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Strathspey Bridge Clubs Dealt a Winning Hand by Awards for All

In 2009, Awards for All (Scotland), announced that the two Scottish Bridge Union affiliated clubs in the Strath had been awarded a grant of 2,230 towards the costs of their project involving the purchase of a Dealing Machine and ancillary equipment.

Such a machine, now commonly used in larger clubs and competitions worldwide, enables computer generated hands to be dealt in seconds into the boards which are used by duplicate bridge players. As well as removing the need for manual shuffling, which is often performed less well than is desirable, a prepared set of boards brought to the meeting makes the event organiser's job much easier in setting up the evening's play.

But the advantages of the dealing machine are in fact much greater than this.

Up until now, players have been able to compare their contracts and results with other competitors when the evening's results are displayed on the club website after play. The dealing machine means that a record of every hand will be displayed alongside the results, so that those who are interested can review any or every hand played, and as well as comparing their results with those of other competitors, they can see the cards held in each hand and consider how their bidding or play might have been improved. This is an invaluable aid to improving one's game.

Both local clubs enter competitions ranging from those run by the Highland District of the SBU to worldwide simultaneous events where the same hands are played at hundreds of venues on the same day. Files for these events can now be received electronically and the hands dealt easily by machine, where hitherto they have had to be prepared by a non participant in a time consuming and laborious process.

Both Grantown club and Cairngorm club have, over the past 3 years, been involved in running classes to introduce newcomers to the game of bridge, which is widely recognised as one of the finest, if not the finest, of mind games. It is an excellent pastime for young and old, and has a particular value in an area like Strathspey where there is a high population of retired people. Keeping the mind active and providing social interaction are two of bridge's many benefits.

The dealing machine will greatly simplify the preparation of class material, and the two clubs hope to continue conducting classes and seminars for members, non-members, and newcomers to the game. One of the main criteria for receiving a grant from Awards for All is to benefit as many people as possible, and so the clubs, while hoping to encourage new members to join, also aim to encourage those who prefer more relaxed bridge.