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Electronics Ban

Poll: Have you contacted ACBL regarding this? (12 member(s) have cast votes)

Have you contacted ACBL regarding this?

  1. 1. I have, gotten no response. (2 votes [16.67%])

    Percentage of vote: 16.67%

  2. 2. I have, gotten a response. (6 votes [50.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 50.00%

  3. 3. I intend to, haven't yet. (4 votes [33.33%])

    Percentage of vote: 33.33%

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#1 User is offline   h2osmom 

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Posted 2008-June-05, 15:32

Both Tim G, and I, have written to ACBL, specifically Jay Baum, regarding the cell phone ban at the nationals. I didnt find his response satisfactory, although I did get a response. Tim also received a response, which indicated that the membership isn't showing much attention to this matter. According to the poll here on BBO, many people object strenuously to the ban. My question is, how many of you have, or will, communicate that to ACBL?
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#2 User is offline   h2osmom 

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Posted 2008-June-05, 15:54

The address, if you wish to write, is jay.baum @ acbl.org or alternatively ceo @ acbl.org
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#3 User is online   rbforster 

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Posted 2008-June-05, 15:55

And for those of you selecting "I intend to" let us know here when you have and/or what response you got if it was interesting.
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#4 Guest_Jlall_*

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Posted 2008-June-05, 16:03

Someone should just write a blanket email that everyone should send.
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#5 User is offline   jillybean 

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Posted 2008-June-05, 17:25

I'd be interested to know why those who initialy objected strenuously to the ban haven't taken it any further;

I will ignore the new rule
I have decided to comply with the new rule
I cant be bothered complaining but will ensure my cell phone is off in the playing area.
Its not a big deal, I was just jumping on the band wagon
Some other reason
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#6 User is offline   jdonn 

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Posted 2008-June-05, 17:53

Add my to your list, I did exactly the same thing and got a completely unsatisfactory reply. My email took me about a week and, granted not everyone would agree with all the points, but they were clearly stated and in an easy format for him to at least acknowledge them and respectfully disagree if he chose. Instead he ignored them altogether.

As I said in the other thread, I think I lost the email, but if I find it I'll post it and the reply.
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#7 User is offline   Vilgan 

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Posted 2008-June-05, 20:54

I emailed him about the ban and about another issue that was a bit more pressing. 0 response from him.
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#8 User is offline   jdonn 

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Posted 2008-June-05, 21:14

Well what do you know, found it.


My letter:
To Jay Baum, CEO of the ACBL,

I am writing about the ACBL cell phone ban at the Las Vegas NABC. There has been a lot of discussion online, and although the portion of the membership that uses the internet and engages in such discussions does not represent the ACBL membership as a whole, it is clear there are many strong objections. My main purpose in writing is to make my objections noted. I apologize that this will probably become a very long letter, but I hope it gets read and considered.

Many members of the ACBL feel that their views are completely ignored in the decision-making process. Take, for example, your email exchange with Carol Frank regarding the cell phone ban. You said you understand this change "may be a bit of an inconvenience to a few." Your use of the words "may", "a bit" and "a few" indicate that an entire side of this issue is still being ignored. Many members, especially younger members, absolutely depend on their cell phones for their everyday life, especially away from home. I think the ACBL simply doesn't understand how important cell phones already are, and are becoming, to many people now. Consider me for example, and I am far from the most extreme case.

My cell is the only phone I have. Without it I become completely unreachable, even at home. I store all my phone numbers on it, and since I no longer memorize numbers, without it I wouldn't be able to reach people if needed, even with another phone. I receive many calls from my job, and if I can't get back to them within at least a few hours it creates very bad issues for me at work.

In short, I depend on my cell phone completely. But the ACBL seems to regard confiscating it as a minor inconvenience. I find that at best insensitive, and at worst insulting.

