The Early Years of BCCM
The bridge club we now enjoy took about two and a half years from founding to take the shape we know today. A number of those most involved with running the club during that formative period are no longer active with the club, so it seemed a good idea to write down a history of the early years before it all gets forgotten. To make this account as accurate as I could, I started by reviewing all the meeting minutes and other records from those early years and cross-checking where possible.
There were several well established bridge groups in Chiang Mai already, long before BCCM was formed. Probably the largest group, up to six tables, met on Sundays at Phil Watts’ house and was run by John Bucher and Neil Robinson. Previously, a good, competitive game had been held at John’s house. Subsequently, this combined with a social game organised by Penny Ellis at her house. Another successful group met on Wednesdays to play at Martin and Sheila Bagnall’s house. Chris Hedges had been running a “beginners and rusties” coaching session on Fridays since 2007, initially at private homes and later in a room over the Doitung coffee shop near JJ market. Other groups played in other private homes.
Martin and Sheila suggested the bright idea of bringing together many of these groups into one club. This was welcomed by the various groups and a meeting was held at The Pub on 28 February 2009 to set up the club. The meeting chose the name Bridge Club of Chiang Mai and elected a four person committee to run the club:
Treasurer and Membership Secretary---Penny
An early BCCM list of founder members and other early members of the club is attached separately.
A pressing question was where to play. The club needed a central location with space for a sizeable number of tables and, preferably, where refreshments could be purchased. Martin, Sheila and Neil, separately or together, visited many possible places. These included the YMCA, a room over a bowling alley, and various restaurants. None was really suitable. Mike Williams had proposed The Pub. This proved a fortunate choice and the association of Pub and club is still going strong.
By April 2009, a web site for the club had been set up and a Wednesday afternoon duplicate game, run by Martin, was being held at The Pub. The Friday and Sunday games were also part of the club. However, Chris did not want to let down the people at Doitung Café, who had been so hospitable, and the Friday session stayed there for a while. The Sunday session, with its long history of being hosted by Phil, also did not move and was at first run separately and not fully integrated until September. However, the comparative remoteness of Phil’s house by comparison with the central location of The Pub, impacted the attendance. The Sunday game eventually made it to The Pub in April 2010.
Meanwhile there had been developments on the committee. Shortly after the committee was started, John joined. By mid-year, Sheila was also on the committee, but rather briefly because unfortunately both she and Martin resigned in September 2009. Those remaining (Neil as Chair, Penny as Treasurer, Chris as Coach and John as Scorer) ended up being the core of the committee running the club for all of its formative years.
After Martin resigned, Neil and John took over running the Wednesday game, in addition to the Sunday session. In October 2009, the Friday session changed character and Martin began running it as a relaxed duplicate game at The Pub. Subsequently, Chris’ coaching game moved to Mondays at The Pub. The pattern of games which lasts to the present was now set: duplicate games on Wednesdays and Sundays, relaxed duplicate on Fridays and a coaching game on Mondays.
Several more milestones followed. The club held its first “special event”, a club day in January 2010, with 36 players in an individual tournament organised by John. At the time we thought it a great achievement to have so many players, although since then attendance at club days has almost doubled.
By February 2010, we began to use pre-dealt hands and these appeared on the web site along with the results. The dealing had to be done by hand however. Also in February the club held its first AGM. Bernard Garwood was elected as the fifth committee member, and became Secretary.
In May 2010, Chris organised the first club away trip, to the Chiang Dao Nest. This was to be the first of many successful club trips since then, not only to the Nest, but also to other resorts and locations. Indeed, Chris ran a second trip to the Nest only five months later, in October 2010. Yet another followed only four months after that, in February 2011.
Thus almost all the elements of the present day club were in place by mid-2010: four sessions a week at The Pub, including duplicate and coaching sessions, together with periodic special events for members and away trips. The main thing lacking was automation. We still had to pre-deal boards and score by hand. The Committee had been wanting to change this for some time. The problem was lack of money. At the second AGM, in March 2011, the committee announced the intention to purchase a card dealing machine as soon as we could afford it.
In April 2011, two new members joined the committee, Stewart Simpson and Martin. The other element still lacking from the club was a training course for non-players who wanted to learn. Martin volunteered to run periodic courses. The committee continued to debate when we could afford to buy a dealing machine and scoring equipment. At last, in December 2011 we bit the bullet and made the purchase, even though it needed interest free loans from some of the committee members to tide the club over.
So finally, about two and a half years after it was founded, and after a lot of hard work by many people, the club became what it is today. So please enjoy it and support it!