Developments BfA

Further to the discussion on BfA
"Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of the English Bridge Union Limited Wednesday 28th November 2018
…..highlighted plans to expand the range of teaching materials with the introduction of Book Three in the Bridge for All series. During his report AM added that consideration was being given to using other media alongside the printed versions, including digital versions of the teaching materials
. …….AM referenced: more club teacher training courses, and a wider spread of the courses around the country improvements to what EBED offers online, with consideration to online learning and playing; working to establish more areas where youth bridge is thriving, drawing on existing areas of “excellence”; supporting bridge in universities ………..a consultation with EBTA members to better support bridge teachers; greater use of the teaching materials currently archived in the Aylesbury office"

I await further info/expansion


  • Thanks for the link John.
    Yes it is interesting what has been said. I think that it is just a shame that there is no joint working. The teachers don't seem to have been brought on board and disappointingly the Counties haven't been converted either. As it stands many teachers are trying to bring in new members but if they are like me feeling in the dumps because so many go through the teaching system and yet they do not appear to continue with affliated club bridge. We have 9 fast track at the moment. We feel that we can see 4 that will play club bridge. Of the others 2 have said "kitchen" bridge, 2 might convert from "kitchen" bridge and one will go back to the unaffliated club. We are trying to encourage them and are arranging supervise sessions but we don't think that will be enough for the 3 that are "lost".
    In Tims responses to me on another thread I do worry that one "action" is looked at as the "saviour" of bridge when we really need to find out why people are learning but not joining.

    Will be interested to see the "archived" material!
    Keep your chins up

  • Hi all... for me it came down to why teach at all. It really isnt to boost membership, but to boost the numbers of players. This is my priority:
    1. Increase awareness and number of players of bridge generally.
    2. Promote duplicate bridge as the ultimate and best version.
    3. Promote membersip and regular attendance to our club (which is EBU affiliated)

    So, i do not see those sent by non-affiliated clubs that learn or improve as 'lost'. That was their intent all along. I see that as a bonus as they can promote our lessons to others that want to improve, increases the number of players locally and spreads word of mouth.

    I would want to gain some for the club at some point. Many play at our club and others too. If we can gain perhaps 4 new regulars per year then this should cover those that leave/die etc plus a bit, so gradually we get bigger.

    My main observation is that their first visit to a club night has to be positive. No grumpy moaners! Though the more social/less competitive sessions are getting more and more popular and the tougher nights less so.

    This approach by me and others has been successful over the last few years and we are getting more members now.

    It just takes time as the best source for learners is old learners encouraging their friends and family to learn. There is a kind of critical mass of old learners needed for this to work, which takes years.
  • Hi Martin all very good points and I agree with them.

    You have said "Though the more social/less competitive sessions are getting more and more popular and the tougher nights less so." Does your club do anything to make sessions less "competitive"? If so what? In so many ways I am almost thinking that we might have to run more "supervised" sessions but really don't want to see the better players "pushed" away. I am also aware of the needs/requirements of good players for the County. That again is another question altogether in how do we get Clubs to "feed" players to County Teams etc.?

    Have to go away and put a damp towel on my forehead!!


  • That is a much tougher question to answer!

    When i started there was no expectation of learners 'graduating' to play in the club and a lot of potential members were lost as a consequence.

    The club has a good number of excellent players and 1 or 2 members that did not have the right attitude and so we had a bit of a reputation. So the main nights were Mon and Thur, with a relaxed session on a Wed eve... though the intent for this to be a feeding ground never reached the teachers and they had not had new players for years.

    My wife and I basically argued to play and it started from there. At that time they were struggling to get 3 tables. We got other learners to join, encouraged family to learn and play.

    This boosted attendance to about 5 or 6 tables. I got involved in the club management and teaching and we are really encouraging on the new starters joining us on a Wed when they are ready.

    The existing Wed players were keen and we are really welcoming. We offer non-legal movements... only play 2 out of 3 boards for example (with boards skiped rather than ave-)

    All this has worked and we now have 8 to 10 tables.

