History of the club and its venue
Chew Valley Bridge Club in North East Somerset was founded in 1987 as a members' club and played initially in the Skittle Alley of The Old School Room (later to become the Millennium Hall) in Chew Magna. Rubber bridge was played on Tuesdays with duplicate bridge and bridge lessons taking place on Thursdays. From the start the club attracted a wide membership with money changing hands at rubber bridge sessions! The club newsletter of that year says: 'Stakes must be agreed at the beginning of a rubber. These will be assumed to be 2p a hundred, unless clearly stated that play will not be for money.' A few of the members listed in that year are still coming to the club now, proof if proof were needed of the contribution of bridge to one's health and wellbeing. Initially the club played from September to March but the playing season now runs for most of the year. The rubber bridge sessions came to an end and the club became solely a duplicate bridge club. In 1997 the club moved to the Baptist Church Hall in Chew Magna where the club remained until the end of 2006. Following the closure of the Baptist Hall for major refurbishment the club moved in January 2007 to the Methodist Church Hall in Chew Stoke where it is now based in very comfortable modern surroundings. The oldest part of the adjoining church is almost 200 years old and there has been a community of Methodists in Chew Stoke for 220 years with four visits to the church by John Wesley. The hall with kitchen and showers is a modern extension.
The club today
The aim of the club is to encourage the playing of duplicate contract bridge, both in the Chew Valley and in surrounding areas, and to provide playing facilities for members and visitors. The club prides itself on being friendly and welcoming and all members and visitors are expected to conform to this ethos. We expect players to make bridge enjoyable, for their opponents as well as for themselves, and fair play is expected at all times. The club is not affiliated to the EBU and is listed on the SCBA website as an unaffiliated club. We meet most Thursday evenings and play duplicate pairs interspersed with our popular Spring, Summer and Autumn duplicate teams evenings. Normally twenty four boards are played between 7.15pm and 10.30pm with a half time break for coffee, tea and what we think is the best biscuit selection of any club, all included in the £2 table fee. Scoring is done using ScoreBridge and results are emailed out to members as well as being posted on the club website (https://www.bridgewebs.com/chewvalley/). Most years we welcome to our club some very good players from Malta who keep us on our toes.
The club holds two social events each year, the Summer Drinks and the Christmas Party. The Summer Drinks evening is purely a social event and is held in various members' houses with drinks provided by the club and buffet food provided by members. The Christmas Party is held at the club and consists of bridge and a charity raffle together with presentations. A prize is awarded to the winner of the bridge themed 'Photo Caption Competition' and trophies are given to the 'Most Improved Player' and to the 'Player of the Year'. This is followed by drinks (non-alcoholic as it is the Methodist Hall) and party food brought by members.
Whilst bridge teaching isn't done directly by the club two of our members teach locally. One at 'U3A Bridge' in the Methodist Hall on a Tuesday afternoon and one of our committee members at 'West Harptree Learn & Play Bridge' on a Friday afternoon. Both of these can act as feeders for the club. There is a great deal of social bridge played in the Chew Valley and one of the challenges is persuading some of these players to come and play at a club. Some don't want to play in the evening, some perceive bridge clubs as being full of experts (if only!), many think bridge clubs are unfriendly. Correcting these misconceptions is difficult. Chew Valley Bridge Club has had a few evenings where members are asked to bring along and partner somebody they know who plays but doesn't attend a club. This has had limited success. However the club does have a very committed membership and evenings are well attended. We will continue in our efforts to recruit new members and to keep the club thriving in the years to come. If you live not too far away you are welcome to come and join us. Full details of the club, its location, and activities can be found on the club website (https://www.bridgewebs.com/chew valley/).
Alan Rodgman - December 2017
(This article was first published in the December 2017 edition of the Somerset Contract Bridge Association Newsletter where Chew Valley Bridge Club was the 'Featured Club of the Month'.)