This is the third monthly bridge update from the Western Cape Bridge Union (WCBU). Further information on all the topics covered can be found on the WCBU website. Please feel free to forward this to fellow bridge players, including beginners, who might be interested.
Bridge players everywhere will have been saddened to hear of the death of Alan Simmonds, a larger than life member of the South African bridge community who played, commented and taught at the highest levels. You can read tributes from his bridge friends on the website.
The number of players from around the country who completed our recent Bridge Player Survey has risen to 235; thank you for taking the time to complete the form. The final results can be downloaded here and make for fascinating reading. As you read on you will see how we are responding to your feedback. For instance, at the beginning of May we started limiting entrants to our Friday games to players with a BBO ranking of 2+ or less. We were surprised at the extent of the enthusiastic participation, with many of the players living outside the major cities. We encourage more novice duplicate players from around the country to join the fun!
Many players recorded the need for more bridge education for intermediate players. One source you might like to use are the short bridge articles written by Andrew Robson for the Times and other newspapers. Links to these can be found in the resources section of the Learn Bridge page of the WCBU website.
However, it was analysing hands that was cited as the main form of ongoing bridge learning. The question is: 'are we doing it properly?' Top player Chris Bosenberg has written an insightful article, which can be accessed from our newsletter page, on how the experts do this. In the News section of the website we have included brief commentary by lesser lights on some of the interesting hands played in our tournaments recently so you can do a comparison with your own analysis. We hope all of these will prove instructive, even if you didn't yourself play the hands. Again, we urge you to submit hands you found instructive for inclusion; that's how we help each other improve.
I have previously mentioned that the WCBU is working closely with Arie Ridderhof (ECBU) and Rod Pienaar (KZNBU) developing online beginner bridge lessons using a combination of Zoom, RealBridge and Internet resources. Carol Stanton of the WCBU will be starting a similar course in June so get your aspirant bridge playing friends - including your teenage grandchildren and their school teachers - to contact Carol ([email protected]). In fact, thinking on it, what could be a better way for kids to spend their winter school holidays during a pandemic? And, because it's online, they don't even have to live in the Western Cape.
Details of all our competitions can be found on our Upcoming and (rather crowded) Calendar pages. Major events scheduled for June and July include the annual Western Cape Teams competition on 26th and 27th June (click on the link for information and to enter); the Petra Mansell BBO Pairs organised by the KZN Bridge Union on 4th and 5th June 2021; and South Africa's premier bridge event, the 2021 All Africa Bridge Congress, which takes place in June and July. Brochures and links to enter can be found in the Major Events block below the menu on all the website pages. At the other end of the scale, we have also included a couple of charity bridge drives in our calendar; after all, these are the events where beginners cut their competitive teeth and that's important in growing our numbers.
Entries for the June JM Bridge Sunday teams competition are open and already there are strong entries from around South Africa and Europe. Who knows, maybe it won't be too long before the competition also attracts top players from the other continents! Contact [email protected] to enter and take them on.
Of course, you too can organise your own bridge events. Now that some of us are vaccinated, we can slowly start getting back to playing bridge face to face, though it could still be months before clubs can open. As part of getting beginners playing duplicate, I suggest you start by arranging bridge suppers (not fancy dinners) - or weekends away walking, golfing, socialising and, of course, playing bridge - for groups of eight players, not all of whom are experienced duplicate players. Click here for a guide to organising your eights along with blank score sheets you can print and use. To fill the first page, I have even included a couple of easy recipes but I am sure you are all better chefs than amateur me.
Before getting onto more meaty matters, two more online bridge tips. Try to buy your BBO$ through the BBO website; if you use an App or an App store to make a purchase, you could find yourself short changed as Apple or Google take their hefty commission. When playing on RealBridge, mute your microphone - the last thing your opponents want is to hear your parrot in the corner cage screeching "You cheat! You cheat!"
As long as you get your games of bridge, you probably don't worry too much about bridge governance, but you should. Before Covid, players joined clubs whose representatives elected the regional and national committees. However, the combination of Covid and the Internet has rendered clubs and regions redundant, for the time being at least. Now we play online when and where it is convenient. Essentially all of South Africa's players are now members of a single virtual club with no geographic boundaries. Even when we go back to some playing online and some face to face, we need some way for players to elect and interact with those administering the game in a new structure that reflects this new reality. That's something for us all to start thinking about. Maybe we need to develop an online voting system for the members to vote directly for committee members cutting out the clubs?
In like vein, perhaps it's time we ended the situation where, each morning, several clubs and unions vie for players to participate in their tournaments. Instead we could have three national daily tournaments, one each for novices (BBO rating 2+ and less), intermediates (BBO rating 3 or less) and open. Similarly, instead of designing Congress and our other major events with just the expert players in mind, maybe they too could be run in the same three parallel sessions. And the results of all of these games could be stored in the WCBU's Pianola database so players can analyse all their results in one place. In line with our survey results, these changes would give all of our players around the country a greater sense of value for their annual SABF membership fees. What do you think?
The WCBU website continues to throw up interesting statistics. Over the past month the website has been used by some 900 people who have viewed just under 6,000 pages of information. The most popular pages, other than the home page, are the results, JM bridge club, and learn bridge pages. While more than 90% of the website visitors are from South Africa, the website has also attracted visitors in the United Kingdom, America, Germany, Australia, China and further afield. The website also has a high ranking on the Google and other search engines.
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Finally, we look forward to encountering you at the WCBU virtual bridge tables in the days ahead - and to hearing your comments and suggestions - please keep them rolling in!