At the fall meeting of the Board of Directors last week, District 13’s Suzi Subeck was elected ACBL president for 2015. A life-long resident of the Chicago area, Subeck has been actively involved in bridge governance for many years, most visibly as past president of Unit 123 (Chicago) and as editor for a variety of bridge publications at the unit and district level, including Unit 123’s The Kibitzer.

Subeck, serving her second term as a district director, has been married to Stan Subeck for 45 years, the same length of time Suzi has been playing bridge.

“I realized early that I’d never see Stan if I didn’t learn how to play,” she says, and the duo has been active in Chicago-area duplicate ever since.

At four foot nine, the diminutive Subeck might be mistaken for someone’s kindly, doting grandmother (which, in fact, she is: “My sweet 8-year-old granddaughter is as tall as I am!”), but those who know her understand that it’s a mistake to judge her by her size. Her love for the game and hopeful concern for its future are strong, and she is clear in articulating her views on how the ACBL should proceed in the short term.

“I want ACBL to focus on communication. We need to do a better job of telling players what we’re doing to improve their experience of the game as well as the services we provide.” Subeck says the ACBL has learned the hard way about social media: When an organization doesn’t communicate effectively, the vacuum will be filled by others who will, and not always in an accurate or flattering light. The president-elect specifically addressed the comment boards on the BridgeWinners website where it’s easy to find discussion threads that attack ACBL management and Board policies. As with many comment boards, actual knowledge of a topic is not required, and trolling (posting unceasingly negative comments to generate further discussion) is considered a virtue.

“It’s not the criticism that I mind; it’s the assertions made that aren’t true, because they can take on a life of their own. But in a way, BridgeWinners has done us a favor. The ACBL needs to be clearer on how it intends to make the game better. We need to be clearer we want dialogue and feedback, and we need to make our processes open. And all of this should happen without attacking anyone personally.”

Much of the criticism in the past year has focused on technology issues, an area that Subeck describes as a top priority for the League.

“The ACBL is trying very hard to raise the level of technology we use for the benefit our members. TourneyTrax, the Online Partnership Desk and ACBL Live are good examples, but as with any new service, there will be glitches, so we ask for our members’ patience and feedback to help us make it better. It’s a cycle. I’m hopeful we’re making huge strides forward technologically. (ACBL CEO) Robert Hartman has been doing a good job of implementing these plans.”

Subeck also wants to focus on the “integrity of the game,” the preferred way of describing how to handle players who regularly engage in ethically questionable behavior.
“Our recorder system [wherein formal ‘Player Memos’ go on file to document abuses] needs to be honed. Coordination between units and districts is limited, and the ACBL is not doing a good job of following up in some cases. And in tournament settings, I want to devote more resources to surveillance technology. We have the capability to do it, and the responsibility, too.”

For NABCs, Subeck wants to explore using mid-size cities to host on a more frequent basis. She is also excited about the new NABC schedule that begins in 2015.

“The NABCs need a shot in the arm, and the 10K events [limited to players with less than 10,000 points] just might do it by giving members who want to play in national championships an option, without having to play in the top-tier NABC+ events. These work especially well for players ineligible for Senior events.”