Cindy Shoemaker, D17 Representative
ACBL Board of Directors

Due to the pandemic and the cancellation of face-to-face play, the ACBL Board of Directors held its fall meetings via Zoom November 18-20, 2020.

The information presented in this report has been sourced from the following:

The ACBL Board of Directors reviewed the preliminary budget for 2021 which estimates a net increase in assets of $1M. The Finance Committee requested that budget items include measurement criteria. 
The 2022 budget calendar will be finalized no later than November 1. It will then be presented to the full board for ratification before the end of the calendar year. For 2021, we will move up the original March date to as soon as possible, likely January 2021.
203-12 carried unanimously
The budget will reflect an increase in staffing requirements. To respond to growing technological needs and more refined data reporting, new staff will be added to the I/T Department. To increase membership and maintain contact with members who are not playing online, new staff will be added to the marketing department. 
The Office of the National Recorder, headed by Robb Gordon, continues to see an explosion of player memos, almost all of them involving unethical behavior. The number of volunteers assisting with investigating player memos has grown from six to 17. 

The office is on pace to approach 1,000 player memos by year end.  The ratio of ethics-related to conduct-related player memos has increased. Ethics-related player memos are more time-intensive in investigation and adjudication. Because they involve online play and are not district related, almost all player memos are being handled by the National Recorder. 

The National Recorder is looking at “to mitigate activity” by possibly training some or all of the District Recorders to act as Assistant National Recorders and take on some of the traffic. 

It is believed that there is still a significant amount of ethical misbehavior occurring on BBO that is under the ACBL’s radar. The ACBL is receiving statistical data from Nicolas Hammond which helps to prioritize investigations. Also, the BBO has been barring many members which the ACBL has treated as player memos and has independently investigated.

Link to access a player memo, Code of Disciplinary Regulations and Under Discipline section.
The Appeals & Charges Committee presented its report on hearings/revisions to the CDR. 
ACBL membership continues to decline each month with a 3.6 percent decline in total membership year-to-date as of the end of October. This decline has accelerated since June. 
An additional 1,300 members were lost in November. The ACBL has approximately 151,500 members. District 17 membership totals approximately 9,000.
Working with the Marketing and Field Operations Departments, I/T has developed several “proof of concept” Tableau Workbooks depicting ACBL membership trends, demographic and geographic distributions as well as the locations of regional tournaments and the geographic distributions of their attendees. 
In November of 2019, the ACBL Board of Directors determined membership growth, membership retention, tournament sustainability* and the role of social bridge as it relates to the ACBL as key strategic objectives. 

The directive was to develop a three-to-five year strategic plan which would include defined action plans with measurements and a budget -- all of which would be approved by the board in 2020.  

A Tournament Task Force headed by ACBL Board of Directors member Warren Smith, District 15, is examining tournament sustainability, soliciting input, gathering data and determining the feasibility of reducing the number of regionals held weekly, monthly and annually. 

In 2020, the Strategic Committee began collecting and defining best practices for membership recruitment and retention and surveyed units and districts to understand involvement in these areas. All efforts were delayed due to the pandemic. 

The survey was conducted in May and the overall results confirmed that the areas of member recruitment and retention are not high priority spending areas for most units and districts. The committee confirmed that significant grass roots efforts and involvement by units and districts would be required. 

The committee continued to discuss the types of data needed to measure the effectiveness of recruitment and retention programs and numeric goals for the next few years. 

In September, management was assigned the following action item:

  • Develop a comprehensive three-to-five year plan to increase new member recruitment and member retention to slow the current membership decline and to grow membership in the ACBL.

The finished plan should accomplish alignment of the entire organization of the ACBL to address membership issues. The board recognizes that more resources will be required throughout the organization. The board will also identify numerical targets for each time period as well as metrics for specific activities.

The marketing director and management defined and presented a marketing plan in October. Funding was included in the 2021 preliminary budget presented in November. Detailed metrics as requested by the Finance Committee will be included in the final budget.
Four motions -- Items 203-20, 203-21, 203-22 and 203-23 -- addressing teaching club initiatives failed. The board felt the motions favored big clubs and discriminated against smaller clubs. Similar motions came out of the Bridge Committee, 203-06 and 203-07. The board also felt that it was best for the BoG to work with management to evaluate the ideas contained within these motions, rather than to codify them at this time. 
Marketing objectives for 2021 are to stabilize the membership base, to improve member recruitment and retention and to increase member value. 
New Guest Membership Program
Over 1,000 individuals have signed up for a guest membership. Participants include students of teachers, those who attended Learn Bridge in A Day? type classes, those who visited the website and those who have contacted the ACBL. A guest membership is valid for 120 days. The board will receive reports on conversion rates and refinements to the program. 
New Tool Kit for Units and District
The tool kit is being created to engage stakeholders and grassroots volunteers from clubs, teachers, units and districts.
Methods include phone calls, website/social media posts, newsletters, partnership and Zoom help desks. 
All 2020 face-to-face Best Practices Teacher Certification Program Workshops were canceled. However, courtesy of an ACBL Educational Foundation grant, the ACBL worked with the original Best Practices Workshop developer to create the ACBL Online Teacher Certification Workshop. This workshop focuses on how to use online tools in the most effective and engaging way to teach bridge online as well as teaching best practices that will apply when face-to-face classes resume. Like the in-person Best Practices Workshop, the online program is highly interactive and stresses limiting teacher talking time in favor of active student participation. 

