January 2024 Highlights: Congress and Western Cape Hermanus Pairs / TD training / Bridge Tip / SABF Subs due / Charity Tournaments / RSA Bridge Clubs
A belated happy new year to you - we hope 2024 will be a good year for you, bridge and otherwise!
Now, get out your pristine new 2024 diary and sharpen your pencil, because there's a host of bridge tournaments and education 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.
Congress 2024 again takes place in Cape Town with the teams competition scheduled from 25th to 29th February and the pairs from 29th February to 3rd March, while the red point Western Cape Hermanus Open, which received rave reviews from players last year, takes place the weekend after Easter. The flyers for both these events are attached. 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. Even further ahead, SAWBA (South African Women's Bridge Association) takes place online in October and November.
The first four 2024 WCBU BBO Friday Charity Tournaments of the year, in aid of hospices, StreetSmart, the Peninsula School Feeding Association (PSFA) - they sent us a lovely thank you letter saying "100% of this donation will be allocated towards providing 13 learners affected by poverty with daily nutritious breakfasts and lunches while they are at school for a month" - and the Friendship Club respectively, each attracted more than 20 pairs, a win-win for the players who like to play in bigger fields and for the beneficiaries of the charities supported; our hearty thanks to all of you who took part. Our first February Charity tournaments will be in aid of Souper Troopers (2/2), hospices (9/2), and the PSFA (16/2) and we look forward to seeing you help swell the numbers each week - and our charitable contributions. We know that the players in these charity events play from around the country so if you live outside the Western Cape and have a local charity you would like us to include in our charity tournament roster, please let me know and we could schedule a tournament in aid of that for 23rd February. Sadly, because of lack of interest, we have had to discontinue our BBO sessions on the other mornings of the week though the WCBU H&H BBO tournament at 14h00 on Tuesdays is proving increasingly popular.
The WCBU club tournament director (TD) training course, on Zoom and run by Michael Alexander, probably commences on Monday 12th February at 19h00 using materials kindly provided by the English Bridge Union (EBU), with whom we are finalising details. The cost of R 200 for SABF members and R 250 for non-SABF members will be partially refunded to participants who successfully complete the course by passing the EBU TD exam on the final day. While the course will be open to players from around the country, preference will be given to players from both affiliated and non affiliated clubs in the Western Cape as part of our expanding the game in this region. Please contact me ([email protected]) if you would like to participate and I will keep you updated.
Still on bridge skills improvement, here is the next of leading bridge teacher Jeff Sapire's brief bridge tips: In close bidding situations, be cautious with balanced hands. 1S-? Kxx xxx Jxxx AQx Even though 10pts usually jumps to 3, pull in a notch and just raise to 2S.
On a more mundane but important note, 2024 annual SABF subs of R 250 per member should be paid in January to your club or by EFT to the WCBU FNB account 62926125263 with your SABF number, name and subs2024 as reference - make sure you remember to put these in the right fields on your bank's EFT website or you could find yourself puzzling as to why your SABF number appears on your bank statement, while our book keeper rolls her eyes at yet another anonymous deposit marked "Bridge" or just "Subs".
The outgoing SABF committee has scheduled a meeting of the Members' Committee, comprising delegates from each of the unions, to take place towards the end of February to elect a new SABF board which will be announced at the SABF AGM. If you feel you have the requisite skillset and passion for efficient administration and would like to serve South African bridge at the highest level, then you should approach your union committee or the WCBU to arrange nomination before 29th January (that's in a couple of hours!!). The SABF constitution allows for each union to submit more than one nomination and also include nominees who live outside the area of the union.
Of course, we sub paying SABF members will be desperately hoping that the Members' Committee delegates elect a president and committee with the vision and plan to grow SABF membership by providing real, tangible benefits to ordinary players - most people I play with couldn't care a whit about their masterpoints. As you know, SABF membership has nearly halved in the past five years and James Grant's unconstitutional recent declaration that the Western Cape's largest club, with over 60 SABF members, is disaffiliated merely exacerbates the situation. Maybe this club will now follow the example of Zambia's Lusaka Bridge Club and affiliate with the EBU? This would obviously delight English players visiting Hermanus as they would then be able to earn English masterpoints playing in our summer sunshine.
Which brings me on to the next topic. For some of you, the perfect bridge holiday is on a cruise ship bidding slam after slam between exotic foreign ports. For others, it might be a foursome lurking in photo-ambush at a water hole waiting for some of the big five to make an appearance at dusk. How about a road trip around South Africa playing in a different club each day? If that's what takes your fancy you can click here to access the Google Map of South African bridge clubs - both affiliated and not - that we have created (with help from the coastal unions for which much thanks) to help you plan just such a trip; just click on the red and blue "drops" to see any club's details. Sadly, if you examine the map closely, you will notice vast open spaces where no bridge clubs seem to exist. If you have details of any of these missing bridge oases - surely Pofadder has a bridge club as there's nothing else to do there? - or have spotted an error on our map, please send me the correct details promptly and we will make the corrections. In the meantime, we hope it brings more players to all the clubs listed. Incidentally, you can also find a link to this map on the Clubs page on the WCBU website from which you can also download a PDF directory of clubs.
Looking again at that necklace of red and blue bridge pearls on the map and where many are located, I found myself imagining international bridge tourists jumping ship to instead indulge themselves in a Swallow Coast Bridge Safari starting in Ballito and moving competitively down the coast playing at club after club each day and culminating in playing in Hermanus and Sea Point. The overseas and local players could even accumulate points in each event with the aim of winning a prestigious Swallow Trophy. And the tourists in turn could give feedback on and ideas to the clubs and tournaments where they played. Now wouldn't that add some international sparkle to our rather parochial bridge lives? Contact me if you think your coastal bridge club would be interested in exploring such a venture and putting South African bridge on the international tourism map - and at the same time growing the numbers playing face to face at our clubs. In our next newsletter I hope to report on another twist to this idea which you will simply love.
Now, before sending this newsletter I had only told a handful of people about that Google Bridge map yet already it has been viewed more than 430 times, such is the power of Google. Since late November, the WCBU website itself has been used by 1,324 visitors who have read more than 7,113 pages of information (and that excludes the detailed tournament results pages). As you would expect, the Home page was the most popular page, followed by the Results, News, Bridge Clubs and Upcoming pages. Next in popularity after those comes the Bridge Lessons page, originally set up to direct covid cowering visitors to websites where they can learn and improve their bridge at the click or two of a mouse; that page has been viewed 150 times just since the start of December and we can but hope it has resulted in new players appearing at our clubs playing more competently. Of the website visitors, 50% live in the Western Cape, 32% in Gauteng, 10% in KwaZulu Natal, 3.5% in the Free State - does that mean bridge has not completely died out there since I nearly won the Free State Open in 1971? - and 3% in England. Some 39% of visitors use a computer; 56% use a cell-phone; and 5% a tablet. In the past two months the results from 476 (up from 402) tables of face to face and online bridge - including, now, those from Keurboom's three, weekly tournaments, including the Wednesday session which now includes sections for newly emergent bridge novices and neophytes - have been recorded in the Pianola database on the WCBU website. And that's more than enough statistics to keep you mulling till our next newsletter!
As always, we look forward both to your comments / feedback - we would like more of both of these please - and to encountering you at the WCBU virtual and real bridge tables in the days ahead. In the meantime, stay safe and enjoy your bridge.