Table Talk 2016

woman whispers into a man's ear

Remember the blue publication that arrived in your mailbox more than ten years ago? With the advent of our web site, we no longer publish Table Talk. More information about the La Jolla & Beach Unit 526 can be found on the website than we could ever include in a one page newsletter, like Table Talk.

2015-2016 Annual Financial Report

Financial spreadsheet logo

The 2015-2016 unit annual financial report is available in summary form with comparisons to the previous three financial years and also in a month-by-month form showing month-by-month income and expense.

The unit showed a profit of $375.35 for FY 2015-2016 which is lower than the $820.36 profit in the previous fiscal year. May sectional profit was $673.84, about $300 higher than the previous fiscal year. But during the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the unit incurred one time legal expenses of $617.50 to clarify our tax exempt status with the state of California. The unit is now confirmed as a 501(c)7 (Social Club) exempt organization since 1984. Roughly $750 of investment income get us in the black. The unit would like to thank our treasurer Barbara Blake for the careful preparation of these reports, a sensible investment strategy, and for taking on the rather tedious job of clarifying our exemption status with the state of California.

The average table count was 16.6 for FY 2015-2016, down from the 17.0 table in the previous year, but still higher than the concerning dip to 15.6 in FY 2013-2014.

Joint unit NLM Sectional was successful

Joint NLM sectional logo

The joint La Jolla, San Diego, and Coronado-Eastlake NLM sectional held September 16th and 17th (Friday and Saturday) was a success, both in terms of table count and financially. We had 64 tables, an average of 32 per day. This was a little better than the 54 tables over two days at the La Jolla NLM sectional last year at the fabulous location of the Beach and Tennis Club. It also comparable to recent San Diego unit NLM sectional table counts of 51, 57, 71, and 62, all of which ran for three days rather than two days. And the 32 tables / day average exceed the 13 year San Diego area NLM sectional average of 25 tables / day. Financially, the units are collectively ahead about $400, considerably better than the break even or even small loss the unit have taken individually on NLM sectionals.

Co-chairs Mike Koscielski, from the San Diego unit, and John Dusharme, the Coronado-Eastlake president, did the bulk of the work. This was Mike’s first tournament, so special congratulations to him. Only now can we tell him that he purchased a 10-pack of tournaments. Lynne Anderson from our unit handled partnerships. Matthew Kidd designed the tournament logo and posted the results. The unit also provided the laptop for scoring and all the table placards.

Participation was good from all three units, 20 players from the La Jolla unit, 43 from the San Diego unit, and 28 players from Coronado-Eastlake unit. Factoring in the disparity in unit membership, it works out to 6% of the La Jolla unit membership, 6% of the San Diego unit membership, and 17% of the Coronado-Eastlake membership. The last percentage is undoubtedly high because the new Knights of Columbus venue was close to the Eastlake players and Kathie Angione did a good job encouraging the regulars at her club to attend. We picked up an additional 20 players from the two north county units, 16 more players from Southern California (as far away as Palm Springs), and 7 from more distant lands.

Card fees increasing to $10

dollar sign

The board voted in August to raise the card fees to $10 effective September 1, 2016. Although core inflation remains very low, our expenses are rising. Recently, the sanction fee for Unit Championships was increased from $1.25 to $2.25 per table, or 25 cents per player. The across the board sanction fee increases imposed by the ACBL are probably partly in response to the $1.5m ACBLscore+ debacle, a matter where the ACBL undoubtedly shares some blame despite their best denials and obfuscations. Our rent is going up $15 per day in September which works out to 23 cents / player given our 16.6 average table count for FY 2015-2016. Our directing expenses increased in January in terms of the minimal payment to the director in what averages to an increase of 33 cents / player. Food is also outpacing the core inflation rate. The total of these increased costs is nearly $1 per player.

