David’s National Dialogue

By David Lodge
National Board Representative

I’m writing from Philadelphia where I’m attending my first meeting as your representative to the National Board of Directors. Meetings are held for 3 to 4 days before each NABC. Since this article has to be submitted before any decisions are made, minutes of the meeting(s) should be available on the ACBL website within some reasonable time.
The ACBL president for 2018 is Jay Whipple. The first job of each new ACBL president is to review the need for a committee and add, delete or combine committees as he/she sees fit. The president then has the difficult task of assigning the other 24 BOD members to one or more committees. This year the committees are Governance, Strategic, Audit, Finance, Bridge, CEO Review, Appeals and Charges, Bylaws and NABC Review.
The Bridge Committee, which has the largest number of directors assigned to it, deals with all the elements of the game itself; masterpoints, non-NABC events, rankings, conventions, etc. This is one of the committee to which I’ve been assigned. In addition, Jay is encouraging everyone to audit other committee meetings when their committee is not in session, and I’ll be taking advantage of that opportunity).
All in all, the board will consider 19 motions, 8 of which are from the Bridge Committee. A sample:

*Conventions - change the name of convention charts to Basic, Basic+, Open and Open+ and redefine allowable conventions within each group
*Increase Gold % of MP in NLM regionals from 25% to 33%
*Increase the number of Regionals at Sea from 4 to 8
*Increase NAP and GNT awards at district final level
In addition to all the motions, there are 19 other items on the agenda (these are called Discussion Items) 8 of which relate to bridge. Again, just a small sample:
*Strength of Field - awarding same relative # MP to an open pair game regardless of whether restricted games held at same time are pair games or team games
*Simplifying MP award calculation - objective is make it easier for players at clubs and at tournaments to understand and anticipate their awards.
*Tournament Staff Pricing - discussing alternative approaches to the current way in which a tournament pays the ACBL for the tournament directors’ per session fees, hotel, travel and per diem. This is one of the many items being raised in acknowledgement of decreased attendance coupled with higher costs.
Most of the other action items relate to the Strategic Committee, the other committee that I’ve been asked to join. The number one goal of the organization according to its Strategic Plan is to grow. Here is a sample of the items put forth by the ACBL staff:
*Social Bridge - does it have a place in our organization? If so, how to take advantage?
*Ad Campaign progress - what are management’s plans - review their test data so far
*BIG IDEA #1 - support for clubs - how and when
*BIG IDEA #2 - enhance patron program
*BIG IDEA #3 - schools - review current efforts and modify as needed - we currently spend approximately $140,000 on K-12 programs
*BIG IDEA #4 - Volunteers - recruiting, retaining, rewarding
*BIG IDEA #5 - Online - can the league increase its membership through enhancing and promoting relationship with on line bridge sites such as BBO

The Forum

On a different but equally important note, by now you’ve probably heard that this will be the last printed version of the Forum. It’s not the end of the paper as we are going digital. I’m very excited about this new development for our district and one that I think most players will welcome. The change opens up all sorts of opportunities. For example, we devote several pages to the “Unitscopes.” This is a very popular section because everyone wants to see what’s going on in their unit and hopefully, if they’ve won an event or attained a new rank, see their name in lights. Unfortunately, it is a very inefficient use of space because almost no one reads anything but about their own unit. We have 25 units in our district. We’ve tried to limit the length of the articles to allow more editorial space but we got lots of pushback. With the new methodology, we’ll have our cake and eat it too, because we’ll be able to include the Unitscopes and still have space for other articles on problems, technique, smaller, etc. We’ll also be able to have a lot more content for I/N players which represent the largest percentage of our players. By now you should have had many communications about your email address. Make sure your ACBL email info is up to date.
Let’s enjoy our great game! –David