Monday, 17 July 2006

Barry's Blog 1

Been here six weeks – and I have to say that getting to grips with an organisation almost 70 years old is not an overnight affair. I now know most people’s names – as to exactly what they all do, still not 100% there, but nearly!

I look after a staff of around 22 people. However, the EBU is made up of literally hundreds of people who give of their time voluntarily and do jobs that are vital. In fact, some of their expertise is so special that we would find it hard to do without their help. So when I need to know something, I am generally directed to one or more of them who can help me.

I am pretty sure that most members do not appreciate what an effort these volunteers make. The entire Board of the EBU are unpaid volunteers, some of whom almost work full time, or so it would seem. The County Associations who are the share holders of the EBU have another tranche of long serving volunteers. We all come together three times a year so that the Board and organisation can be held to account for all the things we have done, or want to do!

These days the questions I am asked most are “What are the EBU doing to modernise themselves”? “Why should I belong to the EBU – what is in it for me”?

Well, a lot of things are going on behind the scenes which will start to emerge very soon. For example, we are trialling a new tournament, a “Bracketed Knock Out”, which is the most popular format for team bridge in tournaments in the USA. With this format entrants are arranged into “brackets” or ranges of master points and then the members of these brackets play their matches to result in a winner for each Masterpoint range. These ranges are dynamic, dependent upon entry levels, but it does mean that each team is competing with people from within their “peer group”. This trial is to take place in Kent in 2007, and is necessary to that we can get any bugs out of the necessary software that will be used to score the tournament.

What else? We are considering a variety of innovations to encourage participation in our events from the less experienced in the ranking list and from those outside of it. I hope this encouragement will reach into EBU affiliated clubs as well, making it more fun for players to participate.

It is very encouraging for the future of bridge in England that the number of students on our “Bridge for All” courses, run by our many certified teachers, is very much on the rise. We will be announcing plans to further encourage the newly trained entrants to competitive bridge to participate in and fully enjoy our clubs and events in the near future.

As for the answer to “What’s in it for me?” Everyone will have different views of what the subscription price is worth to them. For around £20 per year - of which the EBU gets £16 (less VAT) , the rest going to your County of residence - the EBU provides a huge range of services, all of which can be checked out on this web site. For the price of a round or two of drinks in the pub, members can compete for masterpoints in our many tournaments, read our magazine and get access to the services of one of the largest bridge organisations in the world, with world class advice and guidance for their bridge queries. But it isn’t just the here and now, it is also about ensuring that bridge continues in the future with top-quality training for teachers, their students and tournament and club directors. I suspect that the EBU is one of those organisations that people feel they would not miss – until it is not there! Please don’t let that happen.

The competition staff are presently getting into their seasonal frenzy as the Brighton Congress fast approaches. This series of events over a ten day period is the largest of its type in Europe. There is something for EVERYONE, including novices and the less experienced. Please come along the Brighton Metropole and see what we can do for you.

That’s all for now. I intend to keep this little column up to date as things happen. If anyone has anything they would like to discuss with me, please feel free to contact me by email ( or by phone at the EBU office 01296 317200. I am always happy to do what I can to help our members, of which I am one! I will also be playing a bit at the Brighton congress. If you are going to be there and you have a question, feel free to ask!

Enjoy your bridge.