Bookham Afternoon Bridge Club
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Guide to online bridge

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News from the Chairman
Letter from the Chairman 27 July 2021

Hello again everyone,

Well I had anticipated that the next time that I would be writing to you all it would include the good news that we were restarting face to face imminently. Indeed, if I were to have been writing this message a few weeks ago then I am sure that is what I would now have been writing. However, and you don’t need me to provide you with the most recent infection statistics and direction of travel, it is the unanimous view of your Committee that now is not the time to begin face to face sessions and that we should continue to postpone meeting at the Barn Hall until such time as there is evidence that this third wave is tailing off. 

We know that this news will come as a disappointment to many of you who, in the knowledge that you are double jabbed, believe that the risks associated with face to face sessions are negligible. We are all missing the social contact which F2F bridge brings and I know that many of you will have been eating out in restaurants, visiting friends, going to the theatre and trying as much as is possible to resume life as we knew it. 

This was not an easy decision for your Committee who debated at length the various options open to us and importantly took into account the views expressed by members from the survey carried out in May about how willing were you to return to face to face bridge both immediately or at some time in the future and also what restrictions might be acceptable to members. I hope that you will all support and accept the Committee members’ decisions and I should like to express my personal thanks to your committee, led by Marilyn Clarke, for their time, thought and considered approach to addressing this situation.

Your Committee will review the situation again in late August and, with a fair wind, we might feel able to restart face to face sessions during September. To help us with that decision we ask that ALL members drop me a very short email or give me a call stating, given how you are currently feeling (no firm commitment, merely to help with our planning), whether:-

a)     You will definitely return as soon as face to face sessions commence

b)     You will return to face to face sometime within three months of face to face sessions restarting

Return to Face to Face

I can now share with you what face to face bridge at the Barn Hall will feel like when we resume and your Committee have made a number of difficult decisions which they believe are in the best interests of our membership:-

·       A full copy of the Risk Assessment which has been compiled for BABC is available on the website.  ► See Risk Assessment

·       For a limited period sessions will be restricted to only Full Members.

·       We will not be operating a pre booking system. We believe that by limiting entry to members, having taken into account the survey responses, then table numbers will be manageable

·       We would ask that everyone entering the Barn Hall reads and agrees to abide by the notices regarding COVID symptoms and also informs BABC should they test positive for COVID after attending a session.

·       We will require any player to leave a session if, in the view of the Director and Committee representative, there are any health issue concerns.

·       We cannot insist that Masks are worn at all times. However, we would reiterate the EBU advice that the government "expects and recommends" that people wear face coverings in crowded areas. We would go further and would encourage the wearing of Masks whilst at the tables. We will not be requiring negative test or temperature checks

·       On entering the hall you should collect a bidding box from crates provided by the door. This should be retained throughout the session taking with you if moving tables. It should be returned to a crate at the end of a session. 

·       Only North should operate the bridgemate. East should be shown and asked to agree with the entry but must not touch the bridgemate. North should return the bridgemate to the stage at the end of the session

·       North should inform the table at the end of the session of their final score and position. Results will not be displayed on the screen by the stage to prevent crowding.

·       Hand sanitiser will be made available at each table and should be used ….

·       Table money will be increased to £2.50 per session. This amount is similar to online costs and will help to allay some of the additional expenses being incurred combined with offsetting some of the impact from having lower table numbers

·       No change will be provided- Each table will be responsible for collecting £10 in a plastic money bag which will then be collected and stored by the Committee. (Partners might wish to each pay £5 on alternate sessions thereby removing need for coins)

·       Slips will be provided for those members who do not wish to pay using physical money and who agree to transfer a payment using a bank online payment after each session. This facility will initially be offered for a trial period.

·       No subscription renewal will be required until such time as table numbers have returned to more normal levels. Allowance will then be made about reducing the level payable due to a part year and table money levies will be considered by the Committee.

