Please help the club by volunteering to be a standby player on Monday & Wednesday afternoons and on Thursday & Friday evenings at least once a year.
You will be given a free game or a voucher for a free game if it turns out you are not needed.
Click below to visit the Sign Up website.
If you would like to join the New Melville Bridge Club you can download an application form by clicking on this article.
Report from the Board - August 2019
Approaching a new season at the New Melville, I’d like to introduce myself as the new Chair of the Board of Directors. We also have three very welcome new Board members: Ann Lyon, Allan Ainslie and Bill Aitken.
As you know the Board is keen to encourage more young people to take up playing bridge. I’m pleased to say we will be hosting an event to introduce children and young people to bridge. This will be held in the club on SATURDAY 28TH SEPTEMBER 2-4.30 pm. It will be aimed primarily at children and grandchildren of club members, but non-relatives will be eligible to come accompanied by an adult. Fiona Greenwood is the prime mover of this initiative but do contact her or me for more information. Flyers and posters will be on display soon.
Donation to Women’s Team
The fund-raiser event held at the club on Saturday 20th July was extremely successful raising over £2000 for the Scottish Women’s Team travel to China in September. Various other fundraising activities also raised money for this worthy cause: sale of tables, books, several raffles. Thanks to all who helped organise this and for the members who supported the activities. We received a effusively grateful acknowledgement from the non-playing team captain, Alex Adamson, thanking us for our generosity, stating that they had received many donations but ‘the New Melville stands out head and shoulders above the rest with the range of activities…. and money raised”. It’s really gratifying to know our efforts were appreciated.
Keep Bridge Alive Project
In response to a plea made at the AGM, the Board reconsidered whether to donate to this Stirling University research project. It was agreed to make an exceptional donation of £500 to this project.
The remuneration committee, a sub-group of the Board, are gathering information on the impact of our increased membership (now standing at almost 520), the increased workload of our manager and assistant manager and possible solutions. On this agenda, I circulated a set of questions to all those who presently fulfil the role of tournament director at club sessions. More than half of tournament directors have responded very helpfully. I am hoping the others might also respond in the very near future. We’ll also gather information from Damien and Anne before deciding how to proceed.
We were blessed with tremendous sunny weather for this well attended event on 3rd August and all those present were in good spirit and played an enjoyable tournament in the afternoon followed by copious delicious food and generous quantities of wine. The evening tournament was lighter in atmosphere and participation, many choosing to pass the evening in the social area rather than the playing room, but all much enjoyed the day and it was a very good opportunity for members to socialise and get to know each other beyond the bridge table. If you haven’t attended one of these social events yet, do consider your next opportunity, probably the Christmas Party.
As previously announced, annual subscription charges will be reduced from £40.00 to £30.00, when they become due next month. Country Membership subscription was agreed at £25.00. The Board has also agreed to reduce table money for league matches to £3.00 per person in line with the table-money reduction already introduced for club sessions.
The Melville Bridge Academy continues to prosper and demand for places in classes is high. The advanced learner classes are particularly popular with existing club members and we have been investigating how we might offer more opportunities for learning at this level. David Briggs who is director of the MBA will attend our next board meeting so we can address this issue further.
Christine McLaren, Chair of the Board
Report from Chair to 2019 AGM
As I come to the end of my term as Chairman of this club I have great pleasure in reporting that the club continues to be both successful and popular. There is no doubt that we are the premier club in Scotland and one of the biggest in the UK.
Much of this success is down to the fantastic work done on our behalf by all of the staff. In particular Damien Byron and Anne Perkins, who manage the club, and David Briggs, who runs the Academy deserve special thanks from us all.
As you will see from the accounts the club is in a healthy financial position. We have been able to lower table charges and annual subscriptions as well as continuing to invest in the building and equipment. As long as we continue to remain popular, both with members and other bridge related users, we should continue to keep costs down as well as improving the club as required.
Membership is at an all-time high level and the Academy continues to grow. It is most gratifying that we get such positive feedback from our Academy students and I must record my appreciation to all of the teachers as well as Julia and Denise, who have been assisting David.
The Board, in its role as a Charity, has established a policy on raising money for ‘good causes ’ and we have been delighted that number of charity events have raised considerable sums and our two charity nights have been well supported.
The club is recognised by the District and the SBU as a desirable venue for major events and I fully expect that to continue, or increase. All of these factors continue to put pressure on management and support staff. The Board have this and related issues, under review.
Although all our competitions are quite popular we do keep the programme under review so as to ensure that we offer a complete range of events. All of this is possible because of volunteer directors, several of whom are not board members. A big “Thank you” to you all.
In my two years as Chair I have encountered nothing but goodwill from members – even after some of you have had to put up with me in a “Play with the Chairman” sessions. The members of the Board have been supportive to me and hard working. I thank them all.
I took over a club in ‘good shape’ and trust I pass it on even stronger.
Report from the Board - March 2019
In light of the current absence from the club of our chairman, Mike Ash, this update is composed by Christine McLaren, Vice-Chair.
Financial Report: We continue to meet and exceed our financial targets. The club membership continues to rise now standing at over 490, and MBA numbers remain steady or increase in line with previous years. Various improvements to our premises have been completed including the upgrading of the entry doors and foyer area, and we have purchased 24 new card tables and new bidding box inserts for all the bidding boxes in the main room.
The Board discussed how best to have members further benefit from our continued prosperity and I’m happy to announce that we have agreed reductions in charges both for table money and for membership subscriptions. As from 1st April, table money will be reduced from £4.00 to £3.00, discounted to £2.40 with the use of your swipe card, and annual subscription charges will be reduced from £40.00 to £30.00, when they become due on 1 October.