The rats have been expelled

Fulvio Fantoni and Claudio Nunes from the ACBL

The two most flagrant cheating pairs were expelled from the ACBL by the Ethical Oversight Committee during the Washington D.C. NABC. Fulvio Fantoni and Claudio Nunes were expelled on Tuesday . Lotan Fisher and Ron Schwartz were expelled the following day. In both cases the committee cited, “overwhelming evidence establishes that charged parties engaged in collusive cheating.” Both pairs forfeit 100% of their total ACBL masterpoint holdings, with loss of all titles, status ranks and privileges.

It is very encouraging that the ACBL took a firm approach, particularly in light of the European Bridge League’s disappointing ban of Fantoni and Nunes for only five years. Justice can not be fully achieved because the event formats, primarily knockout teams, do not permit the rankings of the tainted events to be reassigned with any sort of confidence insofar as the would be winner may have been cheated out of their win in an early round. But deterrence is both achievable and necessary and this week is a big step in the correct direction.

Also a new Anti-Cheating Commission is now active. Serving as commissioners are Boye Brogeland, Norway; John Carruthers, Canada; Eric Laurant, Netherlands; Brad Moss, U.S.A. and Howard Weinstein, U.S.A.

On , Josef Piekarek and Alexander Smirnov were suspended for four years, beginning , and given a lifetime ban from playing together as a pair in all ACBL-sanctioned events. In accordance with the Code of Disciplinary Regulations 2.2.3 (f), the ACBL CEO is honoring the discipline imposed by the European Bridge League.

2016 Election Results


Four unit board terms (plus one vacancy) expired in June. At our Annual Meeting and Election game on , Barbara Blake, Bill Grant, Ursula Kantor, Matthew Kidd were all reelected in an uncontested election.

At the July meeting, the unit board chose to keep most of the current set of officers for 2016-2017: Matthew Kidd as president, Ursula Kantor as vice-president, and Barbara Blake as treasurer. Bob Brobst replaced Lynne Anderson as secretary.

Al Silverman passed away in June

Al Silverman

Al Silverman passed away in June, another loss from the era of Marvin French, Evan Bailey, and Anne Terry.

David Oakley wrote a short biography and some memories.

Lynne Feldman becomes a Grand Life Master

Lynne Feldman

Unit member Lynne Feldman became a Grand Life Master sometime in April, probably at the unit game where she picked up 0.92 MP to show a total of 10000.43 MP on the May 2016 masterpoint database, given that she didn’t subsequently earn masterpoints at tournaments or AIB before the reporting deadline.

Platinum LM requires 10,000 MP with the usual varied pigmentation requirements. Grand Life Master requires additionally holding a national title, i.e. winning a nationally rated event at an NABC. Lynne holds four(!) national titles and five second place finishes. Her titles are the Mixed BAM Teams (1979, in a three-way tie for first), the Machlin Womens Swiss (1986, with teammates Jan Martel, Lynne Pollenz, Roberta Epstein, Rozanne Pollack, and Sue Picus), the Womens BAM Teams (1988, with teammates Lisa Berkowitz, Rozanne Pollack, and Sharon Osberg), and the Whitehead Womens Pairs (2008, partnering with Chris Benson).

Lynne joins locals Rhoda Walsh (Carlsbad), Kitty Cooper (Lakeside), Leo Bell (Carlsbad), Steve Cooper (Lakeside), and John Strauch (San Diego) in the elite Grand Life Master club.

Telling it like it really is

Stilt houses with a cloudy ski for the background

The Hotel Circle concept seems to be the result of some quarantine movement in urban design. We will isolate you from all that is nice about our city, and you will pay extra for the experience because you will be at the mercy of your hotel for all your needs. It is a concept where everyone wins except the guest… The resorts themselves sit recessed from the access road like great concrete castles, all ringed by monstrous unfilled parking lots.… Within this wasteland, we stay at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center. Read more.

You know the place well. Benjamin Lorr has the guts to tell it like it really is.

