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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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Tuesday, November 29, 2011
At the Seattle NABC's
Meeting Room: Sheraton Hotel, Issaquah A & B (located on the 4th floor)

Purpose of meeting:

To provide a forum for GNT and NAP District Coordinators to review and compare current practices, challenges, and success measures.

To develop specific recommendations to improve the ACBL technical, marketing, and administrative support for Grand National Teams (GNT) and North American Pairs (NAP).

To improve the structure and funding of these events throughout the ACBL to make them the premiere grass-roots competitions they were intended to be.


Continental Breakfast 9:30 - 10:00 AM

includes juice, fruit, Danish, muffins and coffee

Welcome and introductions (Mark Aquino, D25) 10:00 - 10:15 AM

Special guests / District Directors, etc.

District NAP/GNT Coordinators

GNT issues 10:15 - 10:45 AM

Compare current district subsidies/participation

Review Board actions on free entry fees at NABC

Proposal by D25 to run GNT Open Finals during Spingold

NAP issues 10:45 - 11:15 AM

Review participation spreadsheets

Proposal by D9 to add 4th NAP Flight

List of Qualifiers - ACBL vs District responsibility

Allow extra Unit Final qualifiers (not required for advancement)

Issues Affecting Both GNT and NAP 11:15 - 11:45 AM

Subsidies and incentives - ACBL/Districts

Marketing and promotional activities

Standardization of District Conditions of Contest

Participation records storage and access

Online District Finals

Summary and Next Steps 11:45- 12:00 Noon
Mark Aquino, D25

Oct. 12, 2011
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GNT NAP Forum - Tuesday, November 29th, 9:30-12:00

Mark Aquino and I would like to invite you to a breakfast meeting in Seattle to discuss how to improve the Grand National Teams and North American Pairs throughout the ACBL to make them the premiere events they should be. Breakfast will be served at 9:30 Saturday November 26th (or Tuesday November 29th), followed by the meeting at 10:00. An agenda and the location will be sent out closer to the date. All District GNT and NAP Coordinators are invited (and should be on the distribution list for this email).

Since we're serving breakfast, getting a firm head count is very important. Please RSVP to me as soon as possible. I'm sure each of you has something important to contribute, and I hope that, if you're in Seattle, you'll attend.

I know GNT/NAP Coordinator is a thankless and often frustrating job. Thanks to all of you for being willing to take it on. Hope to see you in Seattle!

Barbara Doran
District 6 North American Pairs Coordinator
Sept. 26, 2011
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Item 113-159: GNT Entry Fees - Reconsideration

Here is an excerpt of the message:


Submitted by: Board of Governors Date: August 19, 2011

Item 113-159: GNT Entry Fees

Moved that:

The Board of Directors reconsiders Item 112-44 GNT Entry Fees: The ACBL will
waive all entry fees for the NABC final GNT events.

Effective April 1, 2012
Estimated cost/savings: $31,780
Reference: Item 112-44 Toronto Summer NABC

This item provided that the ACBL would waive entry fees for the NABC Final
for GNT events.

The Board of Governors, by a vote of 31 to 8, are requesting that the Board
of Directors reconsider its vote on this issue. It is strongly felt that by
waiving the entry fees the ACBL and its Board of Directors would at least be
symbolically supporting and encouraging this grass-roots event.

Sept. 26, 2011
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link evidently didn't take…

Item 112-45: Modification of C of C for Vanderbilt and Spingold Team Events
Moved that: The modifications suggested by Ron Klinger (as published in the Louisville Daily Bulletin be accepted Modification.pdf (page 6)
Aug. 4, 2011
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A suggestion for a consolation ‘plate’ for the Vanderbilt and Spingold was made in Louisville by Ron Klinger: Modification.pdf and was included in the Toronto journal.

I was told that it was referred to the ACBL Competitions and Conventions Committee for their thoughts.

I believe the idea is sound and I am hoping to incorporate a consolation bracket for the GNTs some day so that district GNT champions can count on the potential for more than 1 day of peer-based KO-type team play.

Would it be a consolation event for Spingold entrants only? If so, what would you suggest as a suitable reduction factor to minimize defections to the other mid-week NABC events: the Wernher, Freeman Mixed BAM, & Fast Pairs.