Club night logistics: A working group met to discuss and put forward proposals to help spread attendance at club sessions throughout the week more evenly, and to increase participation in club competitions. A useful paper was discussed at the recent board meeting and this will be fine-tuned and circulated once agreed, in time for the finalisation of next year’s calendar.
Fundraising: We continue to support a range of activities in line with the charitable objects of the Club and, at its next meeting, the Board invites nominations for the John Frame fundraiser event on Monday 3 June.
We also plan to host a special fundraising event one summer afternoon to raise funds to support the women’s team representing Scotland in the World Championship in China this autumn. Look out for an announcement about this event in the near future.
Promoting bridge playing by young people: The Board has discussed at length how we might help encourage more young people to take up playing bridge. Representatives have met with members of Edinburgh University Bridge Club and with one of our members who promotes bridge in an Edinburgh primary school by running an after-school club. The EU club seems to have a very limited membership, but we intend keeping in touch to find out if we can do anything to help boost interest and participation there. The work being done in the after-school club using mini-bridge materials available from the SBU website seems to be very worthwhile and we would be keen to find a way of helping to support and perhaps extend this work.
Do you have an interest in or contact with any local schools that might be interested in having an after-school bridge club? Would you be interested in helping to run a school club? Do you have children or grandchildren that might be interested?
Please do contact any member of the board if you are interested or have any suggestions of how we might further this aspect of the club’s aims. We have a successful model that might be replicated if you have the enthusiasm.
Our next Board meeting will be in May when we’ll be approving the accounts and making preparations for the AGM which will be held at the club on the evening of Wednesday 26th June, a date you should have in your diaries!
Meantime Happy Bridge-Playing!
Report back from Board – Nov 2018
Financial report:- Good news – again! We continue to meet our financial targets. The numbers playing and use of the club for matches continue to rise, which is very pleasing. It is also pleasing to note that the MBA numbers continue to remain on a par with, or better than, previous years.
The Board discussed the way that prizes are now allocated by way of ‘free-game’ vouchers. The club manager confirmed to the Board that these, plus the increased discount for the use of swipe cards, is equivalent in value to the cash prizes that were previously distributed. All swipe card holders have benefited from this change.
Club night logistics:- The board had a long discussion on how best to respond to the popularity of some nights and the small numbers on others – particularly Wednesday evenings. We have decided to set up a small group to look at options and discuss ideas. We need one non-board member to join this group. If you would be prepared to help with this exercise please speak to Damien or Kate Aggett.
Meanwhile we do still need extra helpers – particularly for Monday and Thursday nights. If you are prepared to be one of a small pool of directors we will provide training on how to set up the computer etc. You don’t need to be an expert on the Laws as there will be experienced people there as well to help if needed. Please let Anne or Damien know if you might be interested.
Membership:- As of last Friday this stands at an impressive 478. We haven’t heard from a number of people who were members last year, despite reminders. It would be very helpful if those people could let us know one way or the other to avoid being pestered by us and wasting time by the management. The Board has also decided that the reduced fee for those joining for part of the year can only be enjoyed once, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Health & Safety:- The Board recognises that it needs a policy on the many activities that are covered by this. Peter Bowbrick, who did sterling work for the Board on using the fire exits etc, has agreed to co-ordinate this in order for the Board to adopt a policy. Has anyone got experience or expertise in this area? If so, please speak directly to Peter or let Damien know so he can put you in touch.
Money raising:- We continue to support a range of activities that support good causes. There has been a suggestion that we should raise some money to support the womens team that is representing Scotland at the World Championships in China next autumn. We are currently consulting on the format of an event – probably in the spring next year. Please look out for an announcement in due course and then support the event if you can [there will be plenty of ways to contribute, even if you can’t make the date!].
House matters:- We decided to further invest in making the doors between the lounge and foyer more accessible by adding automatic sensors. We hope to get this carried out early next year. However, the bad news is the potential disruption because of SGN’s works on the A8 at a time when not only do we have lots of extra activities but the Zoo has special events. Damien has written out to us about this and he and Anne will keep us informed as best they can. I can only ask for your forbearance and patience.
Best wishes for the festive season.
Report back from the Board
The Board met on Friday 21st September. A major item was a Finance Report. This showed continued good financial health, based on an increase in regular club activities and a major pick up in students in the Academy. All of our staff are to be congratulated in helping to make our club so welcoming and successful. The Board will have a discussion at its January meeting to discuss the medium term business plan for the club, which will include a review of fees and charges as well as investment. Any contributions from members to this discussion is most welcome.
New bi-folding glass doors will be fitted at the front entrance over the next few weeks. These will be fully disability compliant. They will require new key fobs to be issued, after which we will confirm a list of key holders.
Many of our bridge tables are quite ‘rickety’ and we will replace a number of them over the coming weeks. If you come across one which wobbles please let Damien or Anne know.
Charity event Thursday 8 November. You will know from the calendar that the club is organising a second event to raise money for local charities. The Board considered 5 suggestions. We selected Four Square, a local charity supporting homeless young people and Corstophine Dementia Support Group. All of the other suggestions are very worthy causes and they will remain on our list for the two events scheduled to take place in 2019.
The Board agreed that the BBQ was a great success and will now become a fixture in the calendar – look out for the date in due course.
The date for the spring Melville Congress will need to be changed because of a change made by the SBU, who are hosting an international event in Edinburgh that weekend. Again look out for more details shortly.
Brenda Wingate leads our catering group and is reviewing the implications of operating the bar in the light of licencing laws. In the meantime can I remind members that the bar is provided for people to relax with a drink but only those who have been formally trained are allowed to serve alcoholic drinks. If you would like a drink when nobody is behind the bar, please consult Damien or Anne. If you intend to stay behind after bridge has finished in the evening, please check with the management that it is convenient to delay locking up.