An ACBL Redistricting Proposal

Map of proposed ACBL redistricting

At the unit and district level, one member one indirect vote through the unit board electors is rigorously enforced. This falls apart completely at the national level where all significant policy decisions are made. Representation is far from equal. Each district has one vote on the national board of directors but district populations vary from slightly over 3,300 to just over 20,000 (D9 Florida). This suggests redistricting is long overdue.

While we are at it, let’s shrink the size of the board, killing two birds with one stone, to create the leaner meaner decision making machine that our times require. The upheaval would be considerable but the long term benefits to the organization could be very beneficial. Read more.

Adventures in Bridge turns 35 on May 8th

Happy 35th Big Boy cake

Adventures in Bridge turns 35 on . Bob and Mary-Anne Rosenblum started the club in 1981 in the Grantville neighborhood where it remained until the late 2015 relocation to the Balboa neighborhood. The opening game was a robust 39 tables. They sold the club to John Chaison in 1990 and it passed on to Danny and Jean Molnar, Cameron Cotton, and finally Wirt Gilliam in 2004.

Read Bob Rosenblum’s history of San Diego bridge before Adventures in Bridge.

My Cheating Scandal

stuttering spade The year was 1971. A lot was going on in my life… I am not sure what faith they put in a fellow qualified to inject me weekly for allergies to grass, trees, pollen, hay fever, etc. to cure my stuttering problem…

Larry Sherman recounts the bridge of his youth in his story My Cheating Scandal.

Lesley Davis becomes a gold life master

Awards chairman Charlotte Blum presented a gold life master (2500 MP) award to Lesley Davis on at the Redwood Club where Lesley plays frequently.

Soledad Thursday night game terminated

Soledad Thursday evening finale group photo
Enlarge This Image   Soledad Thursday evening game regulars gather for a final group photo.

The Soledad Club board has terminated the Soledad Thursday night bridge game after it hovered at the four table financial break even point for several months. Marc Matz directed the last Thursday night game on .

Downward red arrow superimposed on a picture of the night sky

The end of the once robust Thursday night game reflects the aging of the membership. Both the aging of the players and the grim prognosis for evening bridge are unfortunate nationwide trends. Though total club table count has remained nearly constant for the past 25 years, the percentage of those tables played in the evening has fallen from 44% to 16% over the same time period. Utter annihilation of the evening game looks certain within 15 years but collapse due to low table counts will occur sooner, as at the Soledad Club. See the data and plots.

Anne Terry passed away in March

Anne Terry

Anne Terry passed away after a several year illness which prevented her from playing bridge. She greatly missed all of her bridge friends, particularly the regulars from the La Jolla and San Diego unit games and the Saturday barometer pairs game at Adventures in Bridge which was her favorite game.

The unit is collecting memories and making arrangements with Anne’s daughter to hold a memorial at either a unit game or at Adventures in Bridge.

Cri de Coeur from ACBL employees

We [the ACBL] have wasted literally millions of dollars on consultants and dead software projects… It is now common for events at NABCs to start late… morale is as low as it has ever been… Leadership—simply put, there is none…

All is not well at the ACBL. The ACBL is Lost letter was mailed from Reno during the Reno NABC to all 25 National Board of Directors members, the ACBL CEO, the president and vice-president of the Board of Governors (a secondary governing body), the chair of the Goodwill Committee and to Bridge Winners. A PDF scan of the original paper letter was initially posted on Donna Compton’s Play Bridge Better blog. The HTML version posted on our unit website is better suited to cut-and-paste and search engine accessibility. Bridge Winners has a long and at times tangential discussion about the letter.

Although unsigned, the letter seems too specific to be a hoax. And if only one or two employees shared the sentiments expressed in the letter, it is likely they would simply leave the organization rather than send such a letter. Accordingly, the ACBL is well advised to carefully consider the points raised.

Mike Giesler, a member of both the D4 and U141 boards, has also written a letter to Ken Monzingo, addressing similar issues, following and referencing the release of the ACBL is Lost letter.

Ken Monzingo has responded to a related letter from D11 President Terrell Holt. The response posted on Donna Compton’s website includes numerous footnotes provided by Donna and Chris Compton.