If not, what would be the top Overall award? I'd guess there'd be resistance to diluting these other scheduled NABC+ events.
Aug. 4, 2011
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response to the GNT/NAP coordinators forum

DON'T GET CARRIED AWAY! Thanks to Mike Hartop, GNT/NAP D1, for his good advice to be careful about the extent to which we might consider standardizing conditions of contest, as the last thing we want to do is change a format that was specifically designed to meet the unique requirements of a particular district. I believe there is a lot of opportunity to eliminate redundant efforts in a number of areas, but we do need to make sure we use common sense.

——-agree completely with district's autonomy to set CoCs. the real q is how to share a district's unique conditions that might benefit everyone. I added a ‘buy-in’ procedure for those who wanted to play in the district final but had not competed previously after reading about another district's buy-in clause. it would be very beneficial to have GNT coordinators forward a link to their district's contest conditions, so we could have access to each other's efforts.

PLEASE UPDATE ATTACHED GNT SURVEY Thanks to Mike Cassel, GNT D14. for providing us with the results of a survey that was done by Warren Cederborg, who was the D22 GNT Coordinator in Sept. 2009 at the time of the survey. I would ask all to review and update as appropriate the info provided prior to our November meeting.

——-i certainly would be interested in updated info from everyone

WE NEED A PLACE TO STORE INFO! Mike Cassel points out the need for a centralized repository for this and other documents, reports, results, etc. that our group might want to refer to from time to time. This is one of the areas that I have asked Patty to look into, and something we will need to follow up on within the next week. Perhaps this info could be stored and maintained for us by the ACBL Webmaster?

——i have a hard time imagining that the ACBL would give us access to upload emails, messages, documents, etc. onto their website. also question whether they would direct ACBL staff to receive and post this info for us… guess it is possible. the blog I started at is available for anyone to wants to share anything, but I think some form of public online presence that our group could have direct control of makes sense. Our Minnesota bridge blog, has a feature that allows all content to be tagged with keywords that can be organized by topic. Although all entries appear in chronological order you can view posts that refer to only topics you are interested in: effective NAP promotions, conditions of contest, GNT flyers, NAP flyers, strategies to obtain ACBL support for GNTs, etc. I am not an IT person… the bridgewinners blog requires no access rights to post whereas the Minn. blog is administered by Peg Kaplan and all contact flows through her onto the blog except comments re. previous posts.

What if GNT Championship Flight National Finals were re-scheduled so as to begin on the first day of the Spingolds at each Summer NABC?

——-This is a fabulous idea… whose was it? It addresses one of the main issues I've been ranting?! about…the lack of a level playing field in the Championship flight. District champions without pairs of Grand Life Masters rarely make it to the money round 5-8. Adopting this strategy would generate a great deal more interest in competing among the ~2,000 ACBL members over 5,000MPs who are not full-time players!

What if the ACBL matched district subsidies for GNTs - either dollar for dollar, or up to a certain maximum per district, or on a pro-rated incentive basis associated with the number of tables competing in the respective district final?

——-This is another idea I raised on the bridgewinners blog that deserves some exploration. Because table fees from GNT games generate only ~$12,000 to the ACBL annually (@1.25/table, the idea has no hope of passing unless other revenue-generating GNT activities are undertaken: a GNT fund month like the International or Junior Fund months, or ? Any efforts we make toward obtaining support for the GNTs from the ACBL probably have to identify a source of funds. They don't seem to be inclined to support the event to the tune of even $32,000 for waived entry fees, a fact I find hard to understand.

For the NAPs in 2009 the ACBL reported + data received from Patty Taylor on 8/2

2009/10 Revenue
$4/table club &
$7/table unit & dist. level $220,592.00
54,107 club
1,164 unit
district? Expenses $156,683.00 Net Revenue $63,909.00

Note that they did not expense the cost of free entries in Louisville: the $156K expense are the $700 and $300 subsidies to the 3 flights of pairs which is $2,000 x3/district plus the incentive subsidy.

The vote to waive entry fees this summer that failed 12-13 indicates that the league is happy to earn the NAP money, but won't share NAP profit with the other grass roots event. We could consider linking the two events for the purposes of waiving the entry fees and beginning to build a source of funds for other GNT support. Mark's request for recent table counts of the two events shows a marked increase for the NAPs. We could easily afford to confer GNT free entries: ACBL revenues from NAP club games alone (before $7 unit and district event fees) were more than $100K above the $156K subsidy obligations for the NAP district champions and 2nd place pairs.

year NAP table count: Club level
2006 40559.0
2007 46421.5
2008 48342.0
2009 54107.0
2010 69502.5

Just some food for thought.