I reported at the AGM that the Board has agreed to appoint a vice-chair. I am very pleased that Christine McLaren accepted my nomination and she was duly appointed. As I will be away from Scotland for a lot of the time from 1 December onwards, Christine will be available to liaise with members and lead the Board over that period.
1. Annual General meeting
I was delighted to be re-elected as Chairman by the Board immediately following the AGM. This will be my last year.
Those at the AGM heard that the club continues to be in a sound financial position, despite considerable unexpected expenditure related to the heating during the cold spell. The Board were pleased to announce that the annual subscription will be reduced from £45 to £40 pa, the ‘country’ membership remains at £30 pa.
Five issues were raised during the open discussion. The Board has discussed these and the responses are:-
a) It was decided to retain 7 minutes per board as the allowance at club events but directors are reminded that they should move people faster than this if all tables are finished [or just one is close to finishing]
b) The Catering Group will consider the retention of tea breaks, as well as other issues such as the long term future of the bar. If you have strong views please feed them to Damien or Anne or directly to Brenda Wingate, who chairs the group.
c) It was agreed that we will continue to give juniors free membership and table fees.
d) The point about disabled access at the front door was accepted. We are talking to contractors with a view to installing new equipment.
e) We were asked if photos with names should be published on the website. It was decided that we will check that members are prepared to have their photo published but it would be helpful if anyone NOT wishing to be photographed make that clear to Damien or Anne.
2. Charity Events
We held the first of our events to raise money for local charities on Monday 4 June. Our second event is scheduled for Thursday 8 November and I hope every member will try to contribute – if you can’t come to play you can contribute by donating a raffle prize or making a direct donation. The Board will decide which charities to support at its meeting in September. We have some suggestions from last time, but we are inviting additional suggestions. Please let Damien have these by the end of August. Please remember that our policy is that we can only support REGISTERED CHARITIES and that the charity should operate locally, although it could be a local branch of a national/international charity.
3. Plastic Cups
We do not currently intend to change the cups currently in use but would like to encourage members to avoid waste by bringing their own water containers.
Report from Club Chairman, 2017/18
It is both a great pleasure and an honour to have been chairman of the New Melville Bridge Club this season. The club continues to flourish, with membership increasing and the Academy continuing to be outstandingly successful, albeit with a slight reduction in the total number of students.
Club competitions and duplicate sessions have been well supported and many of our members have also had success in District, National and International events. These are too many to list tonight, but pride of place must go to one of our members, Iain Sime, whose team won a bronze medal for Scotland at the recent Commonwealth Games event in Australia. Add to these successes the considerable achievements of our members at all levels in the East District leagues and other competitions, the increased attendance at our congresses and social events, as well as the excellent playing conditions we enjoy, and I think we can justifiably claim to be the ‘Premier club in Scotland’.
This hasn’t happened by accident. Behind every successful operation there is effective teamwork and much hard work. I would like to place on record my sincere thanks to our managers – Damien & Anne, the MBA team of David, Denise and Julia and all of the teachers and helpers. Also, I am sure that we all want to thank Aileen and the staff who provide our refreshments. Thank you all!
I also want to recognise the support of the Board, who not only contribute to active discussions at our meetings but also help out when required and represent members’ views effectively.
The club has had to face some challenges this year – particularly with our gas supply problems a few months ago. But, as you will hear from Edward, who has done a fantastic job in taking over as Treasurer – initially on a temporary basis but now confirmed as longer term - our financial position is very sound. Whilst the Board is particularly conscious that we must be prudent, both as a Charity and as a Business, we have decided to lower the annual subscription to £40. We will continue to keep both the subscription and table money under review – aiming to minimise the cost for members but maintain a prudent financial position.
I would like to finish this report with a genuine ‘vote of thanks’ to you, the members. By continuing to come to the club to play bridge you demonstrate on a daily basis your support for what we are doing. Thank you and may all your finesses succeed next year, even if they didn’t all do so this year.
The Board met on Friday 30 April. We considered the provisional accounts for the financial year and several other issues.
1. Finances:- The Board will receive the draft annual accounts on 1st June and will make a recommendation to the AGM. The provisional figures indicate a ‘loss’ when we take account of significant expenditure related to the boiler issues and increased depreciation because of the extension but trading income exceeded running costs so the situation is healthy. More on this next time.
2. Charitable events:- the Board decided last time to increased the number of events organised by the club to raise money for local charities. These two evenings – to be held in June & October- will donate to 4 different charities over the year. The Board selected Marie Curie and The Dean & Cauvin Trust as the two for the first event.
We were very grateful to the members who made suggestions and we deliberately left the 2 nominations for the October event open so that the remaining suggestions can be looked at in more detail. We will ask for further suggestions in the summer.
It might be helpful to remind members that, as a charity ourselves, we cannot make a direct cash contribution to another charity. We do everything we can to facilitate those members who wish to use our facilities to support charities of their choosing [but the recipients of support must be a registered charity] and the two other events are run by the club but with no table money to the club so that all proceeds will go directly to the nominated charity.
We are particularly grateful to those members who have offered prizes and/or donations to support these events.
3. Prizes for club nights: - The Board of Directors have decided to change the way prizes for our regular tournaments are issued. With effect from 1 May the following change will take place for a trial period of six months.
Instead of paying out prize money to swipe cards, prizes will instead be awarded using a system of ‘free game’ vouchers which will be handed out at the end of each session. The following system will apply.
· For tournaments which have at least six tables and fewer than fourteen tables the winners in each direction will each receive a voucher.
· For tournaments which have fourteen or more tables the winners and runners up in each direction will each receive a voucher.
