Judy Kay-Wolff

Exactly where is the A C B L Heading?

 

Effusive remarks concerning the above are continuing to surface on the Internet .. with strong opinions on both sides. There is much room for improvement on these issues despite many vociferous protesting contributors (some qualified and others not!). The subject is delicate indeed, as it involves specific individual personalities, likings, hang ups, their knowledge (or lack of it), their stature, livelihood and leanings, card fees, master points, committees, directors’ aptitudes and qualifications, sensitivity, resentment of criticism, challenged egos, losing valued customers at local clubs and so on. No one can deny bridge is heading in the wrong direction and without a concerted effort, it will continue sinking here in Zone 2.

It brings to mind a very costly refused pro bono offer which I have mentioned before … and it has sadly come back to haunt us. Over two decades ago Bobby offered the head directing honcho (then in Memphis) to allow him to travel to headquarters (all on his own dime) to deliver a seminar to the directors, educating them on the salient points involved which were (and still are) in dire need of understanding and improvement. He was told in no uncertain terms It was too much of an inconvenience to the ACBL (and its directors), and Bobby was flatly refused. Some twenty or more years later, we are dearly paying the price for their refusal to recognize the dire need for some direction. Bear in mind, no one was in a better position or more knowledgeable on the subject which has immersed him for close to sixty years in countless capacities. Not only did he serve on the BOD early in his career, he but later became President of both the ACBL and WBF, head of countless Appeals Committees, created the Recorder System for weeding out suspected cheats, was elected Chairman Emeritus of the WBF Appeals Committee and was unanimously elected to the WBF Committee of Honor.

Let us begin by turning our attention to the club level. Some proprietors/owners/directors are in business because of love of the game, their innate nature of being ‘people persons,’ pure interest in productivity and last but not least (and not applicable to all) … dependency on it for a livelihood which is understandable in today’s economy. Their incentive is not the issue — but rather — the perpetuation (or restoration) of the dignity and equity of the game. I don’t know what the current requirements for franchised directorships are, but I can recall in my day it was the ludicrous ‘open book test.’ Everyone has their own personal motives for playing … be it sociability, making new friends, boredom, master points, a desire to improve — or just trying to kill time to make the day go faster. Their reasons matter not .. but learning the rules of ethics and insisting upon acceptable behavior at the table ARE CRUCIAL!!

Whether a newbie or experienced participant, EVERYONE must play according to the same standards. I see no reason to relax the rules for neophytes. It is the responsibility of a director to explain at the outset in a pleasant, non-confrontational, respectful manner, that everyone must follow protocol in order to be accepted and move forward. Bear in mind that every game has its rules. The participants must be aware of their responsibility to the game and the directors must be knowledgeable, qualified and polite to resolve situations which may alter the scores in favor of the non-offenders. To me, the failure of directors to both understand the rules, the possible infraction and the equitable adjudication of the alleged protest is the root of many ugly occurrences. ALL DECISIONS SHOULD BE TRANSPARENT AND THE ONES AT THE HELM SHOULD BE ACCOUNTABLE TO THE PUBLIC. The solution at the duplicates is not handled best by instructing the contestants to continue play and stating he or she will adjust the scores at the conclusion of the session if appropriate. With this suggested manner of disposition, often I have noticed (and challenged) the fact that the particular board result is not visibly included in the scoring sheet … but later appears to be quietly taken into account without informing the foursome involved and making no further waves. No one can play God. Volunteer Committees of a few of the better players should be gathered at the conclusion of the game and allow them to fairly resolve the problem. If you don’t teach them (both the players and the director), we will never ascend to a higher plain. I have all too often heard the protests that newcomers will be scared off by such restraints. If that is their persona … who needs them? This game is not about pampering or soothing hurt egos … but of greater consequence — the perpetuation of a uniquely magnificent game. And, I can think of no more beneficial place to begin than at the club level!

Another club problem (at least in my eyes) is the distribution of master points for under average results. I believe that is governed by the ACBL and recognizing mediocrity (or worse) is a means to attract players who are obsessed with such ridiculous bonuses (and false gods). I recently saw a 30+% game hailed in a “C” category … which to me is ludicrous and disgraceful. It is just a way of encouraging the person to come back and pay a card fee, both to the club and the ACBL. Why should someone attempt to move onward and upward if there are no goals to achieve and a mind set of acceptance of mediocrity and worse. Perhaps if the score was recognized for what it really was (awful!), the player’s would exert efforts to improve their methods by reading basic bridge publications, taking lessons or learning by playing with better players. I have always believed in hitching your wagon to a star or striving for a higher ground rather than falling prey to distorted goals.