·       For a limited period there will be no refreshments provided. Members should bring with them their own drinks and cups. Your Committee will decide when a reduced range of drinks, tea and cold drinks only, can be provided before subsequently and iteratively returning over time to a more normal refreshment offering.

·       The Barn Hall will be ventilated as much as is possible so therefore in colder weather please wear adequate warm clothing

·       Members should avoid congregating in cramped areas, eg toilets, and should remain at a table when entering the hall. Coats, if not being worn, should be left in vehicles.

·       The Committee will decide when non-members can start playing. When the window opens this will be restricted to those individuals who visited the Club between March 2019 and March 2020 or who have been playing in BABC online events. At the timing discretion of the Committee Barn Hall events will be made open to all visitors.

Online Sessions

We have previously announced that when we start face to face sessions that initially they will be held on the first, third and fifth Thursdays of the month and the second and fourth Mondays of each month. For those days when we are not meeting face to face we will continue to run an online BBO session which will be restricted to BBO members and guests. It goes without saying that our ultimate goal is to be holding two face to face sessions a week but we recognise that this will take time to achieve.

We are aware that for a number of members they will not feel comfortable attending a face to face session for some time. For that reason we are currently investigating whether we can provide an Online BBO session which would run at the same time whenever we are in the Barn Hall. These online sessions might be restricted to players from say just two or three clubs and I will provide more details about this, including costs, when we announce the date for face to face sessions starting. I am also attending an EBU Zoom seminar later this week about how a Club might offer hybrid sessions combining face to face and online sessions. I am not sure yet how this might work and whether it might be of interest.

Other News

We have been able to offer full membership to all nine individuals who were on the waiting list in March 2020. I can confirm that online sessions will not count towards the total number of sessions needed to be built up before an application for full membership is allowed.

Earlier this month we participated in the ECats Summer Charity Pairs Events where we raised £688 (to date) towards Kidney Research UK and the British Heart Foundation. Special mention should be given to David MacCullum and Steve Lock who finished 4th and to Chris Pullan and Alick Fraser who finished 6th on Monday out of 213 pairs with robots finishing 2nd and 5th! On the Thursday our top pair were Richard Skeet and Jerry Broers who finished 10th out of 294 pairs.

We are not able yet to make arrangements for the delayed 2019/20 AGM or for the 20/21 AGM. We wish as many people as possible to feel comfortable attending this gathering so your Committee has resolved that once table numbers regularly reach at least 14/16 tables then due notice of the meeting will be given.

It is also not possible yet to make announce any arrangements for either the Village Week event or for a Xmas party. It might be that we have to delay these beyond the usual dates. Currently, the Andrew Robson Masterclass is still scheduled to be held in March 2022 as previously advertised.

We are looking for a number of Volunteers and hope that you might be willing to consider putting your name forward for one of the roles. We remain extremely grateful to those who over the years have contributed in a variety of ways to making the Club into the strong and healthy standing that we find ourselves in but it is now time for some of our newer faces to make a contribution. We are looking for future Committee members, for members willing to help with the scoring and /or directing, for members who are willing to help with the computerised dealing of the boards and for someone with the technical computing knowledge to assume responsibility for our equipment. 

Do you feel that you might be able to help in some way? If so then do please give me a call. There is no requirement for anyone taking on most of these roles to also sit on the Committee. It is only with members contributing to the organisation and running of our Club that we will continue to be so successful.

Final Plea

As mentioned earlier we do need to know how you are all currently feeling about returning to Face to Face Sessions so that your Committee can make appropriate plans. Please do send me a short email stating which of the two options best matches your own feelings.

Keep safe, Do keep an eye on our website for further updates and let’s hope that we can all be together again before too long

Neil Higgins    tel. 01483 224151

Chairman's Message 23 June 2021

Dear All,

I hope that you are all managing to keep well and that your spirits remain positive. 

