it easier for B and C players who have jobs to attend without missing too many days, and also make finding a room at the host hotel easier.
While D21 does not currently hold Non-Lifemaster regionals, they are popular in other parts of North America. The board voted overwhelmingly to increase the share of gold master points awarded at these events to 1/3 gold (along with 2/3 red) for 2 session events at NLM regionals. Perhaps one day we will consider holding NLM regionals here in D21, and maybe in conjunction with a local sectional. The board also approved given the open flight of such a sectional credit for 65% of the concurrent tables in play at a NLM regional at the same location. So there would be more masterpoints for everyone.
Non-ACBL people who play in any ACBL sectional or regional must pay an additional $4 per session. In a effort to get more people to join, we now offer a temporary membership. It is $7.99 for one month, which should encourage non-members to join if they decide to play 2 or more sessions in a tournament. Of course, if you are reading this you are already a member. But please tell those non-members you know to give it a try. Club managers and teachers who sign up a non-member for this one month trial get to pocket $5. Even nicer, you can give that $5 back, meaning this person gets a trial offer for a mere $3.
That's all, folks! It's late and I'm running out of oil ... and words. The next ACBL Board of Directors meeting is in July. Jackie Zayac should be covering that and future meetings and reporting what is new in her own style.