District Direction: The National Board Meeting 

By Ken Monzingo

ACBL National Board Representative 

Houston NABC, March, 2009 The 2009 Spring NABC was held at the Hilton Americas Hotel in Houston, Texas. Despite a well- run tournament and good weather, attendance was only 9,729 tables, about 6% lower than pre-tournament estimates. Probably another “economy” hit. 

Highlights of ACBL Board Meetings 

League CEO Report 

Jay Baum, CEO, reported that ACBL membership increased by almost 1000 members in 2008. This increase, coupled with a rise of 431 members for the first two months of 2009, brought total ACBL membership to 159,500 members. March provided 1200 new members, so 750 net for the year. This growth pattern should continue as players take advantage by dodging the upcoming  new stiffer Life Master requirements. In view of the economy, these are a very positive results. 

Progress on acquiring the great new Horn Lake, Mississippi (in the Memphis, Tennessee  area) ACBL headquarters site is going very well. All negotiations should be finished by the end of the year. 


2008 Financials 

For calendar year 2008, the ACBL reported an excess of revenues over expenses of about $890,000, 23% (over $200,000) higher than the forecast made in late November. Although this news is very good, caution is the word in forecasting future results. This was the second year in a row the league have shown excellent profits. Now if we survive this one ... and the next ... 


“Average Masterpointing” 

A motion passed that, at the option of the sponsor, permits Stratified Pairs events at local sectional and regional tournaments to be based on the average masterpoints for the pair. Using “average masterpoints” for Stratified Swiss Teams events is already an option - we need to expand the concept to Stratiflighted Pairs and Teams. Details for doing so are in the works. 


New Event: Platinum Pairs 

A new “Platinum Pairs” was established as an annual scheduled event held at all Spring NABCs, beginning in 2010. This will start on the first Friday of the national and will be a six-session qualification pairs event open to members who: 

(1) have won 50 or more platinum points in the three calendar years prior to the event; or, 

(2) own 200 platinum points lifetime, or, 

(3) have attained the rank of either  Grand LM or Platinum LM. 

But not all is happiness. 

The event will begin on the same day as the Silodor Open Pairs, and the Vanderbilt Teams will start on Monday instead of Sunday, which will have a negative impact on the Mixed Pairs. 

The Board of Governors requested that the ACBL Board reconsider all the schedule changes resulting from this motion. I also wonder about the success of this one ... seems like a traffic jam. 


 Motions Defeated 

Some motions were defeated soundly ... like renaming the Board of Governors to Council of Advisors (it lost due to a 50-3 no vote from the Board of Governors!), and lowering I/N card fees by $5.00 at national tournaments. I voted no with the majority on both these issues. 



Other Business 

ACBL Hall of Fame 

Mark Lair, Canyon, Texas, the number four living masterpoint holder in the world, was elected to the ACBL Hall of Fame. Popular Goodwill Committee Chair Eileen Osofsky, Phoenix, was chosen for the Blackwood Award, awarded individuals who have made major contributions to bridge in an administrative capacity. Aileen was blindsided by the appointment and was almost speechless. Agnes Gordon, one of the great players of the past, was chosen for the von Zedtwitz award for persons who contributed greatly, but have been out of the limelight for years. 


Upcoming 2009 NABCs 

The Summer NABC will be held July 23-August 2 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. Despite summer heat, Washington, D.C. NABCs have been the among the most popular. San Diego’s Fall 2009 NABC follows, beginning on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, at the luxurious Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seaport Village, downtown. 


WBF World Championships  

The World Bridge Federation has lost the Russian playing site for its Fall World Championships in 2010, and is hunting a replacement venue. We’ve been approached to bid to host it, and several ACBL board members think it’s a good thing to do. 

I’m not sure. 

I believe the WBF tournament is mistitled at World Championships since it is not as strong as our NABCs, and to bring it in here will simply be to add a fourth major tournament to compete with our current three nationals for attendance $$$ in these years of a very shaky economy. 

Also, untold negative impact could be felt at our scheduled regionals, sectionals and clubs in the area when a “world championship,” 10-day affair, invades our turf. Inviting in another “national” suggests several of these competitive pitfalls and I’m not sure of the advantages other than a real nice chance to play in one. 


WBF Circus Comes to Town 

Detroit has volunteered to host the WBF WC; okay, but I’d think offshore or in Los Angeles would be better, or, maybe to combine it with a tournament like an NABC in Orlando, Florida (Fall, 2010), would have been more geographically convenient, and do less area damage. 


Growth & Aging 

The April Quip report shows District 22 at a total of 6656 members, up 1.55% in the past 36 months which was the fourth largest growth percentage in the ACBL. Overall the league was up only 0.38% which included active unpaid Life Masters, but excluded inactive unpaid LMs. 

Long in Tooth Growth: The average age of an ACBL member is 68.78. We in District 22 best that by a little as we average out at 70.37-year-old gray hairs (third oldest group in the league behind Ohio Valley and Florida).  

Somehow I’m staying just barely under the curve. Whew! 


ACBL Board Details Online 

For more details on all motions presented in Houston, refer to the minutes of the board meeting on the ACBL web site: www.ACBL.org, and mine at: www.KenMonzingo.com  


Online with OKb 

A couple of issues ago I wrote a very complimentary paragraph on Bridge Base Online and their aggressive moves toward online ACBL bridge. 

My error was in completely omitting both OKbridge and Swan, two major pioneers in online bridge. 

My error. My bad.