It has become clear to me this rule will be completely ignored by not just a few, but potentially more than half of the members who generally carry cell phones. A quick online survey showed 2/3 of people intend to ignore the ban, which is telling, albeit hardly scientific. How can the ACBL pretend to maintain credibility among its members when they don't even take a new rule seriously? There seem to be the following options to enforce the ban:

- Force members to sign waivers to play in events. Aside from the hassle -- you know what the entry table is like when an event is starting -- it would have no impact unless it included a provision to allow members to be searched. I would personally never sign such a thing, and I would not be alone. And anyway, who would do the searching? Who would be searched? How would it be paid for?

- Buy expensive equipment capable of detecting cell phones. The ACBL has neither the money, nor I suspect the inclination, to get into a technology race with cell phone users. As cell phone technology improved, the ACBL would be forced to invest in further expensive equipment. There are also serious legal issues regarding privacy, and a lawsuit from a member is the last thing anyone needs.

- Not enforce the rule at all. This certainly seems the most likely course of action, given the complete non-enforcement by directors of the penalty for people whose phones ring during a session. And in that case, the ACBL has done nothing but provide a fake ineffective solution to a problem that would continue to exist. To put it in the words of a poster on the Bridgebase Online forums, if this is a case of window dressing the ACBL ought to have done something less inconvenient to its members.

And how will this ban be effective? I can't go through complicated measures to relay my hand to someone and ask them what I should do, but I can peek at hands as I walk through the room completely undetected? It is locking the windows and leaving the front door open. I also note that a cell phone on vibrate can easily be heard in a relatively quiet area, so it's not something where people could just sit at the table and get away with many things. Perhaps I underestimate the ingenuity bad people would employ to use their cell phones to cheat. But the ACBL certainly underestimates their ingenuity in finding other methods.

You noted in your reply to Carol that there will be stations at the door, similar to coat checks. Can such a thing be done effectively? How are the phones guarded, by one volunteer sitting behind a table? How long will it take both before and after the session, both already very hectic times in the playing area? What can I do if my phone is mistakenly given to someone else?

To summarize:

1) The cell phone ban enhances a general feeling that the younger portion of the membership is not considered in the decision making process, and the ACBL grossly underestimates the dependency of many on their cell phones.

2) The ban is not being taken seriously by the members, undermining the credibility of the ACBL, and is unenforceable without draconian measures. Further, it will not be effective.

3) There is no reason to believe a phone check station would work well, or at all.

4) The ACBL doesn't not have an accurate idea of the strength opposition to the ban because many of its opponents are too discouraged to complain.

I eagerly await your reply. I would simply like to note in closing that I in no way want to ignore the potential problem of cheating. The game is nothing without its integrity. However, the objections to this "solution" are simply too great to ignore. I feel very strongly that it would not be an exaggeration to say this is a pivotal moment in the history of the ACBL, and one in which it would be well-advised to reconsider its position.

Respectfully yours,
Josh Donn, #J479822


His reply:
Hi Joshua:
Thank you for your comments and insight regarding the cell phone issue.There are a few points that I must make to clarify the position of the ACBL:
1) This ban only applies to NABC championship events.
2) Cell phones have long been an annoyance to many of our members.
3) This regulation is currently part of the rules used by the WBF , Cavendish Invitational , US Chess Federation , PGA and numerous other organizations without problems.
4)As with other regulations that are difficult to enforce ,this will also be difficult to enforce but not impossible.
Las Vegas will be a challenge for all of us but the priority on keeping a level playing field has to outweigh the inconvenience if we are to insure the integrity of our most prestigious events.This , coupled with sophisticated videotaping , will give us a much better chance to keep our events equitable for all participants.
I do hope you continue to comment on issues that you feel are important for improving the game.
Kindest regards,

Jay Baum, CEO
ACBL
Please let me know about any questions or interest or bug reports about GIB.
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#9 User is offline   matmat 

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Posted 2008-June-05, 21:29

Last time I wrote a letter of any meaning to the acbl (this was actually to my unit) the response was so unsatisfactory and close to insulting that I quit the organization. I've been thinking about rejoining lately (in time for vegas), but this and a few of the other regulations are convincing me that staying away is the right thing to do. I don't intend to give a dime of my money to memphis any time soon.
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#10 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2008-June-05, 21:34

I sent an email today, will see if I get any reply.