I appreciate all of your efforts Mark

Mike Cassel
D14 GNT Coordinator
Aug. 3, 2011
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from Mark Aquino on 8/2/11

Unbelievable immediate response to the recent suggestion of a GNT/NAP Coordinators Forum!
SEATTLE MEETING    Rich Carle, GNT/NAP D21 is already working closely with Patty Taylor to find a suitable room for a meeting on Saturday morning, November 26th in Seattle.   Please, if you haven't done so already, let Rich and/or me know if you will be planning to attend.
DON'T GET CARRIED AWAY!      Thanks to Mike Hartop, GNT/NAP D1, for his good advice to be careful about the extent to which we might consider standardizing conditions of contest, as the last thing we want to do is change a format that was specifically designed to meet the unique requirements of a particular district.   I believe there is a lot of opportunity to eliminate redundant efforts in a number of areas, but we do need to make sure we use common sense.
PLEASE UPDATE ATTACHED GNT SURVEY      Thanks to Mike Cassel, GNT D14. for providing us with the results of a survey that was done by Warren Cederborg, who was the D22 GNT Coordinator in Sept. 2009 at the time of the survey.  I would ask all to review and update as appropriate the info provided prior to our November meeting.  
WE NEED A PLACE TO STORE INFO!      Mike Cassel points out the need for a centralized repository for this and other documents, reports, results, etc. that our group might want to refer to from time to time.  This is one of the areas that I have asked Patty to look into, and something we will need to follow up on within the next week.  Perhaps this info could be stored and maintained for us by the ACBL Webmaster? 
CHECK OUT MIKE CASSEL's BLOG!     I just revisited Mike's blog on   He truly broaches a wide variety of topics related to the GNT and engages in some rather interesting dialogues with his readers.  Whether you agree with his perspective or not, I would strongly encourage you all to check this out. 
 If nothing else, I promise you it will be thought-provoking
WHAT IF's      What if GNT Championship Flight National Finals were re-scheduled so as to begin on the first day of the Spingolds at each Summer NABC?
                          What if the ACBL matched district subsidies for GNTs - either dollar for dollar, or up to a certain maximum per district, or on a pro-rated incentive basis associated with the number of tables competing in the respective district final?   
Just some food for thought. 
Mark J. Aquino
Aug. 3, 2011
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We might have had a Cayne vs. Team Monoco final had Duboin & Sementa found the best defense against Meckwell on board 63 in their very close semifinal

It was great that the same hands were played in both matches. Nunes-Fantoni beat Martel-Stansby in 2H for a loss of 2 imps (Levin-Weinstein bid and made 3D).

In the Cayne-Nickell semifinal Zia-Hamman let Lauria go +140 in 2H. Had Doboin & Sementa gone +50 they would have won 5 imps instead of 1 and would have gone into board 64 with a 1 imp lead.

On board 56 Meckstroth gave Nunes no chance when he ruffed up with the SA at trick 5. Rooting for a closer match Zia kept a make of 4S possible when he cashed only 2 clubs, and then appeared to go for the winning cross ruff line by ruffing a diamond and then a heart. Had he then planned to continue the cross ruff he would have picked up a badly needed 10 imps. Not surprisingly he tried to cash the CQ and suffered the same result when Helgemo ruffed with the SA. The best team won the Spingold. Any team that holds the Nickell squad to less than 2imps/board is doing well indeed.

Thanks for your writeups

Aug. 1, 2011
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Thanks so very much. I'd like your permission to forward your letter to the members of the ACBL Board of Directors. They voted 12-13 and defeated my motion to have entry fees for the national GNT final waived.

I hope Beth Reid, your ACBL board member, was one of the 12. If not, you can lobby her with your experiences as you have described above.

Letters like yours can make a difference, and we hope to re-present the motion in Seattle. The last $ figure I could see for team subsidies was in 2009 I think. D11 was giving $500 to each team. That might cover your gasoline cost to drive to Toronto and back. I don't know why the league supports the NAP, but not the GNT.

Both competitions open the door to the excitement of the NABCs to new players.

