Western Cape Bridge News - March 2024

Friday, 29 March 2024 by Brian Paxton

March 2024 Highlights: WCBU Hermanus Pairs and Upcoming Coastal Tournaments / Charity Tournaments / Congress Results / Bridge Tip / ChatGPT Rulings / WCBU Vision and Strategy / WCBU and SABF AGMs and Financial Results / Statistics


As usual there's a host of bridge tournaments and other events 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.


The calendar and upcoming pages on the WCBU website have been updated with our full tournament schedule for the year, including regular two day RealBridge teams competitions. The red point WCBU Hermanus Pairs takes place on 5th and 6th April but, happily or sadly depending on your point of view, entries have closed due to huge popular demand. Looking further ahead, the SABF Open, Women's and Mixed Trials take place in late April and early May; Shirley Phillips ([email protected]) is seeking volunteers to monitor the trials. Further up the coast, the St Francis Bay Open Teams, which takes place from 17th to 19th May, promises to be a lot of competitive fun, as does the Knysna Oyster Pairs tournament taking place on 22nd and 23rd June. The start date for SAWBA has been set back by a few days to avoid a clash with the world championships taking place in Buenos Aires.


The WCBU's BBO Friday Charity Tournaments continue to pull in a big field, a win-win for players and for the charities supported. During April we will be supporting Outliers (5th April), U-Turn (12th April), Peninsula Schools Feeding Association (19th April) and Souper Troopers (26th April). Still on charity bridge, BAMSA is organising a 2 session online Board a Match (2x20 boards) fundraising for youth & schools bridge worldwide on RealBridge on Saturday 27 April; there will be special prizes and hand commentary. The monthly Sunday Personal Trust bridge and lunch takes place on 28th April. And that should be more than enough good bridge to keep everyone more than happy in between the regular sessions taking place at all our clubs.


Congratulations to the Donde Team (Neville Eber, Hennie Fick, Robert Stephens and Bernard Donde) who narrowly beat the Stabell team (Sverre Johnsen, Jan Petter Svendsen, Leif-Erik Stabell, Tolle Stabell) in the final of the recent South African 2024 Congress teams competition. The Congress Open Pairs final was won by Egypt's Amr Farrag and Ahmed Nayer, followed by Leif-Erik and Tolle Stabell with Alon Apteker and Craig Gower in third spot. Group B was won by Peter Ward and Merle Modlin while the group C winners were Glenda Macleod and Yvonne Stacey. Congratulations to all the winners and hearty thanks to the organisers and tournament directors for a very well run tournament.


The Pianola Website database, which the WCBU uses to record details of players and tournament results from all our affiliated and associated clubs provides a Competitions feature allowing results from multiple sessions to be compared. You can access the link from any page of results. Right now, for instance, Impala is running a best 4 of 5 Cross Imps competition and, just for the fun of it, we have created a test competition across all the results for the past month recorded on Pianola from all the clubs.


Moving to bridge skills improvement, here is the next of leading bridge teacher Jeff Sapire's brief bridge tips: The Rule of 9: With 5 or more points, you must respond to partner’s opening bid. With less, add up the number of points, and add to this the number of cards in the longest suit. If it gets to 9, respond at the 1 level (but not 1NT). e.g. 1D-? Qxxxx xx xx Qxxx 4pts plus 5 cards in spades. The points don’t have to be in the long suit (but it helps). The Green Point Bridge Centre is seeking volunteers to help initiate beginners into the intricacies of duplicate bridge on Saturday afternoons - interested players should contact Shirley Phillips ([email protected]). For advanced players, Krzysztof Martens, a world class Polish player and author who has coached more than 20 national teams, is running a series of webinars on dummy play.


Some of you will remember that in a newsletter last year I included part of an ode to my favourite bridge partner in Shakespearean style which I created using the Artificial Intelligence (AI) website ChatGPT (my partners just loved that ode incidentally). A couple of weeks ago, as I was downloading the English Bridge Union's (EBU's) blue and white books of bridge rules which form the basis of the Tournament Director (TD) course we plan to run as soon as we get the Zoom training materials from the EBU and which will probably be the set of rules we use in the Western Cape at least, I suddenly found myself asking "Why do we use human TDs at all in this age of AI?". To test my thesis, I logged on to ChatGPT and then to Claude, which claims to be even better than ChatGPT, and successively asked what to do about leads out of turn, insufficient bids, and revokes; both AI chatbots promptly came back with the impressive looking answers which I have included in the linked document for lack of space here. At the suggestion of a friend, I've included a ChatGPT ruling written in rap style though I just can't imagine any of the directors I know waltzing across to the table and rhythmically rapping out a rap-id ruling when they get there. Seriously, I look forward to feedback from the bridge legal beagles out there on the non-rap rulings...