Reno recap

The Reno NABC in March was convenient for San Diego players. Direct flights on Southwest were available for $200 and hotel rooms were cheap for not surprisingly unremarkable accommodations. But total table count was 500–600 tables below the budgeted estimate on the heels of a fall NABC in Denver that was 1000 tables below its estimate. Total Reno table count was 11,643½ well below the high of 14,954 in 2004 and the lowest count of the four nationals held in Reno. Local dining was better than expected as Reno undergoes a transformation similar to but less advanced than its Great Basin mirror, Salt Lake City, as described in Tim Sullivan’s No Communication with the Sea: Searching for an Urban Future in the Great Basin. The skiing was promising if you could pull yourself away from the table.

The cheap hotel rooms came at a price. Play was spread over four locations, one ballroom and three casinos. Navigating the casino maze to find friends was a challenge. The playing areas below the casinos suffered only a faint smoke smell, where the residual was actively being covered up by another introduced scent. Hospitality was minimal. Ice water was readily available but coffee was never to be found. $16 / player-session should include coffee!

Jean Molnar passed away during the Reno NABC

Jean Molnar directing at the Nashville NABC Jean Molnar's name in cards at the 2016 San Diego regional

Local director Jean Molnar passed away on in San Diego. This is a huge loss for the San Diego bridge community. Read memories of Jean and view the videos from the memorial for her at Adventures in Bridge.

Unit game results available on Bridge Results

The unit games results are now also available on Bridge Results for 2015 and 2016. These are permanently linked from the yellow menu bar under Events → On Bridge Results. The Bridge Results presentation includes the standard ACBLmerge format used on the unit website but also includes additional features such photo galleries of winners (example), a hand by hand viewer, and inclusion of the results in player pages (example).

Dan Dayani becomes a diamond life master

Dan Dayani

Unit president Matthew Kidd presented a diamond life master (5000 MP) award to Dan Dayani at the unit game. Dan has a very solid strong club partnership with Bette Cornelius who is also a diamond life master. They are regulars in our unit game.

Dan is from Iran but has lived in La Jolla for a long time. He is very fond of pizza and I have more than once run into him trying a new pizza place with Bette. When asked to choose between bridge and pizza he declined to answer.

First LIGO detection

LIGO detection of merging black holes
Enlarge This Image   LIGO detection of merging black holes.

At the start of the game, unit president Matthew Kidd congratulated the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) team which had published a paper three days prior about the observation of the merger two black holes of ~36 and ~29 solar masses via detection of the gravity wave signature (shown above) consistent with that predicted by Einstein’s theory of General Relativity. This was the first detection of an experiment over 30 years in the making, an experiment that was act of faith in science and the pursuit of incredible precision in detection.

Mr. Kidd drew a parallel between Author Eddington’s observation of the deflection of light from a distant star by the gravity of our sun during the solar eclipse of , an early confirmation of General Relativity, and the present result nearly a century later. It was his belief that the LIGO detection was one of the great scientific results of the twenty-first century and he predicted that it would still be considered as such when the century ended. He also cited the awesome power of the event, noting that ~3 solar masses were radiated as gravity waves in a fraction of a second (the wiggling of the lines above). By contrast our own sun will convert only 0.7% of its mass to energy during the billions of years it fuses hydrogen into helium.

La Jolla unit sectional will be May 20-22, 2016

Our traditional Memorial weekend sectional will be held one week early this year, May 20-22 (Fri-Sun) at the Soledad Club. For the last three years we have held our sectional at Adventures in Bridge because it was very convenient in terms of the facility and parking and price competitive. We gambled that Wirt would find a similar location before Memorial weekend. When he had to downsize, primarily due to parking issues, it was too late to secure Memorial weekend at the Soledad Club.

