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All comments by Jeff Bayone
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Good. The devil is always in the details isn't it?
Let's get working on it. No time to lose.
May 13, 2018
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Back in the 1970's, when I started my first club, weekends were very popular times for club play. We had huge Friday evening sessions. Saturday and Sunday evenings actually supported modest sessions of their own. Since then, tournaments have proliferated and weekend play is down to where few clubs hold games on even one of these sessions.
So yes, tournaments have hurt. Fewer might help weekend attendance. Fewer might make them feel more special. But I find that players have become more selective as to which tournaments they choose to attend. This year, for example, our District's two Spring Regionals were held two weeks apart. Attendance at the first, the other Unit's Long Island Regional, the one that just passed, even though it had been moved closer to the city, seemed to have only a slight affect on our attendance this time.

Fewer tournaments may increase weekend play, may increase weekday play. Revenue sharing will increase attendance at tournaments.

My other idea for revenue sharing, when it comes to building new players, would increase attendance at tournaments and even at clubs that do no teaching….A rising tide…

Clubs now pay the League for the right to issue Master Points.

Tournaments should pay the clubs for the right to use the members that clubs create.

Clubs that do not teach and do nothing to help develop future players, should pay clubs that do create players, for that same reason.

It should be. as Bahar so aptly pointed out at the Philly DOG meeting, a bottom up organization.

The health, and maybe the very survival of the League, depends on healthy, vibrant centers of learning. I see no discussions along these lines. Till I do, all we'll be doing, all our BOD will be doing, is rearranging deck chairs and waiting for the inevitable.
May 13, 2018
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Mr Lehman (from 9 hours ago),
The Honors canoe I'm in works just fine. Everyone paddles in the same direction. We don't have people within the club pulling against us. Outside forces, yes. Internal ones, no.

Teachers, tutors, supervised play instructors, special event managers, volunteers, and novice directors all work in tandem to move the budding player along. Some students end their journey at the social supervised play level, some at the duplicate level.

Let's continue the analogy. Unfortunately, our canoe constantly gets attacked from Sectionals, Regionals and Nationals all trying to pull our nurtured and carefully developed players away from us.

Now these tournaments are a double edged sword. On the one hand they bring a heightened excitement to the game. On the other, they are revenue killers.

In order for the canoe to continue to run smoothly, clubs and tournaments must find a way to coexist.

When a club player plays in a tournament, a portion of that club player's entry fee needs to find its way back to the home club.

In one form or another, this will change everything.

Can the tournaments afford to do this? Can they afford to send back 20% of every dollar to some club somewhere in the country?
They can, if their attendance rises proportionately or higher. And why would it? It would because clubs would now be in sync with tournaments. Clubs can actually push their players to leave the fold and try their hand at tournament play.

At the Philly Nationals this past Spring, Honors lost about 150 tables. That's a bottom line loss of about $13,000.

Those players each played, on average, in about four events so each paid 8 card fees or about $200. Let's use that 20% figure. 20% of $200 is $40. About 350 people went to the Nationals. That comes to $14,000.

Instead of resenting when tournaments compete with club play, clubs would go out of their way to try to promote these events. Who wouldn't? They bring in cash, are fun, exciting and stimulating. Even in a break even situation clubs would love to promote tournament play. It adds a new dimension to the bridge experience.

It's a win-win situation for the clubs and the League.

Problem solved.

Now all we need to do is figure out how to drive new students to our clubs.
May 12, 2018
Jeff Bayone edited this comment May 13, 2018
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As has been pointed out on these very pages, yes BoD may be bloated, but what really bothers so many of us, is that so many of them seem to be cut from the same volunteering, Unit or District cloth. Teachers, club managers and owners, people in marketing and promotion are all under represented. How about requiring balance? So many teachers, so many managers, so many board members with marketing skills, so many who even occasionally play in their district's clubs rating point games.

Unit boards have their place. I don't think our founding fathers envisioned that this small group of people would become so ensconced, so powerful, and so devoid of vision.

Where's the Supreme Court when you need it?
May 10, 2018
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The reasons given are spot on. The WWP is no longer an event type of event. The fun was seeing how you did against lots of other players. The booklet appealed to developing players.
As mentioned, we now get that every day from the Common Game.