While Josh may be unsatisfied with the reply he got, I think he got Mr. Baum to own up to what's almost surely the real reason for the ban:

Quote

2. Cell phones have long been an annoyance to many of our members.


Seems likely this is a battle between the older generation for whom cell phones are an annoyance against the younger generation for whom cell phones are a necessity of life. And one group is a heck of a lot better represented in the ACBL...
Adam W. Meyerson
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#11 User is offline   Elianna 

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Posted 2008-June-05, 21:47

awm, on Jun 5 2008, 07:34 PM, said:

I sent an email today, will see if I get any reply.

While Josh may be unsatisfied with the reply he got, I think he got Mr. Baum to own up to what's almost surely the real reason for the ban:

Quote

2. Cell phones have long been an annoyance to many of our members.


Seems likely this is a battle between the older generation for whom cell phones are an annoyance against the younger generation for whom cell phones are a necessity of life. And one group is a heck of a lot better represented in the ACBL...

Funnily enough, whenever a cell phone goes off around me (tournament, club game, etc...) it always belongs to some elderly person who always claims that he forgot that the cell phone was in his possession.
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#12 User is offline   matmat 

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Posted 2008-June-05, 21:48

Elianna, on Jun 5 2008, 10:47 PM, said:

Funnily enough, whenever a cell phone goes off around me (tournament, club game, etc...) it always belongs to some elderly person who always claims that he forgot that the cell phone was in his possession.

do those people play "NABC Championship events" ?
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#13 User is offline   Elianna 

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Posted 2008-June-05, 21:49

matmat, on Jun 5 2008, 07:48 PM, said:

Elianna, on Jun 5 2008, 10:47 PM, said:

Funnily enough, whenever a cell phone goes off around me (tournament, club game, etc...) it always belongs to some elderly person who always claims that he forgot that the cell phone was in his possession.

do those people play "NABC Championship events" ?

Not that I know of.
My addiction to Mario Bros #3 has come back!
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#14 User is offline   matmat 

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Posted 2008-June-05, 21:52

Elianna, on Jun 5 2008, 10:49 PM, said:

matmat, on Jun 5 2008, 07:48 PM, said:

Elianna, on Jun 5 2008, 10:47 PM, said:

Funnily enough, whenever a cell phone goes off around me (tournament, club game, etc...) it always belongs to some elderly person who always claims that he forgot that the cell phone was in his possession.

do those people play "NABC Championship events" ?

Not that I know of.

ok. that makes sense, then :/
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#15 User is offline   mike777 

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Posted 2008-June-05, 22:37

jdonn, on Jun 5 2008, 10:14 PM, said:

Well what do you know, found it.


My letter:
To Jay Baum, CEO of the ACBL,

I am writing about the ACBL cell phone ban at the Las Vegas NABC. There has been a lot of discussion online, and although the portion of the membership that uses the internet and engages in such discussions does not represent the ACBL membership as a whole, it is clear there are many strong objections. My main purpose in writing is to make my objections noted. I apologize that this will probably become a very long letter, but I hope it gets read and considered.

Many members of the ACBL feel that their views are completely ignored in the decision-making process. Take, for example, your email exchange with Carol Frank regarding the cell phone ban. You said you understand this change "may be a bit of an inconvenience to a few." Your use of the words "may", "a bit" and "a few" indicate that an entire side of this issue is still being ignored. Many members, especially younger members, absolutely depend on their cell phones for their everyday life, especially away from home. I think the ACBL simply doesn't understand how important cell phones already are, and are becoming, to many people now. Consider me for example, and I am far from the most extreme case.

My cell is the only phone I have. Without it I become completely unreachable, even at home. I store all my phone numbers on it, and since I no longer memorize numbers, without it I wouldn't be able to reach people if needed, even with another phone. I receive many calls from my job, and if I can't get back to them within at least a few hours it creates very bad issues for me at work.

