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DOUBLE BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION
DOUBLE BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION

It was certainly a very happy birthday yesterday for Valentina.

Despite her physical handicap, she made it to my party to celebrate her own big day. By her own admission she is a crazy Rumanian lady.

I can certainly go along with that self assessment after partnering her at the club the past two weeks. 

But, with equal certainty, I can say that she is a very good bridge player.

Trevor 1838 on 22/7/21

Your QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Online or Face to Face. Where does bridge go from here?

How can we play competitive F2F bridge NOW?

Will bridge clubs survive?

Will table fees increase when clubs reopen?

When will “clinically vulnerable players” be able to safely return to the bridge table?

In the perceived absence of any sensible and useful guidance from bridge administrators, I endeavour to reassure players via my diagnoses and prescriptiona for resolving common concerns. You can read my analyses on the “Keep Bridge Alive” page.

Trevor 22h40 on 10/1/21

Update 23/2/21.
Update 23/2/21.

The ACES mobile club - and especially the bridge school - is now in full swing. Last week it was the French connection when Irish and English were invited to join Thierry at his home in Santa Cruz. Yesterday it was the turn of our friends in Palmmar. This time it was Gaby and Juergen from Hamburg honouring us with their presence.

Trevor 15h00 23/2/21

DINNER DATES in Tenerife

Life goes on at ACES with the ever popular Bridge (or Rummikub) sessions with dinner. For 4 persons only, they are afternoon games played outdoors starting at 3pm. Dinner is likewise served on the terrace. Charge inclusive of table fee plus 3 course dinner with drinks is E12 p.p.

Here are the home-made menus available:

Menu 1

Cream of spinach soup

Duck in orange sauce

Lemon or Chocolate Cheesecake

xxxxxx

Menu 2

Tuna, mushroom, leek and red pepper tart

Roast chicken with three veg

Mixed fruit crumble

xxxxxx

Menu 3

Cheese tart

Tagliatelli puttanesca

Kiwi tart 

xxxxxx

Menu 4

Leek and potato soup with stilton

Steak and kidney pie with 3 veg

Fruit salad

xxxxxx

Menu 5

Melon and cured Iberian ham

Salmon and potato bake

Lemon tart

Menu 6

xxxxxx

Fish soup

Albondigas in tomato sauce

Apple pie and ice cream

xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Dinner dates can be enjoyed as much by beginners as by experienced players in search of competitive bridge. 

You will need to provide evidence to satisfy me beyond reasonable doubt that you are not a carrier of the virus. To protect the existing members of the “ACES bubble” of which several are, like me, categorised as “clinically extremely vulnerable”. That assessment will be subjective and based on my experience over several decades of working with severely ill cystic fibrosis sufferers. They necessarily had to avoid close contact at all costs with anybody suffering from even the most innocuous of viruses (such as the common cold) which could prove fatal to CF sufferers. 

Trevor 00h05 on 20/7/21

Los GIGANTES, Tenerife
Los GIGANTES, Tenerife

An ACES bridge star finds serenity at the foot of the giant cliffs from which this coastal resort gets its name

TMW 12/2/21.

Keep Bridge Alive
The future of bridge

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

A year ago it was very much on the cards that bridge would be played at the Paris Olympics in 2024. Twelve months on, bridge as an international “sport” is in a dire situation.  For the administrators, burying their heads in the sand is not an option if the trend is to be reversed before it is too late. Improvisation and radical ideas are required. 

As an Englishman who has been promoting and teaching the game around the world, I am entitled to give my opinion in particular on the English Bridge Union and the World Federation. Neither deserve any medals whatsoever for their response to the pandemic to date. The lack of initiatives and guidance is mindboggling. With the inevitable result that bridge is being driven on line and away from clubs.

I personally still never play on line. For me it is not bridge at all.  At best I would class it as a computer game which is a useful learning tool for youngsters.  i.e. those who know how to resolve being cut off from partner when the internet signal fails! As happens frequently with senior citizens who are even more senior than me. Being cynical, the only conceivable plus is that on line bridge reduces the average age of players. By eliminating from the sport the computer illiterate geriatrics and the arthritic!

