Western Cape Bridge News - October 2023

Thursday, 26 October 2023 by Brian Paxton

October 2023 newsletter highlights: Cape Town Festival of Bridge / Wednesday Club Reopening / Personal Trust Sunday Pairs and Lunch / Charity Bridge in aid of Booth Memorial Hospital / Bridge Farewell / Bridge Results / Bridge Tip  


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


Looking immediately ahead, please note that there will be NO Personal Trust bridge and lunch on 29th October, just a few days hence, because of SAWBA. Instead the next Personal Trust Bridge and lunch will be held at the end of next week on Guy Fawkes day, 5th November, at 10h00. There will be a second Personal Trust bridge and lunch in November, probably the last for 2023, on Sunday 26th November 2023.


The grand reopening of the Wednesday Bridge Club takes place with a face to face pairs tournament at the Bridge Centre in Green Point on Wednesday 1st November 2023. Play starts at 09h30 but come earlier and enjoy a bagel breakfast. There will be no charge on the opening day when spot prizes will be awarded and, at the end of the session, Michael Alexander will discuss some of the more interesting hands. The flyer is attached for you to pin on notice boards or forward to bridge playing friends. Please contact Shirley Phillips ([email protected]) or Michele Alexander ([email protected]) with queries or to assist you in finding a partner


The 2023 edition of the Cape Town Festival of Bridge is scheduled to take place face to face at the Bridge Centre on 15th and 16th December (teams) and 17th and 18th December (pairs). The flyer is attached or you can enter on SABF Online. Out of town bridge players holidaying in the Cape are welcome to come and take on the locals - in fact we already have entries from overseas players and from some of Gauteng's best so there's bound to be an interesting contest.


Our next monthly First Friday charity BBO tournament takes place at 10h00 on Friday 3rd November in aid of Cape Town's General Booth Memorial Hospital, where one of the patients in their hospice ward is our quirky, long time bridge friend Anthony Abbott - to enter the tournament, just logon early to BBO, select Virtual Clubs - South Africa under Featured Areas and you will see our WCBU sessions listed. Incidentally, if you are unable to play but would still like to help us in supporting a worthy cause, you can make a payment into our FNB account 62926125263 giving your name and the cause as reference.  


Looking a few months ahead, Congress 2024 again takes place in Cape Town in 2024 with the teams competition scheduled from 25th to 29th February  (yes, it's a leap year) and the pairs from 29th February to 3rd March, while the red point Hermanus Open, which received rave reviews from players this year, takes place the weekend after Easter. We look forward to seeing and entertaining even more of you upcountry folk at both those tournaments - as well as all our local players, of course.


Moving back to the past, congratulations to the Alexander Team (Michael Alexander, Tim Cope (nice to see you back in action), Maureen Narunsky and Rob Sulcas) on winning the A section of the 2023 Western Cape Teams, followed by the Zimet Team (Erica Zimet, Carol Grunder (another player we don't see enough of), Rose Duff and Andre van Niekerk). The B Section winner was the Holdsworth Team (Ian Holdsworth, Ian Glenn, Sue Botha and Lynn Cunningham). There was such positive feedback from the players in both that Western Cape Teams and the recent PE teams event, which was also run on RealBridge by Mark Kenyon, that we are planning to arrange four similar, two day RealBridge teams competitions in 2024. We will schedule them once we have the SABF tournament roster for 2024. Congratulations to Rob Stephens and Bernard Donde on winning the Impala 2023 Cross Imp Pairs. And at much the same time as Afghanistan's historic thrashing of England at the cricket World Cup, a Cape Town based team of 8 soundly trumped a lordly MCC bridge team - could this have been a hint that more English defeats were on the cards?


In the days ahead South African bridge bids farewell to one of our long-time stalwarts of the game, Ann Sturrock, who, with her wider family, is emigrating to pastures greener. Over the past two decades and more, Ann has made her mark serving selflessly and with quiet, efficient charm on the SABF, WCBU and bridge club committees. Above all, Ann will be remembered for her advanced computer programming skills which were deployed in the development of tournament scoring software and the bridge websites we all take for granted, none more so than the SABF Online website where master points, another of Ann's specialities, are recorded. Ann, on behalf of the WCBU and players in the Western Cape and beyond, thank you for all your contributions to the success of South African bridge and the best of luck to you in your new life - hopefully we'll still see you playing in our BBO tournaments regularly.


Ann's departure highlights another of the challenges of bridge today: finding the requisite but increasingly scarce skills needed for running tournaments and undertaking bridge administration country wide - one forgets how much we depend on Bridgemates, servers, scoring software, websites, BBO and RealBridge and the tournament directors who have to both know the rules of bridge and also how to deploy the technology. And, as we sit down to play our next round of bridge, we tend to overlook the fact that bridge administration in South Africa is not unlike that of the conference and exhibition companies you can see listed on the Cape Town International Convention Centre billboards as you head for the Green Point Bridge Centre; Bridge South Africa has an annual turnover of more than a million Rands and, like a commercial enterprise, bridge administration needs financially and legally literate managers, communications specialists, event organisers and facilities managers, as well as the IT and tournament directing skills already mentioned - it's incumbent on us ordinary players to ensure that the SABF and unions are staffed with appropriately skilled people and, shareholder style, to firmly hold them to account if they don't achieve their key performance indicators - we at the WCBU always look forward to your feedback, good or bad, so feel free to send it in.


This week sees the committees of several of our affiliated bridge clubs meeting to weigh the benefits and costs of ongoing affiliation, decisions made more dificult by SABF plans to increase subs in 2024 by an inflation trumping 25% to R 250 each. As I mentioned in a previous newsletter, this is a tragic but quite unnecessary state of affairs; attached is a spreadsheet which shows that if the SABF completely eliminated player subs and instead used a combination of their reserves and commercial and state sponsorship, they could cover their costs for the next 12 years and more by which time the average age of a much smaller pool of active (sic?) SABF members would be 85 or more (maybe you spreadsheet boffs would like to check that I have my arithmetic right). And, of course, with zero subs to be paid, we could expect a flurry of new player members and of unaffiliated clubs lining up to join our ranks complete with new skills we could deploy in the interests of better managing South African bridge. That would be a win-win-win-win situation even better than making 7NT vulnerable redoubled against your fiercest opponents! In the meantime, the WCBU Committee is looking into ways to provide support to non-affiliated clubs and non-SABF members with a view to attracting them back around our bridge tables.


Of course, in the midst of all this discussion of skills, we mustn't forget the skills needed to bid, declare, defend - and be absolutely charming to your opponents as you take them to the cleaners. Which brings us on to the next of leading bridge teacher Jeff Sapire's brief bridge tips: A reverse by Opener shows 16+pts. Don’t ‘shade’ it on less unless you have very good shape. E.g.  x  AQxxx  AKJxxx  x   has enough playing strength to bid say 1D-1S; 2H


Turning to those fascinating statistics you all love, in the past two months the results from 403 (up from 402) 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 also giving them the opportunity to compare their results in the two formats. Alas, Google has changed its Analytics program so I won't be able to tell you more about the usage of the WCBU website this month but hopefully next month the stats will be back.