MAPS AND DECISIONS, III:  Redistricting.
Sandra L. Arlinghaus and William C. Arlinghaus

General Introduction

     Tournament level duplicate bridge is a card game that is a sport.  As is the case with sports, generally, there is an overseeing body:  in basketball it is the National Basketball Association (NBA); in bridge it is the American Contract Bridge League for North America (ACBL) and the World Bridge Federation (WBF) for all nations in the world.  The ACBL is a non-profit organization based in Memphis, Tennessee.  The ACBL has about 150,000 members in the U.S.A., Canada, and Mexico.  The WBF has more than 10 million members.  The ACBL owns two buildings in Memphis where they house a large staff to maintain records, databases, publications, and a host of other operations associated with this business in the entertainment/sports sector of the business world.  The second author of this work is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the ACBL.  This Board, as do equivalent boards of other corporations, sets policy for the organization, makes decisions that affect the entire population of ACBL members, and oversees the work of the Chief Executive Officer.  There are 25 Board members, each representing one geographical "district" of the ACBL.  Thus, the members of the Board of Directors are also referred to, even though their charge is to represent the interests of the entire ACBL, "District Directors." 


     The second author was also a member of the "Redistricting Committee," an ACBL Board committee, during the year 2005.  
A quick glance at the numbers in Figure 1, however, suggests that perhaps the system might work better if the size, shape, or number of districts were altered.   ACBL staff and management has been interested, for a number of years, in having a more streamlined organization.  One way to consider such a process is to reduce the number of districts and shrink the size of the Board of Directors.  Naturally, Directors from different regions have various viewpoints on this matter.  During 2005, a "redistricting" committee was convened to consider the possibility of redistricting the ACBL.  Maps offered some useful information for decisions; because the maps were created in a GIS with database and map interaction, it was relatively straightforward to create various scenarios for the Redistricting Committee to consider.

Figure 1.  ACBL membership mapped by District, based on March 2005 data.

  Two of the more plausible possibilities are presented below in Figure 2a, with 17 districts, and in Figure 2b, with 25 districts.  In each the goal was to balance, insofar as possible, the number of members in each district (viewing Florida as an outlier).  The map in Figure 2a has 17 districts responding to management's desire to have a smaller Board of Directors.  The map in Figure 2b has 25 districts; no district director loses a position.  In this case, the maps used in conjunction with other information, led the Redistricting Committee to keep the status quo--changing district boundaries creates a great deal of work in the conversion process so that a realignment of the sort proposed in Figure 2b seemed not worth the effort.  After careful analysis of the evidence, including the evidence of maps, the decision was reached to retain the current pattern shown here in the map in Figure 1.


Many thanks to Al Levy, Chair, ACBL Redistricting Committee and to members of that committee.  Thanks to Jay Baum, ACBL CEO, Rick Beye, Carol Robertson, Richard Oshlag, and Ed Evers, ACBL, for providing the materials directly to Sandra Arlinghaus, who then created the map sets using GIS software (ESRI, ArcView 3.2) that forges a dynamic link between underlying database and outline base map.  Graphic adjusments of various kinds were made in Adobe PhotoShop or Adobe Illustrator.

Solstice:  An Electronic Journal of Geography and Mathematics, Institute of Mathematical Geography, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Volume XVII, Number 1.