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All comments by Jeff Bayone
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Empty nesters. That should be our target audience. It is at Honors Bridge Club. We have hundreds of them. More every day. Our attempt at kids' programs have been met with deafening silence. No more. We've thrown in the towel. Not a good business model.

The average age of our students is upper 40's, low 50's. I'm sure other major cities are also finding this to be true. That's who ACBL should be going after. People with the time, the money, and the desire to spend their adult years pursuing something worthwhile, something that will give them a sense of accomplishment, and with it, a feeling of joy.
I would guess that most club owners are mid to late 60 and above. Empty nesters have 30 plus good years left in them. Is that not enough for the average club owner?
May 3, 2018
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Stop with kids already.
Clubs are the engine of growth. Clubs need viable players with time and money to spend. Children do not have the money or the time to devote to bridge and, quite frankly, the average club player would not want to play against them anyway. Even if kids did start at a very young age, when they hit their 20's they would no longer have time to devote to the game for sure. Remember your twenties and thirties. Remember family? Remember career?
Empty nesters are Honors' prize. That's who we attract, that's who we want. Empty nesters in NYC are 45ish with time, money, and the desire to spend their free time on worthwhile pursuits. This is our target audience, always has been, always will be.
I propose we kick the can down the road.
A 45 year old will not reach 73 (ACBL's median age) for twenty-eight years. If we go after this group we will not have to worry about shrinking attendance till about 2040. Let's leave those BoD members to deal with an aging population then.
BTW. Life expectancy will probably be about 120 by 2040.
May 3, 2018
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I concur. However I see no need to split the Board of Directors (although reducing it sounds fair). They have never shown much interest it club , teacher, and membership issues. Splitting the Board would make them…what's half of nothing?
We already have a second board in place. BoD and BoG should be separate but equals in their respective areas.
BoD…finance, fiduciary, tournament.
BoG…clubs, teachers, membership.
May 3, 2018
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Why must we throw the baby out with the bath water? The more lists you're on, the more chances you have to place high on at least one of them.

Master Points are here to stay, whatever else is done. It's worked for 70 some-odd years (Mamula help me out here).

Establish a chess-like rating system, but with this caveat:

Also establish a Lifetime High Rating which can NEVER decrease.
An LHR comes from the best 25 straight games you EVER have.

This caveat allows players to keep their rating, or at least one of them, while giving them the freedom to try to better it.
May 2, 2018
Jeff Bayone edited this comment May 2, 2018
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Steve's on the money. Unless there is a huge groundswell I don't see this happening. I have heard that people are talking about splitting the responsibilities of running the ACBL into two EQUAL Boards. BoD would be responsible for financial, fiduciary, and tournament matters. BoG would deal with club, member and growth issues, not as BoD flunkies, but as equals. Empower the BoG. They represent the clubs, the teachers, the members. BoG subcommittees actually function and get results. BoG members own clubs, teach, own online sites, and play in their local clubs. Can the same be said for BoD members?
May 2, 2018
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Bahar Gidwani - Michelle Wolf.
You hire someone to shake things up and then are surprised and upset when they shake things up.
Like everyone else, I'm just speculating. But if Bahar was “dismissed” for doing what he was hired to do, where do we go from here?
May 1, 2018
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bestebridge.com
Go to honorsbridgeclub.org for a free two-day look see. The tutorials are a must, if only to listen to the marvelous sound of the site's mother, who does the voice over.

We think so highly of bestebridge as a learning tool (for almost every level student), that a six-week subscription comes free with our beginner's course.
April 13, 2018
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Just got back from Rome. We played in a duplicate bridge club on a flatboat that sits in the Tibor. Cool…..Actually it was freezing. 15 degrees Fahrenheit, three inches of snow. Two records for the date. All life is timing.

Italian Bridge is not doing any better than we are at attracting the next generation.
They have an interesting take on master points…I believe they award everyone something. I think they give you a point just for showing up. Barbara and I won a point. No one goes home “broke”, everyone gets something. Amassing points, milestones, achievements, longevity, your imprint in the world. Whatever. What's so different between master points and money? Once we have enough, enough so that we can't possibly spend it all in a lifetime, why don't we stop?

I manage Honors Bridge Club. Last year we had:
19,000 tables of duplicate bridge and 7,000 tables of everything else.

And for the life of me I can't begin to tell you why.
Why, that is, do they play? I've been doing this for over forty years and I still haven't been able to figure it out. Is it the game's innate beauty, the competition, the feeling of success, the camaraderie, the challenge, the food (we have a great kitchen), is it simply a reason to pass the time, or something to challenge one's mind in the hopes of warding off something or other. Or is it simply to amass more and more points? Who knows? When it comes down to it, it's probably a combination of these and other factors. The players themselves have probably long ago forgotten what attracted them to bridge in the first place.