· For tournaments with fewer than six tables a single winner movement, such as a Howell, will be used whenever possible and the winners will each receive a voucher.
As there will now be fewer prizes and the percentage of table money returned to members by way of prizes will be reduced, the Board have agreed to increase the discount applied to swipe cards for bridge sessions from 10% to 15%. Thus, a game of bridge will now in effect cost £3.40 instead of £3.60. This means that all swipe card holders will benefit and overall the amount of money returned to members will remain approximately the same.
Making this change has several benefits, which are:
· The reward is immediate
· Visitors can also win a prize which they can use at a subsequent visit
· The amount of work involved in administering the system will be considerably reduced.
· Mistakes in awarding prizes will be eliminated.
Please note that all prize money won over the past six months or so will be applied to swipe cards after 1 May. Members will be advised once this has been done.
4. Recycling:- Several members have asked about the use of plastic cup at the water fountains. The Board decided that we will only use recyclable material and encourage members to bring their own flasks etc.
5. Board membership:- The Articles of Association allow us to have up to 9 board members plus the Chairman. We have 2 people leaving the Board this year and we have received one nomination. If anybody would like to join the Board [normally for 3 years] please let Damien know as soon as possible but no later than 3 weeks before the AGM on 20th June 2018. If there are several people expressing an interest there will be a vote at the AGM.
6. And finally:- as a result of popular demand (well, one person vaguely asked if I am available for the Accumulator!) I have put up a list of dates I am available to play with ANY member who is prepared to put up with me.
Chairman’s report back from Board meeting
“Twas on a Monday morning……….”
More mature members will remember Flanders & Swann, who sang “….the Gas man came to call”. As if we haven’t had enough issues to do with gas, we have been informed that SGN will be digging up the main road outside the club for several weeks starting Monday 5th March! We will only be slightly affected as far as heating is concerned but it will disrupt access and parking. Damien will be sending out more information shortly.
The club incurred substantial financial loss over the couple of weeks without the two heating boilers. There will now be additional costs to reinstate the boiler in the extension but hopefully we will have everything working well shortly. Fortunately the Board has put aside reserves for this kind of incident so the club remains on course to break even this year.
We have received a number of requests to either support charities or allow events to be run at the club. As a registered charity we cannot donate to another charity but all of the Board are anxious to support good causes. We have agreed on the following policy:-
We will double the number of charity evenings we run – the next one is the John Frame event on the 1st Monday of June and the date for a second event in Sept/Oct will be announced in due course. All of the table money and other monies raised from raffles and donations will go to charities determined in advance by the Board but at the suggestion of club members. Those wishing to suggest a worthy cause should email or write to Damien or Anne before the Board meeting on 13 April.
We will continue to support bridge related activities at the club which members wish to run on behalf of a registered charity, subject to agreement by the management. In these cases we will do everything we can to help, making rooms & equipment available at no cost, but the sponsors of the event will be expected to run the session etc.
The Board has decided that any other requests for support a non-bridge activity or to make a donation cannot be supported but any member may request information about charitable related activities to be displayed at the club or distributed in a mailing - again, subject to agreement by the management.
Let me conclude this piece by stressing that we are very proud of the efforts many members make in support of a range of charities and we wish to be as supportive as we can, whilst adhering to strict Charity Commission guidelines. If you have any ideas please discuss them with Damien or Anne, who will be able to advise on what we can or can’t do, or bring requests to the Board.
1 Finances:- The Board were pleased to receive a report from the Treasurer confirming that our finances continue to be very sound – income from duplicate and the MBA are on or above budget and subscriptions from our 424 members are nearly complete for this year. As always the Board looks to maintain a sound cash reserve but we will continue to invest in additional services for members and improvements to the building and grounds.
2. Catering:- Hopefully members will have seen a real improvement to the staffing available to serve tea & coffee both afternoons and evenings. The Catering Group, led by Brenda Wingate, will review this and other social arrangements in the New Year.
3. Thursday evenings: - This continues to be our busiest evening and some members have felt that the tournament in the large room a bit daunting. We will shortly establish two ‘flighted’ events in the main room and continue to offer Gentle Pairs in the MBA room. This will allow those who wish to compete for a new event - the Miller Cup, inherited from Falcon BC - to do so whilst those who are looking for a slightly less competitive game – with the lure of a bar of chocolate – will have a separate section.
4. Premises work: The work on the Car Park and Cycle Rack is underway and we have re-laid and improved the path to the north side of the building. The ramp at the emergency exit in the extension has had rails fitted and egress improved.
5. Parking in Pinkhill:- Many will already be aware that CEC have published a draft traffic order that would seriously restrict the parking in the roads surrounding the club. We have lodged a formal objection and made counter-proposals which we think will cut down the ‘park and ride’ problem that causes so much congestion. Our objective is to meet with CEC officers and try to negotiate an agreed solution. If that is not possible we may well enlist members help by asking those who wish to write to the relevant committee, explaining the role the club plays in the community etc. As the CEC meeting will be in February this will be best done in January and, if necessary, I will alert members in due course.
The Board has been in touch with our local MSP and Damien and I have met 2 of the local councillors and I have been in touch with the Neighbourhood manager and other CEC staff. All of these meetings have been positive but we will not rest until we see an acceptable alternative proposal.
The situation is potentially worrying and could affect a lot of members. I will keep members up to date with what is happening on a regular basis.
I can report that we have been in contact with the Council officer leading the work and we are meeting in January
6. Xmas:- Although I am a confirmed admirer of Scrooge, even I am excited by our upcoming Xmas Party on Thursday 21st December and the Congress between Xmas and Hogmanay. If by any remote chance you have not yet got your ticket/submitted an entry, see Anne or Damien as soon as possible as numbers are limited!