On a related issue, Appeals Committees (although performing an important and indispensable service to the game) must be comprised of true (not wanna-be) experts, devoid of politics and personal leanings. In my opinion, (if at all possible) pros should not serve on these bodies as their leanings could be influenced if the accused was asked to rule upon sponsors (perspective clients) or fellow pros with whom they have a kinship and benefit by referrals. These temptations should be avoided as everyone is ‘human’ and often it is impossible and understandable not to be swayed by personal associations or potential benefits. Also recusals (a dirty word) should be absolutely mandatory if the committee members are in any way involved (pro or con). There have been many infamous cases where personal motivation was the driving force. In fact, in international play, biases and prejudices involving certain players and nations have entered the picture. We are all familiar with some of these egregious, warped, influenced mishandled issues. Probably the premier one to go down in history at (or near) the top of the list is Bobby’s infamous “Oh, Shit” case. If you don’t know the details, you are in the wee minority. It was the most absurd decision which had no bearing whatsoever on the facts, actions, rules, laws or sensible reasoning and it will be a long time (I hope and pray) before justice will be ravaged to such a nauseating degree in the future.

My attention this past week has been occupied by the Bridge Winners site. BW has come a very long way from their early beginnings and they serve as a strong and fair venue where the bridge players state their views (mostly strong ones) in a civil, respectable tone … in an effort to right the many alleged wrongs which have been surfacing. Intervention by the BW administrators has insisted on non-offensive remarks encouraging the contributors to express their individual views and responses politely. It has been very educational.

The brouhaha involving the 1.9 million dollar ACBL ordeal over an unsuccessful computer programming system has drawn national (and even universal) flack and this week over two hundred comments have accumulated on a particular BW blog entitled ACBL SCORE UPDATE … mostly from concerned, caring players (in both bridge and computer programming) with all sorts of explanations, recommendations and suggestions how to resolve the problem. Of course, the big stink all stemmed from authorizations by the ACBL Board of Directors and CEO — but no one seems to be owning up to the despicable aftermath and enormous loss from the debacle. No one can deny we, the members, are indirectly footing the bills. Are we not entitled to know ALL the facts!!! We have often heard the trite expression about the animals running the zoo. Here it strikes much closer to home because WE are the financial support of the ACBL … akin to moneybags. Where is the money earmarked for the treasury going? Inquiring minds want to know. I think it is our entitlement to learn how it is being disbursed! Salaries? Perks? Raises? Bonuses? Equipment? Whatever!!! Since no direct official answers have been forthcoming, perhaps the only way this can be resolved is to have an independent investigation of where we all stand. If nothing was out of line, there should be nary a refusal to detail facts, figures and names from the outset.  I believe every ACBL member is entitled to an answer.

 


33 Comments

Bill CubleyJanuary 3rd, 2015 at 9:06 pm

Happy New Year to you and Bobby!

We are back from Charleston and its regional.

People everywhere were very nice to me. They were not nice to my family before. My great grandfather, Byron, was shot at when he tried to come to Charleston in 1862. He was with the 8th Michigan Regiment.

They players kindly let me win a a pairs event. I also met a partner from 1997 when I trained in Georgia. He was new and we met at the partnership desk. Won a free dinner which we drove to in a driving rain storm. He asked me to call him so we could play again.

Charleston actually has a street named Rhett Butler.

Bill CubleyJanuary 3rd, 2015 at 9:14 pm

Judy,

I think committees would be improved by an expanded National Appeals Committee and having 2-3 of them at every regional. Sectionals might be a problem.

Train them well in proper committee procedure so hearings can be fair. They also need a common publication, accessible to the members, with their decisions. This might create a ‘common law” so that there are similar decisions based upon similar facts.

We might want slow players before committees to justify why they should not be further penalized or to deal with the usual, in my experience, discussion of hands.

Education of the field might be made also. Announce how to read the score card so you can pass boards and recheck vulnerability if there is no bridge-mate.