To offer some insight into the scale of the potential problems for bridge as a sport, I am addressing some of the common Covid related questions which blinkered administrators at club, national association and world federation level have left unanswered throughout the entirety of the pandemic.

The pictures and commentaries on the first two pages of this wevsite already tell half the story. Showing how, even today in January 2021 at one of the peaks of the pandemic, safe F2F competitions are possible. Putting a smile on the face of every participant  to boot. As you will see,  it is a simple formula that can be applied anywhere. I rest my case.

Trevor 21h15 on 10/1/21

Online or Face to Face. Where does bridge go from here?

I play for the camaraderie. To meet other sociable people from all walks of life and from all corners of the planet. Some fascinating stories told with a refreshingly different cultural perspective. Not to mention the apres-bridge aperitif, the dinner / dances, plus the interclub matches in pastures new.

On-line bridge can never fulfil all of those items on my wishlist. In any event, sitting alone in front of a computer for three hours is not my idea of fun.

Yet, for many aficionados who think like me, there appears to be no choice. The bridge associations are doing absolutely nothing to suggest there is any alternative. Play on line or you cannot play for the foreseeable future is what they are saying. Which explains the reported fourfold increase in on-line bridge players in the past 12 months.

Many have given up playing altogether because of their aversion to computer games. They may never return to playing at their clubs when the opportunity arises. And even if and when clubs are allowed to reopen for multi table sessions, 6 months later there will still be no more than 50% of the pre pandemic numbers. That, in my opinion, is the inevitable scenario if the national federations don`t come out of their cosy little bubbles and try some innovative intitiatives to keep F2F bridge interest going. Instead of simply being content to confine their activities to collecting a commission from the on-line companies that they eagerly promote.  

The solution:

To prevent the game and the clubs haemorrhaging an ever increasing number of  players, we must keep F2F bridge going whenever humanely possible. To remind people of its long term advantages for our health and mental well being. If I and many others are currently able to play F2F bridge competitions legally and safely here in Tenerife, there is clearly no reason why the national federations should not be encouraging clubs to try mimicking our example.

 

Can anyone play COMPETITIVE F2F bridge RIGHT NOW?

YES,

if (or WHEN depending on where you live) Covid regulations allow just four players to get together.

How can that be competitive with just one table of four, you may then ask. You will find a more comprehensive explanation elsewhere on this website. So let me just remind readers that not only are individual, pairs and team tournaments possible, but those competitions can be organised in such a way that they give a fairer result than in the traditional club tournaments. That is due to the fact that participants have the opportunity to play every board.

The only pre-requisite is for each bubble of four to acquire an appropriate set of boards, cards and bidding boxes. In the case of our ACES club, we have a large enough stock to loan all the equipment to 11 bubbles. Enabling the boards to be played up to eleven times by 44 different people before the results are collated. 

Note that the only other requirement is for one of the four to deal the cards using two A4 sheets with all the hands to be prepared. Here in Tenerife, I am able to prepare sets of boards which subsequently do the rounds of the households. 

It`s as simple as that!

TMW 06h00 on 13/1/21

Will bridge clubs survive the pandemic?

Some have already closed permanently. Others will find it very difficult to reopen. Fixed costs, fewer members and cashflow will be the main hurdles to overcome.

 A word of caution for club administrators

There have been several surveys which suggest that no more than 50% of members will return when the club reopens. Worse still, that figure will probably be much lower if the club requires masks to be worn throughout the session. These findings are supported by the footfall figures for clubs which are already open in Europe. Reduced numbers of players not only dictate that clubs put up prices to cover fixed costs. It also devalues the competition. Noone wants to play a two and a half table Howell movement with a half hour sit out. But that ia what in happening at a club in Fuengirolla where I used to play. Yesterday (14/1/21) there were again only 5 pairs compared to 27 pairs on the corresponding Thursday last year***. Which all adds up to a vicious circle with ever decreasing player numbers and spiralling costs relative to the income generated.