As of November, over 70 teachers have completed the program and about 80 percent have earned their certifications. 
Along with membership building and retention, the transition from online to face-to-face bridge is a top strategic priority. 

In the fall of 2018, Paul Cuneo, strategic review chair, began an experiment authorized by Joe Jones, executive director, ACBL, to offer a club game sponsored by a face-to-face club run on BBO. For the first time, “black” points were awarded for an online game.
The processes developed by ACBL and BBO were used in March of 2020 to launch virtual club games using BBO. That effort has proved successful for clubs, BBO and the ACBL.

ACBL President Georgia Heth, District 8, appointed a task force to study the future of online bridge. The Online Task Force reported its finding to the board in August. Management responded to that report in September. The task force stated a preference for “online bridge complemented by face-to-face club and tournament play.” Management concurred stating, “to inspire people to compete in the world’s most challenging and enjoyable card game through face-to-face and online play.” 

More work needs to be done to create a strategic framework for management to use when face-to-face bridge returns, including how post-pandemic bridge sanctions would be granted and the rules of operations for online virtual clubs. 

BBO is close to launching a security programming enhancement similar to the successful World Bridge Federation process.

As of November, 2020, clubs received over $14,167,062. The ACBL absorbed the processing fees.
Pursuant to the ACBL Board of Directors Reorganization Motion (Item 202-40) that was adopted at the July 14, 2020 board meeting, the transition of the ACBL Board of Directors from 25 to 13 members will begin during the election cycle beginning in 2021, i.e., for terms beginning January 1, 2022. At that time, Regions 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, and 13 will have elections for the office of Regional Director, the term of which will begin on January 1, 2022.

While the Regional Director from Region 5 will serve an initial four-year term (2022-2025) and the Regional Director from Region 6 will serve an initial three-year term (2022-2024), three other Regional Directors were to be randomly selected by the Executive Secretary and the Executive Director from the remaining group of six to serve an initial four-year term (2022-2025). That random selection resulted in Region 2 (Districts 24 and 25), Region 4 (Districts 5 and 6) and Region 11 (Districts 22 and 23) being chosen.

A Transition Task Force continues under the direction of the Governance Committee to transfer non-core responsibilities from the board of directors to management. Non-core responsibilities include program activities and topics integral to the mission of the organization, exclusive of Executive, Audit, Finance, Strategic, Executive Director Review and Governance. 
The NABC Handbook has been completed and distributed to upcoming NABC chairs.
The NABC Review Committee will not approve any new NABC locations during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The Spring 2021 St. Louis NABC, March 11-21, has not been canceled. However, an start date to book accommodations -- primarily at the Renaissance St. Louis Grand Hotel -- has yet to be determined.

The Summer 2021 Providence NABC, July 15-25, is expected to be held at the Rhode Island Convention Center with housing primarily at the Omni Providence Hotel. The convention center is designated as a COVID overflow hospital and is currently in use.

The Platinum Events entry requirements for paid up ACBL members, who have earned at least fifty (50) platinum points to qualify to play in said Platinum Events, was amended to require the accumulation of platinum points from the nine (9) most recently held in-person NABCs.
Retroactive to January 1, 2020. 203-05 carried unanimously

The revised Alert Chart as presented by the Competitions and Conventions Committee in 2020 was approved. Highlights include: transfer wording state the suit, not the word “transfer”; short suit bid state minimum length, not “could be short”; and support doubles no longer needs to be alerted. 
Georgia Heth, District 8, and Kevin Lane, District 23, declared their candidacies for ACBL President. Georgia was re-elected as the ACBL President for a one-year term ending December 31, 2021. 
Doug Couchman, District 17, was elected Chair of the ACBL Board of Governors. Doug defeated Vice Chair Barbara Heller in a tight election. He will serve a two-year term beginning January of 2021. 

Cindy Shoemaker, District 17, was elected as a trustee to the ACBL Charity Foundation. She will serve a four-year term beginning January of 2021. 
Lane Galloway, Unit 205, was appointed the 2021 Aileen Osofsky Goodwill Member of the Year. The honorary title is presented to the ACBL member who has exhibited unselfish dedication to the causes of good conduct, worthy participation and ethical behavior.

Uday Ivatury was appointed the 2021 ACBL Honorary Member of the Year. Uday was the CEO of Bridge Base Online and is from New York. 

Jay Whipple was appointed the 2020 Nadine Wood Volunteer of the Year. He is the creator of the Common Game and the originator of online tournament bulletins.
The ACBL Charity Foundation Board of Trustees met via Zoom November 21, 2020.

The Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life in all our communities by providing effective grants on a rotational basis through 25 districts, by providing good stewardship in the management of funds received through its charity games and by assessing and responding to the changing needs as defined by the ACBL membership.

Unfortunately, until face-to-face play resumes, all grants have been suspended until further notice.

The ACBL Charity Foundation consists of five trustees one of which must be a member of the ACBL Board of Directors. 

Nancy Strohmer was re-elected as president, Jim Sternberg was re-elected as vice president and Russ Jones was re-elected as treasurer. All were elected for a one-year term beginning January 1, 2021. 

Cindy Shoemaker, District 17, ACBL board of directors, was elected to a four-year term beginning January 1, 2021. Jackie Zayac, District 21, will continue as a trustee. 
The next D17 National Director Update will be included in the
January 2021 edition of The D17 Bridge Buzz.