    However there has only been limited movement from the Wed night to the tougher sessions and due to an aging club membership, numbers on those nights are waining.

    Interestingly, some good players have started to play on the Wed too, as it is so friendly and sociable.

    So... it has been more a case of creating a social session and encouraging people to play, rather than discouraging good players.

    What is proving difficult is to advance the ok players to be good players for the county. Though this has now started to happen, it took about 7 years to go from learner to play for the county (which is true for me and 2 others)

    A lot of this comes from playing 2 to 3 times per week and being super competitive. Self learning the more advanced methods (still some way to go with this I'm afraid).

    So... i think tjat better players will be rare as most learners are a lot older, usually retired amd are not learning to play for the county, but as a social pastime. I think that this is a case of teaching and retaining as many people as possible. Then the occasional learner will be dead made keen like me and will want to progress. The others form the majority of the club and we have fun social evenings with county leagues, inter-county matches and congresses for the more competitive bridge.

    I can certainly see bridge evolving that way anyway.
  • I agree with you Martin.
    The more players generally the more will progress to P2P
    We stopped a "full" bridge night on a Wednesday evening because of falling evening numbers to start beginner lessons followed by an improvers. At the end of the 2 years we continued with the evening to give the students experience. The intention was that they would progress to a "full" night and we would start Wednesday night lessons again.
    What has happened is that whilst the students have continued ( and some have progressed to "full" nights) we have also seen an influx of lapsed players, students from other clubs who have no supervised play, experience players from other clubs who prefer the relaxed atmosphere, "Full" night players joining and even a self taught player wanting experience. It is notable that a number of the new players are of a "younger" age group who I am positive will progress to "full" nights and beyond.
    Wednesday evening is now our most popular evening and we are actively looking for additional space to start our Wednesday night teaching again.

  • That's interesting @john - your experience mirrors mine and it is probably something that needs to be taken into account by the EBU far more than it is currently (at least to me from the outside).

    …….. there was an apparent divide with regard to teaching, with the clubs which consider themselves to be providing a ‘high quality game’ rarely involved with teaching, with the bulk of lessons being provided in clubs with a less accomplished membership. Whilst having inexperienced players will inevitably lead to a lower playing standard within some games, it was apparent that the clubs with the most competitive games were reliant on other clubs for their new members, and this may not be a self-sustaining policy as the trend for more relaxed games of bridge increases.“

    This threads and the above set me wondering what a “Super/perfect” bridge club may look like, given no people,resource or accommodation constraints.

             Teaching. BfA beginner and improver lessons and Fast Track lessons, followed by intermediate and master classes. Links to local schools and University/Colleges to help them with set up and teaching guidance/help.
              Supervised sessions to give students the opportunity to practice their new-found skills, gain confidence in their use and speed up their play. There would also be revision/ reinforcement lessons as part of these sessions
              Competitive Social bridge sessions to provide for those players who do not wish to engage in fierce competition and enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere to play their bridge.
              Full competitive bridge sessions for those who wish to challenge themselves and reap the rewards of Master points and NGS. These players may also go on to represent their county/country.

    There would be no barriers between social and full sessions and players could play in either session. The league system already allows for differing standards of play as do a number of local/national competitions.
    Perhaps this could be a single club or a group of clubs (affiliated or not).

  • Interesting comments from both of you.

    Thinking about it in our town there are two "known" clubs one is affliated and one isn't. However, there is a small subset of people that play in both clubs. That subset seems to both enjoy the "social" attituded of one club and yet also the intelectual challange of the the other. One of our students went to the "social" club and thought that they were "viscous". As you have both said increasing the membership of bridge players isn't really a "lost" in these circumstances as they should balance out.
    Some will improve with experience and will need that better challenge and go to the affliated club more.
    By the way the "social" club borrows equipment from the affliated club and there is a good positive feeling beteen both clubs and members. So maybe affliated clubs may need to set up a non-affliated club to run side by side and act as "balanced tanks". Meaning that students go to the social side and progress to the more "challanging" club and when they get to the point of needing more social bridge just move to playing more in the "Social" club.

