New Students

I like to reassure my students that they are not alone in the exciting journey of learning to play bridge. I cannot see on the EBU/EBED websites how many new students originally sign up each year. I take it that someone has these figures particularly as it’s a strategic aim of the EBU to increase numbers.
Has anyone seen any figures? Say broken down by age, by county, by teaching source (club or private) and taught B4A or other.


  • In the absence of any response, I wrote to the EBED seeking an answer. This was their reply and my response

    Subject: RE: Student numbers
    Hello John
    Thank you for your recent communication to English Bridge Education & Development.
    I am able to answer parts of your enquiry but, due to the new GDPR legislation which came in to effect earlier this year, we are unable to provide you with a detailed answer as requested.
    I can confirm, EBED have registered 884 new students between January 2017 and December 2017 and 734 new students from January 2018 to date.
    I am sorry I haven’t been able to provide all the information you enquired about, but hope the information I have offered gives you and your students some insight.
    Kind Regards

    Hi Claire
    Thank you for your swift response. Its good to see healthy number of students signing up each year.
    I am amazed however that you feel unable to break down these figures further because of GDPR. My understanding of the legislation is that it is about individual personal data, not about a statistical analysis that would not identify individuals.
    Thank you again

  • Hi John

    Good questions. This is going to be discussed at the shareholders meeting to be held on 28th November 2018 Item 7. The information has been sent to County Secretaries for feed back, so suggest you speak to yours for a copy of item 7. There is a substantial amount of information included (I needed a damp tea towel after looking at some of it).
    It surprises me that some are surprised that membership isn't growing in line with the amount of teaching. We need to understand that some learn but will never partake. There is a lot of talk about clubs but nothing about the unaffliated clubs and why so many people go to them. I can accept that many don't like the "club" structure or the way that "club nights" are run along the lines of the Laws of duplicate bridge. However, there must be some way to get through this problem. There is a point that the EBU is sending out some 3000 "welcome packs" a month. Well don't forget that some people are doing the 30 week course and sometimes some do it twice!. So we cannot expect to get people in playing bridge at the clubs very quickly. Our experience (altough vey short) is that our beginners have droped out and we feel that at least 2 of our fast tract people will probably not participate with club bridge.

    I direct as well as trying to teach and I feel that there is a substantial difference between those that play and (after all they contribute) pay and the leadership of the EBU. Again I have no idea how to bridge that gap but until we all get involved with an open discussion on this we will have no idea how to improve.
    We started teaching because we realised that unles we did so we would be either playing on our own or winding up our club. I am aware of one place that has a thriving unaffliated club scene and the EBU clubs are to a certain extent suffering. That isn't all down to day or evening play either. Perhaps we need to speak to the unaffliated clubs and find out why they survive, what do they offer other than bridge, tea/coffee and bicuits. Also find out what they would wish to have/see to bring them back into the EBU "fold". Is it the NGS scheme, perhaps many know they are not briliant but hate the idea that their "skill" is an open secret. Perhaps the rare win at the local club is all they expect, or even to get a top/near top against the stronger pairs in the club. Perhaps this has all been done, if so let's all know about it.

    Sorry a bit of a ramble but unless we get talking about it nothing will happen. I think some of the "push" is likely to come from the teaching as we are the ones that directly communicate with those that everyone wants to join the "CLUB".


  • A ramble in return, unscientific as the information in not available to me
    I would contend that most EBU members play for the enjoyment of the game, not for Masterpoints, NGS grade or the magazine. They also play because Bridge is a very social game and they like the company.
    Looking at the NGS scheme 86% of players are grade 10 or below with highest number playing at Grade 7. (10% are Grade2 about the same percentage are Grade K and A)
    Those members who do wish to know their grade can look but asking around my club most have no idea what NGS/Masterpoints etc is all about. I wonder if the EBU can identify just how many members log on and look at their My EBU?
    I think the majority of my students learn because of the social aspects of the game. I am always happy, as a teacher, when a student excels and moves quickly (or slowly) to a club night or league bridge.
    As bridge players the majority do not worry about affiliation to the EBU and therefor there is no incentive for these players to seek out an EBU club but rather a club which they feel has the best social group.
    I teach at an EBU affiliated club but I am aware the majority of my students will not be ready to play at a full club night for some years, if at all. Our best attended night is our supervised improvers night which not only attracts ex-students but also returning “lapsed” players. Our ex-students also attend daytime supervised play at two unaffiliated club nearby (set up by ex-students)
    I do not think the type of bridge played, tea and biscuits, bridgemates plays a part as my club and the unaffiliated clubs follow a similar format.
    If my arguments hold then there are, as yet, no incentives for unaffiliated clubs to join the EBU. I do not think we lose players after lessons we just lose them from the EBU membership.
    What do you think