As I write this message I am looking out into the garden viewing another grey and wet day. Normally at the end of June together with Tina I would be driving to Italy passing through a mixture of France, Switzerland and Germany on the way enjoying the sunshine, food and local wines. For obvious reasons that is not possible this year but it does provide us with an opportunity to (re)discover the joys of Britain. We are just back from a long (wet) weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon and in a couple of weeks we will be visiting friends in Cheshire and Derbyshire with another break in Devon planned for September.  

With the gradual relaxation of restrictions I hope that you have also managed to resume, as much as is possible, a more normal life and taken the opportunity to see friends and family who for so long were “out-of-bounds”.

It is amazing to look back and realise that Bookham has now been holding online bridge sessions for over a year and that some of us have now clocked up more than 100 sessions on a Monday and Thursday afternoon. They have been a lifeline for those of us keen to continue playing competitively but I do appreciate that for many of our membership it has not been possible to play since March last year. 

Return to Barn Hall update

I had so hoped that by now I would be contacting you to let you know when face to face sessions can start again at the Barn Hall. However, since the final date for the lifting of the current restrictions has still not been confirmed and without knowing whether any form of social distancing or guidance in respect of mask wearing would still be required it has therefore not been possible for your Committee to make a final decision. We have scheduled a Committee meeting for Wednesday 21st July and we will then let you know the date and format for the resumption of face to face bridge sessions and do keep an eye on our website for news updates.

Charitable SIMs July 5th and 8th

Traditionally in June we support the Surrey County Bridge Association summer charitable SIMs events. This year SCBA has decided not to run the competition due to many clubs not offering online sessions. Instead, your Committee has decided that Bookham Afternoon Bridge Club should enter the ECats Summer Charity Pairs events which will be running each day during the week Monday 5th July to Friday 9th July. You will no doubt recall that ECats run the annual Children-in-Need SIMs bridge event which we enter each November.

We will be holding charitable fund raising sessions on both Monday 5th July and Thursday 8th July. The sessions will follow our normal Monday (20 boards) and Thursday (24 boards) formats. You should join each session as normal paying the standard BB$3 entry fee. We would then ask you to make a suggested minimum donation of £4 per session with the monies raised being divided equally between Kidney Research UK and the British Heart Foundation - both charities are really badly affected by the pandemic in terms of their funding capability so we are hoping as many people as possible will join us and help us raise Lots of Lovely Money for them.

In common with all SIMs events please do not play in an evening session elsewhere if you have played in ours during the afternoon; hands and scores will not be posted on our website until the following morning. 

We will provide a link on our website so that you can view your overall ranking amongst all clubs and players entering.

Please can you make your donation to our bank account:-

Lloyds Bank Leatherhead (30 92 70)    A/c Bookham Afternoon Bridge Club  A/c No. 01242266  Ref:  ECats (plus  your name) 

If you are unable to make an online donation please contact Kate Castree for details of where to send your cheque.

I look forward to seeing some of you online again soon and, for others, face to face, with all fingers crossed, in early August.

Keep safe and best wishes,


Chairman's Message 23 March 2021

Dear All,

I am sure that, like me, you will have read many articles and watched numerous news items on TV reviewing the last year under Covid restrictions.  I think that enough has been written about the last twelve months so apart from one topic**, see further below, I am not going to dwell on the past but rather I should like to now focus on the future.

I firmly believe that the day is coming ever closer when we shall all be able to meet up again and resume playing face to face bridge. For many of us that day cannot come soon enough. There are some of you who are understandably nervous about this but I shall put firmly on record that we WILL NOT start playing at the Barn Hall until such time as both the government and the EBU have confirmed that they are satisfied that  it is safe for our membership to do so.

Your Committee will be meeting once again via Zoom in mid-April and high on that agenda will be a discussion about starting to make plans for the safe resumption of face to face bridge. To help us with our debate we wish to understand how you personally are feeling about this and we have compiled a very short questionnaire for you to complete.  I believe that it is highly unlikely that initially the playing experience will be identical to when we have previously met and so it is very important that we can understand what changes, even if only short term, might be acceptable to our members. 

