The year has seen some changes, hopefully for the better, but it has just been a start.The next twelve months will certainly see more changes being suggested and implemented.
Continuing the seasonal theme, if you were a club standard tennis player and someone offered you the chance to play Roger Federer in the first round at Wimbledon you might think that would be you out in the first round. Well, because of the unusual, but extremely clever format of the Schapiro Spring Fours, probably the only tournament of its type in the world, you have to lose TWICE before you are out. Thus you could play the equivalent of Federer in the first round and Murray in the second. Even then, you don't go home, instead there are two further tournaments!
This year's Schapiro Spring Fours (named after the late Boris Schapiro, one of England's best ever players, and sponsored by his wife, Helen), attracted around 48 teams over the Spring Bank holiday. The reason that I have mentioned it is that I believe that it is a tournament that should be frequented by many more players who are not in the top category. At this event it really is possible to play world class players in a great environment in Stratford upon Avon and is one where everyone can enjoy top class bridge and even enjoy getting thrashed! Watch out for it next year.
As I have mentioned before, we are considering how we can increase competitions available for lower ranked players. The Bracketed Teams in Kent in March was our first, and very successful attempt at something new. Watch out for future innovations, which we will, of course, advertise here on the website.
Coming up during the midweek of the Brighton Summer Congress we will again be running the "Really Easy Congress" and I strongly recommend newcomers to congress bridge to come and try a session or two at this thoroughly easy going event. Details are available on our web site.
I am still receiving a lot of communications from members of all levels on the subject of bad behaviour at the table ranging from North/South pairs not welcoming their visiting opponents to partners arguing with each other while opponents are around. This type of behaviour problem is now so endemic that we really must do something about it as newcomers are being lost to the duplicate game when they experience this type of behaviour. In the June edition of English Bridge you will find an article about BB@B one year on. The article will also list the penalties that will be applied for breaking the best behaviour policy. As happens in other countries with "zero tolerance" policies, I would very much like to see clubs adopt the policy as well, although in England this is, of course, a matter for each club to consider.
June 6th will see the next Shareholders meeting; at this meeting the Board will be placing a new strategic proposal before them for consideration at the AGM in October, prior to making it available to all members via the web site the same day. There will be wide consultations on these proposals between June and October.
To quote the motto of my favourite football club - "To Dare is to Do".