There are many ways to raise funds to confer free entries for district GNT champions at the NABC:
an ACBL-wide game like senior, or instant matchpoint game
a GNT fund month (like the international and junior fund months)
a surcharge on regional KO entries at NABC events (similar to the 1.50 we pay at NABC for Int'l fund)
a surcharge on the MiniSpingolds and/or MiniBlues specifically to raise $ for GNTs

Making the Wednesday Swiss more expensive would not be on my list.

thanks again for your perspective.

July 26, 2011
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when the NABC is over I will find out if the ACBL can forward district final table counts in the GNT for previous years and how many. maybe you would like to conduct a statistical analysis?

As nice as numbers might be, pointing to a tendency for greater participation, if travel costs are nominal, I don't think there's any question that the event would be more attractive if you knew that, as a district champion, your expenses to get to the NABC and entry fees were covered.

My records show that this year's winners,the Toronto-based local Flight C squad, might have been appointed as the only interested Flight C team in District 2. There were no tables reported in D2 for a Flight C final competition.

As has previously been discussed, promoting the GNTs for Flight C is a continuing issue in many districts. Less experienced players tend to be less informed about the NAP and GNT, find it more difficult to form teams, and generally need some coaxing to become committed tournament attendees. All the more reason to incent their participation.

Our unit had a 299er Swiss Team event last week. It was described as “chaos” by our unit president who helped run it. Moving newer players from chat bridge, to the ‘baby’ games, and then into better limited or open games is a process.

Many newer players have been bitten by the NABC bug after earning a trip. If we could make it more financially rewarding all the better. The NAPs are thriving with ACBL support at $6,000/district and free entries at the spring NABC. I'm a broken record in this regard
Winning a trip should not mean the right to pay for one.

Pot may or may not be a gateway drug, but winning a trip IS a gateway to greater NABC penetration. Dave's letter just above is eloquent testimony to this. As well is the following viewpoint from D17's ACBL board member:

I just learned that my motion to waive GNT entry fees at the NABCs failed 12-13. So the ACBL continues to offer not one penny of support for the GNTs while we subsidize international and junior play, travel,hotel, & per diems for ACBL/WBF reps, hotel rooms at NABC for WBF principals, and WBF membership fees totalling more than $600,000 annually.

For the ACBL the needs of the few, many who are the privileged few, outweigh the needs of the many. I can't wait to see which board members voted against this motion.

I'd hoped for a crack in the oligarchy. Not yet I guess.
July 26, 2011
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There were some subtle differences in the auction and play to the critical board 63 and I am looking forward to hearing more about this hand from the participants. Gary Cohler pitched the S6 on the third heart, Beth Palmer the C9.
Rodwell advanced the DJ at T5 while Robinson played the DQ. Rodwell had made a serious 3N call while Robinson had cuebid 4C and 4S

Was Cohler confident that Robinson did not hold Kx in spades for his 4S cuebid? Did he assume his pard needed the SK to beat the hand?

This takes nothing from the courage to lead from Kxx into AJxxx. High drama!

I particularly liked the steal hands: 25, 30 & 51 and am wondering if “Under further review” will query Boyd-Robinson on the failure to double 5D on Bd 30.

It was a great close match among champions.
July 25, 2011
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Hi Paul,

11 districts held Unit level GNT events in the 2010-2011 cycle according to ACBL Special Events reports.
Each district would set contest conditions re. eligibility of non-unit players to play in a another unit final.

We (D14) do not restrict non-unit players from any unit level competition. Also, our Unit level games do not restrict participation at the District Final. We have a surcharge at the district final for players who do not play in a unit final, so it is an opportunity to play for something instead of paying for nothing. Also, table fees from Unit finals are reserved for District Champions who played in a unit final.
So, there are some incentives to play in a unit final.

Only 2 districts, 10 & 16 had more than 100 tables of Unit level play. Interestingly, D10 has had no Open Flight district-level competition the last three years. Onstott, Sieberts et. al. have been appointed to represent their district in the last two years, not sure about 2009.

There were 418 tables of Open Flight district final play.
There were 506 tables of Flight A district final play.
There were 747 tables of Flight B district final play.
There were 424 tables of Flight C district final play.

The abandonment of club level play is a definite impediment to drawing newer and less experienced players into the event. I would agree that looking at Flight B participation as a % each district's relative flight population might be instructive.