Please, when you have finished reading this email, could you visit the homepage on our website, follow the prominent link and complete the short questionnaire. This should take less than five minutes to complete but your input will be invaluable to us. There is also a link to the questionnaire at the end of this email.

I have previously indicated that we might need to hold an online AGM during June should there appear to be no likelihood of sessions restarting at the Barn Hall. I no longer believe that this will be required and I can confirm that we intend to hold a physical AGM at the Barn Hall within four weeks of sessions there restarting. In the meantime I can confirm that your existing membership continues and that, as things stand, no subscription payment is required for the current year. Future membership subscriptions will be a topic for discussion by the Committee and will be submitted at the AGM.

**I said earlier that there was one topic from the last twelve months that I wanted to flag - and that is the amazing charitable generosity of our membership. When I last wrote to you in December I mentioned that in November we raised an unbelievable amount of £1,112 for Children-in-Need, one of only six clubs in Britain to raise over £1,000, and more than four times our normal amount raised.

In December, The Surrey County Bridge Association runs an annual event raising funds for Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People, a charity working with children and adults with physical and learning disabilities or acquired brain injuries. In 2019 Bookham raised just over £200 but in 2020 an amazing amount of £957 was donated by our members and their invited guests.

Finally, In January the Club raised funds towards the upkeep of the Barn Hall. Contributions flooded in not just from those who played online but also from many of our members who are not able to play online but who value our wonderful venue. In total, we raised £1,950 which is double the amount we have raised during Village week. On our Home web page there is a message from the Chairman of Bookham Community Association thanking the membership for this generosity.

Thank you one and all for this generosity.

On the subject of Village Week some of you may already know that the main Bookham Village Day event, which usually is held around the third Saturday of June, will be taking place this year on August Bank Holiday Monday (30th August 2021). The open gardens around the village will still be held on Sunday 27th June. We would normally hold a fund raising event on the Monday of Village Week. This year we will hold a Bridge Tea close to the main Village Day Event in late August. The Committee will provide more information nearer the time once a date has been finalised. 

Yet more dates for your diaries:– We will be holding an online bridge session on Easter Monday and look forward to seeing as many of you online as possible. Additionally, we shall be holding online sessions on both the early May Bank Holiday (3 May) and also on the Spring Bank Holiday (31 May).

Finally, I should like to publicise a charitable event being run by Oliver Cowan, our online Director, jointly with Horsham Bridge Club. This is being held on Sunday 18th April and is a gentle bridge session raising funds for MIND (National) and The Zone (Leeds). The event is aimed at players with an NGS of 5 or below and only basic systems are permitted. Full details can be found using the link on our website home page.

As always, should you require any help with online bridge then do give me a call and I shall do my best to help you with any questions which you might have.

On behalf of your Committee I am sending you all our very best wishes and let us all hope that the next time that I write to you it will be with details of when we are starting face to face sessions again.

If you have a couple of spare minutes now then do please visit our website and click on the link to complete the online questionnaire. 


A year of Lockdown Bridge - Messages from the Chairman

13 May 2020

Sadly we must continue to keep the club closed for the foreseeable future and we will continue to do so until such time as the authorities decide that it is safe to resume face to face bridge activity.

Your committee will be meeting on Friday 22nd May and will be discussing what more we might be able to do to help our members during this period. Potentially we might run a virtual Club running weekly duplicate tournaments for members.

Please continue to keep safe and we all look forward to meeting again when the lockdown restrictions are ultimately fully relaxed.

24 May 2020

Once again we wake with a glorious sunny morning – so different to most Bank Holiday weekends. 

Your committee met on Friday 22nd May via Zoom – that was a different and technological challenge which we mastered.  I am delighted to be able to let you know that, with effect from Monday 1 June, Bookham Afternoon Bridge Club will be running two duplicate sessions online per week.  We sincerely hope that as many members as possible decide to take part in these sessions.