In short, I depend on my cell phone completely. But the ACBL seems to regard confiscating it as a minor inconvenience. I find that at best insensitive, and at worst insulting.

It has become clear to me this rule will be completely ignored by not just a few, but potentially more than half of the members who generally carry cell phones. A quick online survey showed 2/3 of people intend to ignore the ban, which is telling, albeit hardly scientific. How can the ACBL pretend to maintain credibility among its members when they don't even take a new rule seriously? There seem to be the following options to enforce the ban:

- Force members to sign waivers to play in events. Aside from the hassle -- you know what the entry table is like when an event is starting -- it would have no impact unless it included a provision to allow members to be searched. I would personally never sign such a thing, and I would not be alone. And anyway, who would do the searching? Who would be searched? How would it be paid for?

- Buy expensive equipment capable of detecting cell phones. The ACBL has neither the money, nor I suspect the inclination, to get into a technology race with cell phone users. As cell phone technology improved, the ACBL would be forced to invest in further expensive equipment. There are also serious legal issues regarding privacy, and a lawsuit from a member is the last thing anyone needs.

- Not enforce the rule at all. This certainly seems the most likely course of action, given the complete non-enforcement by directors of the penalty for people whose phones ring during a session. And in that case, the ACBL has done nothing but provide a fake ineffective solution to a problem that would continue to exist. To put it in the words of a poster on the Bridgebase Online forums, if this is a case of window dressing the ACBL ought to have done something less inconvenient to its members.

And how will this ban be effective? I can't go through complicated measures to relay my hand to someone and ask them what I should do, but I can peek at hands as I walk through the room completely undetected? It is locking the windows and leaving the front door open. I also note that a cell phone on vibrate can easily be heard in a relatively quiet area, so it's not something where people could just sit at the table and get away with many things. Perhaps I underestimate the ingenuity bad people would employ to use their cell phones to cheat. But the ACBL certainly underestimates their ingenuity in finding other methods.

You noted in your reply to Carol that there will be stations at the door, similar to coat checks. Can such a thing be done effectively? How are the phones guarded, by one volunteer sitting behind a table? How long will it take both before and after the session, both already very hectic times in the playing area? What can I do if my phone is mistakenly given to someone else?

To summarize:

1) The cell phone ban enhances a general feeling that the younger portion of the membership is not considered in the decision making process, and grossly the ACBL gunderestimates the dependency of many on their cell phones.

2) The ban is not being taken seriously by the members, undermining the credibility of the ACBL, and is unenforceable without draconian measures. Further, it will not be effective.

3) There is no reason to believe a phone check station would work well, or at all.

4) The ACBL doesn't not have an accurate idea of the strength opposition to the ban because many of its opponents are too discouraged to complain.

I eagerly await your reply. I would simply like to note in closing that I in no way want to ignore the potential problem of cheating. The game is nothing without its integrity. However, the objections to this "solution" are simply too great to ignore. I feel very strongly that it would not be an exaggeration to say this is a pivotal moment in the history of the ACBL, and one in which it would be well-advised to reconsider its position.

Respectfully yours,
Josh Donn, #J479822


His reply:
Hi Joshua:
Thank you for your comments and insight regarding the cell phone issue.There are a few points that I must make to clarify the position of the ACBL:
1) This ban only applies to NABC championship events.
2) Cell phones have long been an annoyance to many of our members.
3) This regulation is currently part of the rules used by the WBF , Cavendish Invitational , US Chess Federation , PGA and numerous other organizations without problems.
4)As with other regulations that are difficult to enforce ,this will also be difficult to enforce but not impossible.
Las Vegas will be a challenge for all of us but the priority on keeping a level playing field has to outweigh the inconvenience if we are to insure the integrity of our most prestigious events.This , coupled with sophisticated videotaping , will give us a much better chance to keep our events equitable for all participants.
I do hope you continue to comment on issues that you feel are important for improving the game.
Kindest regards,

Jay Baum, CEO
ACBL

Excellent letter.

My response as an old fogey. I think your main and most important point is point one. In fact I read it as your making two key points in bullet one, but I will only discuss one.

