Interview with the umpire

Okay, he says he isn’t the umpire, he’s the commissioner, but that doesn’t make a cute title.

I’m talking about Big Don Mamula, president of the ACBL this year and an old friend of mine.

Don surrounded by admirers--Nancy Ferguson and Gail

Don surrounded by admirers–Nancy Ferguson and Gail


The questions today centered on the incredibly slow start to the Mixed Pairs.  In our room, the players at the seeded tables didn’t get there until 1:30, for a game that was to start at 1 pm.  Gail talked about them coming in like it was a wedding and they were the wedding party.

Don pointed to a big problem:  the seeding just takes too long.  As more and more players get high numbers on points and think they are entitled to prestigious seeded tables, the process takes longer.  The solution, he thinks, is to stop selling seeded entries 15 minutes prior to game time.  If you can’t get there early, you can sit with the hoi polloi.  He says the directors he has talked to like this idea, as do most of the better players.  It makes sense to me, and I hope he can get it through the board and working.

The second issue is more complex.  Apparently, there was severe weather in Atlanta this morning, and some other airline hubs, and a number of players didn’t make it to Saint Louis–but their partners didn’t know it, and bought entries.  This left sudden holes in the movements, and players had to be moved around.

Then, there is a new directive that the directors should sell only 13 table sections in National events, and the one remaining section will be worked out with a web movement.   But when there are holes, the sections can’t just be compressed because they were only 13 tables to begin with.  It’s a structural impossibility, and very difficult to deal with.  This led to the catastrophe this afternoon, and there is no easy fix, you just have to deal with problems when they arise.

Okay, you’re bored, this subject is arcane and I’m the only one who really cares.  Thanks for reading this far, I’ll get back to restaurants in the next post.


2 thoughts on “Interview with the umpire

  1. I might get into trouble for posting here, but since I was
    punched in the balls by a player (accidentally, she said), I don’t
    care. All of the points are valid – it’s great in theory to run a
    game like this, but it will not work unless you know the exact
    number of tables. I’m sure that in the past, we’ve merrily shuffled
    late tables/car accidents/whatever in, and it hasn’t even been
    noticed, so that it’s believed that it couldn’t possibly be a
    problem to make a small bump from “damn good” to “perfection”.
    Well, as this tourney shows, it is. I think we have the best
    directing staff on the planet, but I just don’t think we can cope
    with this in the time we’re given, and I think we should be given
    the leeway in the COC to create the occasional 14/15 table section
    to deal with the unforseeable in the first session. After that –
    fine, but give us the leeway to act as we need to in the first one.
    Oh fine, disclaimer. This is just me venting, and I doubt I speak
    for the directing staff as a whole, and certainly don’t speak for
    the ACBL.

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