Emphasizing players are in a tournament and cannot take actions which impact other players to have a full and fair chance to play. Understanding that in a 15 table section and slow play affects 20% of the players and requires mandatory penalties might get players to go beyond our sometimes self thinking and ignoring the rest of the world might make tournaments better for all players.

Howard Bigot-JohnsonJanuary 3rd, 2015 at 9:33 pm

HBJ : A brilliant article which needs to be given wider coverage ….in every bridge magazine , newsletter and internet blog.
You’ve hit so many nails on the head , your hand must be worn out from all that hammering.
Why it is that so many inept people are able to grasp and claw their way into positions of power is beyond me, but that I’m afraid is the way of the world.
There is , as I see it , a growing moral vacuum which seems unstoppable. Thankfully there are a few pockets of resistance to buck this dreadful trend. You and Bobby are an inspiration to all those you share the same passion and desire to restore the game of bridge back onto the pedestal it once proudly occupied.
Thankfully over here the EBU does a great deal of work worthy of praise and admiration.
Yours HBJ

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 3rd, 2015 at 11:22 pm

Hi Bill,

It is great that you continue to attend and enjoy so many of the tournaments. In no way do I miss the turmoil of motoring or flying to a ten day marathon. We only travel to nearby Sectionals and Regionals. What I do miss is seeing so many of my longtime friends (who are still above ground) and those with whom I stay in contact via the Internet. Computers seem to have transformed telephones into a venue of the past.

Bridge has been revolutionized since I came upon the scene in the mid-fifties. That’s a long time even if you say it fast!

Happy 2015!!!!

Judy

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 4th, 2015 at 12:33 am

A Healthy Happy New Year to you and yours, HBJ!

I appreciate your concurrence about the sad state of bridge affairs we are witnessing on this side of the ocean. There are many valid views examining why we are rapidly falling from grace. Everyone is certainly entitled to voice his or her own opinions. I honestly believe the cause of the friction is that there are too many flies in the ointment and their respective realms of jurisdiction and authority clash and appear to overlap.

It is not clear to me (and obviously .. many others): WHO is entitled to make these final decisions?? If that could be officially determined, the proper executive will reign and his or her power will not be questioned.

We are desperately in need of a more democratic process. How say you?

Robb GordonJanuary 4th, 2015 at 4:06 pm

Happy New Year J&B!

You raise MANY issues. Mostly I agree, but not completely.

Take the Flight C 30% game. I think that train left the station long ago. There are so many “stupid masterpoint” examples they wouldn’t fit into one blog.

I think we should do what Israel did. A couple of times they had very high inflation and rapid devaluation of their currency. They got (arguably) their fiscal house in order, and then they de-monetized the old currency and created a new currency (Lira to Shekel to New Shekel).

The people who care about real achievement should figure out a new way to evaluate players’ skills by their results and institute a new, separate system.

One thing they could correct is to start decaying in whatever system they chose. A point you won 20 years ago should be worth less today. Of course with the total debasement of the masterpoint those points are actually worth more to those who understand the difference in effort involved. But that hyper-inflation should not be allowed to happen in the new system.

Unlike many changes we hope for that never happen, I really believe this WILL happen, probably outside the ACBL.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 4th, 2015 at 8:20 pm

Hi Robb:

VERY PROVOCATIVE, INDEED. However, this is more in Bobby’s bailiwick than mine and I know he has some very practical suggestions .. but then again, who is going to listen? I have found the general reaction in the bridge arena in recent years is the complacency of .. ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it?”

That’s the easy/lazy way out.

Cheers,

Judy

reneJanuary 5th, 2015 at 5:45 pm

Dear Judy:

I keep watching for someone to post an answer? Who is the captain of the ship?

JudyJanuary 5th, 2015 at 5:53 pm

Yes, I found it strange too. With 168,000++ members, SOMEONE must be in the know. Why is everything veiled with such secrecy? I guarantee you if Edgar and Bobby were still active, none of this nonsense would have happened. Who is at the helm calling the shots? Why is it such a secret??? I heard rumors but nothing I can rely on.

LenJanuary 5th, 2015 at 7:19 pm

Masterpoints are a marketing tool. Why do you care who gets them or when or why?

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 5th, 2015 at 9:48 pm

Len:

You must be kidding! If there is one ideal worth saving in this troubled world .. it is CREDIBILITY. Current Masterpoints are comparable to Confederate dollars. They are a farce!!!