    I suspect that there must be some law in the EBU preventing this happening as it would reduce their income. Perhaps they need some different setup for P2P collecting say 5 pence per session and no link to the NGS or master points for unaffliated clubs. Better to get 5 pence than nothing at all. They could even do local points at 25% of the affliated clubs. But there again I often feel that the EBU is just caring for the very skilful players rather than the "also rans".

    There that's my rambling for the day. we were teaching last night so the last few days have been a bit hectic

    Best wishes

  • Agree Chaz
    I am aware of an EBU club with an unaffiliated branch set up as a separate club. When P2P started a group of players objected to the arrangement and set up their own linked club. Teaching is done as EBU but most of supervised/social sessions are run by the unaffiliated club. All members are EBU members.

  • “So maybe affiliated clubs may need to set up a non-affiliated club to run side by side………………………………I suspect that there must be some law in the EBU preventing this happening”

    You are right Chaz, see this recent addition to the EBU website

    Not quite sure what to make of this 2004 document. I assume that is an attempt by the EBU to protect their membership at the time of P2P but may well have encouraged new non affiliated clubs!!

  • Looking at the accounts to 31 March 2018 I have been unable to find out how much was received from P2P. However, taking very round figures about 16,000 members have played 12 times in the year at most. That is about 30% of the membership, More than half that total haven't played once in the year. Perhaps there needs to be a "push" to find out why so many "members" have decided not to continue playing bridge under the EBU umbrella. I just wonder if any such survey was conducted in the County(or Counties) that the development stratagy was started. As it would appear that only the EBU hold this information it might be a good place for them to start. Some of the missing could be due to "natural" causes and may be the total members needs to be reduced. However, any information from those that no longer play in EBU clubs might prove helpful. Even reducing P2P for certain clubs might be helpful and bring in both funds and increase particpation. After all there may be some very simple things that need to be done to attract more members.


  • AGM Shareholders meeting 28th November 2018 Item 7 gives some figures of Members against P2P

    You are only a member of the EBU if you P2P and for that event/session.(unless you become a Direct EBU member) So, active memberships numbers vary from day to day, week to week, year to year.
    So, the money issue is not membership in itself but how often members play. Interestingly the Privacy statement says
    “Privacy Statement
    We normally keep members’ data after they resign or their membership lapses. This is because we find members sometimes later wish to re-join (occasionally after several decades) and if we no longer had their records, we would be unable to re-instate their Master Point rank. However, we will delete any former member’s contact details entirely on request.”

    If I play once at an affiliated club and they ask me and then upload my details to the EBU I automatically become a permanent member of the EBU for eons to come? Does anyone know how you become a lapsed member? Or indeed how many members actually resign?

  • Hi John,

    In the EBU system there is a distinction between a "Member" and a "Contact". The simplest way to become a member is to join an affiliated bridge club - NB not just to play but to pay an annual subscription and become a member of the club. Your membership of the EBU continues as long as the club or another club has you on their membership list. If you simply pay table money as a visitor and are not an EBU member then the results are uploaded to us with you listed as a visitor and no membership is activated.

    If you cease to be a member of an affiliated club, they will remove you from their membership list and your EBU membership will also cease and you become a "lapsed" member, but your details continue to be stored in the EBU system as a "Contact." This does not mean that you receive any communication from the EBU but merely that your details are easily re-activated, as you quoted above. We can delete details on request for anyone who is not happy with this.

    I hope that answers some of your questions. I don't have data on the number of resignations but can pass your queries onto the EBU Membership staff if you would like.


  • Thanks for the quick response David - happy new year.
    I was not aware that under the GDPR and statements that my club was allowed to amend my status on the EBU database without my permission or that they sent full club membership lists to the EBU. I will have to reread the statements.

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