"...and grossly the ACBL gunderestimates the dependency of many on their cell phones....."

I thought imo this is the key point.

For sake of discussion let's assume cell phones are not needed for many, almost all members, it is a luxury a huge luxury. This changes the tone of the discussion 100%.

I can only add that for almost 30 years in practice in fact almost 50 years of actual investing I have been told by my fellow stockbrockers that they must, must be reachable by phone at almost all times. I always thought this was a very silly thing. In fact I practiced just the opposite. I always assumed if I dropped dead I had prepared my staff, clients and a replacement while I was on vacation or worse. :)

As a boss if you cannot be reachable for 24 hours or more and that is bad for business or your further advancement then I would have concerns why; but that is a discussion for another thread.

However, if your point is true, that the majority or even a significant minority must, must be reachable by phone I concede the discussion.
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#16 User is offline   TimG 

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Posted 2008-June-05, 22:39

jdonn, on Jun 5 2008, 10:14 PM, said:

3) This regulation is currently part of the rules used by the WBF , Cavendish Invitational , US Chess Federation , PGA and numerous other organizations without problems.

This , coupled with sophisticated videotaping , will give us a much better chance to keep our events equitable for all participants.

The Cavendish had a couple of webcams set up on vugraph tables which showed that each table was surrounded by curtains. And, hands were played simultaneously, that is during each round the same deals were played at every table. I doubt that a cell phone ban would be needed under such conditions. But, I also suspect a cell phone would be better received under such conditions because it demonstrates that the sponsoring organization takes security seriously.

I'd be very surprised if the "sophisticated videotaping" is truly sophisticated given today's standards. It was not that long ago (this millennium) that the ACBL BoD refused to establish a message board for internal use because they could not find one with spell checking capability.
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#17 User is offline   Vilgan 

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Posted 2008-June-05, 22:59

TimG, on Jun 5 2008, 11:39 PM, said:

I'd be very surprised if the "sophisticated videotaping" is truly sophisticated given today's standards. It was not that long ago (this millennium) that the ACBL BoD refused to establish a message board for internal use because they could not find one with spell checking capability.

They have been "working on" adding a forum to the bridgeiscool website for 2.5 years now. They claim, however, that it is a complicated process and one they want to take the time to do right.

I think anyone with webpage experience can see the ludicrousness of that statement.
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#18 User is offline   matmat 

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Posted 2008-June-05, 23:21

Vilgan, on Jun 5 2008, 11:59 PM, said:

They have been "working on" adding a forum to the bridgeiscool website for 2.5 years now. They claim, however, that it is a complicated process and one they want to take the time to do right.

I think anyone with webpage experience can see the ludicrousness of that statement.

see... it's just that every post will have to be approved by a committee....
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#19 User is offline   jdonn 

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Posted 2008-June-05, 23:37

BTW I wrote a reply to his reply which I will post if he replies to that. It's much shorter.
Please let me know about any questions or interest or bug reports about GIB.
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#20 User is offline   peachy 

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Posted 2008-June-06, 01:57

I can't vote in this poll because the button I need is missing: I have not and don't intend to contact the ACBL about the e-ban. A session lasts only around 3.5 hours. If the cell-dependent people cannot be without phone that long, they might have trouble traveling long distance by plane. What will they do then - only book flights that have at most 3 hour segments?

With very few exceptions, people DO NOT need a cell phone while playing and the dependancy on the phone is largely illusory. I know many who feel "naked" unless the cell is in their hand or they can feel it is in their pocket or at least within sight close-by. I have no problem with that, can happen to anybody :) For work or home, one could inform them ahead of time that all calls will be returned at a certain time (which would be: before, after, or between sessions).

Would be interested to know how much of a problem the ban is in other events, such as bridge tournaments in other countries, chess tournaments, and so on.

The only drawback I see is the enforcement. Short of body search, I don't see how ACBL intends to enforce the ban. Rules that are un-enforceable, tend to erode respect for that rule and possibly other rules as well.
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