Western Cape Bridge News - August 2023

Wednesday, 23 August 2023 by Brian Paxton

August 2023 newsletter highlights: Western Cape Teams and SAWBA / Monthly Sunday Pairs and Lunch / Charity Bridge in aid of Friendship Club / Bridge Results / The Future of Bridge / Statistics  

As always, there's a lot of bridge activities coming up. More information on many of the topics in this newsletter can be found in the attachments to this E-mail; by clicking on the links in the text below; or by visiting the Western Cape Bridge Union (WCBU) website.

Looking ahead, the Western Cape Teams competition, a blue master point event, is scheduled to take place on RealBridge on 30th September and 1st October 2023, and the rescheduled SAWBA, also online, takes place from 24th to 29th October; you can click here to enter either or both these events. The WCBU and Personal Trust invite players in the Cape Town area, including visitors, to participate in our August and September final Sunday of the month Pairs and Lunch events to be held at the Bridge Centre in Green Point on Sundays 27th August (next weekend) and 24th September starting at 10h00; the cost (inclusive of lunch and a glass of wine) is R100.00 per person; you can contact Shirley Phillips ([email protected]) to enter or to assist you in finding a partner. Our next monthly First Friday charity BBO tournament takes place at 10h00 on Friday 1st September in aid of the Friendship Club which discreetly assists those bridge players who cannot afford SABF subs and tournament entry fees - to enter the tournament, just logon early to BBO, select Virtual Clubs - South Africa and you will see our WCBU sessions listed. More details of the Friendship Club are on the WCBU website home page, including details of how to donate to this worthy cause. We look forward to seeing even more of you at all of these tournaments!  

Congratulations to Anton der Kinderen and Duncan Keet on winning the A section of the Western Cape Pairs competition, followed by Howard Strauss and Peter Terblanche, while Hilary Nick and Harold Bernstein were winners of the B section; the detailed results of both sections can be found from the Results page on the WCBU website though you need to look carefully as they are in different formats as a result of technical problems encountered during scoring. The Western Province team comprising Duncan Keet, Carol Stanton, Paul Lawrence and Stephen McBride won the Berkowitz interprovincial competition, while the Donde team won the Impala Swiss Teams competition which took place during August; congratulations to all of the winners - we hope the experience is standing those representing South Africa in good stead in Marrakech. Our thanks to the ever present Bridge Centre team and the tournament directors - you are the often forgotten and unsung heroes of bridge, especially when having to deal with unanticipated technology malfunctions!

Moving to ways of learning or improving your bridge, the next of leading bridge teacher Jeff Sapire's brief bridge tips: Go out of your way to lead partner’s suit, unless you have a very good reason not to. (But don’t lead the suit with Ax(xx), find something else). The Pianola website the WCBU uses for storing results also provides wonderful tools for you to analyse your performance and improve your bridge skills. Next time you receive an E-mail with your results, just click on Login to Pianola for More Detail and you will be taken to a page where you can do an in-depth analysis of your performance in your latest tournament as declarer, defender and even dummy. Then if you click on My History your can go back in time to view your performance in each of those roles. You can even check if your favourite partner really should be top of your list compared to your other partners! Try it - and if you have trouble logging in, just pop me an E-mail.

In previous newsletters I have commented on the precarious state of formalised bridge in South Africa. The number of players registered as SABF members and taking part in our tournaments is dropping even while non affiliated clubs, in Cape Town at least, seem to be thriving - maybe it's because non SABF member players no longer see value for money in SABF membership and are happy to play in events that don't earn them masterpoints of any colour? We can but hope that we don't see a further exodus if the SABF committee decide, in their wisdom, to further increase SABF subs in 2024. One direct side effect so far is that the KZNBU has had to cannabalise their 2023 schedule of red point events, while both Congress and the recent Western Cape Pairs tournament attracted significantly fewer participants than heretofore.

Although SABF subs are collected by affiliated unions and clubs, they are remitted in full to the SABF whose major expenses, according to their 2022 financial statements, are sending an elite group of players overseas and an expensive bridge teaching program - one can but hope that the alumni from those courses are playing at affiliated clubs and not elsewhere. It might sound like heresy, but perhaps the time has come for the SABF to dispense with member subs altogether - wouldn't hard-pressed club and union treasurers who collect subs from hundreds of individual players be delighted - and initiate a 15 year program to gradually run down their multi-million Rand reserves at the end of which time most of today's members would probably no longer be playing bridge. The funds from the reserves could be used to provide services, such as free pre-dealt boards, to all clubs, whether affiliated or not, something the WCBU is already doing with free boards for affiliated clubs and a nominal payment for non-affiliated clubs. That way, we ordinary players would feel we were getting something back from the subs we paid over, maybe, decades. And petty disputes about the definition of a member and reciprocal playing rights for overseas players would be a thing of the past. Union Websites could advertise the activities and results of all clubs in their area, rather than just those of the affiliated clubs. The end result should be more, not fewer, people playing club bridge, in line with the opening paragraphs of the SABF constitution. What do you think?

The unions themselves are reliant on table monies paid by players taking part in BBO and face to face sessions to cover their expenses; as numbers drop, so too are these sources of income diminishing. The Western Cape Bridge Union is fortunate in having Personal Trust and Warwick Wealth as sponsors but, like all commercial enterprises, they seek value from their investment in bridge which is why their logos are prominent at the Bridge Centre and on our website and we make sure to acknowledge their valuable support in each of our newsletters. The Western Cape Department of Culture, Arts and Sport (DCAS) is another key source of funds for the WCBU; at recent meetings the management there has questioned why the SABF, as a Sascoc affiliate, has more than one union in the Western Cape Province - the WCBU and the SCBU - and also in Gauteng (the Sascoc constitution provides for members to have divisions aligned with provincial boundaries).

DCAS was instrumental in the WCBU creating a Safeguarding Officer position so that any Western Cape bridge players experiencing suspected non-accidental harm, discrimination, bullying, harassment, abuse, violence and neglect could report the matter in confidence. Michele Alexander, who served two terms as president of the Scottish Bridge Union, has been appointed as the Western Cape's Safeguarding Officer. Michele was also elected at the SABF AGM back in April as the WCBU representative on the SABF committee. If you would like to contact her in either of these important roles, then her E-mail address is [email protected]. Those of you in regions other than the Western Cape should find out who represents your union on the SABF and give them your feedback and input to take forward to the SABF committee in the interests of building bridge back to the force it was pre-Covid. The last thing we want is for formal bridge to collapse because of a lack of interest in bridge administration affairs on the part of ordinary players such as yourself, maybe distracted by your last slam hand or the smile and wink of your last stunning opponent.

Turning to the statistics you all love (well some of you do, at least), in the past two months the results from more than 498 (up from 451) tables of face to face and online bridge have been recorded in the Pianola database on the WCBU website where players can compare and analyse their performance while, as I described above, also giving them the opportunity to compare their results in the two formats. Since the beginning of January 2023, the WCBU website has been used by 3,763 visitors who read 23,481 pages of information during 11,676 visits. Of the visitors, who live in 57 different countries, 84% reside in South Africa, 5% in the United Kingdom, 2.2% in America, and 1.4% in Australia; 36% live in Cape Town, 30% in Gauteng and 2% in Hermanus. As you would expect, the home page was the most popular page in August, followed by the results, Bridge Clubs, Bridge Lessons (this is viewed more than 150 times each month, hopefully by people wanting to learn or upgrade their bridge skills) and Upcoming pages. Some 44% of visitors use a computer; 44% use a cell-phone; and 11% a tablet. And that's enough statistics for this month!