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All comments by Mike Cassel
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Even KTxx of hearts might tilt toward 3N at imps. Vulnerability, undisclosed here, would make a difference as well in the sense that the preemptor might have an entry outside. I think partner rates to have something in diamonds. This would be a good one for a simulation.
You'd have a real challenging bidding problem with one more diamond and one less heart.
April 10, 2012
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If you google ‘kokish-kraft’ ‘reverse flannery’ you will find some systemic followups. I like the idea of 3C over 2S as an ask for further description of shape so that the responder can show 5-5 hands and/or 6-4 shapes as well as 3 card support for opener's minor (this is not part of the Kokish followup). We use 2N to get out in 3 of opener's minor, or if opener follows up with 3M, as the start of a slam try in the major.

I would certainly appreciate hearing from experienced RevFlannery partnerships what the best continuations are.
April 1, 2012
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Playing ‘system on’ over penalty doubles of weak Notrumps I transfer to hearts particularly if the balancing double can show slightly lighter values. On a good day partner has the values to make a super accept and you get to a game when possibly 1NX is only fetching +300. I'd like to get back to ‘the field’ rather than be at the craps table. If partner has no extras I'll take my chances that they still won't find their possible spade fit.
In the Silver Ribbon Finals we played 1NX to reach a best result possible for +100, when +110 was available in spades. +110 was worth 44x on a 77 top and +100 was 28x. Bd.14
I think this is a hand where passing might be dangerous. I like to defend 1NX when it's more clear we SHOULD be defending.
March 28, 2012
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I like the idea of making an insufficient bid here as the hand has nowhere near the defensive strength for an opening 1 bid. lol Might start with 3H if i needed to mix things up. If by some mistake i put a 1H bid on the table I wouldn't dream of bidding again unless forced to. How many lies do you want to tell? LTC evaluation makes an opening 2H viable, but the offense-defense ratio is out of whack. Would you not be better placed to listen to others' descriptions before your own misdescription?
Feb. 28, 2012
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never had a 10 card suit, but doubt that the opponents would be playing any contract if i had one. at favorable vulnerability i think 6C opening bid might be ‘the ticket’… rule of 500?!
Feb. 22, 2012
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you might want to add that you are red vs. white
Feb. 20, 2012
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from Margot Hennings to Special Events Task Force members 2/10/12
Congratulations! Did you know that collectively we all are the GNT/NAP/Special Events Task Force for 2012? Assuming you all are willing to serve, that is J. And, I am your Chair! The committee is comprised of ACBL BOD members—Bonnie Bagley (D17), Georgia Heth (D8), and myself (D6); non-BOD GNT/NAP Coordinators—Mark Aquino (D25), Rich Carle (D20), Mike Cassell (D14), Barbara Doran (D6), Sheila Pies (D9), and Paul Pomeroy (D12); and ACBL staff—Patty Taylor and Carol Robertson.

Sharon Anderson, our ACBL President for this year, has carefully crafted a series of task forces in addition to the standard BOD committees, to really take a hard look at the way the BOD does business and interacts with its constituents and with Headquarters staff, and to address a number of issues such as this that have come to the forefront of the way the ACBL supports its current bridge programs and events in general.

Speaking to the Coordinators, this GNT/NAP/Special Events Task Force is largely a result of the great effort and energy shown by you all in 2011 with the initiation of your GNT/NAP Coordinators’ Forum in Seattle. As you know, many ACBL Board members attended that Forum and lobbied for a BOD “committee” to work with the Coordinators to help make their desired actions happen in Horn Lake and to present formal motions to the Board later this year for policy changes, if appropriate.

Sharon eagerly agreed and expanded the concept to include a look at ALL special events held by the ACBL, from Junior Month to Club Appreciation Month and everything in between. I know the non-BOD members are more interested at this point in focusing on the initiatives that are just getting started on the GNTs/NAPs, so I am looking to the three BOD members—Bonnie, Georgia, and myself—to get the ball rolling on the issue of Special Events in general and other Grass Roots Events in particular. However, these concepts are all really closely linked. For example, the purpose of this Task Force is to:

· Explore new grass roots events/strategies and
· Recommend programs that encourage participation in bridge both at the local level and in tournaments/NABCs,

A strategy to create a Grass Roots Event Fund Month similar to the Junior Fund Month—something proposed by the Coordinators in Seattle—is a great initiative that will serve both purposes.

