President's Message


February 1, 2016

As we make it through our first month of this administration, much has been done that allows me to say it has been successful. Much of what we do has come under scrutiny and changes have been recommended to reverse current trends. A thorough review of our finances indicates that we are spending more than we receive. A review of past audit reports confirms this assessment and when we look deeper into the audit reports we find that for years our national tournaments have suffered net losses. However, over the past two years our tournaments have improved and have produced positive results. All of this has generated changes to how we do business. Your executive committee has spent numerous hours working on solutions to what we considered a crisis. In an effort to cut spending, we have made changes to current policy and made recommendations to the Board of Directors that have been approved. Some of these will have to be approved by you, the members, at our general membership meeting in Orlando. Plan to be there so that you can get the whole transparent picture and be able to vote on the recommendations that will be affecting you.

In an attempt to reduce cost your board has joined the technological world and started board meetings via teleconference. We are asking committee chairs to conduct their meetings in the same manner and present their report to the national office at the tournament. In order for committee chairs to receive the benefits associated with their chairmanship, they must be productive which means have their meetings and submit their reports. Any recommendations made by these established committees will be evaluated and considered by the board.

We are putting forth a maximum effort to reduce spending and beg you to support tournaments and our recruitment plan. The plan isn’t new, but if you support it, it will definitely be a positive start for growth and a lead in for next year’s plan. Our financial situation does not allow us to budget for recruitment at this time, even though we realize it is one of our highest priorities. How loyal are you to the American Bridge Association and what is it worth to you? Our request is simple as we ask “EVERY MEMBER TO BRING IN A NEW MEMBER” and this can happen if you feel dedicated enough to pay national dues for one new person. If you support our national effort, you also increase member in your clubs, units and section. Take this initiative and you will benefit as much as the ABA. To further help you, we will be partnering with the “Audrey Grant’s Better Teacher Accreditation Program”. Audrey Grant called me last week to discuss the program and interviewed me on behalf of the ABA. We are working to have a two day certification workshop before the Summer National in Arlington. This will be a win-win for our teachers because the American Contract Bridge League acknowledges certification from this program and if the American Bridge Association does the same, it would mean dual certification for all participants. More teachers would be available to train the new members you recruited. We will do all that we can to help you train your new recruits.

We have reviewed tournament operations and some of the policies we employ. We realize a need to make the game more enjoyable and will be initiating changes to help our newer players gain a better perspective for the game. Several additions are being added for new players that we hope will make their National Tournament experience an enjoyable one. We are planning a welcome/help desk to assist first timers arriving at the tournament hotel. There will be a dedicated director assigned to the new player area to insure that all games are started timely. We will have a dedicated (by invitation only) reception for new players. As a special treat to all players we will have an AFTER GAME ROUND TABLE to discuss bidding and play of the hands that you encountered during the game. We will make every effort to breakout fields into flights before combining the fields. But we can only do this if you are there to make sure we have enough participation to break out a particular field. We want you to come to the tournament and give us the opportunity to better serve you. If you have any suggestions or comments, my email is always open.

The American Bridge Association needs your help and your support! Let us all come together to preserve the longevity of this organization that we love so much. Your Board of Directors has a very positive view for the future and your unequivocal support will be the mainstay of our success. Support your AMERICAN BRIDGE ASSOCIATION.


Your President,

Hank Irwin

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