District Direction

By Ken Monzingo
National Board Representative

The fun never goes out, but it changes with the years, with winning and losing.  –Bear Bryant

As I left the post office I reached to push the big glass door open just a couple of steps earlier than a woman who was approaching from outside. I stepped out and paused, holding the door open with my left hand. The lady passed by with a soft “thank you.” I hardly heard. While driving to the bank I thought about that exchange ... what if I had simply released the door just as she arrived, causing her to lunge to pull it back open? Would she have whispered “jerk?” Two avenues of respect: nice guy or jerk. No middle ground.
In bridge management and governance the status quo is also tough to overcome. Seven years ago as a cub board member I complained about very expensive spending of half a million dollars annually on an International Program that benefitted only half of 1% of our members. I challenged it, I lost big time.
I tried to remember the ole Gallagherism: “even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.” But it still hurts the teeth (and the ego) if you hit the pavement. More on that, later.
Sit Down with Bahar Gidwani

Just before I left for Toronto – for one of our three National Board meetings at the NABCs – I made a short trip to Horn Lake to sit down with new CEO Bahar Gidwani, literally on his first day in the head office. Coming off my year as president working with our former CEO Robert Hartman, I had doubts on starting from scratch. Hence, a one-on-one, eye-to-eye, was critical since we both had some soul searching on how life together would be. Working with Hartman was like a six year honeymoon – change is foreboding.
With Bahar I was mostly impressed with his vision towards jump-starting our league’s technology future – hey, there we go, a real good start! As you may know, although ACBL has successfully operated on our unique ACBLscore software for 30+ years, it has been running on pre WWII hardware. We’ve done a lot of talking, planning and voting, but the reality is we have to make the move to move up. Why the anxiety? If you are computer limited like me, just getting used to Windows 10 was a nightmare. We have 3000+ bridge clubs and hundreds of tournaments depending on the current Score version. To make drastic upgrades on a program unique to only us could create real havoc – a necessary but ugly learning curve. Then comes the decision on which comes first: new or upgraded software or a total new computer hardware philosophy?
Fortunately, I believe we are almost over the hurdles and prepared to move on. Bahar seems the new kid on the block with nothing to lose, so let it fly. As the Finance Chairman I had only this question of accounting – do we have the money, and is it earmarked? The answer was yes, so change is in the wind.
The Toronto Summer NABC Meetings

Now on to Toronto and more doors to hold open as the Summer board meetings will feature invited guests to our discussions. What I mentioned above on the International program will come to fruition, as I have again co-sponsored a motion to release control of the International program to what are known as National Bridge Organizations (NBOs). Specifically the United States Bridge Federation, the Canadian Bridge Federation, and the Mexican Bridge Federations. Representatives of the NBOs, along with professional and expert players who participate in world competition, will be involved.
Although ACBL is technically not a member of World Bridge Federation, we’ve been paying “dues” to them for years on a handshake – currently at about $160,000 a year. The real members of WBF are the 501c3 NBOs. USBF hosts the team trials and selects U.S. teams to compete in world competition – not us. We send a donation check every year to USBF for well over $200,000 – in addition to the $160,000 we send to WBF.
My motion, if passed, will turn over almost all International operations, including dues to the NBOs. This is a great savings for the 99% of our members who never play in world games.
San Diego Fall NABC Fundraiser Games

I hope you enjoyed the San Diego Fall NABC hospitality fundraiser games last month. They were a great success for us and for the players ... I hear Yoko and Sam Jordan took home double digit points for winning a club game! We thank you all for contributing, and look forward to a wonderful national at the most beautiful bridge venue in the world.
Peace, my friends.