We do appreciate that whilst some of our members will already have the technological experience to enter an event today, there are also many of our members who will require some help. Over the next few days we will be changing the front page of our website to include as much information as possible about this new venture. 

The next AGM is due to be held on Monday 12th October. We do not believe that face to face bridge will have resumed by that date.   We have postponed holding an AGM until such time as face to face bridge sessions at the Barn Hall have restarted.

I sincerely hope that these two developments, establishing a virtual online club playing duplicate tournaments combined with a stable administration of your club, will combine to secure the long term future of BABC and that future members will not just be celebrating a seventy-fifth anniversary but will go on to celebrate a hundred years of enjoyable and friendly bridge in Bookham.

22 June 2020

I hope that you continue to remain virus free and generally healthy during these challenging times.

Well the big news is that Bookham Afternoon Bridge Club is back playing bridge, albeit online, and that an increasing number of members have taken the opportunity to play in an online duplicate session. We held our first session on Monday 1 June when we had 11 tables. Our latest session on Thursday 18th June saw 15 tables competing.  So over the 6 sessions which have so far taken place a total of 86 different members, with a few guests, have participated at least once.

We are delighted with this response and yesterday your committee met via Zoom and we have agreed that these twice weekly sessions should continue throughout this enforced period of being unable to hold face to face sessions. 

We know that online bridge does not suit everyone but if we can help you overcome any logistical challenges then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me and I will see what help we can provide.

A date for your diary – we were overwhelmed with positive feedback following the Andrew Robson Masterclass so we have booked him again for Thursday March 3rd 2022 – tickets will be available nearer the time!

Stay safe and enjoy your bridge together in whatever format you might choose

31 July 2020

Greetings to you all.   As I sit here writing this email on what is the hottest day of the year I still cannot fully rationalise or fully comprehend what has transpired over the last three and a half months since we ceased our face to face sessions at the Barn Hall.

I wrote to you in late May when we announced the launch of our virtual bridge sessions.  I did not anticipate what a success they have been in allowing members and guests to enjoy playing bridge again. I do not for one moment think that online bridge can ever replace a face to face afternoon event but, all things considered, it is not a bad substitute.

Since we held our first event at the beginning of June 117 members and their guests have taken part in at least one online session. This can only be viewed as a wonderful and positive outcome and I should once again like to thank all those who have made this possible either via coaching, updating the website or simply by encouraging others to “have a go”.

What has been great is that we are able to provide this opportunity to play online to all of you no matter where you are living. We have had one member, who recently moved to Rutland, joining us regularly and then yesterday we had one member who has not been able to return from South Africa partnering a friend and being able to catch up with other members via the messaging facility. We have even had one member being able to play online despite having broken a bone which would have prevented her attending the Barn Hall. 

Your committee has agreed that we will carry out a four week trial, starting Thursday 20th August, when the time per board will be reduced from 8 to 7 minutes. This trial will only take place on each Thursday. 

Other News - You may have read that a few bridge clubs have restarted face to face sessions. The EBU has recently confirmed that it does not recommend or encourage Bridge Clubs to reopen. I can assure you that your Committee will only consider holding events again at the Barn Hall when both Governmental and EBU advice suggest that it is safe to do so. 

9 October 2020

Greetings once again to you all.  I last wrote to you all two months ago and I must confess that I was feeling much more positive then about life than I am now. The time when we can all meet up safely to play face to face bridge feels further away than ever.  But we must retain confidence in the authorities and all pray that their cumulative guidance eventually sees us all through safely.

Online Bridge Update - I continue to be both amazed and delighted by how successful our online tournaments have been. This week we had 17 tables on both Monday and Thursday. We have had over 130 members and guests playing since we started at the beginning of June. 

Members are now becoming very familiar with playing on BBO with a consequent increased tempo of bidding and card play.  On Thursdays we have raised the number of boards to 21 and have also reduced the average time allowable per board in a round down to 7 minutes. Thank you to all of you who provided feedback when we were considering those moves. 