The prescription? In my opinion, there is only one option I`m afraid.  

Keep F2F bridge alive for club members by adopting a home-based bubble system for competitions

Do NOT reopen clubs if the wearing of masks is still to be compulsory.

TMW 16h00 on 13/1/21

888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888

It`s a dog`s life

A lighthearted look at what transpired at onother club on the Costa del Sol last summer

The local authorities duly responded efficiently and sympathetically to the request for the green light to reopen last July. But they insisted on sending their own team of workers to completely disinfect the building before human beings could enter. Unfortunately, the caretaker forgot to tell her four legged friend who sneaked into the premises – and the poor little thing ended up in intensive care. Dog lovers will be relieved to hear she made a complete recovery.

8888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888 :

Will table fees increase when clubs reopen?

Club committees will undoubtedly be facing the conundrum of how to cover fixed costs like rentals with fewer players. Even with the variable costs which include cleaning, maintenance, table fees and tuition, there are usually a small percentage of unavoidable fixed charges to consider. Whether they be registration, retainer fees, or administrative costs.

These problems will be compounded by a reduced cashflow affecting the club`s ability to invest. A point which leads me to yet another problem that has come to light. Redundant dealing machines! Not only are some now superfluous to requirements, but clubs who were considering purchasing a machine are unlikely to have player numbers in the foreseeable future to justify such an investment.

Whilst the need to increase income per head in proportion to a shrinking membership is unavoidable, administrators will thankfully have the opportunity to raise the extra cash in different ways. The overriding considerations should be how to maximize the numbers - and how to keep them and new recruits coming. The best and most approriate package of measures will vary from club to club. Here are a few ideas to put on the agenda for consideration:

  1. For next year, offer a freeze on prices at pre-pandemic levels to all those who play a minimum number of games in the first three months after reopening.
  2. Limit the increase in table fees to 50% (or zero) to couples living in the same household. This should help, in particular, married couples for whom bridge fees take up a larger proportion of their pension.
  3. Make the next end of year club dinner free to anyone who has played, say, 20 times since reopening.
  4. Advertise a weekend “Open Day” at the club with a demonstration game involving a couple of youngsters and two seniors – with the offer of free tuition for those who might be interested.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

The number of potential incentive schemes are limitless. As are the innovative ways to publicize bridge clubs within the local community. Good luck to you all.

..

When will “clinically vulnerable people” be able to return to the clubs?

Despite the scientific and practical challenges of delivering an effective vaccine, the good news is that it looks likely the first-generation vaccines will have a significant impact on the global battle against Covid-19. In the short term they will help prevent the most vulnerable in our communities from developing severe disease and dying. I am not so sure, however, about the long term prospects. Realistically, it could well take years to vaccinate enough of the global population to make the whole world safe and to thus reach a point where we can all return to full normality. While the outlook for at-risk groups is undoubtedly brighter now, “clinically extremely vulnerable” people (like me) and those that suffer breathing difficulties simply wearing a mask (like me also) need to be extra careful when returning to the bridge tables. 

Whilst vaccines may ultimately end the pandemic, they will not get rid of the virus. All bridge clubs will need to be vigilant. Especially in relation to visitors who may be less honest than club members when, for example, it comes to disclosing whether they have recently visited a country where they might have contracted the virus.

To finish this Q & A section on a positive note, there is one good thing that has come out of this pandemic. It has exposed - and hopefully eradicated - a common problem that I have faced for years. Namely, selfish and ignorant people who insist on playing at the club to spread their germs. Not for the first time, catching flu at a bridge tournament put me in intensive care (twice in ten days) at Wythenshawe hospital 40 years ago. The influenza virus is perhaps just as dangerous as Covid would be for me. Which explains why the past year has been, paradoxically, the healthiest of my past 70 years. For which I am duly grateful.

Trevor 19h40 on  19/7/21

 

Why is ACES playing competitive F2F bridge during a pandemic?