The WCBU AGM is scheduled for Saturday 13th April 2024 at 13h00 at the Green Point Bridge Centre - tea, coffee and sandwiches will be served and the meeting will be followed by the weekly Trumps bridge session. SABF members ordinarily resident in the Western Cape are encouraged to volunteer for nomination to the committee - just contact Beverley Hargrove ([email protected]) if you are interested - and are invited to attend and vote at the AGM. A copy of the WCBU's draft financial report for 2023 is availabled; the WCBU reported a surplus of R 37,268, largely thanks to the generous support of our sponsors Personal Trust, Warwick Wealth and the Departments of Sports and to interest on investments. Note that although the WCBU collects annual SABF subs from SABF members in the region, these are remitted in full to the SABF from whom the WCBU received no income in 2023 - in fact the WCBU incurred expenses of R 31,010 for Congress on behalf of the SABF which should have been refunded. The Southern Cape Bridge Union (SCBU) also has a new committee, the details of which can be found on our web page for the SCBU.


No doubt when you think about a bridge committee like ours, you imagine a bevy of greyheads sitting round a table getting high on mint tea while considering the legalities of abstruse bidding conventions; nothing could be further from the truth as you can see from reading our attached strategic plan which sets out our objectives, identifies challenges and opportunities for bridge administrators everywhere and finally sets out a plan to achieve those objectives. You will also be fascinated by the third page of the plan, a flowchart that shows we not only organise bridge tournaments and teaching but we also run a sophisticated Internet publishing operation!


We would like to offer congratulations and good luck to the new SABF board elected at the SABF AGM on 29th February 2024: Carol Grunder (President), Bernard Donde (Treasurer), Andrew Cruise (Secretary), Michele Alexander, Jocelyn Ashberg, Roz Bernstein, Devin Chetty, Glynis Dornon, Geoff Ellis, Deidre Ingersent and Neil McLeod.


A copy of the SABF 2023 income statement presented at the AGM is linked; the SABF incurred an operating loss of R 485,187 largely due to expenses of R 547,233 incurred to send a small team of elite players, including for a second year running the SABF president and treasurer in a seeming conflict of interest, to the World Bridge Championships in Morocco, leaving the cupboard bare for meeting the bridge needs of the other 99% of subs-paying SABF members. And was the old SABF board asleep at the wheel allowing this to happen when they should have been attending to their statutory fiduciary duties? Finally the old board committed the new board to expensive national trials when they knew full well that the SABF doesn't have the money to send the new select few to the world championships in Argentina later this year without again raiding the reserves. Maybe the unions representing angry ordinary members should be demanding an end to this profligacy, with the trio responsible forced to step down and banned from further bridge (mal)administration. The best solution would include removing temptation altogether and distributing what's left of the three million Rands of investments - the balance sheet conveniently wasn't handed out at the AGM so we don't know the exact number - to the approximately 1,800 paid up SABF members instead of spending half a million Rands a year on further foreign adventures for the chosen 1%. That certainly would make ordinary members happy!


No doubt, once the SABF board has read that last paragraph, the trio will be rushing to add disciplinary charges of inciting SABF members to stop paying their subs to the existing charges they are considering bringing against me for supposedly bringing the SABF into disrepute, whereas I am just doing as any responsible person would do, and making our members aware of what is going on - l'empereur n'aime pas qu'on lui dise qu'il est complètement nu - as they say up North. (If need be, Google Translate will help you with that). The press could have a field day after kibitzing my disciplinary hearing.

Turning from financial to website statistics, the Google Map of South African bridge clubs has been viewed nearly 2,000 times since it went live just a few short weeks ago; we can but hope that several hundred of those have turned up to play at a club somewhere. In the past two months the results from 685 (up from 625) tables of face to face and online bridge have been recorded in the Pianola database on the WCBU website. In the last three months, the WCBU website itself has been used by 1,782 visitors who have read more than 10,530 pages of information. As usual, the Home page was the most popular page, followed by the Results, News, Bridge Clubs and Bridge Lessons pages. Of the website visitors, 47% live in the Western Cape, 34% in Gauteng and 9% in KwaZulu Natal. Some 39% of visitors use a computer; 56% use a cell-phone; and 5% a tablet. And that's more than enough statistics to keep you mulling till our next newsletter!


In April I am planning to drive through the Southern Cape to the Eastern Cape and back and hope to be able to have coffee and compare notes with bridge clubs along the way.


This could be the last WCBU newsletter you receive from me as I am thinking of stepping down from the WCBU committee after the AGM in April and starting an exciting new Internet bridge (ad)venture at the end of June - of which you too could be part if you so wished - when I return from a visit to the bridge clubs of Central Asia. Let me know if you would like to be on the mailing list for that.


In the meantime read the attachments to this newsletter carefully and reflect on the future of this game we all love in a fast changing world.