AGM 22nd April 2013.
Your Committee has met formally on 7 occasions since the last AGM. Approved Minutes of meetings have been posted on the notice boards at both Hampton and Swalecliffe.
Various changes have taken place over the past 12 months, not least in personnel on the Committee. We were delighted to welcome Kate Amos onto the Committee in July, but were sorry that our long-serving Secretary Audrey Baldwin suddenly and unexpectedly departed in August. Kate very kindly agreed to help me out with secretarial duties after that time. I would like to thank every member of the Committee, all of whom have been extremely helpful during a busy and eventful year. Arising from the SGM held in March, we are changing to a Committee of 6 fully elected members with the possibility of co-opting one further member if necessary.
The Committee would like to thank Karenza who has taken over management of the Host system from Kate, and Tessa who has become our Web-Mistress, and has up-dated and organised our web-site for much greater use by the membership. Eric Rochester has once again kindly audited the clubís financial records. We are also very grateful to those of you who help out at the start and end of the evening in putting out and returning furniture etc., as well as to others who help Tina with the organisation of the tea and coffee facilities. I donít want to mention names for fear of missing out someone who might feel offended. But please be aware that we are most grateful for all the help we receive from many non-Committee members without whom the Club would be hard pressed to continue. I would mention at this point that we asked the EBU for Club Director Training Courses to be held in Kent; and we now have four members of the Club attending the Courses near Maidstone. This should in the future, help to reduce the load on John Tyrrell.
We ran two special events during the year; a Jubilee celebration in June, with set hands, prizes, presents and a glass of wine; and secondly the usual Christmas Party, but scaled down and modified this year after listening to comments from the membership. We also asked for comments on the new format, and have taken all ideas submitted into consideration, so that a number of them will be implemented next year. We havenít pleased everyone, but we have done our best!
I was given no particular brief on being elected to Chairman, but my personal aims for the year were twofold. Firstly to involve the membership more fully in the decision-making processes of the club; and secondly to try to raise the status of and attendance at, Swalecliffe.
To involve the membership more, we have used e-mails more frequently (over 90% of full members have an address!), and with Tessaís help have brought in the use of the Bridgewebs web-site much more fully, with the possibility of finding partners there as well as keeping up-to-date with proposed changes to the club. Election, AGM and SGM notices have been included on the web-site as well as on club notice-boards. We would additionally like to publicise Landmark promotions, high achievements nationally in Sim.Pairs and successes in National Congresses by Club members. Please help by sending the Committee such items for inclusion on the web-site. The regulations for each of the trophies awarded by the Club will shortly be published there (as will this Chairmanís Report). We have also held 2 SGMs to allow the membership to determine important aspects of Club policy and management.
To try to improve attendance at Swalecliffe, we held the Ken Hewitt Handicap Cup there this year, and changed the rules so that the handicap relates to the sessions played at both Hampton and Swalecliffe. We have also held non-trophy Handicap events at this venue. We have investigated (and are still looking into) the possibility of holding afternoon sessions there. Results of all Club events have been published in the local paper to try to encourage more people to consider attending either venue. We have been pleased to welcome again (thanks to Andrew Burchill), a U3A group of bridge improvers to Swalecliffe to help them appreciate what we can offer there. Despite all this, and although the Teams events on Sundays at Swalecliffe have continued to flourish, the numbers on Wednesday have only improved by rather less than half a table per week this year. The Committee would welcome your (written) opinion as to how we could attract more people to Swalecliffe.
We have looked at a variety of ways in which we could improve everyoneís experience of duplicate bridge at the Hampton Clubs, including the use of electronic equipment for dealing and scoring, and we tested out a set of electronic scorers for a fortnight, before an SGM decided that the purchase of a dealing machine was a better initial option. We also discussed (and rejected on grounds of cost) the possibility of organising Advanced seminars by a well-known teacher such as Andrew Robson.
But at the end of the day, it is undoubtedly the behaviour of some players at the bridge table which inhibits many beginners from attending. It requires a concerted effort from all of us to overcome this problem. The Director must be called immediately to deal with the situation.
We have completely overhauled the organisation of the Trophies awarded each year, so that we do not have so many of them clustered towards the end of the year, and to ensure that attenders at both venues and all full members have a chance of winning prizes. As a result, because of the timing changes, there are some Cups which will not be presented this year, and one which has two winners Ė the Ken Hewitt Cup!
The Robert Reid Cup will be held at Swalecliffe this coming year, and will be open only to those who have an NGS level of 10 or lower (anyone can take part, but some of you brilliant players may be ineligible to win the Cup!)
We have converted the Chairmanís Cup into a pairs ladder event, so that the pair with the highest percentage for the year are the winners. So this year the Chairmanís Cup has joined the Hampton Cup as an annual event, not based on a single eveningís competition.
The Beaken Shield has changed to become our major pairs competition; it is now a blue-points event taking place over two weeks in August. (We also intend to run a Teams blue points event at Swalecliffe on one Sunday this year.)
We have decided that the number of Sim.Pairs events per year is about right; we ran 2 at Swalecliffe, and 5 at Hampton over the year. As Chairman (not speaking on behalf of the Committee) I do sometimes wonder whether we should restrict Sim.Pairs events to full members only.
But maybe the two most important changes this year have been the introduction of the Dealing Machine and the take-over of the St Dunstanís venue of the Pilgrimsí Club.
Purchase of a Dealing Machine was widely supported by the membership, and there was a large majority in favour of purchasing one at the SGM. There has been appreciation of the printed hands at the end of each evening; though it is a pity that the travellers do not provide a separate column for the dealer. It will take time for everyone to get used to the system, but I am certainly happy with it, and hope that most of you are too.
As you will know, for much of the last 16 months, the whole of the Pilgrimsí Clubís 3 different venues, has been run by 3 Committee members of the Hampton Club - John Tyrrell, Nick Turner and Kate Amos. Many of us who attend one or more of these venues, owe them a deep debt of gratitude for all the hard work they have done in maintaining a full bridge programme throughout this time. John in particular has directed almost non-stop on a daily basis, and directing for him involves not only dealing with problems at the bridge table, but also opening up the site early, closing it at the end of the evening, and taking responsibility for the equipment. Iím sure we all wish him well with his new venture in taking over the Bekesbourne venue with Nick Turner. Nick has kept the finances of Ian Ottleyís Club going, and done a lot of behind the scenes help and negotiation, and Kate has scored for both clubs - frequently 5 sessions a week. I am delighted that Hampton has acquired the St Dunstanís venue for Friday evenings, so that we have a chance of introducing the Club to a wider number of people, and bringing some competitive events to this venue too. A Committee chaired by Margaret Crawley is running the Tyler Hill venue.
With no other candidate for Chairman for 2013-14, I am happy to continue in the post for one more year, but you will need to find a new Chairman for the following year. Thank you again for all your help and support.