My answer to the previous question partly explains why I consider the current ACES system far safer for the clinically vulnerable than the environment in other clubs ever was pre pandemic. In the past, bridge clubs did not protect people like me who pleaded for windows to be opened to improve ventilation. Instead, the tendency was to pamper to the few who preferred a warm, stuffy, (virus friendly) card room. Similarly, in the summer season, poorly maintained air con units were often switched on in preference to opening windows. Even in West Yorkshire long after the sun has set! Crazy.

A mail I received yesterday raises another concern relevant to this question: Social distancing. Here is the message:

"Hi Trevor

l hope you are well and safe and enjoying yourself in Tenerife. Due to government and medical restrictions l will not be coming there till January 2022. l hear you have started a small school of actual bridge which is great. Trust it's socially distant though l don't see how and hope it's successful and safe.."

If I were to ask that friend to tell me what distance he would suggest, he would probably say 2 metres  Simply because that is tthe figure most touted by the media in the UK .Yet here in Tenerife, bars and restaurant terraces are full of people safely sitting 4 to a table without masks. Two metres is the distance between tables, not between bubbles of 4 friends.  .

Hysteria fuelled by misinformation is exacerbating the crisis. Logic seems to have gone out of the window for many people. What is important is that you sit with people who likewise take sensible precautions when they are not actually with you. If rational thinking and pragmatism do not prevail, then those of nervous disposition will stay cocooned in their homes for the rest of their lives.

There can never be a linear definition of what constitutes a safe distance in any event. So many variables come into play. Indoors, outdoors, ventilation, wind direction, humidity etc, Not to mention air conditioning. With the result that social distancing rules on airplanes seemingly allow one to safely sit next to a Covid infected passenger on a 4 hour flight from the UK to the Canaries! Compare that to the plight of cystic fibrosis sufferers. They should not be in the same room as another CF sufferer at any time of their lives, let alone in this Covid era.

My experience of looking after CF sufferers over many years required me to fully understand how susceptible they are to common viruses. And how they might cross infect one another. That knowledge proved invaluable in understanding the way Covid spreads – and how to protect myself and my bridge friends.

In a nutshell, there was always a health risk going to a bridge club and there always will be. But common sense tells me that, if we ignore the misinformation about social distancing and take the minimum of risks. then I am more likely to be run over by a bus than to catch the virus playing bridge with like minded friends..

Trevor  updated 19h45 on 19/7/21

The BEAUTY of BRIDGE

Bridge is a mindsport full of contradictions

On the one hand it can make fit players almost suicidal. On the other hand, it saves lives

The cheats who win loadsamoney from the game never have a smile on their face. Yet the terminally ill players are rarely happier than at the bridge table

The club players who don`t want children playing in their clubs are invariably the ones with grandchildren whom they would love to see playing bridge

The Hideous Hogs at the club are the nicest of people away from the tables etc. etc.

The list goes on and on to evidence a phenomenon which I call "bridge schizophrenia".. 

Anyone reading my articles will notice that I have signed them off with the date they were originally written. That is to help the team at Stirling University.where they are running an intergeneration bridge club as part of a world federation project researching the sociology of bridge. One of the strangest contradictions is that I find myself motivated to help Samantha and her team at Stirling despite the fact that I was refused a place on a sociology course there in 1969. 

Let`s finish this Stirling forum with an exchange of mails where the time as well as the date is of interest. Below are copy mails sent to me giving clues to why there are so many contradictions / paradoxes prevalent throughout the bridge world. They reveal the extraordinary MOOD SWINGS players experience in a short space of time during and immediately after the battle at the bridge table. The player concerned is an adorable but handicapped octogenarian French lady with whom I regularly had the pleasure of playing at another of Fuengirola`s eleven bridge clubs::

EXCITED 

Sun, Feb 24, 12:01 PM

MAGNIFIQUE...  FELICITATIONS...
VOTRE INITIATIVE EST EXCELLENTE...   BRAVO, BRAVO

(No tranlation needed for readers. Even those who never learnt French at school)

 

DOWN in the DUMPS

On Sun, Mar 10, 2019 at 7:47 PM

Bonsoir,

Je crois n'avoir jamais eu une partie de bridge aussi pénible..