Comparing the participation of various flight players in their district's GNT competition vs. that district's segmented by flight population is beyond my capacity. The NAP competition awards an additional entrant based, in part, on that kind of participation.

I would agree that in some of the smaller population districts expecting any kind of decently sized Open Flight field might be difficult unless there were incentives that currently don't exist. I'm more concerned with districts like Texas with 128 members with 5,000MPs whre they cannot field even 5 teams for the Open Flight GNT district final.

While it is true that just over 1%,some 2,000 members, has 5,000MPs, the Open Flight of the GNTs is dominated by a handful of the league's elite Grand Life Masters. The GNTs have been tweaked from one flight to four to encourage competition among your peers. Pitting amateurs against the top 1/10th of 1%, mostly full time players is a disincentive to participate at all, whether it's among Florida's few hundred diamond or better life masters or in any district:

When you win your district's GNT Open Flight and your subsidy doesn't even cover your cost to travel, and your chances of getting to the quarterfinals are small, I assume many don't even bother to compete. District 7 which provided an additional subsidy to it's teams this year ($3,200) is the only district in the league where GNT competitors actually WON a trip… A few others awarded their teams $2,000. $500 almost gets you to Toronto, eh?

I do not know if my motion passed:
Item 112-44: GNT Entry Fees
Moved that: The ACBL will waive all entry fees for the NABC final GNT events.

Your last thought is quite intriguing. NAP national finals are only 2 days and there is no National event that starts on Thursday. NAP entry fees are waived. The league could certainly incent GNT participation with
free entries beyond the National finals. We could develop other revenue generating activities to cover the cost in lost entry fees. And we most definitely would like to bring more players to future NABCs.

If the reduction factor in overall awards is small enough, I think most teams in the lower brackets would stick with a consolation GNT event.

You suggest “ Isn't it better for bridge to get ”B“ also-rans into the LM Pairs than into a B teams consolation event?” The Flight brackets in the 6-session pair events are a little different than the GNTs. And KOs seem more popular, in general, than pair events. And the teams that won the trip might want to stick together, or might be glad to dump their loser teammates, LOL. Would be better for bridge to shunt GNT losers to the pairs? I don't know.

thanks for your questions

July 23, 2011
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The big story of the GNT Open Flight this year was the upset?! on Thursday by the local D2 squad headed by Nader Hanna: David Lindop - Robert Lebi - Doug Baxter, Toronto ON; Daniel Korbel, Waterloo ON; Darren Wolpert, Thornhill ON
who soundly thrashed D21 Rose Meltzer, Los Gatos CA; Kyle Larsen, San Francisco CA; Kit Woolsey - Sally Woolsey, Kensington CA; Chip Martel - Jan Martel, Davis CA

Not surprisingly, they were dispatched Friday by one of the usual suspects, #1 seed D9 Spector Warren Spector, Palm Beach FL; Michael Becker - David Berkowitz, Boca Raton FL; Gary Cohler, Miami FL; Jeff Meckstroth - Eric Rodwell, Clearwater Bch FL.

4 teams of the original 9 with no Grand Life Master made it out of the Swiss and into the KOs.
Is it a triumph that we have one team without a Grand Life Master that achieved a 5-8 finish?

In the semifinals it's
Doug Simson - Walter Johnson, Columbus OH; Jerry Clerkin - Dennis Clerkin, Bloomington IN battling Spector & Team Florida and

Joe Grue - Shane Blanchard - Bob Blanchard - Joel Wooldridge - John Hurd - Kevin Bathurst, New York NY vs.

Steve Robinson, Arlington VA; Peter Boyd, Darnestown MD; Steve Landen, Ellicott City MD; Bill Pettis - Bill Cole, Silver Spring MD; Beth Palmer, Chevy Chase MD

I do not know the results of any of the GNT motions heard by the ACBL board this week, but a motion based on Ron Klinger's suggestion: a consolation bracket for the Spingold and Vanderbilt would make a whole lot of sense for the GNTs too.

Offer District Champions at least 2 days of play. If you don't get out of the Swiss into the KOs you can drop into a consolation bracket on Thursday that will produce 4 teams for Friday. Thursday Round of 16 losers can drop into the Friday consolation (if the masterpoint reduction factor is high enough to encourage Thursday losers not to enter the 6 session Pair event on Friday, and so forth.)

