District Director's Reports

George Retek

District 1 Director

WINDS OF CHANGE

 

In my last report you could have sensed my frustration that the ACBL Board by a vote of 23:2 (I opposed) had approved the construction of a new head office with a huge price tag. Now I am very happy to report that cooler heads prevailed. Management proposed and the Board unanimously approved the purchase of an existing building (that would be at the fraction of the originally proposed construction cost).

 

Furthermore my motion was approved, that will ensure that our treasurer will monitor on a monthly basis the purchase and renovation of the associated cost, as well as the adherence to our competitive bidding policy.

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SPRING 2009 MEETING TO FOLLOW:

 

I – FINANCIAL

 

1.   For the first time in memory the audited financial statements were not available for the previous year because our actuary did not provide the required information in time concerning our defined benefit pension plan and health insurance obligation. Subject to the adjustments (that could be substantial, since the pension plan assets dropped by approximately 25%) so far our revenues in 2008 exceeded expenses by close to US $900.000 that compares favourably with out budget. We expect to receive the audited statements shortly.

 

2.   A potential problem is the state of our investment portfolio, which is handled by the Stanford brokerage firm.  Stanford was placed under bankruptcy protection in February 2009. However our investment portfolio of approximately $8 million is supposed to be held in a protected segregated account by a Trust company. At this point management expects no loss.

 

3.   I have been chairing the audit committee in 2008 & 2009. We have worked very diligently to develop a new Whistleblower policy to protect our workers as well an Audit Committee Checklist. Both were adopted unanimously in Houston. The new auditing firm of Watkins Uiberal appear to be quite knowledgeable and have made several recommendations (all adopted) to improve our financial statement presentation.

 

II - TOURNAMENTS AND CLUBS

 

1. a) This year I have been chairing the Tournament Committee (TC) and adopted a new regulation effective May 1, 2009 that will allow at the sponsors option to use the average masterpoint holding of a pair to establish what strata the players are placed in a stratified (definitely not strati-flighted) pair events at local sectional, sectional and regional tournaments.

 

b) The TC Chair automatically serves on the ACBL Competition & Convention (C&C) Committee. At my request the C&C will study the problem caused by players who under the pretense of tactical biding are exercising controlled psyches or psyching controls that I consider highly unethical. Hopefully after the next meeting I can report some remedies on this subject.

 

2.   At sponsor’s option all sites may be required to use identical hands to Unit Wide Games.

 

3.   a)   Effective May 1, 2009 clubs will be allowed to hold either regular club championships (18 or more boards) or shortened club championships. (Overall awards are 60% of regular championship games).

 

b) Online regular championship award capped at 6 masterpoint (shortened games 4.5mp).

 

4.   Starting 2010 there will be a 3 Day Platinum Pairs National Championship at the Spring NABC (Friday-Saturday-Sunday) that will move the start of the Vanderbilt Teams to Monday. Subsequently the C&C Committee has suggested another schedule change; the above decision may be subject to change. Players eligible to participate in this event; who accumulated more than 50 platinum points, or attained the rank of Grand LM or Platinum Life Master.

 

5.   I have submitted a motion to allow clubs to hold a special upgraded club championship awarding black and red points, when they demonstrably support the ACBL. Unfortunately this motion was not accepted.

 

III - POT-POURRI

 

1.   The 2010 World Championships (WC) were originally scheduled to be held in Russia. Due to the disappearance of the Russian sponsor a window of opportunity has opened. The ACBL is willing to contribute US$100.000, should other sponsors and agencies participate with substantial support to stage this WC in North America. I expect to have more concrete details by the summer. Cities interested hosting this WC should indicate their desire accordingly.

 

2.   Elections and Appointments

Craig Robinson was deservedly reelected ACBL Treasurer. National Goodwill Chairperson Aileen Osofsky was appointed to the Hall of Fame.

 

3.   Any members who pay their dues within 90 days after due date shall have their masterpoints recorded free of charge, their payment credited from the original date and no break in membership recorded.

 

4.   Currently there is one legal complaint outstanding against the ACBL alleging that ACBL failed to pay overtime to tournament directors. We were advised that significant progress was made towards settlement.

 

5.   Our membership is on the rise, very close to 160.000.

 

6.   Greg Johnston the US astronaut who circled the world in 2008 was at the Houston NABC presenting the “Ace of Spade” card, that as an avid bridge fan, he took with him to outer space.

 

7. Ken Monzingo of San Diego CA, one of the most knowledgeable Tournament Chairmen’s (TC) in ACBL land has generously volunteered to provide a 2 day seminar for Tournament Chairmen. It will probably be held in Washington on July 23 and 24. Interested parties should contact me. This seminar is highly recommended, as many useful advises will be provided concerning organizations negotiations, scheduling, promotion, etc. Here is an exceptional opportunity to learn from a top expert to make our tournaments more attractive and successful, especially during the present economic environment.

 

8.   a) Congratulations to Nick L’Écuyer for winning the IMP Pairs in Houston.

 

b) Congratulations to our new appointees:

    Goodwill Committee: Barbara Hastings and Nicolas L’Écuyer

    Charity Committee: Claire Desmeules and Boyd Wells

 

I am asking all Unit President to advise me if there are any bridge deserving players who they would recommend for inclusion to these prestigious committees.

 

9.   The 2009 Canadian Championships take place in Penticton June 6-13, 2009.

Please remember that the GNT district qualifying finals will be played at Quebec Regional on May 17 and 18 and our District meeting will be held between sessions on May 17.

 

I am looking forward to see you there!