President's Message


Yes, we have reached and now embark upon 2017 with a new vigor, determination and positive outlook for the future of the American Bridge Association.  Your administration has worked very hard to bring about needed changes in our day-to-day and tournament operations and feel that 2016 was a successful year.  However, this does not give us the opportunity to relax our efforts nor you to relax yours.  The success of last year’s effort was dynamically due to the overwhelming support that you, our members, gave to our initiatives and tournament operations.  You proved that though we are small in numbers, we can come together with overwhelming success.  You are awesome and I applaud and sincerely thank you for your support.  Now let us move forward harmoniously for an even better 2017.

          As usual, the life of the ABA rest sternly on you.  Membership recruitment remains the most important factor affecting our future.  Our 2016 recruitment initiative, EVERYONE BRING ONE, was not as effective as we had hoped.  It doesn’t matter what we offer as an incentive to recruit, the effort must be upheld and supported by you in your local areas of influence.  It is realized that as we get older, we get tired and become less active.  But you are still the mainstay, the life blood of the organization.  You still have valuable contacts in your fraternities, sororities, and other social organizations that remain an untapped source of membership.  We will embrace your efforts and assist you in any way that we can, but you must be the initiator in your area.  We can help you find teachers if needed to hold classes for you; we can provide benefits for you, your clubs and to your new members, but you must bring these potential members together.  If you have any suggestions that you feel could be a benefit to our recruitment effort, please don’t hesitate to write the details of your suggestion and forward to me for review.  We will thoroughly evaluate any suggestions that we receive.  Recruitment is that important!

          You were instrumental to the success of our two National Tournaments in 2016.  We now look forward to our Spring National in Reno, NV April 1-7 and our Summer National in Lombard IL August 17-27, 2017 and hope that we have supported you to a level that warrants your continued support.  The Western and Mid-Western Sections are very diligently working to make these venues most rewarding for you.  We want everyone to enjoy these events, but we are putting forth an extra effort to give our new players a very positive experience in hopes that they will desire to continue tournament participation.  Our New Player’s Chair is requesting all new players (0-299), who plan to attend, to pre-register so that we may properly plan all new player activities.  We frequently try to plan events and then don’t have the participation to warrant them.  We hope that pre-registration will help us plan better.  We will know that we have the number of tables for various games and will offer you the opportunity for them.  We will offer seminars, post mortems and some special gifts for pre-registrants.  Again, the success of this new player initiative rest with you and the support you give it.

          We have two training initiatives that we support before the start of our national tournaments; Director and Teacher training/certification.  Due to the interest of so many of you to participate, we have elected to separate these activities to allow better participation.  Two days prior to the Spring National in Reno, there will be a two-day Director Workshop; and two days prior to the Summer National in Lombard, there will be a two-day Audrey Grant Better Teacher Accreditation Workshop.  We are in dire need of both certified teachers and directors and offer these programs to help you get the needed certification.  The Teacher Accreditation Program is also approved and accepted by the American Contract Bridge League which means that you receive a dual certification, ABA and ACBL.  I attended this training and was extremely impressed with the newer teaching techniques that were offered. 

          All of what we are doing to perpetuate the longevity of the American Bridge Association is important and none less than the support from the American Contract Bridge League.  Presidents are very diligently working to bring about a more harmonious playing relationship between members of the two organizations. 


PLEASE ABAers, DON’T VIEW THIS AN ATTEMPT TO MERGE WITH ACBL, BECAUSE IT ISN’T.  I want to give my most sincere thanks to ACBL outgoing president, Mr. Ken Monzingo (center) for his support to better ABA/ACBL relations and to improve the operational efficiency of the ABA.  I thank incoming president, Mr. Bob Heller (right) for his desire to continue supporting the initiatives being discussed.  His efforts are further implied by his appointment of Mrs. Harriett Buckman, as liaison between ACBL and ABA.  Harriett, a former ACBL president and a longtime ABA supporter, understands the dynamics of both organizations.  Our initiatives are also supported by the ACBL Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Robert Hartman (not pictured).  I look forward to continuing the work started to improve ABA’s efficiency in game scoring and tournament operations.  We have also learned that ABA and ACBL share some of the same problems and through Project Outreach, we can address them collectively and hopefully learn from one another without reinventing the wheel. 

          This administration is dedicated to serving you to the absolute best of our ability.  Your desires and preferences are important to us, but we can only address them if you bring them forward.  You can do this by taking a stand to present your ideas and suggestions.  I appreciate your support and maintain an open-door policy to listen to you.  This is your organization and I want to represent you.  Now let us combine our efforts to make 2017 a banner year for the American Bridge Association.  Keep the ABA moving forward, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!


May SEVEN NOTRUMP be in your stars for 2017,


Henry G. Irwin, Jr., President