John’s Journal

By John Grossmann
District 17 President

The Agenda for 2018

Transitioning out of the Western Conference will be the major D17 focus in 2018. The WC has been spending almost a quarter of a million dollars each year to design, print, and mail the Contract Bridge Forum, the monthly tabloid newspaper sent to players. While those economics are not sustainable, the Western Conference has been around for decades and we do not take the decision to leave lightly.
Jim Horton, Bonnie Bagley, Jerry Ranney, and I have been working on alternatives for the past year. Our solution is for D17 to go its own way, adopting an all digital path for communications. We expect to save about $60,000 a year in printing, postage, and graphic services. Going digital will also benefit our members by allowing us to add video, sound, hot links, animation, and many other technological options that are unavailable with a printed newspaper.
The digital change will take effect in April 2018. The district will produce a bi-monthly publication with educational columns, tournament results, promotional articles on upcoming events, and essential administrative items such as tourney schedules, much like the current Forum.
We will email members when the publication is available. Becky Rogers suggested that in months that we don’t publish the digital Forum that we email a short message with information on upcoming events .
Nxtbook will be our digital vendor, the same company ACBL uses for the online version of the Bulletin. Their PageRaft software is called “responsive design,” meaning that information will be automatically formatted to match the capabilities of the device you use. The new digital version of ScoreCard will be easily viewed on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. The reading experience will be much like going to the NY Times, ESPN, CNN or other major media websites.

STAC Status

The Western Conference has historically had huge STAC attendance. The profits from the three STACs each year helped pay for publishing the Forum. The D17 Board is in favor of continuing to have three STACs a year. I have suggested that the WC STAC structure could continue if we can negotiate a way to share the profits. Discussions with the WC Board are ongoing.
If we can not resolve the profit sharing issue, District 17 will start its own STAC program. There are many opportunities to enhance the STAC program, such as improving the website, adding photos of outstanding STAC players, streamlining the administrative process and creating some financial incentives for new clubs (or other districts) to participate. I should have more to report on this in the March issue of the Contract Bridge Forum.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Hint: Email Issues. Well, we know one problem that needs to be addressed. The ACBL’s Pianola email system reaches less than 66% of members. A good email database is important to digital communications.
Let’s be honest. Getting a flood of emails is the bane of our society. Bridge management has contributed to this problem by creating too many emails, often generating messages that don’t match player interests. It’s a new tool and ACBL main office, districts, and units need to learn how to best (sparingly) use this technology.
A lot of folks think “unsubscribes” are a big part of the problem. Unsubscribes are taken very seriously by Pianola and ACBL. Your email address is wiped clean and communications end. But the baby gets tossed out with the bathwater. If ACBL does not have your current email in the system you won’t get any notification that the new digital Forum has been published. And maybe not that email offering you a free play or a chance to win a bridge book.
What is your email status? Have you moved or changed email providers? Visit www.acbl.org and connect with “myACBL login” by entering your member number and password. Click on the “Update My Information” blue button. Click on “Update my Contact Information” blue button. Scroll down to see what email address you have provided. Count to ten, then click “Submit” to update your email address.
Hey, that was relatively painless.
Be ready for the digital Forum, starting April 2018.

New Faces

TThe District 17 Board has four new members. Long time Colorado Springs player Bill Curtis will be joining the D17 Board, representing Colorado-at-Large. Murali Nair of Phoenix attended the Fall D17 meeting and is eager to serve in 2018. Long time Tucson tournament planner Steve Reynolds will bring a lot of event organizing skills to the board. Bill Phillips from Flagstaff is another new member; he will be the Arizona-at-Large representative.
Darwin Afdahl is leaving the board after many years of service, including a couple of years as D17 President. Robb Gordon resigned from the D17 Board to become the ACBL Recorder in 2017. Jeanne Gray and Rod Bias are also leaving the board. I thank all four for their service.

I will be serving as D17 President in 2018, with Art McHaffie serving as vice-president. Jennifer O’Neill will be the treasurer. Felicity Moore will assume the significant organizational responsibilities of district secretary, taking over from Bonnie Bagley who did an amazing job for many years.                 
Please feel free to contact me with your concerns at blackstone.co@comcast.net