THE HISTORY OF BROMLEY NORTH BRIDGE CLUB
CHAPTER 1: In the Beginning
Bromley North Bridge Club arose out of the ashes of the Bromley Bridge Club which closed in 2005. Many of the members of that club were concerned that, following the closure, there were no clubs meeting regularly in the centre of Bromley and decided to establish a new club.
During the summer of 2005, a group of seven people met to plan the development of the new club. Susanne Walsh and Pauline Parker provided the impetus for the group and were joined by Marco Alcalay, Ivan Collins, Frank Davis, Rex Flin and Susan Starkey. Thus the first BNBC committee was established, with Susanne as chair, Pauline as Secretary and Ivan as Treasurer. Initially, the club started as a “Founders Club” and each of the seven loaned £200 to the club as start-up funds.
CHAPTER 2: First Home – Bromley Cricket Club
The first priority was to find a venue for the club, preferably one close to Holy Trinity School in Plaistow Lane, which was the venue for the Bromley Bridge Club. Here luck played a hand! Bromley Cricket Club, which is about 400 yards along the road, had a suitable room which was available on Monday evenings. The new committee set the date of 3rd October 2005 for the first club evening and the club was now underway. This was the start of a beneficial partnership with the cricket club which lasted for about 6 years.
Over the next few months, there was a slow but steady growth in attendance and the committee decided that the way forward was to open the club for a second evening each week starting on Friday 10th February 2006. However, this did not prove to be a success, partly because the room was not available every week, and there were rarely more than 3 tables compared to the 9 or 10 tables on a Monday. At the AGM in 2007, the club voted to switch the second evening to a Thursday but this did not prove any more successful and the second evening was abandoned in March 2007.
By the end of 2007 the club had repaid all the start-up funds to the founder members and it officially became a members’ club.
The next step was to bring the club into the 21st Century and to purchase wireless scoring terminals. Pat Alcalay, with help and advice from Mirna Goacher who had installed scoring terminals for Chislehurst Bridge Club, conducted research into the products available at that time and recommended that the club should purchase Bridgepads. Initially, the club purchased 13 and in autumn 2009 they were used for the first time. Bromley North was one of the first bridge clubs in the area to use wireless scoring terminals and has continued to be at the forefront in using technology to improve facilities.
In 2009, the English Bridge Union (EBU) proposed to implement “Pay-to-Play”, a new membership structure under which individuals would no longer pay an annual fee but would pay a levy to the EBU via their club every time they attended a session. Within the wider bridge world there was much discussion and opposition to the proposals – and Bromley North was no exception to this. Within the proposals, each bridge club had to decide whether to remain affiliated to the EBU and collect the money on behalf of the EBU. At an EGM in September 2009 the membership decided to remain affiliated.
The club continued to grow with an increase in membership and attendance at the Monday evening sessions to the extent that the room at the cricket club was no longer big enough to accommodate everybody who wished to play. There was considerable debate within the club about the way forward. Should the club remain at the cricket club despite the capacity issue? If there was to be a move must it be close by in North Bromley? Should the club widen the search for a new venue outside the immediate area? The committee, led by Gwenda Evans, decided that the club should investigate all possible locations in Bromley and after considerable research identified two potential locations – St George’s Church Hall in Bickley and Shortlands Golf Club. Obviously, neither was close to Bromley Cricket Club. An EGM was called at which there were two motions to debate. Should the club move to a new venue and if so, which venue should it be? The meeting was lively and, after close votes on each motion, the members voted to move from Bromley Cricket Club to Shortlands Golf Club.
CHAPTER 3: Second Home – Shortlands Golf Club
On 3rd October 2011 the club moved to its second and current home. Unfortunately, as a result of the move a few members decided not to rejoin the club, primarily because of the extra distance they would be required to travel to reach Shortlands. However, the vast majority of members were pleased with the move and the additional comforts provided there. Very soon word spread around other bridge clubs in the area about the new venue and a number of local players came to the club as guests and many of them joined the club during our first year at Shortlands.
Very shortly after the move Dave Harper, one of our long serving members, made the extremely generous offer to donate a dealing machine to the club. The committee accepted this offer with pleasure and in November 2011 we took delivery of the machine and took our next step in the use of technology to improve the club. In particular, members appreciate the hand listing on the website or printout from which they can check how well (or badly) they bid and played each hand.
The room at Shortlands Golf Club provides the capacity for 21 tables and the committee decided to revive the Swiss Teams event previously held in 2005 and 2006. Hilary and David Powell agreed to organise the event which was scheduled for 20th October 2012 and very quickly the maximum of 20 tables were booked by club members and guests. The winners of this inaugural Swiss Teams were the team of Mike Hampton, John Griffiths, Keith Ashcroft and John Amor. Following the success of the first one, the Swiss Teams is now a regular annual feature in the Bromley North calendar.