Bobby WolffJanuary 6th, 2015 at 1:31 am

Hi Robb,

Please excuse my interlude about joining the discussion to rate bridge players.

Yes, I believe the long ago chief architect of the original masterpoint was Bill McKinney (remember the annual race for the McKinney trophy) about 80 years ago. At that time, long before inflation, masterpoints were hard to come by, and even fractional slips were used (possibly still are) in order to entice others into joining the parade to win them.

Somehow back then, (and I started playing duplicate bridge in the very late 1940’s) they were looked upon with relevance and although back then, the total number of masterpoints held by any one person was not completely compatible with his overall reputation as a player, it was, in a much more sensible manner, a closer and fairer medium than what is thought now.

That was then, but today, and I think with reason, left to only its title of masterpoints, it is almost totally ignored by everyone who has played in the upper strata and is instead, only used as an artificial device to beginners as being worth striving for, with the idea of after accumulation, to be thought of as someone special in our game.

Whatever the reason, yes, masterpoints earned is a worthwhile gauge to many who often play duplicate bridge, and since started, have gone into acceleration, but what the ACBL has turned the chase into, is becoming widely known as total desecration and therefore somewhat laughable.

Never, in Mr. McKinney’s wildest imagination would he have approved such a devaluation similar to a “banana republic” type of country evaluating a current $10,000 bill as worth less than an original $1 bill used to be.

Possible to do for a so-called “marketing tool”, of course, but being a wise thing to do for bridge competition’s future, hardly. Lincoln’s advice about not being able to “fool all the people all the time” immediately comes to mind, and with it comes the realization that those people include that particular reader.

What ever else needs to be said, I don’t know, except that for top or near top players all masterpoint evaluations are meaningless, except for sponsors paying professionals to help win them.

Unless it has morphed into something entirely different, the upper echelon of players only care about what other peer players think of them and, of course, what they know to be true about themselves. Yes, important scalps on the wall do assume a certain value, but we have an impossible task ahead of us if we even begin to allow winning or finishing high in the normal less-than-top tournaments of today as reflecting in almost any manner the worth of a player.

ANWJanuary 6th, 2015 at 1:35 am

Hi Judy,

As we see in the BridgeWinners posting, there is to be a meeting of a new committee to review the ACBLScore matter. Dr Greg Humphries, the Master Coder behind the BW site, is on the committee and I think we will find the level of transparency and information dissemination will much improved.

Watch BW for updates!

Robb GordonJanuary 6th, 2015 at 2:51 am

Just once in my remaining years I am dreaming of attending a 60’s-70’s style Regional:
Tuesday Mixed Pairs
Wednesday Mens’ and Womens’ pairs (or Open and Womens’ if you must
Thursday Open Swiss
Friday Masters’ and Non-Masters’ pairs
Saturday Open Pair Qualifying and Final
Sunday – Flight A B-A-M teams, Fllight B Swiss.

Dream on!

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 6th, 2015 at 4:46 pm

Hi ANW:

It is nice to be back in touch after quite a while and I respect your opinions as your love for (and dedication to) the game are obvious. Very frankly, I have trouble following the ‘she said/he said’ quotes on BW. The reference to a “tech committee” alluded to on BW included the CEO. How can he serve on an impartial committee as I am sure his involvement in the issue is in large measure crucial to all decisions. My eyes are getting crossed from reading all the gibberish so I would appreciate anyone supplying the names of the actual committee members who can supply accurate, unbiased information as to what actually transpired.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 6th, 2015 at 5:06 pm

Good morning Robb:

Your recall of the tournament schedule (way-back-when) was akin to KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid!!!). WHAT’S MORE .. EVERYONE LOVED IT. You could make firm dates, not be worried about qualifying in a run-over event and unavailable to keep your date for the following day. It was really fun — without pressure or event conflicts. Of course, the entries were only about one quarter of today’s card fees .. but I understand our net worth went from 2-1/2 million to over 6-1/2 million. I must be dense, but I still do not fathom the need for today’s plethora. Would love to see an accounting of our annual expenditures. It may explain a lot of things in our changing world.

Robb GordonJanuary 6th, 2015 at 7:15 pm

One of the problems with the current typical schedule is that it is BORING. You have a choice of playing in a series of KOs and Compact (yuck) KO’s against the same 10 or so other teams or playing in a 1 or 2 section pair game with most of the pros siphoned off to the KOs.