As a club owner I try to identify and provide whatever it is that has them wanting to come back for more of it.

So we offer expert sections, open sections, 750 and novice sections, stratified and handicapped, team games, individuals, pro-am-am-ams, weekend seminars, beginner, intermediate and “advanced” lessons, group and private lessons, STaC, REACH, and oh yes, rubber bridge and supervised practice sessions.

Peg, I wish I only had two kinds of players to satisfy. It would simplify my job. Even if I did, I'd still need to deal with the different types of new players coming into the game. What are they looking for?

As to the whole masterpoint debate…..

In chess, in order to attain the Grand Master rank you need to win against other GM's.
Why not have it be the same in bridge?
If LM is what it is all about, then proliferate points all you want. Just make it hard to earn LM status. Someone winning 2,000 points, but not able to attain LM status, never-the-less has indeed achieved something they value and should be very proud of. To their peers that amount of points means a lot. They were gotten the better of. And that's fine, no it's wonderful. “B” tennis players judge themselves against other “B” players, knowing full well they'd lose love and love against a top “A” player. And they are fine with that. Can't we let that be for bridge too?
To earn the letter, to attain LM status, make it hard, really hard. Make it so, as with chess, you need to compete and score well against other LMs. Define what that score (norm in chess parlance) is, make it really tough, then points be damned.

This way we can begin to celebrate everyone's achievement at every level and stop worrying about the “cheapening” effect of too many points, too many sections, too many events.

If changing the way LM is achieved is a non-starter, then how about creating a new category entirely? That of “expert”. Add a star or something at the end of the ACBL number to indicate “Expert” status, achieved by doing well against your peers. And then points be damned.
March 5, 2018
Jeff Bayone edited this comment March 5, 2018
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First time memberships and creating new ACBL members.

Years ago there was a very reduced ACBL membership for new members only. What Honors did with this was to include it free as part of our “welcome to duplicate” teaching course.
Something happened somewhere and this promo rate disappeared. In it's place was a new $39 membership. That huge jump in price made it too expensive for us to include it, and so we dropped that part of the program. A $7.99 (or thereabout) 3-month trial membership would go a long way toward restoring what I thought was a worthwhile idea. Not only that, if ACBL is planning to return 1/2 or more of that fee to the clubs that signed these newbies up, then the cost for any club to offer these first time memberships would be rather negligible.
Feb. 23, 2018
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Gene,

Bridge clubs have almost no resale value, and unless ACBL is restructured, they never will. Why spend serious money on buying an existing business when for a lot less you can steal it? It's done all the time. Just open a club a little way down the road from a very successful club and charge a lot less until the existing club folds.
Feb. 19, 2018
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Kids and problems, from a duplicate club owner's perspective:

Even if we do manage to reach and teach kids, 4th, 5th, 6th graders:
When will they be ready to play in our duplicate clubs?
When will they have the time, the three hours in a row, needed.
When will they have the ability to concentrate and sit still for those three hours or even want to?
And even if they are ready and able, are you sure our regular duplicate club players will want to play against them? Many are parents and grandparents looking for time off from their little charges, looking for a few hours of adult interaction to break up their busy day.

On the other hand, offering ‘Rubber Bridge’ programs in duplicate bridge clubs may be the answer. Games are of non-determined length, each rubber is over quickly, four hands Chicago style. The kids can play all day at tables by themselves or with their parents or grandparents. They can be rewarded with a new form of Rubber bridge masterpoint. Handicaps can be worked out so kids of different ability levels can comfortably play with one another.

Rubber bridge, for so many reasons, should begin to be embraced by our duplicate clubs and take its rightful place in the organization. Rubber bridge should not be looked on simply as a means to an end, getting them into our duplicate mind sport, but rather as an end in itself. ACBl's mission statement is to promote bridge, not duplicate bridge.

We just need a way to figure out how the League can profit from both duplicate and rubber.
Feb. 19, 2018
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Over the years every club director has learned to recognize dementia. Just the other day one of my regular afternoon players, Nancy, came to me with a perfect example of a demented bid her partner made. Based on my many years experience, I was able to diagnose the absurdity of the bid and concurred.

