Bookham Afternoon Bridge Club
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Guide to online bridge

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News from the Chairman
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. 

Neil

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.