Following Seattle, the Coordinators put out a list of action items they wanted to work on/needed help with and I have attached that list, which now has highlighted rows to represent the progress that has been made to date and what remains to be accomplished. Of most interest to this Task Force right now, is the follow-up meeting of the Coordinators at a Forum on Saturday morning, March 17, to which all interested parties including other BOD members, are invited. Our challenge before Memphis, given the approximately four weeks we have between now and when the BOD meetings start on the 12th, is to figure out how we want to approach looking at the entire set of so-called Grass Roots Events the ACBL currently “supports,” what changes/re-structuring if any we want to propose, what we can do to help the Coordinators given their specific goals, and how we can organize our approach to presenting our ideas at that March 17 meeting.

To this end, I would like to suggest two “meetings”:

· A telecom, optimally sometime the week of February 20, at a time that would allow participation by most if not all of us, and
· A face-to-face meeting on Thursday afternoon, March 15, at 3 p.m.

I know this second meeting will interfere with bridge play that afternoon and at future NABCs, I will do my best to avoid this, but for this first time, I would like to ask anyone who has not yet made plans to play that cannot be broken, to please try to be available in Memphis by that time Thursday the 15th. I also realize that some of the non-BOD members of this Task Force, given the late notice about this meeting, might not be able to make it that day due to schedules that keep you from being able to arrive that early and/or because you have already made travel arrangements that cannot easily/inexpensively be changed. I think it is very important that we have at least two opportunities to talk together before the Coordinators’ meeting Saturday the 17th. And, we will have the benefit at our March 15th meeting of the previous Monday’s discussion by members of another new (BOD-only) Task Force that will be looking at New NABC Events, with an emphasis on how to entice regional players to attend NABCs. Bonnie and I are on that committee, too, along with Bob Heller (D7) as Chair, and Merlin Vilhauer (D20) and Suzi Subeck (D13). This group promises to have good synergy with our Task Force.

Two documents that will help us as we move forward in our thinking are attached:

· The aforementioned Coordinators’ Action Item List, and
· A list of all Special Events (“Grass Roots” and otherwise) provided by Patty

My personal opinion is that we should strive for a tight, comprehensive “package” of initiatives and motions for the whole BOD as needed, but not expect everything to be enacted all at once. Most important is to show that we are thinking about the whole picture and not just a piece of it. The BOD has rightly commented that we too often vote on something that seems like a good idea and then those darned “unintended consequences” show up that we probably would have thought of, had we taken a bit more time in the first place to think through what we were voting on, however much of a good idea it might have seemed to be at the time. We cannot take this approach as a reason for NOT moving forward, however, and I welcome all of your thoughts as to how we can best accomplish developing a long-range strategy as well as a set of measurable objectives to put in place within the next month, before the Summer NABC in Philadelphia, and by the start of the next NAP and the next GNT qualifying periods, recognizing that the Conditions of Contest for these latter events may be such that REAL changes cannot occur sooner than the 2012/2013 cycle.

Thanks very much for your help and your presumed enthusiasm for this Task Force. I am excited and I hope you are, too! …..–Margot
Feb. 12, 2012
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from Mark Aquino in advance of the Seattle GNT/NAP Coordinator forum
Mark Aquino, the GNT Coordinator for D25 attended the Toronto Board of Governors meeting. The Board asked the ACBL Board to reconsider it's decision to not waive entry fees at the summer NABC for the GNT finals. He has coordinated with Rich Carle from D20 to help us gather in Seattle to address common concerns for the grass roots events. I've offered this blog as a forum to share information.

My name is Mark Aquino, and I've been both NAP and GNT Coordinator for New England District 25 for more than 10 years. Over the past 30 years, I've also occasionally represented my district at the National finals in both the GNT and NAP in Open, A, and B flights. I further want to thank Rich Carle from D20 (Oregon and Northern parts of CA and NV) for his gracious offer to help arrange a meeting of us all in Seattle. I'm going to be temporarily in Cincinatti for my day job between Labor Day and Thanksgiving and I certainly need and welcome this assistance. In Seattle, I'm interested in our reviewing:

1) What each and every district is doing to provide incentives and subsidies for the NAP and GNT beyond what the ACBL currently offers?
a) What works and what doesn't work?
b) How can we best work together to improve this?