How much life would be breathed into the Open Flight if no Open Flight team could have accrued more than 600 or 800 Platinum points in the previous 2 years?

If we can create a Platinum pair event, why not a Platinum Flight for the GNTs for teams with more than 2 Grand Life Masters. Four teams of professional players competing in the semifinals of the GNTs is not my idea of the culmination of a grass roots competition that starts in the clubs. About 1/2 of our districts no longer even run club level events.

I hope we can do better. I know there is some significant energy to do so.
July 22, 2011
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Thanks for your comments Ellis

re. #1 there is a motion being heard this week in Toronto re. strength of field formulae for determining an award system: 112-27.
This will actually harm the good players who live in the ‘hinterlands’ vis a vis the earning of masterpoints as the fields they play in won't as strong as those who live in and near population centers.
I agree completely that the ranking system is deficient, but should masterpoints be awarded based on strength of field?

I recall my campaign to become a life master. I had many, many gold points but getting my 50 silver in our tough Minnesota sectionals took some time. That was an accomplishment for me.

WBF points decay over time. I cannot imagine ACBL members would like to see their accumulated MPs diminish. It is a vexing issue to be sure.

re. #2 I'd refer you to ‘exhibits D9 and D16’. Over 27,000 ACBL members. Many hundreds with over 5,000MPs. Open Flight sizes of 4 & 3 and 4 & 4 teams the last two years. In my opinion, if a change was made to allow strong club (amateur) teams from around the country, a real grass roots competition, to compete in…the Open Flight would blossom.

There are a number of ways to accomplish this. The quantity of ACBL members with 5,000+MPs IS small, but the qualitative difference is quite significant and a demonstrated deterrent to competition. Also, I would guess that this small group has supported and continues to support the league with proportionately much higher entry fees in regional and national competition. The league should be catering to these longterm members who cannot effectively compete in the Spingold. As previously mentioned, 18 of the 25 districts do not have field sizes in the Open Flight to afford 4 overall places in their district finals.

We can do better and one sure way to improve field sizes would be to more adequately fund District Champions so that they actually win a trip to the summer NABC.

A handful of motions being heard this week in Toronto pertain to the GNTs. I've communicated my interest in having a coherent approach to improving the event. I'm hopeful the Board will agree and make a move in that direction.
July 19, 2011
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I don't know how you've aggregated those performances, but it's great.

I'd, of course, be most curious to focus on the Open Flight over the last 10 years to determine how often a team of regular players, vs a team comprised largely of full-time players finished in the top 4.

Your last admonition says it all: support grass-roots bridge!

July 19, 2011
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Re 112-75

I want to reiterate my concerns re. “Paragraph A is amended to read “A member’s principal physical residence at the time he or she first plays in the current year GNT shall establish the District in which the member is eligible to participate beyond the qualifying stage.”

If a Northerner spends one month/year in Fla, Tucson, Palm Springs, etc. and that happens to be when that district has their GNT district final then that is their principal physical residence?

This seems to open the possibility that a sponsor could invite 4 studs to enjoy his company in Northern Texas for 10 days starting May 1. As long as none of them has played in a prior GNT event in the cycle, they could show up at the District 15 GNT final, buy-in for having not played in a club or unit event, and romp over long established D15 club members.

I don't see that where you happen to be located when you first play in a GNT event should establish your ‘principal physical residence’. Maybe i'm missing something. Where you live rather than where you happen to be staying when you first play in a GNT event seems important to me. I never understood the history behind 053-75, what shenanigans were going on that led to such heightened focus on ‘principal physical residence’ and the ”Credentials Committee“.

I see nothing wrong with using Sept. 1, the starting date of the GNT cycle as the marker for establishing principal physical residence. If someone moves
they can get ‘released’ from that district eligibility via permission from the ACBL Directors involved. The ” July 1" requirement is obviously inappropriate if someone moves after that date.

071-64 which established principle physcial residence exceptions for snowbirds…. used the language:

Players with multiple domiciles should apply to the Credentials Committee for a one-time choice of district in which they wish to play. Players may be asked to document their time in each of their residences. A player must spend at least three months each year in a district in order to have it considered as a domicile possibility. Once a player chooses a district in which to play, he must play only in that district until he no longer has a domicile in that district.

I hope this new motion doesn't supercede 071-64 which seems to make sense to me.