Chairman’s Newsletter – October 2017
Celebrating middle age!
It was delight to be able to present club regular Rhona Collins with a card and flowers on the occasion of her 90th birthday. The Board have decided to set up a new category – Life Membership -for nonagenarians and we are delighted to grant this to Rhona and add Margaret Archibald, who is also a regular ‘middle aged’ attender.
The doors between the foyer and the social area will shortly be altered such that they will automatically open in the event of a fire alarm and on approach. This has allowed us to re-fit them in accordance with fire regulations and will have the benefit of keeping the social area warmer during the winter months. The Board agreed to go ahead with work on the car park, establishing proper sized disabled spaces and relocating the cycle area, with new cycle storage equipment. We are grateful to the regular cyclists who have advised us on the specification. The work is likely to start before Xmas and I trust members will understand a bit of disruption whilst it is being completed.
We are also conscious that we need to do a bit more work at the new emergency exit at the rear of the building, with better pedestrian egress and a rail and ramp. Obviously we hope that these facilities will never need to be used but the Board wishes to continuously invest in the building and provide the safest environment.
Assistant Director for MBA
The Academy continues to be incredibly successful, with over 260 students. Some 120 current members have been through the MBA and the retention rate from year to year is very high – demonstrating students’ satisfaction and effective teaching.
In order to help the MBA to be sustainable we are seeking to appoint an Assistant Director who will work alongside David Briggs. Both this new role and the work of the Director will be remunerated. More details will be circulated separately in the near future but in the meantime anyone interested might wish to talk to David.
The Board have recognised that the number of people in the clubs for afternoon sessions, including classes, has risen dramatically. Consequently we are going to try to appoint someone to do 2 or 3 hours a day, Monday to Thursday afternoons – with the additional possibility of that person, or someone else, covering the evenings as well.
The Board was delighted to confirm the decision to bring the Falcon club into the NMBC. Many Falcon members are already amongst our membership but any who are not will be welcomed into the club. We hope you are to play in our various sessions, both on evenings and afternoons. I will be writing to current and previous Falcon members shortly.
Chairman’s Report – September 2017
Volunteers:- The Board met on Friday 8 September. At the meeting the issue of volunteers supporting the club, either by running sessions or acting as standby on some nights was discussed. It was felt that this characteristic of the club was a particularly welcome feature but it does place a burden on those members who find themselves regularly relied upon. In particular we are often looking for volunteers for Thursday or Friday night standby and help with refreshments at some of the afternoon sessions. All members are urged to sign up for one or two dates if they possibly can spare the time [lists in the office and/or on the notice board].
It also has to be recognised that we rely on several volunteers to run bridge sessions. Training on the use of Scorebridge and directing has been taken up but sometimes there is a glitch. Damien or Anne are nearly always there to help but if something does go awry members are asked to be understanding.
The Building:- The Board has decided to go ahead with replacing the wooden doors between the vestibule and the lounge, fitted with special fire safety compliant doors. As well as looking splendid, it is hoped that this will save on heating costs.
We are next looking at improving the car park area – putting in two disabled bays and a new cycle rack. We have already had some input from users about this but any member wishing to comment should contact Christine McLaren. At the same time as this work is carried out we will improve the access from the new fire exit at the back of the building along the north side to the car park.
Catering:- The group looking at the catering arrangements has met and continues to make small changes and monitor how the system works - meanwhile, any comments/ideas to Brenda Wingate please.
One particular plea is for all players who take their cup back into the playing area after the tea break to finish before 8.45pm and return it to the trolley. I am sorry to disappoint people, but there is no ‘Magic Fairy’ who collects things at the end of session and stacks the dishwasher!
Chairman’s Treats:- It has been a delight for me to meet members who play at the club at different times to my normal attendance. People have indicated that this has been welcome so I will put up another list of dates starting in mid-October. If you would be prepared to play, please look out for the sheet on the noticeboard – the last one was ‘signed up’ in a couple of days.
Farewell to our Treasurer:- Finally but by no means least, the Board recognised that this was the last presentation by Scott Macdonald, who has been an outstanding Treasurer and is being followed by Ed Clutton, who we were delighted to welcome.
Scott’s contribution has been particularly welcome in raising the quality of financial scrutiny – a necessary element of managing a charity – and enabling us to carry out significant expenditure to improve both the premises and the equipment in the club. Thanks Scott!
I am away for a couple of weeks so only a brief report after the first meeting of your new Board.
Report from Board
We have agreed to attempt to recruit a financial administrator to help with some of the more routine tasks currently carried out by our Treasurer. Information on this new role is coming out separately but if you know of anyone who could help us – they don’t need to be a member or even a bridge player – please draw the information to their attention.
We also agreed the 2017/18 budget, keeping club membership and table fees unchanged.
Two groups have been set up:- Catering & Social convened by Brenda Wingate and Capital Projects and Major Repairs, convened by Christine McLaren. Any member who would like to contribute to these groups or has a specific input to make, is invited to contact the Conveners. If in doubt who to speak to, please go through Damien or Anne.
The club Programme for 2017/18 is about to come out. The Board agreed that club nights should use NMBC recommended movements but that the current list will be amended to give options where possible. We are hoping to increase the number of events where players at all levels can play in the same sections. To make this successful it will require some less experienced players to take the ‘plunge’ – you will be surprised how well you can do playing with a regular partner – and more experienced players to be understanding on occasions. It will also require the best of behaviour, which is already at a high level. However members are asked to draw the TD’s attention of any inappropriate behaviour.
A big “Thank you” to those who have signed up to play with me. Whether it was the prospect of a ‘free’ game or my magnetic personality, I will not speculate - but the list is now full! I will put up a new list, incorporating some other nights and/or afternoons, in a couple of weeks.
