AGM of MANCHESTER BRIDGE CLUB
12th January 2020
Manchester Bridge Club Review by Dave Debbage
First of all “Welcome” to members and a Happy New Year.
We have certainly had a lot to do in our new venue and it was touch and go whether we would open in January but “Hey” we made it!
I would like to thank Paul Murray and Jeff in particular for all their hard work in making this possible. I would also like to take this opportunity of thanking Eve Lighthill, who has since stepped down from the Chairmanship of the Club, for all the stirling work and support she has provided over many years. However, I am pleased to say she has still been willing to give her advice when sought on several occasions since.
On a sad note we saw the unexpected passing of Eugene Hutton who did so much practical work for setting up the building, Mike Clarke who played in the rubber bridge game and who was a member of Jeff’s team in the League and Bernard Goldenfield, one of the finest players in the club and who was one of the greatest gentlemen of the game that I have ever had the pleasure of playing against. We were also sad to hear of the recent loss of Enid Noronha’s husband, Michael, who passed over the Christmas period.
2019 has been a good year for club activities. Most of the playing sessions have been well attended, membership has been maintained and there has been an influx of beginners into many of our sessions. Communications with members is mainly through the club website so many thanks go out to Annie Curtis who has maintained this so conscientiously and can always be relied on to deal with anything that crops up with administration immediately. Thanks also to Susan Triggs who steps in when Annie is away on holiday.
Catering at the club has been organised by Eylam who has never had a day off during the year. Unfortunately she has moved on to a more permanent job, although she is with us tonight preparing a lovely supper. She is being replaced by two students who I hope will be successful. They will start soon and will be provided with a backup from Jose who did so much to help with the work setting up the club initially.
Teaching of beginners is of course very important and Manchester Bridge Club had tried to maintain the highest standard in this field in the county. I run all the evening Beginners Courses at the moment using a series of Foundation Courses on Play and Bidding in order to teach the basics. I am hoping that Irene Davies will help me in this role later in the year. Irene, with the support of Susan Triggs, have used the same system effectively to develop beginners through to Improver Lessons on Monday Mornings and these have been well received. This success followed on from our wet, cold day out promoting bridge in Didsbury Park at the Festival in June which was subsequently followed up with Taster Lessons by Irene and Susan.
Once these Courses are finished it is important to integrate the new players with care into the Play Class environment which has been run very well by Josh with his popular friendly approach on Tuesday evenings.
Monday afternoons have grown to an average number of 6-7 tables each week. The atmosphere is fantastic and the relationships that have developed between the players has been wonderful. This year has seen socials in Manchester City Centre and, at the year end, in Didsbury so I would like to thank Sue Berry for organising these so successfully. There is even a group page on WhatsApp which David Eason regularly updates and which is frequently used to get partners, advertise events and paste friendly messages. We also celebrated the 95th birthday last month of our most gracious, amazing and popular member Shirley Leak!
Monday Evening Duplicates
This session has continued to develop especially attracting some of our newer members. The atmosphere I feel remains good and friendly which, for me, is the main purpose of bridge at the Club. There have been several competitions in the year with Simon Townsend and Tricia Blum picking up the main prizes.
Josh prepares a lesson each week to develop the skills of the players who have not been playing for very long and who have come through from the Beginners Classes. Numbers have gradually increased and we usually have 4-5 tables each week, I hope to add in some of the January starters soon to make the session even more popular. It has also been pleasing to see some younger students playing on Tuesday evenings.
Kim Stent is organising a Trophy to be presented in a competition later in the year in memory of her late husband Graham Watton who many of you will remember as being a great supporter and teacher at the Club.
Wednesday Evening Duplicates
Wednesday night has traditionally been the night where you will find some of the best players and it has been pleasing to see that the table numbers have increased significantly on this session with between 7-8 tables being average.
The winner of the Wednesday Annual Club Championship was Eve Lighthill.
Swiss Pairs has been successful over the week attracting 10 or more tables on average and has been admirably run by Henry and Nick, when Henry uis away. It’s always interesting to see some of the less experienced players getting the opportunity of playing against some of the best players in the Club and even getting the better of them sometimes – as I know from experience!
