Monday, 23 October 2006

Barry's Blog 6

At the last meeting of the 2005/2006 EBU Board, they agreed to my proposal to centralise the management of all aspects of membership at Aylesbury. This process is to be eased in over the next eighteen months, and trialled by a couple of Counties, who have now committed to help, so as to ensure that we get it right first time.

I am sure that this change in administration methods will remove many of the problems that have plagued the relationships between HQ and the Counties for many years.

At the recent AGM I must say that these plans were not met by 100% acceptance. In order to allay fears I hope to meet with any interested Membership Secretaries to discuss these issues probably early in 2007. By that time we will have developed our plans to the point of being able to present them to the group and to get their opinions on our suggestions. I know that it is not possible to please all of the people all of the time, but I really believe that this development will improve things dramatically.

I recently spent a long weekend in Galway, Ireland at a “reunion” of the international online bridge club to which I belong, Bridgeclublive. I put “reunion” in quotes as actually I had never met most of the people there, and great fun it was. Present were about 110 members from 23 countries. Although it was primarily a social event we played Bridge over three sessions. We had about 10 hours of Bridge, zero director calls, no arguments and just one director for the lot of us. There were, of course, many EBU members there, so was a great chance to discuss issues with them……..and for some of them to bend my ear, an opportunity that rarely seems to be missed!

When most others had gone, my wife and I stayed on for an extra day and we visited the Galway Bridge Centre for a game. Conventional pairs, but unconventional for a number of reasons; no convention cards (required or available), no director in the room (though one was available upstairs), no score cards. The result was 27 hands with no director calls, no arguments and quite a few laughs. The Galway Bridge Centre is an affiliate of the CBAI, the equivalent of the EBU, so it was a properly organised game, but it differed so much from the majority of ours that it was striking.

Back home, despite the new Best Behaviour @ Bridge policy, we are still struggling at our congresses, within some of our clubs and even online, with less than positive behaviour from some players. This definitely puts off newcomers to duplicate bridge – it happened to me too when we suffered atrocious behaviour at the table some years ago.

We at the EBU and many club committees, owners and managers are rightly concerned about the decline in playing numbers. We are doing many things to address the issues behind the decline, but I am certain that a contributory factor in this situation is the behaviour issue. If we do not get this under control soon we will find ourselves eventually with fewer tournaments each year until the only bridge available will be of the social kind.

BB@B was launched in June. Is it working? If not, why do you think it isn’t? Do you suffer from bad behaviour in your club? Have you asked your club to implement BB@B as a policy? Email me your views so we can assess its first few months.

After the AGM, my congratulations to those elected into office, and commiserations to those that were not. My best wishes to Denis Robson upon his retirement from the Board; after only a short time in my job I find myself working with a new Chairman and Vice-Chairman - Sally has agreed to the use of that title! I am sure that the new Board will continue to move forward at great speed on the changes that we need to make within our organisation.

Finally, look out in the Christmas edition of English Bridge for two things. There will be an article about our new “Focus on Value” project. Also, we are undertaking a membership survey; you will be able to complete it either on the web site or on an insert that will be in the magazine. This survey will help us improve our communications with our members in the future and is very important. It will also offer members the opportunity to take part in further research that we intend to undertake to develop and improve our services. As an encouragement to complete the survey, all respondents may enter into a draw for a £500 Bridge Holiday voucher.

Shame I can’t enter…….