Sunday, November 27, 2011

Won’t be Back at Nashville to Defend our District 2 NAP Spot

I usually avoid anything to do with politics in Bridge and the ACBL with as much space as I can, and this blog also reflects that, so far, it has been all Bridge. Not because I do not help out our unit and district, I do, but because it always tends to become vocal and unpleasant in a hurry. And this is no exception.

I live in District 2 of the ACBL, an extremely large district comprising most of Ontario, Canada and Manitoba, Canada. For as long as I can remember, due to the large size of the district (over 3000 KMS from end to end, not counting Bermuda, also part of District 2), the NAP (formerly GNP) district final has been held as a split site event with duplicated boards and scores matchpointed across the district. When I started playing in it, there would be 4 - 5 sites that held games, but in the last few years, this has dropped to 2 sites, Toronto and Winnipeg.

Last year, my partner and I played very well in the district final, and won the event. This awarded us right to play in Louisville and a small subsidy from the ACBL, nothing from the district. We went, played, had fun, but did not play well in Louisville, as our scores testified. But that was our fault, with no complaints.

However, there was discontent in the District seat of power in Toronto. They felt that the game played in Winnipeg was not up to the standards of the game in Toronto, and that the top pairs in Winnipeg were able to inflate their scores against ‘lesser’ pairs, thus ensuring higher scores. I heard this complaint from more than 1 person that played in the Toronto area while we were in Louisville.

The district came up with a new plan for the NAP event. Unknown even to the district coordinator (A Volunteer from Winnipeg), the district executive came up with a motion to change the conditions of contest for the NAP event starting in 2012. This was presented at the spring board meeting in Toronto, and voted in at that point. The consequences were not discussed or explained, so the 2 representatives from Winnipeg did not realize what this meant until much later. They were actually caught by surprise when it was announced. Not that it would have mattered, they were out-numbered by a full quorum, 14-2, this was a slam dunk.

The NAP district final would now be held as a single site event, permanently in Toronto. Any pairs from any of the remote units that qualified and wanted to play in the district final, would be able to travel to Toronto at their own expense to compete. Since this would be held as a 2 day event, for most of us in the district, it meant a 4 day trip to Toronto to play. Since I live most of the 3000 KMS from Toronto, flying there for the 4 days would be the only conceivable method.

As a unit, we found out about the new conditions of contest while we were gathering for the first qualifying game of the year. Needless to say, it caused quite a controversy among our members, including the immediate resignation of the then District Coordinator, citing irreconcilable differences with the Board. Since the game had been scheduled and the sanction awarded, the members there were forced to hold and play in the game that day. But the unit immediately cancelled all future NAP games, cancelled all Unit Finals, and sent several strongly worded protests to the District and ACBL Headquarters. If we could have found a method, we wanted to withhold all sanction fees from the district for the event as well. These measures were all done with the unanimous support of the Unit executive and all players that were at the game that day.

We heard back from the ACBL that the district is in charge of setting conditions, take it up with them. And the district responded that it had been voted on and was set, enjoy it.

For this reason, I will most definitely not be representing District 2 in the upcoming spring nationals in the NAP’s. At least I got 1 in before any future wins from members of our unit were stopped and legislated out of existence. The real tragedy is the newer players in our Unit, and other remote Units in the district, that will never have the chance to play in this event, represent their district at an NABC, and everything else involved in the NAP’s. So much for a grassroots competition.

There is 1 good point to this from our Unit’s point of view. We are learning what we are thought of by other districts around, and what is involved in changing districts. It is not like we will be missed by District 2 if it does happen.

But enough of that, I am leaving tomorrow for Seattle to play in the Blue Ribbon and the NA Swiss, and whatever else depending on how long we are in the main events. And that will be my NABC time for the next year. So I promise no more politics and back with some interesting hands from Seattle next week.

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