Clearly an outside source would have to be involved. I'm thinking the insurance industry. They have more to gain here then just about anyone else. How much money would they save if bridge is found to stem the onset of dementia by x amount of time? Offering discounted premiums to their clients if they join and participate in organized bridge at a recognized club or better yet, paying for a bridge membership and paying for a series of bridge classes for their clients might make sound business sense to them.

Don. A new medical wing is absurd. But a new mental health wing…
Feb. 19, 2018
Jeff Bayone edited this comment Feb. 19, 2018
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Yes!!!
This is good news. My first thought was that Robert Mueller has nothing on Bahar when it comes to keeping information close to the vest.
As far as research proposals: How about the one huge ongoing study taking place every day in our clubs?
If it's possible, we begin a study to determine what percent of our regular club players exhibit some measurable level of dementia. Then compare the findings to that of the population as a whole. Going forward, we monitor this same population for signs of on setting dementia and compare that age again with that of the general population.
I'd personally like to know the results of these studies. Wouldn't you?
Feb. 18, 2018
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We need to find a way to appeal to everyone, young, middle, old, because we do. If we can at least reach middle and old with this appeal, let's go for it. It's a start. We haven't been doing so good with young. We can't wait for someone to come up with a campaign that will resonate with them. But, I'm hearing that young people are getting back into games. Who knows?
Feb. 16, 2018
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Exactly my point. If our participation with Alzheimer's is not helping our cause, should we continue our relationship with them, or look elsewhere?
Feb. 16, 2018
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The Alzheimer's Foundation.
It should be a “good cause” for the ACBL to champion. Not so much because it is a good cause, indeed, most of us have been touched by Alzheimer's in one way or another, but because it should also be a good cause for bridge.

Cause bridge participation slows the onset of dementia. Study after study has shown that the simple act of needing to communicate with another human has a positive effect on brain health. Couple that with bridges demands on keeping one's mind flexible to what's being thrown at you during a session, and you've just nailed the description of what a perfect brain healthy activity should be.

My question is, has The Alzheimer's Foundation reciprocated in any way? Have they extolled the virtues of playing or taking up bridge?

If they haven't, I'm for discontinuing wasting our money on them. If they won't champion us, let's find an organization that will.

How about the insurance industry? They have deep pockets and if they believed bridge playing would be helpful to their bottom line, maybe a deal could be struck with them.

There are plenty of good causes out there. It's time we decided on what the meaning of good is.
Feb. 16, 2018
Jeff Bayone edited this comment Feb. 16, 2018
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Jay has received hundreds of comments from the survey he sent to every REACH participant. After he sifts through this we should have a better understanding of why people played, what they expected, what they actually received, and would they do it again or recommend it to a friend.

Clubs need to be contacted too. What do we think the role of REACH is or should become.
Feb. 15, 2018
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We tried a Facebook ad for four months. We offered a $25 discount if you said you came from the ad. No one took us up on it. Not one person. We averaged a little over 70 views a month from the ad or about a dollar piece.
Perhaps our ad didn't resonate. You can be the judge by taking a look at it:
www.honorsbridgeclub.org/fbad.JPG

We are terribly discouraged by this. We've also put ads in a Parent magazine for two straight months, the second was a half page, and got a total of one hit. One.
Word of mouth and our website are the only two ways people reach us. Always has been. Nothing's changed.

As I said in another posting earlier today, The Alzheimer's Foundation and the insurance industry should be our biggest champions because we help prevent the onset of dementia. Each organization has either limitless money or the enormous exposure needed to help us promote our game. Anyone out there with connections?
Feb. 15, 2018
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Tournaments may be suddenly imploding. But we all saw this coming. Our core players are aging out. Clubs see this on a daily basis. 900 of our smaller clubs have completely disappeared. They held on until there were not enough players left to hold a game. They disappeared because they could not regenerate themselves. No new players.

A rising tide.
Create new players.
There are numerous good, solid points made all through this stream.
But if we don't begin to create a ton of new players what it really will come down to is simply fewer and fewer people making up the pie. Our smaller tournaments will suffer the same fate as did those 900 smaller clubs.

Can we use our energies and brains to come up with ideas that will show the world what bridge really is? We succeed at that, they will come.

The Alzheimer's Association and the Insurance industry alone have vast resources. Both should be champions of our game for obvious mental health reasons. Maybe some of you out there have connections or know people who do.
Feb. 15, 2018
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The trick will now be to find what will keep them coming back for more. Honors is working on a rubber bridge format with actual cash rewards. Modest of course, but built into the price. Jay Whipple is working with us on creating a handicap system that will allow weaker players (not beginners Don) to mix with stronger players in a competitive environment.
Feb. 15, 2018
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