It is still July but you must put 21st December in your diary. This is a ‘must go’ event and tickets will be sold in due course.
I hope all members have (or have had) a good break over the summer. But the club never sleeps and it is encouraging to see a good turn out each session, even when the weather suggests our time would be better spent in the garden. However, if you are having a holiday I trust all goes well and we look forward to seeing you soon.
I was delighted and honoured to be elected chairman by the Board at its meeting immediately after the AGM. The next meeting of the Board is on 21 July and I will report back in due course. However I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and the new members of the Board. First however I would like to sincerely thank David Land, who has left the Board having completed three years and Jeff Bond – our outgoing chairman.
David has made a valuable contribution to the discussions at Board level, particularly in making sure that members’ interests were always kept in mind. Jeff of course has contributed as both a Board member and Chairman. During his tenure as chairman the club has moved on from its ‘settling in’ stage and it has undertaken major building projects - the extension and the refurbishment of the toilets. Also a huge amount of work has gone into introducing ‘cashless’ trading and other innovations that improve members’ experience. Even with the builders on site members have not seen much disruption but this, and other changes, didn’t happen without lots of work behind the scenes – and Jeff has overseen all of this with attention to detail, calmness and good humour. The Board will miss him!
Scott McDonald is standing down as a trustee/board member but will continue to carry out his treasurer duties for the time being. The Board will be considering, as a matter of some urgency, how to deliver the treasurer responsibilities when Scott relinquishes these later this year.
Kate Aggett and Keith Clark have come on to the Board and Alan Goodman has rejoined. I am looking forward to their contributions.
I am conscious that many newer members will not know much about me. I joined the ‘old’ Melville in 2004 and then the Board in 2008. I set up the MBA in 2009 but left the Board in 2010 when I became chairman of East District and then President of the SBU. I re-joined the Melville Board in 2015 having had a minor role helping with the preparation for the purchase of our new premises.
My professional background is wide ranging but mainly in public service. I currently chair the Audit & Risk committee of NHS Lothian – well, someone has to do it!
May I continue the tradition established by my predecessors as chairman by inviting any member – however new or inexperienced – to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org on any matter concerning the club.
We were blessed with excellent weather for the ‘Bridge & Barbeque’ last weekend. There were 18 tables – no doubt attracted by the super food and plentiful drink, as well as the bridge. Indeed the numbers for the evening session was reduced to 11 tables as some members preferred to socialise in the bar. A great day! Many thanks to Anne & Damien for their excellent organisation.
The AGM took place on 8 July and was well attended. The presentations were short but told a good story. Jeff Bond reflected on his 2 years as chair and reported that membership is up, more bridge, teaching and social activities taking place and significant building work successfully completed (although the toilets are not quite finished). The Board will be considering some more improvements in due course.
Scott McDonald presented the accounts which showed that the club is well placed financially and is carrying out its duty as a charity in continuing to promote bridge with a sound financial base. Scott’s tremendous contribution was acknowledged.
Prizes were award and it was good to see such a representative cross-section of the membership posing for photos. A list of prize winners will be put on the website.
I have put a sheet up on the notice board giving some Monday & Wednesday evening dates when I will be delighted to play with – and pay table the money for – any member who is prepared to do me the honour of a game. Don’t worry if you are less experienced, all comers welcome! I would be very happy to accept invitations to join other sessions, either to play or just meet members.
This month’s newsletter is slightly unusual in that it doesn’t follow a Board meeting; so much of its content is orientated towards social affairs in the club. The June board meeting is to be held later this month to allow time for our accountants to audit the accounts in time for the AGM and for the board to formally approve these. Illness of the accountant in charge of our affairs has resulted in a delay but hopefully their report will be received shortly.
David Land and I are coming off the Board this year. I am pleased to report that we have had three expressions of interest from members about coming onto the board and hopefully all three nominations will be approved by members at the AGM on Wednesday July 5th. Please do try to attend and remember the early start (6:00pm) will be followed by bridge.
The builder tells us he is starting this work on Monday. The disruption is likely to last for 2 or 3 weeks but will hopefully be completed before the end of the month and in time for normal facilities to be available at the BBQ. This leads me to provide a reminder of forthcoming social events.
As I indicated earlier the club will be hosting two charity events over the summer. Sarah Gunn is organising a charity bridge afternoon on:
Thursday June 8th starting at 2:00pm
This date was set before Prime Minister announced the general election but hopefully campaigning and voting will not interfere with your attendance and support.
As I said previously, a one- act play – “The End Game” – will be staged in the club on.
Tuesday 20th June starting at 2:00pm
The play is written by one of our members and was very well received and reviewed when put on in the Churchhill Theatre recently. Rehearsals will take place in the morning and the play will be followed by a “standard” charity bridge event to raise money for:
The Children's Hospice Association Scotland and the Rainbow Centre in Sri Lanka.
If you come along as an individual to see the play but want to play bridge afterwards, we will be able to provide a partner for you, so you don’t need to organise yourself in pairs or teams.
The BBQ will be held on:
Saturday July 8th at 2:00pm
The event starts with bridge; the barbeque is at 5:30 followed by more bridge in the evening.
Tickets (£20) are on sale in the club.
Those members who are connected to the internet will be aware of how useful it is to obtain a regular report of your results in the club. Damien often sends out emails to all members, for example asking for volunteers for stand by on Fridays. These have proved very effective and almost invariably members have responded positively to the emails. Thank you for this.