2) What kind of marketing and promotional activity is currently being done. a) Is there anyway we can piggyback on each other rather than re-create the wheel 25 ways across the ACBL
b) Is there anything the ACBL can do to help us more? I've long been annoyed that District finals of GNTs and NAPs were not afforded the same visibility as other Regionals. I'm also annoyed that the ACBL hasn't found a way to publicize the schedule for club NAP games and, if applicable, club and unit qualifying GNT games. 3) What are the different Conditions of Contest for GNT and NAP in each District?
a) Is there any way we can make these more uniform?
b) Is there anything the ACBL can do to help simplify and standardize CofC's?
c) Can we establish a list of items that must be incuded in each CofC?
d) Can we have standard playing arrangements and qualifying rules for x number of teams?
e) Can we have standard tie-breaker rules?
f) Can we get some clarity around what exactly the ACBL process is for reviewing and approving our Conditions of Contest?

4) How many pairs and teams have been participating at the club, unit, and district level over the past 5 years?
a) If we don't have easy access to this info, how can the ACBL help us obtain this?
b) How can this info be easily stored and made visible by the ACBL?

I hope I have hit upon some themes and issues that are common to us all, and I hope I've sparked some new ideas as well.
Feb. 12, 2012
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Paul, your comments are valuable for serious partnership discussion in obvious forcing pass situations, but this is not one of them. Even if partner made a negative double over a 3S WJO i'm not sure that a forcing pass is established.

For casual partnerships I'm in favor of following a GAAP approach I like to play that slower sequences to any destination (a corrolary to the principle of fast arrival) show better hands, so I guess i don't understand why 5H directly, rather than after a 4N takeout, should be stronger.

In forcing pass situations you have 3 routes to 5H, including the pass and pull of a double, but only two otherwise. My ‘pull’ to 5H after 4N for takeout is a stronger sequence.

Being on the same page is the ticket. Meckwell Pass-Double Inversions, DSIP (do something intelligent partner),and other forcing pass treatments would make a great topic for more discussion
Feb. 7, 2012
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Partner is willing to undertake a 3 level contract opposite a very much weaker hand than the one I hold. I intend to correct 5 of either minor to 5H and that should clue my pard into a higher contract if he has good hearts and a pointed suit Ace or other suitable values (xx Kxxxxx Axx Qx). He knows my spade shortness based on his length. Would a direct 5H be based on the same amount of strength as the proposed slower sequence? I'd make the opponents make the last guess by bidding 5H with x Axxx Qx AKTxxx
Feb. 6, 2012
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When I check the opponents' convention card for their leads and signaling I am always glad when Smith echoes are not checked. West is never leading spades again if East denies spade interest.
To that end I'm wondering if playing on diamonds first isn't best. Another reason to play the SJ first. If the J does hold then E might be inclined to fly DK to return a spade.
Feb. 6, 2012
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call me a heretic but I am not enamored of jump rebids of the y suit as slammish. i think there are far more hands that are weaker where strain is important. so, for my partnerships:
1x 1y 1z 3y is an invitation with a pure hand, no more than 1.5 losers in the y suit
1x 1y 1z 2c 2d 3y is an invitational hand with 6y but the values are scattered.
1x 1y 1z 2c 2d 2y shows 5y or possibly 6y with a very weak suit. I have had good results with plus scores in 2y when all other pairs are at the 3 level with poor fits and shaky values

Also, many players have two routes to 2N but I prefer only x y z 2c 2d 2n
In my partnerships x y 1n 2n is a relay to 3c for drop dead, or employing Gavin's treatment with slammish hands with 5y and 4x or 4y and 5x and a singleton in the lower or higher suits. This rarity is useful if you care to add the memory work.

clarify with your partner how you get to sign off in 3C.

