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All comments by Jeff Bayone
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I polled several of the young (under 30) pros here at Honors. All but one got their start from family. One from a high school extra credit course.
My Italian contingent tells me bridge is doing just as badly among young people there as it is doing here.
May 4, 2018
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“Withered on the vine” A.J.
Notice how frequently words to that effect filter into almost every conclusion by people who were on the front lines.
Even in successful programs that last a few semesters there doesn't seem to be evidence that these kids follow through and become regular players, let alone ACBL members.

Need we remind everyone of the definition of crazy?

The idea of developing kid's programs in schools throughout the country sounds so right. Practically a no-brainer. But, when put into practice, turns out to be so wrong. That's why scientists test their hypothesis. That's why sociologists do huge real life studies.

I submit that in the past thirty years we've run enough experiments to put this one to bed for the time being and focus our limited resources where they may do the most good.

Where that is, is another question.
May 4, 2018
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I posted this on another thread:
The third grader will see her aunts, uncles, and grandparents playing, talking about, and enjoying bridge with family and friends. When she grows up she will remember those times, call the club and start the conversation that way, with remembrances.

Realistically, the only way bridge in schools will work is if the entire system supports it. The volunteers, the ACBL, the schools, the parents, the underpaid professional teachers, all have to have a stake in it.
Not impossible, but close.
We've tried repeatedly (40 years) to keep school based programs going in NYC schools. They have all fallen apart for one reason or another. As far as I know, no one currently is even attempting to get bridge into the classrooms. The last attempt looked like we finally had a shot. A bridge playing principal of Hunter High School, one of the best in the city, reached out to us, got funding from somewhere, hired our recommendation, got volunteers and had a successful start. Two years into the program he was transferred. The incoming principal decided, for whatever reason, to cancel the program. End of story.
Everyone has to buy into it. Even people not currently involved. Not impossible, but close.
May 4, 2018
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The third grader will see her aunts, uncles, and grandparents playing, talking about, and enjoying bridge with family and friends. When she grows up she will remember those times, call the club and start the conversation that way, with remembrances.

Realistically, the only way bridge in schools will work is if the entire system supports it. The volunteers, the ACBL, the schools, the parents, the underpaid professional teachers, all have to have a stake in it.
Not impossible, but close.
We've tried repeatedly (40 years) to keep school based programs going in NYC schools. They have all fallen apart for one reason or another. As far as I know, no one currently is even attempting to get bridge into the classrooms. The last attempt looked like we finally had a shot. A bridge playing principal of Hunter High School, one of the best in the city, reached out to us, got funding from somewhere, hired our recommendation, got volunteers and had a successful start. Two years into the program he was transferred. The incoming principal decided, for whatever reason, to cancel the program. End of story.
Everyone has to buy into it. Even people not currently involved. Not impossible, but close.
May 4, 2018
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Even if we do get a child involved in bridge in 3rd grade, she'll probably stop playing when she turns twenty something and life takes over.
Twenty years ago, building for the future made more sense then it does today. Today we need to build for the present or there may not be a future.
Empty nesters should now be our target audience. They have the resources, the time, and the interest. Someone in their late forties, early fifties still has a lot of life left in them.

As to whether or not these late recruits will develop into tournament players, I can only talk from experience. While Honors does not push our players to move from social bridge into duplicate, many do. Once there they are as apt to play at the Regional level as any of our other players.
May 3, 2018
Jeff Bayone edited this comment May 4, 2018
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Kids will become active players in thirty years. We need a shot in the arm now. Let's try putting our very limited resources where they will have a chance to do the most good. We should be advertising in every issue of AARP. I got my first copy the day I hit 50. AAA might work too. Every web-site dealing with health is fertile ground. A healthy mind in a healthy body.

Most of all we need to market ourselves to those adults who are looking for a fun, exciting, and challenging experience. We must not downplay the mind sport aspect of our game. Bingo it is not. Nor is it canasta. We only need to reach a tiny fraction of the adult population to sustain us. Maybe 10,000 a year. Surely there are that many intellectually curious people out there. They just need to know we are out there for them.
May 3, 2018
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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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