There is one aspect of Pianola use that is less effective however and that is the “Find a Partner” facility. A spectacular example of how well this can work was illustrated recently. Gerald Della-Porter and Tom Bagnall used it before playing together for the first time and winning the John Frame Charity Trophy last Monday. Some of you will no doubt have seen this on the club’s website. My reason for writing about this is that I didn’t realise (and perhaps other members are in the same boat) that if you want to find a member to play with, your Pianola request only goes out to those members who have enabled Pianola to send the request to you.
If you are interested in receiving requests you have to change the default setting in Pianola. This is very simple to do and I have just done it myself! In Pianola, click on “Partner finder” tab and then on the Preferences tab. You will see that there are three settings; Notify, Neutral and Block. The default setting is “Neutral” and this can be changed by clicking on “Notify” and then “Update preferences”. This change will mean you will be notified if any member places a request for a partner. In the unlikely event that there are some members who you don’t wish to hear from then you can edit the settings to “Block” for that individual. So you can make a global change and then edit it individually if you want.
You can also change the Pianola settings so that you share your email address with members. When you click on Partner Finder you will see a “Review your privacy settings” link. This will open up Privacy preferences page and you can click on a box allowing you to receive emails from fellow members.
Catering over the summer.
You will be aware that we have set up a rota of students to help serve refreshments at the break. Two of our helpers are not around over the summer as they have gone home to Hong Kong and Poland respectively. This will mean we are stretched a little thin over the summer and there will be occasions when you might well have to help yourself. Please be understanding for those occasions when we are short staffed.
An invitation from visitors.
Some of you will be aware that we had a visit recently from 7 bridge players from Malta. They were impressed by both the club facilities and the friendly atmosphere they experienced while playing here. When they left they expressed the hope that members would play bridge at their club and impressed on me that any visiting group from the Melville would be made most welcome. If you are interested in a holiday in Malta and combining it with a game of bridge when not sightseeing then do let me know and I can give you contact details.
The sub-group of the Board – the Toilet Committee- have been, together with the builder, to choose the materials and décor for the refurbishment. There were many interesting choices but we decided against going with Roy Lichtenstein type pop art for the Ladies and Escher migraine-inducing patterns for the Gents [although both were available!]. The important matter however is that the work will start when the builder returns from his holiday towards the end of this month. The builder thinks the refurbishment will take about a week for each facility, so hopefully disruption will be kept to a minimum for the shortest possible period.
The new Trophy Cabinet and bookcase.
I have been pleased with the number of positive comments made about the new trophy cabinet in the social area. It is certainly an improvement to be able to display the club’s trophies and also to display the complete collection of Hugh Kelsey’s first editions. Most of these are also present as duplicate, later editions, in the library in the MBA room together with Hugh’s very extensive bridge library and other books, and borrowing them from there is possible. Please do remember, however, to sign out for any book borrowed.
Prize money allocation.
It was some time back when members told me they preferred to have a wider spread of prize money rather than confine the prize money to the highest couple of finishing pairs [or teams]. I am pleased to report that in the most recent allocation 304 members received prize money, so that is one objective we do seem to have achieved.
BBQ tickets on sale.
The BBQ is to be held on:
We didn’t hold this event last year because the extension was being built but in 2015 the BBQ was extremely popular. There is of course a contingency plan should the weather turn out to be unsatisfactory but hopefully, like last time, we will be blessed with sun and balminess. Tickets cost £20 which includes some free drink. Get your tickets now to avoid disappointment!
Cross-IMPing and Aggregate tournaments.
You will have noticed that Damien has written a very good account of the benefits of changing the scoring method in aggregate tournaments to IMP scoring. Both the method and its benefits are explained in a cross-IMPing newsletter on display in the social area. He explains that there are several advantages to doing this and we are copying the Carlton in this respect. Among other advantages, cross-IMPing means that half tables do not create a complication and there is less work for those involved in card dealing before the event. For many movements it is possible to compare the ranking using Aggregate and cross-IMPing simply by pressing a button on the computer. Damien tells me he has done this and, every time, the ranking has been identical using either method. So neither the overall result nor the bridge tactics used during play are affected by the change.
New Board members.
We are approaching that time of the year when we need new nominations for the Board. Do consider putting yourself forward. Membership of the Board is not unduly onerous [there is usually just one meeting per month arranged at a time which is convenient for the majority] and, in my experience, very rewarding. If you think you might like to get involved in running the club and want more information, do approach any Board member for their insight into how things work. Nominations for the Board are formally approved at the AGM which, I’m sure you will remember, is to be held on:
Wednesday July 5th starting at 6:00pm
The club’s reserves policy.
You will know that, uniquely in Scotland, we enjoy charitable status as a bridge club. This has allowed us to benefit financially in many different ways but one consequence of being a charity is that we have to formally adopt a policy on the amount of money we are holding in reserve. At its last meeting the Board finalised this policy and it will be reported to the membership at the AGM.
Etiquette at the Bridge table (2).
This month I write not so much about etiquette but I try to highlight practices which it would be a good idea to develop into a habit. If you are dummy do put down your cards immediately after the lead has been made and before you start to fill in your scorecard. This saves a little time for both your partner and the defence. If you are in charge of the Bridgemates, do try to enter the board number and contract at a time that is convenient for you but before the play has been completed. The board number, for example, can be entered as soon as the board is on the table and before the bidding has started. This too saves a little time at the end and alleviates some of the time pressure which less experienced players can find a worry.
On a positive note, I asked last month if there were any etiquette or procedural matters that concerned you and/or had you worried. I am pleased to report that no one seems to have any real problems as there was a nil return to this request! I think this reinforces the reputation we are earning, particularly among newcomers to the game, that we are a friendly club with a helpful and courteous membership. Well done to all of you for fostering that atmosphere!
The Calvert Cup and the new Pinkhill Trophy, for players who prefer aggregate scoring, both started this month. Attendance at both was disappointing but hopefully participation will increase over the summer. Remember both competitions run until September.