I'm sure there are reasons why the standard treatment for 3-level secondary jumps as slammish makes sense, but just as very few pairs play 2n-3n as a transfer or relay, even though it's a better use of useful space, I believe it's very easy to have a gear slip and forget that a 3 level rebid is not invitational.
Jan. 12, 2012
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5 days seems right to me. 3 events concurrent: unlimited, 0-10,000(max 60K avg./6person team), 0-2,000
2 days of seeded brackets to qualify 8 teams for KO play.
Concentration levels required are so high that 52 boards/day seems high for lower brackets.
Consolation (plate) brackets for nonqualifiers with high enough reduction factor to discourage dropouts into other events.
agree in principle that BRP should be first 4 days with mr. shuster that final day of BRP should be 1 section: 28pairs., semifinal day 78pairs?, day 2: 156 pairs
and with drewsky that semifinalists of Sr. KOs should be able to drop into Reisinger day 2, with Reisinger semifinal losers able to drop into NASwiss on Sat.
Jan. 5, 2012
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The CQ and C9 are equals as you lead the third club. how can you be sure the suit is divided 3-3?

I greatly enjoy and look forward to your bridge movies. Thanks very much for sharing your expertise. These instructionals are one of the reasons that is possibly the best online resource around for dedicated players.
Dec. 18, 2011
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News flash from Seattle

The ACBL Board breaks from tradition of honoring board tenure to elect Sharon Anderson as the new Board President.

Our District 14 Board rep. is eminently qualified to help move the ACBL forward and I am more than mildly surprised and encouraged by the Board vote. I am hopeful that

If the ACBL Board can focus more on policy decisions for our future and delegate more of the minutiae to task forces and committees with representation from multiple constituencies (I'm thinking about GNTs of course)we can move from the piecemeal approach to management to one based more systemically.

Mike Cassel
D14 GNT Coordinator
Nov. 20, 2011
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I'd appreciate comments parsing the circumstances where opener splinters directly vs. making a jump raise with shortness. also the implications for pairs who play serious vs non-serious 3N when responder's major is spades and 3N is the relay step.

In my mostly casual partnerships a splinter bid can be employed if you have first or second round control in side suits so that opener might have splintered in both of the example sequences leading to wastage discovery in the first and probable slam attainment in the second
Oct. 28, 2011
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Boards 11-16 in the 5th segment were huge for USA-2 where pressure bidding (spade barrage on 11), precision system bidding triumphs on (14 & 16) combined with a triumphant Ace underlead by Joel (16) produced 33 imps. I am hoping to hear more about the 6N contract on board 15, where Weinstein had a chance at squeezing his RHO in spades and diamonds.
It is a vicariously thrilling to watch bridge at the highest levels.">
Oct. 26, 2011
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a second position paper regarding the GNT Fund Raiser Game

The ACBL and the GNT Fund Raiser Sanction
The GNT Fund Raiser game is a relatively unknown and largely unpublicized ACBL benefit that offers districts additional sectional-rated games to benefit their GNT teams:

A district may permit each club within its area to hold one sectional-rated event for as many game sessions as the club has sanctioned as a fundraiser for the Grand National Teams or the Canadian National Team Championship. Each district sets the amount its clubs remit to it, to a maximum of $6.00 per table.

“The GNT fund-raiser event can be run as a pair game, team game or can use any special format that will encourage players to participate. ”

Last year, 2010, ACBLScore reports identified only 99 GNT Fund Raiser Games with 932 tables in play in 11 districts.

District 14 has used the GNT Fund Raiser sanction to offer a full sectional rating in our standalone Consolation Swiss during our GNT District finals. Special Events required that we receive both unit approval and permission from any clubs within 25 miles of the game location holding sanctioned games during that day of the week. In the last year we've been encouraging clubs throughout the district to schedule Fund Raisers to help our district champions offset NABC expenses.

If the ACBL's intent, as evidenced by stating “any special format that will encourage players to participate” is meaningful, then it is counterproductive to require a club to use it's Fund Raiser sanctions only in the time slots of it's regularly sanctioned games. I have advocated this year, without success, that freeing the use of the Fund Raiser Sanction from a specific weekly sanctioned time slot will allow club managers to reward directors who run GNT qualifiers, and to schedule the Fund Raiser events when they will maximize masterpoint awards for their players in time slots when players won't object to an additional $1-$1.50/player entry fee.