  • john, i basically agree with all you say. However, two points come to mind. They are
    1) why do you think that the students will not be ready/able to participate in a club evening? By that I mean what changes would make it possible/probable
    2) Why do so many "like" the supervised play sessions? and by that I mean what is wrong with the normal club night as far as they are concerned.

    We are rather limited in types of play available (not much supervised play here abouts). I think I know the answers but would just like to get a secondary opinion.


  • Chaz
    My response to your questions
    Our lessons run over 2 years, beginners and improvers (Book 1 &2 B4A) One course starts on a Tuesday morning and the following course Wednesday evening.
    1 We find that after 2 years teaching the students wish to practice what they have been taught. They wish to gain experience of the competitive game, gain confidence and perhaps more importantly speed up their game.
    Some ex-students do go directly to a full club evening.
    It is the speed of play that experience players find frustrating with the new players. Directors do all they can to encourage experience players to welcome new players. But often the unintended action of one experience player is interpreted as “unfriendly” by the new player which can put them off the full club game. This then gets back to the social bridge players and they are discouraged from attending a full evening session.
    2 Some players just want a morning/evening out with a gentle game of competitive bridge, they enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, meet friends, talk during the hands and to seek help with bids and leads if they are stuck. General we find that the supervised sessions vary in their playing level and we point ex-students to the appropriate session, whether social game or club evening.
    Our day time social bridge sessions last two hours (12-16 boards depending on the participants) with one seen as a half way house lasting two and half hours. Our evening improvers session last for 3 hours (16-18 boards). Full club evening sessions play 24-28 boards over 3 hours.
    We find that some experienced players play social bridge and full club bridge, all duplicate with bridgemates.
    Hope this helps

  • Thank you John. yes it does help a great deal. Gives me some background to put to the club. As I have said we no longer have beginners, just Fasttrack. We are having a little difficult moving supervised play into the arena. We play twice a week at out club (church hall and a community hall) and there is an unaffliated club in town. I can see that some will go to the unaffliated club unless we do something positive. We have set up separately as teachers. Altough we feel that the standard of some current players isn't much better than the students we are concerned about slow play. We will have to see how it develops.

    Thanks again for the info

    Best wishes

  • I do not think you should discourage the unaffiliated club but rather embrace it. The more players in the area the more likely that some will play at an affiliated club. Have you offered your service to the other club? I really do not think students will necessarily jump straight to club bridge unless you provide a half way house for them.
    I looked at the Shareholder meeting papers you suggested (I had forgotten what a chore Business agenda and papers are like!!!). Not to sure I saw much there that encouraged me to think the EBU/EBED have really embraced the problem. I did however find on the EBU web site, minutes of the county chairmen s meeting in July 2018 ( are these new links - not seen them before) which gave me some hope that things might change if even only half the suggestions were acted upon, a lot of which were not mentioned in the meeting papers.

  • Thank you John, hadn't noticed the minutes. Had a quick scan and can only hope that someone somewhere takes the issues forward. I hadn't forgotten the chore and bore agendas and minutes are like, sat through too many long meetings that could have been resolved in minutes rather than hours!
    Agree the idea of the unaffliated clubs one of our fast track students came from there. We might get more if he goes back and suggests others to follow. The bit we have a problem with is getting a place for and people to make up enough tables to do supervised play. We will get there some how.

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