ACBL membership is aging 0.44 years / year

Every quarter the unit president receives a Quarterly Unit Information Package (QUIP) report showing various statistics for the unit, including membership, member gains/losses, new member retention, average member age, and average years of ACBL membership. For each category, comparisons are shown with the top unit in the district and for the ACBL as a whole. Drawing on several of these reports average membership age ACBL-wide in December from 2009–2015 has been 68.91, 69.45, 69.83, 70.37, 70.70, 71.23, and 71.56. Membership is aging an average of 0.44 years / year and at least 0.33 years / year in the best years.

Guess Who

Hint: she is a regular at our unit games.

Why do people play bridge? It’s BASIC.

Jeff Lehman presented this on Bridge Winners in September, attributing it to Michael Huston, a bridge pro from Joplin, MO. The acronym BASIC represents:

B = Beauty. A player who gets a kick out of seeing something special work, be it an unusual squeeze, or a psych.

A = Approbation. A player who enjoys being admired for success.

S = Socialization. A player who enjoys being around others with similar interests.

I = Intellectual. A player who enjoys the solving of puzzles at the bridge table.

C = Competitive. A player who enjoys winning.

2015 Mini-McKenney and Ace of Clubs results

Deborah Goldsmith

The 2015 La Jolla Unit Masterpoint Race Winners are final. Deborah Goldsmith (5-20) and Anant Rathi (500-1000) convincingly won their Mini-McKenney brackets and Freda Anderson (2500-5000) convincing won her Ace of Clubs bracket. Deborah Goldsmith also won her Mini-McKenney bracket at the district level and placed 11th nationally. After Palm Springs Deborah was only 1 MP ahead of Kenny Pan of Irvine but once alerted to the situation on the unit website, she surged to end with a 14 MP lead at the district level.

HTTPS (secure connection) enabled

political cartoon about NSA wiretapping

HTTPS, the secure version of HTTP, has been enabled for this website. Simply replace the http part of the URL with https to access any page securely. Any internal link from a secure page will take you to another secure page. Secure connections are vital for preventing the interception of user account names and passwords as well as financial information such as credit card numbers. Without HTTPS, e-commerce would never have been so successful. Secure connections also prevent the interception of page content, for example medical history or the drunken party photos you only intended to share with a few friends. These two concerns are of no importance to this website as it is currently setup. However, HTTPS also encrypts the URL of the page requested. Over a secure connection there is evidence that you visited a website but the specific web pages you visited while there are concealed from third parties.

In 2013 Edward Snowden revealed the large degree to which the U.S. government was spying on its own citizens. But Snowden’s revelations were not shocking to careful observers who understood the full implications of Room 641A, revealed by Mark Klein in 2006 much to the consternation of the Bush Junior administration. The domestic spying situation has not improved under the Obama administration; instead it has largely continued and quietly expanded. In 2014 the Utah Data Center was completed. Its original name was the Orwellian sounding Massive Data Repository, a more accurate description of its purpose.

Though citizens have been surprisingly passive about these events, many technology companies are fighting back on behalf of their users who do seem to appreciate their privacy. The Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) partnered with key industry companies to create the Let’s Encrypt certificate authority which reduces the cost (to zero) and the hassle (to an absolute minimum) for obtaining the necessary signed certificate to enable a secure connection. In solidarity with this effort, and in support of freedom, we offer HTTPS using a Let’s Encrypt signed certificate.

Properly implemented high grade HTTPS is secure against even the NSA, though not necessarily against hacking to steal the normally secured private key component of the public-private key pair, hacking that the agency has demonstrated it is willing to perform. But still the widespread use of HTTPS is a war of attrition against the NSA, forcing it to burn more and more computing resources to achieve less and less.

History of Unit 549 (San Diego North County Inland)

Rex Latus has done a good job writing up the history of Unit 549. We should try to do this for our own unit. Volunteers? Do I hear volunteers?

2015 President’s Awards

Continuing his emphasis on partnerships and statistics rather than individuals and what the late great Victor Mollo called monster points, unit president Matthew Kidd presented the third annual President’s awards at the January 10, 2016 unit game based on the unit game results for 2015.