ANWJanuary 7th, 2015 at 12:53 am

Hi Judy,

You ask about the composition of the committee. From BW:

“ACBL CEO Robert Hartman announced the formation of a Technology Committee, chaired by him and composed of three members of the BOD, three members of management, and three outside experts. A preliminary composition of the committee was announced in Providence; it appears to have now been finalized. The three board members on the committee are Jay Whipple (District 9), Russ Jones (District 10), and Merlin Vilhauer (District 20), unquestionably the three most technically knowledgeable members of the BOD. The outside experts are Greg Humphreys of Bridge Winners, Uday Ivatury of Bridge Base Online, and Ralph Lipe, a former system architect at Microsoft. The members of the committee from management are Tony Lin, a consultant brought in this year, Ken Horwedel, the project manager on the ACBLscore update, and Bruce Knoll, the ACBL’s Director of Information Technology”

I believe there was a small delay to their first meeting and we will hear something concrete in the next couple of weeks.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 7th, 2015 at 5:37 am

Robb:

I guess it is like different strokes for different folks. Most people find some events more exciting than others. Some want to play in weak fields .. and others happily accept the challenge of playing ‘up’ .. in tougher events against the expert hoi polloi. Since the array of events keep changing, I was curious as to who designs the schedule of events? I would assume it would be the Unit or District where it is being held.

Paul ElsteinJanuary 8th, 2015 at 1:45 am

Judy,

While I agree that scores in the 30s or even high forties should not get masterpoints, I wonder how one would deal with stratification. If at a club game (lets say 1-1000 points and/or open) one or two players are C and the rest are A or B, should the C players be expected to play as well as the A or B players to get masterpoints? Maybe the answer is ‘yes,’ but if so, doesn’t that defeat the whole stratification concept?

Thanks

Ira HesselJanuary 8th, 2015 at 8:43 am

We had our District 16 NAP this weekend
That provided 64 tables morning
64 afternoons
The additional sectional events had 72 table morning afternoon and 8.5 in the evening including 2 in KO

So we had 200 tables plus 8.5 at night

Now in order to accommodate the night the other sessions had to start at 10 and 2:30

Now the top flights consist of the”base if you will of the ACBL. Most os us have been around. We were all playing A when the Lone Wolf was still in our district!

I can speak for many when I say that this is the last vestige of a competitive pair event for the working family men and woman and it is unconscionable to play under this setup.

We have to come in the night before and play at 10 am
Then finishing in a reasonable amount of time to
a/Check scores
b/eat
c/go over the hands
d/ prepare to play next set
In my lectures I expand on the enjoyment of the game by doing the above
“”Don’t mind me ma. i.m only bleeding

Just a couple other things
You had 30 min to make a scoring correction
Flight A, as usual. had no time clocks.
If you are later in the final board the director stands behind declarer, with folded hands and a scowl.
The available food options were “poor”

This has been de rigueur for some time
Nobody who makes these decisions seems to notice.
They mumble something that those at the hotel need to have something to do
What would Walter Lippman say?

Am I missing something?

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 9th, 2015 at 12:02 am

Hi Paul, it’s always nice to read your practical views.

Since I am playing nigh on to sixty years, my memory of scoring and classification is a bit hazy. However, if you loved the game as most of the bridge crazed participants, you played regardless of the superiority of your opponents or the failure to garner a smidgen of a point. I remember how we waited breathlessly for Master Point Night once a month. We’d attract double the amount of players than a regular game. Points (even back then) were something that players set their sights on. However, the more we played and got trampled on, the more we realized how little we knew and it inspired us to seek greater heights.

Let us be candid .. MPs are ludicrous in today’s world .. unlike yesterday when it was a true accomplishment. A perfect example of how naive some players are, just visualize the thousands upon thousands of dollars some of the sponsors shell/ed out) to see their name in lights and are/were not embarrassed to be kibitzed universally on BBO. On the other hand, there were a few exceptions. Some of the newer players may be shocked to learn a few of the early sponsors eventually equalled (or even surpassed) their mentors. Their latent talent was just awaiting discovery which is very exciting.

Forgive the rant. It doesn’t solve the rewards for under average performances, but it certainly portrays the changing times.