The Club continues to encourage less experienced players to participate in the Manchester League and it is pleasing to see that many of the newer teams come from our Club.
The Club also accommodates matches at the Club with refreshments and duplimated boards provided on request.
In 2019 the Ruia Cup was won by Peter Carey-Yard, Michael Greaney, Tricia Blum & Simon Townsend and the Lighthill Cup was finally won by Eve playing with Howard Kay, Bob Cooke, Ian Kane, David Sarabowski, and Stuart Shalom. I would like to particularly thank Jeff for his ability to drum up support for these contests.
Other team events included The Michelle Brunner Trophy which was won by Tracey Capal’s team with the Intermediate Prize being claimed by Hilary Boydell, Andy Green, Nicki Decent and Ann Whitehead. This event raised a magnificent £2000 in aid of The Christie and St Ann’s Hospice.
Most afternoons see one or two tables of Rubber Bridge with stakes of £1 per hundred or more played. This brings a lot of pleasure to regular member who battle it out for hours over the bridge table. Jeff organises these sessions with my help and the numbers have kept up over the year.
Nick Greer has very successfully taken over the role of holding these invaluable lessons once a month on a Sunday with the next one due on Sunday 19th January with a topic of “Placing the Cards”.
Santa Claus Pairs
This is the Club’s showpiece annual event and it was pleasing to see 25 pairs turn up. With such a small kitchen it proved a challenge for the catering staff but I think most people enjoyed the day.
The winners were Jeff with Andy Brocklehurst playing Strong Stayman and Blackwood – nothing more!
The Manchester Congress
At the beginning of this year Andrew Woodcock and myself won the Manchester Pairs with John Holland being part of the team that won the teams event.
Many of our members participated in Intermediate Events like the Cantor Cup, Kevin Comrie Cup and Players Progress Cup with Annie Curtis doing well in all events with different partners. It was especially pleasing to see Angela Ashleigh and Wendy Burton winning the Intermediate Pairs itself.
National & International Bridge
The Hacketts are great supporters of Manchester Bridge Club and this year saw them achieve great successes both national and internationally. On a national scale Justin and Jason won the most prestigious English event of the year – The Spring Fours – with teams from all over the world competing. Paul, Jason and Justin won the Summer Teams and Paul followed this up winning the Autumn Teams with myself and John Hassett. Paul was also very successful in seniors events held during the year and Jason won several other major competitions. Barbara Hackett and Martin Taylor won the Harrogate Pairs.
However, the biggest success of all for the Hacketts came when Jason and Justin were part of the team that won the European Teams Competition in 2019 which was celebrated by the family with champagne at the club on the Wednesday night!
Finally, John Holland and Alan Mould bot only got to the final the Hubert Phillips Trophy but also collected a Silver Medal in the Senior World Championships in China…..Catherine Draper adding a Bronze to the tally in the ladies event.
Other Events of Note
We have had several successful social evenings at the Club during the year organised by Tessa Connolly helped by Linda Williams.
The Halloween pairs was also a great evening planned by Annie Curtis with amazing outfits. The winners were Vera Lowson & David Fernley who looked sensational!
In July I had a fantastic experience working with the Coronation Street producers and actors. The storyline revolved around a bridge competition being held at The Rovers. My aim was to publicise and promote bridge but this proved a difficult task as the storyline was based on cheating……but, as they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity!
I would like to thank the Members of the Club for their support during the year and the Committee who have contributed in trying to improve the way the Club is run.
Particular thanks go to Jeff for his continued support and advice around the Club, to Paul Murray for attending meetings with the Landlords and his general assistance with building matters, to Anne Naylor and Peter Wilson for helping out around the Club by keeping it tidy and up to scratch, to Linda Williams who is the best host any Club could wish for and to Simon Alexander who has helped me out on many occasions when I need to make up tables to avoid sit-outs.
I hope everyone has a nice evening of bridge tonight with a special supper at half time.