Charity Events - This year we will be participating in the Children in Need online event on both Monday 9th November and on Thursday 12th November.   The Surrey Dorin Salver SIMs event in aid of the Queen Elizabeth Foundation will be held as normal in December. We will be participating in this online event on Monday 7th December and on Thursday 10th December.

Other News -  We also believe that we should be doing everything possible to help the Old Barn Hall during this period of reduced revenue for them. We normally raise close to £1,000 during Village Week which, obviously, we could not do this year. Your Committee has therefore decided to hold two fund raising online events in the third week of January 2021 with all additional monies raised being passed to the Barn Hall to help secure the long term future of this wonderful facility which we all enjoy

Keep safe and best wishes to you all.

13 December 2020

Season’s greetings to you all.  I hope that like me you are beginning to feel more positive about the future. The recent news about the start of the inoculation programme can only be good news and, who knows, by the time you receive this message from me some of you might even have been contacted by your GP to arrange your own inoculation date. At last we can start to really believe that face to face bridge will return to the Barn Hall and, with luck, sometime between Easter and the end of June we will all be able to meet up again. 

For those of you who longingly dust off your membership card in anticipation of our return to the Barn Hall you will have noted that this coming Monday, December 14th, we should have been holding our Christmas Party. Maybe we can all raise a glass to each other at midday on Monday and vow that the 2021 Christmas party will be one to remember.

Our online sessions continue to be successful with typically between 16 and 19 tables per session. I have noticed that, whilst there are some familiar faces whom we see less frequently,  I have been delighted by those members who have recently started to dip their toes into our duplicate sessions. The new formats have proved popular with most players welcoming the changes. On Thursdays we are now playing 24 hands with a break at half-time so very similar to our standard sessions. Mondays will remain at 20 boards with a longer time allowance of 8 minutes per board to encourage as many of you as possible to continue playing online and maybe join us again.

Charitable Events - I never cease to be amazed and proud of the generosity of our members when it comes to supporting charitable events.  I am delighted to report that we raised the fantastic amount of £1,112 for Children in Need in November  …..  putting our recent fund raising into perspective we normally raise around £300.   More recently, this last week we have participated in the Dorin Salver SIMs organised by Surrey.  We entered on both Monday and Thursday and have so far raised £790 for the Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation.

Barn Hall and Swiss Pairs Events - Some of you will be aware of the financial problems faced by the Barn Hall this year.   Your Committee has decided that we will be holding a fund raising event for the Barn Hall in January to help with their finances and ensure that the Barn Hall continues to be there when we want it. This replaces the Village Week fundraising bridge tea for the Barn Hall that we were organising in June this year.   On Monday 18th January and Thursday 21st January we will be holding two Swiss pairs events

New Year Invitation Event - I mentioned earlier that we should have been holding a Christmas Party on Monday. Your Committee wanted to somehow show our membership how important you all are during this period of enforced closure. We have decided to hold a free to enter online event on Wednesday 13th January 2021 starting at 1.30pm which is designed to attract those members who have not yet taken the bold step by joining one of our Monday and Thursday online duplicate sessions. 

We should love as many of you as possible to have played competitively at least once online before we resume face to face bridge – just for the experience and to be able to say to family and friends – “You know, I have even taken the step to enter an online bridge tournament”.

I do so hope that as many of our members will participate and maybe satisfy a New Year Resolution to play online bridge in 2021.

This week is rather bitter sweet for the Club as we say goodbye to one of our members who is moving away from the area. Many of you will know that Geraldine Brock has for a number of years been planning to move to America to be nearer to her family.   Geraldine, you will be missed by all but the good news is that thanks to the benefits of online bridge that we shall continue to play with you until such time as we return to face to face.

On behalf of all your Committee may I wish you a relaxing and enjoyable holiday season and for once we truly can look forward to a happier New Year.