March 2016 District Direction


By Ken Monzingo
ACBL President 2016

The mission of the ACBL is to promote, grow, and sustain the game of bridge, and serve the bridge-related interests of our members.

o stateth the mission statement of American Contract Bridge League. Makes you just wanna jump up and do something good. Whatever it is. At least inspires a desire to do the right thing.
In my limited bridge administration life I’ve found unit boards  deal nicely with unit betterment. District boards take on the bigger district problems. But national boards – responsible to everyone and everything bridge – deal as much with the experts as they do with the other 90%. That is not so much an indictment of the rich and famous as it is a fact of life in fast lanes of bridge where most governance resides – the ACBL Board of Directors and ACBL Management in Horn Lake.

The Board of Directors

n the national board the 25 District Directors, representing the 25 districts of ACBL, make the decisions on how our game is administered. We meet three times a year just before each of the three North American Bridge Championships (nationals). There we separate into groups (committees, workshops) to discuss 20-30 motions presented us for our full board’s resolutions. Motions for our deliberations can be on any/all things bridge in ACBL, and other bridge organizations. 
Now that I have the mechanics out of the way, how does this cooperate with the league mission statement above?
Well, it melds with pluses and minuses. Like life.

What’s Good

I have finished seven of my nine years on this national board (we don’t have term limits, but maybe should). In that time I’ve witnessed both pros and cons in our decisions ... again, like life. But mostly we’ve had a dedicated segment of the game’s elected leaders representing us well. The current board composition is easily the best yet – in my opinion – which is very good for me, as I have them for my year of presidency.

Maybe Not so Good – but not so Bad Either

I believe this board remains true to the game, but, as mentioned, our decisions often wrap around the welfare of only a small percentage: experts and tournament attendees. That’s a wonderful segment, but hardly representative of the membership ... most of whom play primarily in clubs, homes, or rarely. If you’ve read my previous Forum missives I’ve been consistent in not believing in spending so much of our money on so few ... a stance that has not made me a favorite son amongst the elite. We’re doing better on that, now, but we have other, more important issues at the moment, not the least of which is the cheating scandals (accusations) of world bridge play that has slithered its way past our borders – primarily to our NABCs, but also to our regionals, even in District 22. Oh my!

What could be Better

I don’t have the magic bridge wand. But, like most, I have a mind, and I like my club, unit, district and my league. As president I also have a mission of my own which is 4-fold:
1. Support management in facing these cheating allegations head on. We must protect the security/integrity of the game.
2. Strengthen the board’s strategic plan to meet aggressive future goals for the betterment of ACBL.
3. Support management’s overhaul of our technical deficiencies – hardware and software – to better serve our members, clubs and tournaments, including all ACBL communications.
4. Work towards a more balanced budget – contradicting myself because achieving successes in the above will see serious increased spending, especially in technology.
Well, nobody said it would be easy.

An Honor

I am still humbled with respect and thankfulness to you all for allowing me this time as your representative to the national board (District Director), which has afforded me the greatest honor in our game – a year to serve as your emissary known as ACBL President. The words still ring music to me, and I’m not sure I’ve really absorbed it well yet, or ever will. But I have ten months left to get done what I’m wishing for us.
We can’t make a better game – bridge is the best – but we can make a better life for all to enjoy it. My mantra for this year, which I shared with my board: “Do the right thing.”

Peace, my friends.