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COMPETITIONS AND CONVENTIONS COMMITTEE REPORT

 

Bob Ciaffone

The ACBL Competitions and Conventions Committee (C & C Committee) meets at every national bridge tournament. I was able to attend the Chicago meeting of this body as a guest. There were some subjects discussed that have been recently given a lot of attention on the Bridge Winners website. I will tell you what happened at the meeting on two of these subjects.The Reisinger Tournament is a board-a-match team event which is the highlight of the Fall Nationals. A list of the winners over the years reads like a who’s who of bridge. Unfortunately, that form of scoring is hardly ever used anymore, and this event does not command the same amount of interest as the Spingold or Vanderbilt events, which are scored by IMPs. The ACBL has come around to the opinion that due to the big promotion of a dying form of bridge, attendance to the Fall Nationals is down, especially near the end of the tournament, and this reduction in attendance is costing the ACBL a lot of money. A downgrading of the tournament was discussed, but it was felt that awarding fewer master-points and using an abbreviated schedule would change the whole character of the event. I am not sure when this contest will be officially moved into oblivion, but as long as the ACBL feels that it is losing big bucks by continuing any further with this event, it appears to be doomed.My main reason for attending this meeting of the C and C Committee was to support the reclassification of transfer responses to a natural 1C opening bid from Mid-chart to the General chart. I was treated very hospitably by the committee members, who allowed me to speak for a long enough time period to make my case for this change in classification, and we had a lively interchange of ideas and reasoning. I explained what a drag it is on a bridge player like myself who likes sectional and regional tournaments to be confined to playing my favorite system at only one or two events (if that much) at bridge tournaments. No one disputed the technical value of using this type of transfer, but I found some opinions about it that I believe were mistaken. Let me explain.One worry about allowing transfer responses is that they will be used as a tool for using weak hands to disrupt the opponent’s bidding. The fact is that nearly all systems using this method are playing “conditional transfers,” where the acceptance of the transfer is made only if opener has support for responder’s suit. This means you will be in trouble if you transfer on a hand that is too weak to respond to a 1C bid playing normal bridge and opener does not accept the transfer. As usual, the opponents may not be as dangerous as your partner if you bid on attenuated values!Transfer bids are not a tool that is designed to interfere with your opponents. Your opponents actually have more choices than offered to players using standard methods. It is a descriptive system, not one especially designed to be more effective in disrupting the opponent’s communications.It was pointed out to me by one of my opponents that the use of transfer bids by players using a Big Club system were probably playing a deal that they had the majority of high-card strength, whereas the natural one club players were more likely to have a competitive auction. I pointed out to him that in March of this year the C and C Committee voted to allow transfers after overcalls, which automatically make it a competitive auction, so his argument could no longer be used anymore.The committee person who has been opposing this reclassification the longest is Jeff Meckstroth. He gave his opinion for the umpteenth time on this subject; no. He was not pushy about it, and we did not have enough time to get into the particulars of his objection. He has a long record of upholding the newer and weaker players so they are not taken advantage of. My opinion is it is long past the time when transfer bids were new to bridge, and few inexperienced players in the 21st century are intimidated by them.At the insistence of Danny Sprung (who successfully plays the 1C transfer system with his wife JoAnne), a formal committee vote was finally held on switching transfers of a natural 1C opening bid to the General Chart. The result was a 4-4 tie (with a number of C and C Committee members abstaining) so the status quo remains. What to say? I was disappointed to have come so close and failed. However, this is a great improvement over no vote at all or losing by a lopsided amount, the only two things that have occurred prior to now. It certainly looks like we will have a good chance in a year or two.As for myself, I intend to do whatever I can to promote transfer responses after a natural 1C opening. How do you make the game of bridge more attractive to young people when you hold back the technical development of superior bidding methods?

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