ACBL management has stated that it's terminology “for as many game sessions” really means “during” as many game sessions” and has decided that you cannot hold more than one Fund Raiser per year during your club's biggest weekly game when you'd benefit the most players, offer the most masterpoints, and raise the most money. Special Events stated it would take ACBL board action to unhook the Fund Raiser sanctions from their assigned time slot in the week to make them available to a club to use as they see fit. Therefore…

Item 121-??? GNT Fund Raiser Sanctions
It is moved that the handbook of Rules and Regulations re. the GNT Fund Raiser event, Chapter 4, Section Five, IX. A. be amended to read:

A district may permit each club within it's area to hold as many fundraisers for the GNTS or CNTCs as it has sanctions using any special format and at any time that will encourage players to participate. Each district sets the amount it's clubs remit to it, to a maximum of $6.00 per table. A club who wishes to schedule a Fund Raiser during a time slot for which it has no weekly time slot, or more frequently in one of their sanctioned time slots, must get permission from any club within 25 miles holding it's own sanctioned session during that weekly time slot.

If the ACBL does it's part to promote these sanctions, and lets the clubs use them to everyone's best advantage, we will have achieved a win-win for all concerned.

Mike Cassel
District 14 GNT Coordinator
October 20, 2011
Oct. 24, 2011
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Grand National Teams Coordinator's Forum, November 2011
A Call for Action

Tweaking the Grand National Team event by an ongoing series of motions to the ACBL board three times/ year is a poor substitute for a coherent and comprehensive recasting of the event.

Actions at both League policy level and local clubs can turn the GNT event into a marketing success as a gateway to tournament and NABC participation from players who are not currently ‘tuned in’ to the excitement of opportunities beyond the club level.

I hope the GNT/NAP Coordinators forum in Seattle can lead to a task force that will give GNTs a well-deserved makeover.

A GNT Coordinator's handbook needs to be developed. It should include a collection of best practices currently employed by districts to build excitement and participation across the league. The handbook should include links to district contest conditions. All the better if the handbook is dynamic with the capacity for frequent online updating.

I believe the GNTs should be reworked as an event targeted for club players who might become tournament players, and amateurs rather than professionals. The most intriguing proposal to date for discussion in Seattle is to start the national GNT finals for the Championship Flight on Day 1 of the Spingold, Wagar, & Senior Swiss. Very few Championship Flight participants who are not full-time players compete in these events. Changing the start date would have a dramatic, and positive, effect on team composition across the country in the top flight. This, I believe, lies at the heart of the ‘dis—ease’ at the top of the event, a structural deficiency that filters through the rest of the event where only a few districts field enough teams to pay 4 overall places. The domination by the squads of a few districts dampens the enthusiasm of potential top flight players to even bother participating in their district. The schedule change would open a number of district competitions and the event as a whole.

Very few districts come up with a large enough subsidy to cover travel and hotel costs at a NABC. What incentive is there for amateur teams to bother to pay for a trip only to lose in an early round to a team of mostly full-time players. This proposal would excite our best casual players, who have contributed $1,000s of dollars to accrue their 5,000+MPs.

A s a second action to reignite interest and participation in the GNTs, the ACBL board should authorize funding mechanism(s) that will result in players having a tangible incentive to participate. The ACBL can then bolster current district subsidies, so that district GNT champions could find themselves winning a trip to the nationals instead of only winning the right to pay for one.

The impetus for the GNT Coordinator's forum was the BOG discussion re. the ACBL vote on waiving entry fees at the NABC for GNT district champions. Some of the Nay votes on waiving entry fees for GNT district champions at the NABCs were based on the ~$32,000 cost; there being no revenue stream to cover the expense. This structural deficit could be met by any number of means such as designating a fund month, like we do for the international fund and junior fund. Units could run 2 regionally rated games at sectionals (112-58) with $4/table to go to the “grass roots” fund. Resultant table fees would give the ACBL the resources to supplement districts' GNT subsidies. Pairing NAP & GNT events via a “Grass Roots Fund” would provide district champions in both events a prize trip to the NABCs with a significantly higher reward.

With a “grass roots” fund month, districts would then have more reason to encourage club and unit qualifying events , which would bring more visibility at the club level, more table fees to the ACBL and districts, and return the GNTs to its original purpose as a grass-roots event that starts in the clubs ending with a free trip to the Nationals for district flight champions. One need only look at the explosion in table count at the World Series of Poker after online sites and casinos began sponsoring satellite tournaments offering winners a $10K entry to Las Vegas to see the advantage of offering players a chance to win something of real monetary value.
Oct. 17, 2011

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