President's Message


November 2016

ABAers, once again I come as your president to plead for your continued assistance and to keep you updated as to the status of the American Bridge Association. YOU have been the mainstay to the success this administration has had during our first year in office. We have made some tremendous strides, but we aren’t yet out of the woods. Your continued support is desperately needed and instrumental to our survival. Our primary objective during this year has been to solidify the financial status of the ABA. Again, thanks to you and your support of both National Tournaments we feel a strong sense of accomplishment and believe we have reversed our cash flow trend. I promise my continued support to you and will do my utmost to bring about change and to generate a more harmonious environment for you to play this game that you love so much.

Several initiatives have been implemented to help bring about change but you must first realize that YOU are the catalyst leading to their success. Some of these initiatives are:

  1. Everyone Bring One; which has been our recruitment initiative for this year and I don’t consider it to have been a success because you did not accept the challenge to bring in a new or reclaimed member. Working together this initiative would have increased our numbers. I can’t recruit members across the country, but I can help you. I am willing to speak to groups or even give classes on your behalf. But you must generate the people in your area so that I can provide you help. Consider your social organizations, party bridge clubs, fraternities and sororities for possible candidates for membership. If you get them, we will do whatever we can to help teach them or motivate them to this game of duplicate bridge.
  2. Mini-bridge; a means to learn the game before learning the disciplined and structured bidding system. The Mini-Bridge format is on the website and is fun and informative. I started it with my grands during a visit this past weekend and when they got home I received a text and picture from daughter as they sat in her bed playing mini-bridge. Her caption was “and they don’t want to quit”. We must work together to make this initiative a success.
  3. Youth Bridge; a program we are supporting to generate bridge in schools where our youth can grow into the game. We would like very much to sponsor a youth tournament at one of our nationals, but we must first generate groups in our local areas and sections. If we get it going locally we may, with sectional support, be able to get enough participation to sponsor a national youth event. If we don’t pass on to our youth the game of bridge, it too, like so many things from our past heritage will be lost.
  4. Partnership with ACBL; is an initiative that will allow for play in each other’s games and receive points for winning. Our games will be sanctioned by both associations to make this happen. We are working out the details for this initiative and hopefully will have it going early next year. The ACBL is in the process of developing a new scoring program and the possibility exist for the ABA point structure to be included in that program such that correct ABA points will be generated when a game is completed using the program. There is a rumor afloat that the ACBL is trying to merge with the ABA. Please don’t accept that rumor and I promise you that this is an internally generated rumor that is totally untrue. They are willing to help us achieve our goals as we move forward and recognize that we are the oldest national bridge association in America. Together we will build and focus on the development of bridge in North America.
  5. Teacher incentive stipend; an initiative that was to encourage teachers to teach and recruit new members. We have had to put this initiative on hold until some finer details can be worked out. Teaching the class was not the only requirement for the stipend. Students from these classes were expected to join the American Bridge Association. This too was a recruitment effort and was not as successful as we had wished it to be. When you are the first point of contact with potential members, you set the tone for their attitude about our association. If you are enthusiastic, vibrant and energetic your students will feel this and know that you are passionate about what you are teaching them.
  6. Increased membership dues; this was an initiative made necessary by our declining membership. We have done all that we can and still search for means of reducing our expenditures. Our revenue comes basically from membership dues and sanction fees. Membership participation in sanctioned games is also in decline, reducing that source of revenue. It is being rumored that some of you may not remain members due to this increase. I realize that most of us are on fixed incomes and have budgets that we work with. The dues increase is only $10.00 and if this causes a hardship, I ask club presidents to help your members stay active. If they can pay any portion of their due, allow the club to assist, pay the rest of their dues and allow them the opportunity to pay the club back. Let us not lose any member, because they felt a hardship from this dues increase. Cost is also responsible for clubs not participating in sanctioned events. Renting a location to play, director fees and hospitality cost affect what you do. I ask you to negotiate with your directors and if necessary, until things get better, eliminate or reduce your hospitality cost. As we try to reduce expenses nationally, I ask you to do the same locally and keep your participation in the games.

Our second highest priority is YOU the members of the American Bridge Association. Changes are necessary and needed in our game and tournament operations. We are offering suggestions to our senior staff and suggesting that we experiment to see if you like them before we make them permanent. Point proliferation has existed for a very long time in the ABA. Today there is such a diverse divide between the top and bottom of this association and the top, rightfully so, say that we need to restructure so that you don’t win points so rapidly. The rationale is that as you win these points, you are not prepared for the higher levels because you have not worked to improve your game for play at that level. You then don’t want to play at the new level because, though you have the points, you don’t have the skills. Bridge requires a continuing regiment of study and growth if you want to remain competitive. You can’t move up in ranking and expect the same success if you aren’t working to hone the skills in your game. Supervised practice, advance classes, one on one discussions and commitment to a partner that you study with will all help to improve your game. If you strive to be the “Best that you can be”, you are helping the American Bridge Association be the “Best that it can be”.

We are committed to promote and enhance the longevity of the American Bridge Association and with your help, success is assured. Divisiveness is not the answer! Though some would like to keep us divided and consumed with infighting, I only ask that you not be infected with the negatives and stay focused and loyal to the positive differences that you are capable of making. This is your organization.Continue to stand up for your rights and support this administration and this administration is committed to stand up for you. This is my promise as your president.