Saturday, 1 December 2012

Blog 57– Catch up…and Seasons Greetings

After nine months of the “live” National Grading System, we will be making some changes in 2013.  A number of people had commented that the NGS grades were “too volatile”.  In fact, the volatility is there for a reason – that is to help even out the grades across the whole EBU, using a process we call “diffusion”.

The NGS team have now discussed how things  are going and have decided that from April 2013 we will make changes to the NGS calculations as follows:-

1. We will increase the maximum boards used in the calculation of a grade to 2000 and leave the NGS “gain factor” at 2 for the time being, so that we can see the effect of these reductions to variability before committing to gain = 1.5.  This will roughly halve the effect one session has on a player’s current grade, and decreases the rate at which older results are discounted.

2. There will be a one-off effect for all players, when NGS first recalculates a grade based on the new maximum number of boards.  This effect should be relatively small and may be either up or down. Sessions over three years old will be excluded from the calculations, as has been planned from the outset of NGS.  Players’ grades will continue to be regarded as mature once they have played 1000 graded boards. These changes will also be applied to partnership grades.

3. We will reduce the weighting of Green Pointed and other EBU events even if not Green Pointed from triple weight to double weight.  All other events will be weighted normally. This will not affect events which have been already graded.  NGS will of course continue to take account of the (usually high) strength of opponents in such events.

4. New players’ grades will be set at 42 – this has already been implemented.

We are still considering how we can include some team games within the NGS grading structure and hopefully we can do something about this during the next year.

I am also pleased to say that Scorebridge and PairsScorer, our two most commonly used club scoring programs, are now just about ready to utilise up to date NGS grades for handicapping. If you want to use this new facility I suggest you contact them as you will need to update your software.  If you use any other scoring program and the author wishes to include the same facilities, please contact our office for details.

Other matters; many of you will be as pleased to hear (as we are) that we have started work on a brand new website.  We are using a well known “content management system” to build the new facility and this will make many things much easier, including searching the site.   It will be at least March 2013 before this sees the light of day, and even then it will not be complete as we have tens of thousands of pages of data to consider importing to the new site, which is a far from trivial exercise.

We are delighted that we have recently welcomed back Rugby Bridge Club into the ranks of our club affiliates and that there are two or three more in various stages of rejoining the EBU.   During the last couple of years we have trained over 800 club tournament directors and well over 200 club teachers and the number of “player sessions” being played in our clubs is continuing to increase, which is a very healthy sign for the future of our game.  Our club “re-invigoration” programme seems to be working!   

With Christmas and the New Year bearing down upon us fast I would like to wish everybody the very best seasons greeting and a Happy New Year.  At the same time I would like to thank all of our volunteers for the amazing amount of work that they put into our game at all levels and especially thank my staff for another very hard years work.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Blog 56 - 75th Anniversary Simultaneous Event

As you have hopefully seen on our home page and through our social media channels, we are celebrating our 75th year in one final flourish with a special set of Simultaneous Pairs events next month. So that everyone can have a go, we will be playing on the weekdays of Tuesday 8th to Friday 11th May and Monday 14th May 2012.

I am really looking forward to taking part in the Simultaneous Pairs, because I’ve seen all the work that the team have put in to it (although only at a glance, or otherwise I would not be able to play!), and it sounds very interesting. It will be fun seeing how we do compared to how things were done 75 years ago - it was a pretty "convention free" environment I would think. For this reason we have produced special 75th anniversary booklets which will be available at your club after the game.

It has been an interesting 75th year especially with our brand new National Grading System kicking in a couple of months ago. I am very proud to have been involved in so many aspects of this great celebratory year.

Please sign up your club today, and help us to celebrate our anniversary in style! Sign up as your club here:

PS - While you are at it, clubs can sign up for our future SIMS at any time. If you are not sure how, please call our office and someone will guide you through it!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Blog 55 - Simultaneous events - SIMS now "in house"

After two successful trial runs, the last with 114 clubs playing, from April 1st 2012 the English Bridge Union is administering its own Sim Pairs events and the British Simultaneous Pairs (formerly known as BGB Sim Pairs).

For the Sims to be more accessible, we will be making most of them available on five days of the week with a different set of hands on each day. So clubs can offer one session each day in either the morning, afternoon or evening – but not all three! If your club plays just once a week, you won’t have to miss out due to the Sims being on the wrong days.

In order to streamline the process and save on postage and printing, we are moving as much administration as possible online. If you have seen the latest price increases coming from Royal Mail, you will understand why this is a good idea! Once you have indicated that you wish to play, all necessary files and documentation will be available for clubs to download from the EBU website. The entry fee has been reduced to £2.50 per player (except for the Stratified EBU Sims where the fee is £2). This is for provision of electronic commentary, booklets, travellers and hand records. Paper commentary booklets can be provided by post on request at £8 per pack of 20 booklets. Normal P2P rates apply as well.

These events are open to all EBU affiliated clubs, but club heats must be of at least three tables, and each player must play at least 18 boards. Affiliated clubs that wish to participate should register online via their EBU Members Area.

Why not look at your Club Calendar of Events now to see if you wish to take part in any additional events. Club players looking to improve their game really appreciate the commentaries and, if they do well, they benefit from the enhanced Master Points available to the top third of the field, which include Green Points if you do REALLY well.

Full Instructions and Sims Calendar for Clubs

Contact Ian Mitchell on for more information.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Blog 54 - NGS Takes off

I am delighted and proud to announce that the EBU's long awaited National Grading System is now ready for the world to see! Having said that, it has all happened in something of a rush, so we are not quite as ready on the web site as we would have liked, but we are not waiting any longer.

If you go to your members area, and clear your browser cache (check with your browser's help to see how), you will see new information about your NGS grade. There is much more navigation information available at this link.

which will hopefully answer all of your navigational questions. Club administrators have extra information available in the Club's members area.

The point we have reached is the culmination of more than three years work, mainly by our volunteers, and I am delighted to say that this new grading system puts us in the forefront of the world's bridge federations, few of which have such a facility but most of which would like one! I have been continually thanking our volunteers for the huge efforts they have made in getting us where we are today, but I must once again thank Mike Christie who has developed the software and the associated database using the technology base that was put in place by our own Michael Clark for the universal membership development. Thanks also to the scoring system software providers who have helped us along the way.

It is quite possible, indeed almost certain, that some of our members will find little gremlins; if that happens please send your comments or questions to

Finally, the project suffered some body blows during its development with the passing of Dr John Carter who was Chairman of the Working Group and the serious illness of John Probst, who provided large amounts of technical input before he was unable to continue.

I am quite sure that John is looking down on us with a big beaming smile today...