Membership continued to expand and soon we were again faced with the issue that we thought we had solved when we moved to Shortlands. There were frequently 19 or 20 tables at a session and the committee was concerned that we would soon need to turn players away. The committee identified a number of options to resolve the problem and following a lengthy discussion at the AGM in January 2013 the members approved a membership cap of 120, the establishment of a waiting list for prospective members and a limit on the number of guests at each session. These measures have been successful in managing the number of tables without having an adverse effect on the membership level.
The club’s next successful venture was a weekend away organised by Valerie Smith in March 2015 at the Hythe Imperial Hotel. The hotel was in the middle of a major refurbishment but this did not detract from the success and enjoyment of the weekend for the 44 members and guests who were present. Valerie organised another weekend at the same hotel in March 2016 with equal success.
In 2016, the Committee reviewed the scoring system as the BridgePads were at the end of life. Two options were considered - FreeBrian using tablets or mobile phones for inputting scores and BridgeMates. On balance the latter was the selected as the device of choice being used by a majority of clubs and most congresses, though the former was acknowledged to be a good candidate for the third generation system in the future.
CHAPTER 4 – The Future
What next for Bromley North Bridge Club? In the 10 years since it was formed, the club has grown from a small club to one with 120 members which is fully involved in the local and county bridge scene. The club has benefited from an active and enthusiastic membership willing to take on committee jobs to ensure it continues to grow and run smoothly. In addition, there are teams of members who voluntarily take on the jobs of directing and scoring, jobs which are essential for the smooth running of a members’ club. New members join each year who frequently become very involved in the running of the club. The club has demonstrated effective management in these 10 years and that it can take on new initiatives and run them successfully and we look forward to many more years.
Appendix 1 – Club, County and National Competitions
Bromley North Bridge clubs runs five internal competitions every year open to club members only.
Club ladder: This competition, which is on the first Monday of every month from February to November, has been run every year since 2007. The first winners were Chris Wright and Norman Roach.
Creighton Cup: This cup was donated by Roger Horton and is an annual pairs competition which has been run on the second Monday in October since 2006. The first winners were Rajinder Sehmi and Ivan Collins.
Herring Mixed Pairs Cup: This cup was donated by Ken Herring in memory of his wife Diane and is an annual competition for mixed pairs only. It was initially run on the second Monday in July but since 2015 has been held on the second Monday in September. The first winners in 2007 were Frank Davis and Susanne Walsh.
Chris and Frank David Memorial Trophy: This annual competition, which is in memory of Chris and Frank Davis, has been run on the second Monday in April since 2012. The first winners were Rodney Meredith and Colin Shaw
Roger Horton Knockout Trophy: This competition, which is in memory of Roger Horton, runs throughout the year during normal Monday sessions. The first winners in 2011 were Keith and Mary Davies.
The Val and Bernard Smith Award: Our most recent trophy, first presented in 2015 by Valerie and Bernard Smith. The winners are the non-expert pair that is the highest placed in club ladder. The first winners were Jean O’Doherty and Brian Grimwood.
A complete list of winners of all these competitions can be found on the club website.
County and National competitions
During his spell as chair of the club, Dave Parkinson said that he wanted to persuade club members to participate in county and national level competitions. He focussed on team competitions and the club now enters teams in both county and national competitions.
Corbett Cup/Corbett Plate/Mitchell Salver: These are annual Kent County club competitions held in January and February. Bromley North first entered a team into the Mitchell Salver, which is the lowest level of the three competitions, in 2014. The club now enters two teams each year and is hoping for promotion to the Corbett Plate in 2017.
Simultaneous Pairs (SIMS): Each year the club usually enters 3 SIM Pairs competitions – Stratified Sim Pairs in March, British Summer Sim Pairs in July and Children-in-Need Sim Pairs in November.
National Interclub Knockout (NICKO): In 2015 Bromley North entered two teams in this national competition and has done so again in 2016. So far success has proved elusive.
APPENDIX 2 – Club Officers
Chair: 2005-07 Susanne Walsh
2008-09 Janet Butler
2010-11 Gwenda Evans
2012-13 Ivan Collins
2014-15 Dave Parkinson
2016- Dave Harper
Vice Chair 2005-07 Frank Davis
2007 Janet Butler
2009 Gwenda Evans
2010 Dave Parkinson
2011 Ivan Collins
2012-13 Dave Parkinson
2014-15 Dave Harper
2016- Valerie Smith
Secretary: 2005-07 Pauline Parker
2007-10 Pat Alcalay
2011- Hilary Powell
Treasurer 2005-10 Ivan Collins
2011- David Powell