JudyJanuary 9th, 2015 at 2:21 am

Ira:

It is not a laughing matter and it seems to be going from bad to worse.
You make jokes of it but I cannot believe our administration (club, unit, district, sectional, regional or NABC) can close their eyes to how discombobulated some of these events have become. I know you were joking .. but I have a difficult time accepting it as de rigueur — which I always associated with elegance and class. But, I’m just a dumb old broad. What do I know?

Ira HesselJanuary 9th, 2015 at 3:30 am

thanks Judy-but I was not joking

Good news is that they made me-a long haired underfed leeping gnome-the head of the district 16 tournament advisory committee for the district and we have made great strides. I fooled them with the scientific method. Helps to have Mike and Eddie have your back.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 9th, 2015 at 3:59 pm

Hi Ira,

Over the years it has been disappointing to learn of (and accept) the realization how many people zero in on their own personal causes either for attention or to nurse their own egos. It has become so revealing by examining what has happened in the world of bridge. Bobby and I salute your fearless efforts to right the ship. We need more bridge devotees like you. It is never too late. Hope springs eternal!

Georgiana GatesJanuary 9th, 2015 at 4:03 pm

I also played in the District 16 NAOP, Flight A. It’s the best pair event that Texas has to offer. There were 26 players in the final. AFAIK, only four were under the age of 60. So we’re not doing particularly well here, either.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 9th, 2015 at 6:37 pm

Hi Georgiana,

It was so exhilarating to hear such a positive appraisal of the District 16 NAOP Flight A. Bridge has diversified itself in countless ways to try and cope with the newer factions which have entered the foray.

It is appalling to read about the vacillating authority of management and the unclear answer as to whom is running the ship; the personal relationships which are intertwined; the non- disclosure of the details of the 1.9 million debacle; how it will be resolved (by committes with obvious conflicts and alliances) … and whatever! No doubt, a change is in order but easier said than done.

I took particular note of the number of players competing in the finals you mentioned and the huge disparity in ages. It does not shock me as Bobby has gone on nonstop about the lack of success of getting bridge into the schools HERE as did Asia and over a dozen European nations. Even with the help of several generous interested parties (including Warren Buffett), the parent organization cannot seem to get it off the ground. Several other marvelous shakers and movers (including Learn Bridge in a Day) have worked feverishly.. but it has made only a dent. Bobby who witnessed its start overseas several years ago, feels teaching the younger set at an early age in a mandatory school curriculum would be the best thing that could happen to bridge to perpetuate it for many generations to come as well as prepare the children for multiple other practical challenges in life.

O.K. Off the soap box .. but worth thinking about.

EllisJanuary 14th, 2015 at 2:08 am

Masterpoints have long been an irrelevant by product of playing bridge. You play they award masterpoints you go home.
The masterpoints in and of themselves are meaningless, they serve as a gauge to compare yourself to a meaningless ranking provided by the overseer of the game. read ACBL.
Or so the great multitude of players who achiever Life Master status when master points” meant something” would have you believe.
However they only become meaningless at the point you realize that becoming a life master or gold life master or even a platinum life master is not a reflection of your ability but a reflection of your longevity.
Up until that point they serve in truth to compare yourself to your peers, and to incentivize the membership to try to achieve more and attain more.
The league have long had a 2 tier system of ranking and now we probably have a third.
We have
1.Masterpoints as a reflection of attendance at higher levels but ability at lower levels.
2.Blue Ribbon qualifications as a reflection of our ability to do well and achieve wins at the regional level(only awarded in events that pay all gold points)
3. Platinum Points and Platinum pairs qualification. ( Awarded for doing well in National events, and for achieving a certain level of consistency in those events).
I understand that newer players look at my masterpoint awards and ask me bridge related questions because in their perception large chunks means true knowledge.
I like that some of the more experienced amongst those look at achievements and ask questions because of those, for those players have an understanding of what those achievements mean.
But true pleasure only comes when a truly great player congratulates you on a good play, defense or bidding position.
And as far as I know Memphis has yet to devise a way to monetize that, although I am sure they are working on it.

JudyJanuary 14th, 2015 at 4:52 pm

Wow, Ellis, that is quite a summation .. and obviously captures the realism of the issue. Apparently, it’s different strokes for different folks.

Your reference to the pleasure received from the receipt of congratulations from a ‘truly great player’ struck a nerve, as you well know as an experienced player yourself, the conception of expertise varies from person to person. You’ve been there, done that. Thus, I would tend to agree with your analysis.