The event that is still fun is the Instant Match Point Game that offers 1 Gold Point. Even though it is hugely expensive, somewhere around $16 a table, the instant gratification and the chance at Gold are strong selling points.
The problem is, according to the Conditions of Contest, only Open games are eligible for Gold. Many Open players are LMs and are not chasing Gold any more. The ones who are, our 750 players who choose to play in our daily 750 games, aren't eligible. The last time we ran the Instant MP Game, I believe it's been several years now, I took a lot of heat from my Gold Rush crowd who hadn't read the fine print. Open players alone do not come out for this event in sufficient numbers to warrant the $16 cost. This huge additional expense cannot be passed on in total to the players. The clubs must eat a large part of it. The hassle and the cost caused us to drop the event from our calendar.

BTW: I've twice petitioned the League to expand eligibility to 750 players with no success. I approached Bahar, but haven't heard back. In light of present developments, I'm not holding my breath.

Sometimes mother does not know best. Her very grown up independent children just might be better placed to make certain types of decisions.

It is way past time to give the kiddies (us clubs) more control over areas of the Organization that we know a heck of a lot more about than our Board.

The vast majority of BoD members come up through the Unit or District ranks. They are our very valuable and important volunteer core. But selecting every Board member this way leads to a Board heavily weighted in just one or two areas. I'm sure they are very qualified in these areas, but other aspects of our Organization suffer from neglect.

Clubs.
Teachers.
Promotion.
Membership.

If you read the minutes of the last several hundred BoD meetings and count the number of items that involve any of the four areas above, you will see how small a percentage they represent.

I'm with all my BW bloggers who ask that when choosing Board members care must be taken to make sure that, as much as possible, each brings different strengths to the Organization.
May 10, 2018
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We are 165,000 strong. If every one of us, just once a day, makes it our business to be sure to say to someone, “I bet you'd like bridge,” this would come to over 6,00,000 connections a year.
If just one of these connections out of a hundred results in a bridge member being created, this would bring in 60,000 new members the first year. Year two we'd have 60,000 more members singing our praises which would translate to an additional 80,000 members being created in year two.

Whenever we start a beginner's class we make sure to ask each student came to take a bridge course. A huge percent say, maybe not in these exact words, but close, “A friend said they'd bet I'd like bridge.”

Word of mouth is very powerful. Our next CEO should be someone who could inspire our 165,000 members. Who could get them to want to make that one simple connection that will turn the tide completely around.
May 9, 2018
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In NYC if you are a membership club they tax your card fees. We are a simple mama/papa open club. If you have $33, can play bridge, wear little fragrance, and observe our ZT policy, you're welcome.
May 9, 2018
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Somehow I sense that the only way we are going to get enough traction, on a national level, is by empowering our members. Get them not just to spread the word, but to actually introduce the game by giving a first lesson to three or four people.

Honors first bridge lesson can be taught by literally any level player.

Step 1. Shuffle and play. No dummy, no partner.
Step 2. You have a partner.
Step 3. You and your partner predict how many tricks your side will take by dividing the number of HCP in your combined hands by three (40 HCP, 13 tricks). If your side makes MORE than the predicted number, your side wins.
Step 4. Same thing as step 3 except after the opening lead is made, the dummy comes down.
Step 5. Repeat step 4 until time runs out.

If you are working with only one table, try gently making a few observations during and after the play.

That's it. We let bridge do the talking for us.

In NYC that's how Honors tries to grab first timers. If we (teacher, club, game) don't connect immediately, we know the city is out there offering them a million other things they can do with their time.

We have 165,000 members. Just about everyone can follow those five steps. If this starts to pay dividends, I'll tell everyone what we do in lesson 2.
Hint…It's still not bidding.
May 9, 2018
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Yikes. My club couldn't handle that many new students.
So actually all we need is about 15,000 of the 165,00 to spread the word. This looks easier and more doable my the minute.
May 9, 2018
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Make BRIDGE great again.

We have the power to make bridge great again. We have a 165,000 member, very powerful sales force. Powerful because not only are we huge in number, but all of us, each and every one of us, actually believes in, and loves, the product we will be pushing.