The new language in Paragraph A is NOT GOOD in my opinion

July 7, 2011
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most of a letter sent to some ACBL board members
Subject: Re: GNT masterpoint averaging

Does the ACBL board care about the GNTs or not? The vote on waiving entry fees at the NABC finals will give us an inkling.

If they do, does the ACBL board recognize that the event is broken at the top? or not? In the last two years more than half of the 25 districts had Open Flight field sizes of 0-4 teams. Another 4 or 5 districts fielded Open Flight of 5-6 teams: able to pay 1 & 2nd OA only.

Only 6 or 7 districts had a competition in the last two years, ~25% of the league, that could pay 4 overall places. We can do better.

Does the ACBL board have the gumption to restructure the Open Flight or not? Do we breathe new life into this event, look at the bigger picture of how the GNTs can further the long term goals of the ACBL, or let it die?

There is a fundamental difference between professional (fulltime) and amateur (club) players. Other sports recognize this gap. If the Board is unwilling to separate out the non-amateur teams, and my conversations with 2 influential board members, makes me believe that a fifth flight or otherwise restricting the Open Flight to amateurs is a non-starter, then raising the upperlimit for Flight A to 10,000MPs makes sense.

My thinking has evolved in the last month or two. If it was my decision I would scrap the Open Flight completely and raise the upper limit for Flight A to 30-40,000MPs for the top 4 players on any team. Topflight players are likely going to the Nationals anyway. Going back to three flights gives districts 33% more dollars to more fully fund District Champions for winning a trip to the NABCs. We can restore some luster to the GNTs and make it a great competition again, and draw new potential ACBL members into regular NABC attendance
after they get the bug from winning a trip

“Let me compete against my peers” is Steve Gaynor's comment that I would agree upon completely.

I did not understand Steve Gaynor's comment: ‘Maybe they would accept a limit of 10K for flight A and 5K for flight B’. If what Steve is saying is change the upper masterpoint limit for B up to 5K instead of 2K I think that will be a huge disadvantage to new life masters and not in our interests.

99.09% of the league has fewer than 6,000MPs and I don't believe, as Steve said, that I am being catered to at all. I want to compete against the best club players in my district for the right to compete at the Nationals against the best club players from other districts, not sponsored pro teams. If the Open Flight of the GNTs were structured differently to encourage peer-based play you can bet that District 9, with hundreds of strong club players over 5,000MPs will have an Open Flight with more than the 3 teams this year

I could support changing the upper limit for A up to 10,000MPs for the following reasons:

1. at least in D14 there seems to be a lot of self selection out of the event in the A flight unless your team is capable of competing with players in the 3,500 - 4,999MP level. There tends to be a large performance gap between the 2,000 - 2,500MP players and those at the high end of the current Flight A cap. There is not as big a performance gap between those with 3,500MPs and 7,500MPs

2. There has been a lot of masterpoint inflation in the decade since the 5,000 limit was created.

3. The strong club players who are now in the Open Flight deserve a peer-based competition. They've supported the ACBL for years,know they aren't competitive in the Reisinger, Spingold, Vandy, or other unlimited events, but might get excited by a GNT flight where they stood a chance.

4. If masterpoint averaging should pass it might be a disincentive for future GNT tweaks, i.e. the creation of a Platinum Flight, or a masterpoint cap on the Open Flight (50,000MPs) that opens the top flight to the strong club players without having to get chewed up by full time players, i.e. with board members saying “we already fixed the problem with averaging”.

The GNTs deserve a comprehensive approach. I see a lot of motions to be discussed this summer ( 112-26, 112-44, 112-48, 112-52, 112-75) that leads me to believe there is interest in reviving the event. But are we going to go about piecemeal, or assess it more strategically?

Mike Cassel
D14 GNT Coordinator

July 7, 2011
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My sad story from #12:
W opened that ratty 10ct with 1D. Pd bid 2S and I advanced with an Ogust-ask 2N
Pd bid 3C and E found a double, and furthermore!!! bid 4C over my 3S call.

In retrospect, 3S immediately might have shut E out of the auction, but I had game aspirations given the vulnerable 2S overcall with my 6 loser hand (N must have the SA for his call)

South's hand is flawed as you mentioned with the wasted QJ and the value of the K is also questionable after that cheesy opener. +140 would have been worth 50, we received only 6 for -130.
June 28, 2011

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