May 2013 District Direction

By Ken Monzingo
National Board Representative

O, how this spring of love resembleth
The uncertain glory of an April day!
– Shakespeare (“Two Gentlemen of Verona”)

It’s April 2, baseball is here, the Final Four begins, and Easter week has come and gone, along with it the 68th Pacific Southwest Regional – again a big success story. The weather here was, and is, spectacular – what a wonderful world to live in, and play our game in. I could write about life in SoCal every issue, but the last time I checked, I believe this is a bridge newspaper.
The joys of publishing the Forum, plus loving my job of representing us on the national board, gives me lots of freedom to try to decide what is relevant to say to the 7000+ members of our great district. I got more reaction to my “walk down memory lane” column in March than most, so I suppose we all have a little nostalgia in us. We veterans relish those good times past. It’s no easy chore trying to be both informative and cutesy here. But I love it.

ACBL Board Meetings - 55 or 60?

I was on the short end of most votes during our St. Louis NABC board meetings. Among the defeats, I wanted the league’s “senior” age lower limit to remain at 55 to protect the Western Conference’s two districts – D17 & D21 – who still employ senior age events at this age. (We no longer offer them in District 22.)
Mesa Senior Regional in Arizona, District 17, is the last major senior tournament in the country, and will suffer in its present 55+ format due to our board’s decision to raise senior status to 60-year-olds and up; a blow to the groin. This makes no sense to me – the difference between the arbitrary numbers of 55 and 60 is insignificant since neither truly defines a senior in an association such as ours whose average member age is near 70, and maturing.
Our other WC neighbor, D21, still hosts successful Senior Pairs events 55+ at all their regionals. Those too shall diminish.
Horn Lake Management Report
We were presented a positive management report from our CEO, Robert Hartman. In just his second year on duty, he has taken control of the association and put his remarkable brand on how we are poised for the future. We are truly in good hands.
The ACBL is solvent, most tournaments are thriving, and membership is growing, albeit at a snail’s pace. A lot of online and inhouse technology improvements are promised, but are also moving along very slow, especially in the areas of ACBL Score, TourneyTrax, and integrating a smart phone/computer system of timely online recapping of NABC, regional and sectional results.

New 10K Championship Events at NABCs

Last fall, at San Francisco’s NABC, we debated a motion to add a few championship events to national tournaments open only to players with up to 10,000 masterpoints. The opposition didn’t like the 10% platinum overall point awards (10 max), but we were successful in getting one off the ground: the 10K Swiss Teams in St. Louis. It was nervous time on the Mississippi, sorta like waiting for the eggs to hatch. The future of the other 10K NABC events we’ve requested could be hanging on the success of this first one. If we build it, would they come? Will it fly?
Attendance estimates for this inaugural offering ranged from as low as forty teams to a high of eighty. With very little publicity, due to adding the event so late, my spoken estimate was 48 teams, while confidently hoping for better. The day came early, and eighty-three teams bought entries. Two teams had to drop out due to illegal MP holdings or not understanding the conditions of contest. The remaining 81 teams played, enjoyed, and set off some serious high-fiving among us who were waiting to exhale.

The View from Table 5

I put my International Program bias on hold for this one to concentrate on the new 10K events, the senior age, and other motions. Come the July summer meetings in Atlanta I will again address my colleagues on the merits (if any) of spending about $400,000 a year on less than one half of one percent of our membership – the experts, pros and their clients – to “represent” us in international play. I’ll express my views in discussion forums without asking for a vote just yet. But do not despair, I will still maintain my previous stance that we, as an association, should not be paying $144,000 in annual dues for a faux membership in the World Bridge Federation which none of us asked for, and few of us would allow if told how our money was being spent there.
On a promising note, there is new management in the United States Bridge Federation, the organization that decides who gets to enjoy international travel on our donations. In St. Louis the new USBF President, George Jacobs of Chicago, surprised us with his enlightening financial report – our first ever. He also invited myself (as his organization’s biggest critic), the ACBL president, and the CEO to attend a late-night USBF board meeting.
I have cautious optimism that these changes in openness and transparency will bear some fruit. See, I told you I was still here.
Still trying.

Peace, my friends.


You can see all the motions we dealt with and how each of the 25 board members voted on my web site at