July 2012 District Direction

By Ken Monzingo
National Board Representative

Summer breeze ... makes me feel fine ...
blowing through the jasmine in my mind.
–Seals and Crofts 1972

Has it really been forty years since the Texas duo of Jim Seals and Dash (Darrell) Crofts lulled us into serene bliss with the harmonious soft rock tones of their smash hit Summer Breeze? I was blessed to see them perform it live in San Diego’s Balboa Stadium a year later in the era of mega-rock arena/stadium shows.The memory remains vivid, and I still hum that addictive tune in my (jasmine) mind ... du di da dum dum, da du di da dum ... du di da dum dum, da du di da dum.

Summer in the Western Conference

Summer is here, and with it comes the usual void of red letter bridge regionals on the west coast. My July slate is more full than most, since I’ll be attending the ACBL board meetings at the Summer NABC in Philadelphia. Also attending will be our four D22 entries into the national finals of the Grand National Teams. We need a GNT win; it’s been a while.
Out here, our neighbor, District 23, hosts its annual July 4th tournament, but, following big Las Vegas, the Western Conference goes regional dormant for two months until District 21’s legendary All-Western Championships closes out the season in late August.Our Orange County tournament begins the fall schedule the first week in September – just as football season arrives.

Summer Fun V

To the seasonal rescue comes the fifth annual Great Western Summer Fun STAC, August 20-26, with bundles of silver points available while playing in the air-conditioned comfort of your local clubs. The three annual Great Western STACs – Spring Fling, Summer Fun, and the December Holiday – are the support and the lifeline of the conference, and the Forum. Supporting our STACs is supporting all three Western Conference districts, while stimulating attendance and growth of our many bridge clubs.

Summer NABC Board Meetings

Back to the Philadelphia meetings. I’m co-authoring some controversial motions we’ll be deciding upon. Along with my two colleagues from the Western Conference, I’ll be online to stem the tide of forcing wholesale “strength of field” masterpoint changes on us before its time by asking management to thoroughly test the proposed change before we vote. Check it out for a year – if it’s good we’ll know; if not, we won’t be locked into something we should have understood before taking the bait. We’d like a test drive before we buy the Ford – the Chevy’s still running just fine.
• A motion is filed by the WC reps to not award silver points to playing directors and their partners during STAC games. Playing directors in clubs are often necessary as fill-ins to make full tables, but these directors have access to our STAC hand records.
Also, a playing director has a big advantage by seeing a hands in detail during his director calls. It is an inevitable viewing. 
• Remaining outside the main stream, I’ll again gear up my attempts to help our membership understand the magnitude of league spending on the international program. This is the issue upon which my opponents who enjoy the ride have really tried to silence me. But that won’t happen; I’ve already taken their best shots and survived. Besides, I promised you transparency and truth. My concerns are not in whether we should or should not have an international presence; we probably should, but at what cost ($400,000-$500,000), and for whom? And who decides?
Last month there were team trials hosted by United States Bridge Federation, the winners of which will be awarded trips to Lille, France. Honestly now, how many of you knew of this? How many know what trials were being contested? Where was it held? When? Who was invited?

Follow the Money

A constituent recently emailed me asking what the $662,928 “board expenses” line listing on the current ACBL budget in the Bulletin comprised of. I had to research it myself – I didn’t know. When I received a detailed expense accounting attributed to us (me!) as board members there was one item that stuck sorely in my craw – a $162,747 annual payment to the World Bridge Federation, lightly referred to as “dues,” although membership in that organization is invisible and means nothing to anyone in ACBL other than the upper echelon players (less than one half of one percent of us), pros to whom we donate almost half a million dollars each year so they can compete in WBF events like Lille.
More money, by far, than we invest in any other worthy ACBL department such as Juniors, marketing, teachers, education, etc.

The View from Table 5

The international program, except for the high cost, has some merit and should be continued. But it could be contained by ACBL, not farmed out. There it would be better defined, and made completely transparent to our members who religiously pony up their International Fund donation dollars, not knowing to whom, or for what.
I shall now ruffle a few more feathers; maybe I’ll do better this time. You knew that was coming.

Peace, my friends.