True, there are some up-and-coming players who will one day reach stardom. However, that perception is not achieved until years and years of continually impressive performances. I am in total accord with your acknowledgement of master points as realistically related to attendance records and longevity .. as cruel as that sounds. But, there is much truth in your pronouncement. I have been privileged to be around dozens of the universal ‘crème de la creme’ for over five decades (an advantage of growing old). And, I can testify from up close and personal experience, there is a huge difference between ‘good,’ “great,’ ‘expert’ and ‘world class.’ By the way, I have on occasion witnessed Bobby utter to an opponent .. “great lead,” terrific switch,” or “well played.” etc. and knowing Bobby — it is sincere. The opponents light up with pride!

No doubt, the avalanche of masterpoints is a huge incentive for players to indulge in bridge participation. Bear in mind every coin has two sides. Do not overlook the benefits to the administration such as membership dues (which have gradually skyrocketed) and card fees which are mind boggling (recently noted in the daily bulletin by the additional $10 per person per session if you reach the plateau where screens are employed in the major events at the NABCs). Bridge, as evidenced by some sponsors and phony-baloney expert illusions, tend to fog up one’s windshield.

Sorry for going off on a tangent, but it is important to encompass all the facts!

bobby wolffJanuary 14th, 2015 at 4:57 pm

Hi Ellis,

No doubt, you have nailed what is happening today in awarding master points, and nothing anyone can say will even begin to create a blip as to the efficacy to which you speak. It may evoke a different response by Judy, who is better tuned than I am on the specifics of this subject, but all I can do is offer green lights and blue skies to whatever you both decide.

While Nero (Horn Lake) is fiddling, Rome is on fire. Rather than catering to the High Card Wins set (a game which doesn’t come close to matching the world’s highly intellectual game), our parent organization, the ACBL, has set their cap on keeping the low levels of our game alive rather than guarantee such a thing by the simple expediency of working day and night (and, if necessary, every minute in between) to secure bridge being taught in our early schools like what is now being done in China (200,000,000) students on a daily basis and for the whole primary educational system for the last twelve years. Besides, double digit countries in Europe have followed suit. Europe accumulates the comments by both teachers and students, many of whom were totally unfamiliar with the game when the teaching started). The notices are nothing less than raves in favor of both the ethics taught alongside the off-the-charts challenges which, I think we all might agree, our troubled world might greatly benefit with that much respect.

The money accumulated in our treasury (6 1/2 million now instead of 2 1/2 million when I was on the BOD) dictates caution that it eventually, if not sooner, will get stolen, or if not, only manifest itself with higher salaries to be paid for by the average bridge player himself. This being the information age should give the ACBL a need to not have so much staff, rather than the opposite view of earning more money to distribute around.

To accomplish that would keep bridge on the map world wide (together with much of Europe and all of China) and then eventually crawling into other less populated bridge populations making it eventually an Olympic sport which should not then be denied.

Ellis, if you were running a business (and you probably have had that experience) would you worry about giving Master points away rather than getting first things first and ensuring what needs to be in front of our nose, bridge, the high level kind, to be perpetuated forever or at least, as far as the eye can see.

Although I, or anyone else, could go on and on about such a necessity how can we sit here and not devote all our energy toward such a task, unless there are other agendas having to do with failure of getting bridge in the schools or other misplaced goals which only serve to obscure what needs to be like neon lights in front of us.

Our professionals are of little help since financial times are now difficult world wide and making a living takes all their time away — although I am giving them the best of it and making excuses, for which I should know better.

Horn Lake should be led by someone who is vitally interested in protecting our great game — not the High Card Win set, although they are also important in providing a feeder group from which some top level players sometimes emerge. However, to think that the above goal isn’t what is important is totally ostrich-like and may serve to be the Western Hemisphere’s undoing.

Good luck in what you and Judy are discussing, but in the meantime it might help to join in the crusade to help getting bridge in our schools on a regular basis and the sooner the better.

Thanks for listening!

EllisJanuary 14th, 2015 at 7:21 pm

Dear Bobby,
Although I agree with all of your principles( and just looking at the achievements of the school and junior programs of countries like Israel and Holland) who could disagree.
China scares me, there are far too many stories coming out of what I might call, to be kind, inconsistent ethics.
Plays made to ensure team mates and country mates win at all costs, that one might begin to feel the expansion into the east will bring more long term problems than it solves.

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