Oui, pénible, et j'avais pas besoin de ça, à un moment où je suis un peu dépressive...

(Translation: I have never had such a disagreeable game of bridge. Yes, disagreeable. Something I did not need when I am a bit depressed) 

 

BUOYANT & REJUVENATED 

On March 12, 2019, at 8:35 PM

Bonsoir Trevor,

On est arrivés 1ers...  et, pour deux donnes, c'est moi qui ai demandé les  As et qui ai demandé 6 Piques et 6 SA...  J'étais contente mais j'ai eu très peur...

(I finished first. And on two boards it was me who asked for aces and who bid the 6 Spades and 8 NT. I was happy because I had been afraid...

 

ECSTATIC but PRAGMATIC

On Tue, Mar 12, 2019 at 10:59 PM

Allez... Allez...  tu te moques de moi, mais avec gentillesse, donc OK...

Mais c'est vrai, ça n'arrive pas souvent que les cartes te permettent de faire ce genre d'enchères ...  pour moi, c'est une des rares fois que ça arrive...

(Come on. You are joking with me. But nicely. So it`s OK. But it`s true that my  cards allowed me to make those bids. But it is one of the first times I have done that) 

============================

I should explain that she made those final comments in response to my message congratulating her on her slam bids - whilst pointing out that it didn`t make her a world champion! On a serious note, if we all know the problem of changing moods exist, why are clubs and federations not taking measures to manage the problem. Given any mental disorder will be exacerbated as the competition rolls towards its climax with people getting tired and irritable if they do not rest their brains, why are most clubs not having a break for... 

 AFTERNOON TEA

All my friends will be astonished to discover that this Englishmen`s favourite place for afternoon tea was in the north of France. The Bridge club in CALAIS not only offered me and my son the best of welcomes and the best afternoon teas, but they had the most comfortable chairs as well. The perfect environment for us to play to the best of our capabilities.

Trevor 

 

OASIS in a BRIDGE DESERT

 

Fuengirola in southern Spain is a bridge mecca for Europeans. All Europeans, that is, except the Spanish themselves. For Spaniards, it is a bridge desert. 

 

Fact one:

When we conduct a survey 10 to 17 March of all nine of the local bridge clubs, I expect it will confirm that at least  

95% of the participants are NOT Spanish.

 Yet Fuengirola is in Spain!!!

Incidentally, there are bridge competitions every day that week. All the clubs are within walking distance of each other and welcome visitors. If anyone wants to come and play, note that at least one is open on Sunday 10th. You will be spoilt for choice on Monday 11th when no less than four will be running competititions in the afternoon. The same day, a bridge course is scheduled for beginners in the morning where visitors will also be very welcome. Whatever their nationality

 

Fact 2

Anyone who currently enquires via the website of the National Association where they can learn and play bridge, will be told to

travel to ANOTHER PLANET

(The nearest bridge club affiliated to the AEB - and the nearest bridge teacher - are 100 km from Fuengirola)

 

The first ACES academy on a desert island in the Gulf of Thailand proved that the impossible is possible. Hopefully it`s sister club can achieve the same in a bridge desert on the Spanish mainland. With a little help from our Spanish friends.

The support we are getting from the AEB (Associacion Espagnola de Bridge) and the local authority (Ayuntamiento de Fuengirola) makes me believe that the fruits of our labours could be evident within months. By the end of August, I hope that...

50% of the bridge players in Fuengirola will be Spanish 

FANTASY or FACT?

Periodic reports on progress will be given on this page. The first report will be published here as soon as the mid March survey has been completed.   

 

.

 

,  

 

All the news from Samantha and her team on the WBF project at Stirling will follow shortly.

 

In the meantime, I would like to congratulate Sam and the rest of Scotland's team - Liz, Anne, Paula, Helen and Fiona - on their exploits in qualifying for the Venice Cup finals at the World Championships in China in September

On behalf of all the English, I wish them well.

May the best team win!

Trevor 18/2/19

The University achieved an overall 5 stars in the QS World University Rankings 2018

The University of Stirling is a charity registered in Scotland, number SC 011159