My idea is to put our 165,000 members to work. Empower every one of us to make just one, really just ONE, connection a day, every day.
“Funny running into you. Let me tell you a little about bridge. It may just change your life…”

If that happens, if that reaching out once a day and simply telling someone about our game, happens, then, in any given year, this would result in about 5,000,000 connections a year.

If just 3% of those connections show results, just a measly 3%, that would net us 150,000 new students a year. If just one in five of those students take to the game, that would lead to 30,000 new members a year.

If this should happen, then next year there would be 195,000 people charged with making one connection a day. That would be 1,000,000 more connections than the year before….and so on and so on.

Marketing costs..zero.

BTW: As we have learned, just within the last week, the ACBL can easily save $300,000 a year. It seems we already have 25 CEO's. Why do we need an expensive 26th?
May 8, 2018
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That's exactly how I see it.
May 8, 2018
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Ira, unfortunately, therein lies the problem. Units have their own agenda, clubs have theirs, Districts theirs and ACBL theirs. Until the ecosystem is balanced so that we are all working together, I don't see a way forward.
May 8, 2018
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Greg,
I know what you mean. We recently celebrated someone's 100 birthday and did not send pictures for precisely that reason.
You are also half right. The focus of bridge clubs is actually half social and half bridge. After all we are bridge CLUBS.
Clubs, as in communities, as in teaching centers, social centers, centers of learning. As in competitive and noncompetitive. As in retirees and empty nesters and most recently, and in ever increasing numbers, 20 and 30 somethings coming to see what it's all about. It's also about 15 professional players all under 40 being able to earn a nice living while keeping their hand in the game. They work with hundreds of players all enjoying having this wonderful game opened up for them.
Bridge is many things to many people. So are bridge clubs.
May 6, 2018
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I'm just saying, some people think ACBL has been in the sales business all along. The product: master points.
ACBL needs to do better in the marketing business. Marketing bridge. But first, as Steven points out, we need a business plan that will support the marketing plan.
May 6, 2018
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Touche
May 5, 2018
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My partner and I closed the club. I took over managing Honors. I'd say that losing that club turned out to be a good career move after all.
As to big clubs benefiting at the expense of small clubs, I beg to differ. Who spent the money on advertising? Who spent the time, effort and expense hiring teachers, writing new material, teaching tutors how to give make-up lessons? Who developed these players? Little clubs need to teach too. Why should size matter? You can teach just as easily in a small space as in a big space. In fact, you need to find a small space in a big space in order to teach. And if it turns out that big clubs do create more players, wouldn't it follow that a rising membership lifts all clubs?
May 5, 2018
Jeff Bayone edited this comment May 6, 2018
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Randy,
A club opened four blocks from me and charged $10 less. I immediately lost 25% of my business. Went from black to red instantly.
So I do sympathize. However, what if a club is doing a piss poor job and needs to have another club try their hand at it. Should that not be allowed to happen?
Not so black and white is it?
What I'd like to see, and others agree, is a system that allows a club to benefit when a player that club created plays at another club or at any Sectional, or Regional, or National tournament. That would go a long way towards rewarding clubs for helping build our organization. Clubs that do not choose to teach will be rewarded by having students taught by other clubs occasionally play at their establishment and should be only too happy to turn over a modest portion of each of these card fees to the club that developed that player for them. Like monthly table fees, these can automatically be collected by the ACBL. It would be “a piece of cake” according to one programmer I broached this to.
May 5, 2018
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Ellis,
About a year and a half ago the League actually threatened to revoke Honors' sanction over a fairly trivial matter involving rating point awards. It took the intervention of our BoD rep, Al Levy, to stop the madness otherwise they may have actually gone ahead and revoked the sanction of the largest club in the country.
In bridge terms, would that have provoked a Constitutional crisis?
May 5, 2018
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I had expected that by now we would have heard the exact cause of Bahar's firing. These guys must have taken a trick from Mueller's play book.

I get that when dealing with an employee the Board must be very careful for legal purposes. I just wish that we who were involved with Bahar, Jay, and what we thought was the “new direction” Board, could have somehow been brought into the discussion, if only to help mediate whatever it was that may have needed mediating.
Throwing the baby out with the bath water comes to mind.
May 5, 2018
Jeff Bayone edited this comment May 5, 2018
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OMG…Does this mean we will be needing more BoD members?
If we can get to 125, maybe the BoG would take over.
May 5, 2018
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