The impression seems to have been gained that the Pinkhill Trophy is intended to be a Bronze level only competition. This is not correct. While many taking part will be Bronze level players who have recently joined the club, my original intention was to introduce a new trophy for all members who prefer to play in aggregate scoring events. Indeed my original idea was to run the tournament on the first Monday of each month so that pairs regularly playing in Section B would compete for the Pinkhill Trophy. As an experiment, the working group decided to run it on Wednesdays both to try and improve attendance then and to run it in parallel with the Calvert so that members would play for one or the other trophy. It may be that in future we will need to run the competition on Mondays if this is a more popular day but meantime do consider trying to take part.
I am pleased to report a wonderful turnout for this year’s congress. Participation by 61 pairs and 26 teams meant the club was full. Thanks must be given to Damien and Anne for their exemplary organisational skills. Just to complicate matters at the same time we also hosted a Gold Cup match as the Carlton was unwilling to take it. The extra complication impacted on catering but was just dealt with. Well done to all who helped! It was great to see, once again, the club being used by a full spectrum of members.
Many of you will have noticed that your prize money has been put onto the cards. You can easily obtain a print out of your latest transactions from the swipe card terminal if you are unsure how much you got!
As I said in the last newsletter, the AGM will take place on: Wednesday July 5th at 6:00pm
The necessary change of date means the meeting coincides with the 4th round of the Calvert and Pinkhill trophy competitions but we intend to run both these after the AGM. Hopefully the bridge will finish no later than normal as we do have an early start to the AGM.
The club continues to maintain its charitable status (unique to us among Scottish bridge clubs) by hosting charitable events. A charity raffle organised by Denise King on behalf of Sally Wainwright raised £157 for children in refugee camps in Greece. Sally is working on one of these camps at the moment and writes, in a thank you email from there:
“It's better than where I was last year because people are housed in containers rather than tents, but the total space each family has is one very small room…….[There is] no decent organised children's activities......... We'll probably spend at least some of the money on toys or arts and crafts for the kids, then see what else is most needed.”
The club will be hosting two more charity events over the summer. Provisional dates have been set for these. Sarah Gunn is organising a charity bridge afternoon on: Thursday June 8th starting at 2:00pm
The date for a charity event with a difference has now been provisionally set for: Tuesday 20th June starting at 2:00pm
As I said in my last newsletter, a one- act play – “The End Game” – will be staged in the club. The play is written by one of our members and was very well received and reviewed when put on in the Churchhill Theatre recently. This will be followed by a “standard” charity bridge event to raise money for:
Children's Hospice Association Scotland,
The Rainbow Centre in Sri Lanka,
Do try and support these events if you can. Our charitable status is of considerable benefit to us and these fund raising events do help us maintain it.
We have received estimates for doing this work and expect the work to start shortly. Obviously we will have to keep disruption to the minimum and let you know when we have a firm starting date. Meanwhile, as someone said [guess who]: “We are letting the bushes grow” and I say: “We will aim to complete the work before leaf fall in autumn”.
Several of the new members to the club have asked about correct etiquette and procedures at the bridge table and I have been asked if this could be a fairly regular feature of the newsletter. These questions are not always concerned with the laws of the game and what to do about mistakes. There is often concern about proper practice. For example, should the board in play be kept on the table? Answer: Yes. Does the board have to be in the middle of the table? Answer: Not necessarily providing it is in clear sight of all players. The important thing is never to change the board’s orientation so putting the hands back incorrectly is prevented. Do let me know if you have any queries in this area that you would like addressed.
Etiquette matters are sometimes breached but not only by inexperienced players. Experienced players when playing against relative beginners can be guilty of playing in a way that gives the impression this it is all too easy and they would rather be playing against someone else. Body language is a very powerful medium.
I think we all recognise that parking at the club is very limited and much valued by members with restricted mobility. Can I ask members not to park in the grounds when not using the club?
After the detailed, heavy-going of the mid-February newsletter I hope this month’s effort comes in a more digestible form. However I am pleased that I described the proposed detailed changes to the club’s trophy competitions, as the newsletter did generate a great deal of helpful comment to help the Board at its last meeting.
The Manson Cup.
Following representations, the Board have decided to revert to the previous, long standing 4 week format in which the final two weeks involve semi-final and final matches between the top four teams. The unique semi-final and final structure of our club’s premier team competition will therefore be retained. If, as we hope, there will be a big increase in the number of teams taking part then the first two weeks of the competition will be a Swiss teams format.
The Club’s Reserves Policy.
At its last meeting the Board reviewed its policy on the amount of money kept in its reserves both to deal with any unexpected expenses and to allow further developments within the club. As a Charity the trustees are obliged to set out this policy and to review it at regular intervals. I plan to explain our policy in some detail at the AGM. Speaking of which….
The Annual General Meeting.
It has been necessary to change the date of the club’s Annual General Meeting to:
Wednesday July 5th at 6:00pm
Please note this change in your diary. Also note that there will be a round of the Accumulator taking place on the previously published date of the AGM.
In Case of Fire.
Following the alterations to the club’s premises, some of you might have noticed the signs pointing out the Fire Exits have not been replaced. We are also deficient in not having publicised an Assembly Point should we have to evacuate the building in an emergency. The signs to this effect will be put up shortly but, in the meantime, please note that should we have to evacuate the building in the case of fire, the Assembly Point is on the pavement in Pinkhill directly opposite the entrance to the club.
Policy on Dogs on the premises.
At its last meeting the Board deliberated its policy on allowing dogs on the premises. This followed enquiries from members asking about our policy and comments from others that they were allergic to dogs. The board have decided that dogs, other than guide dogs, should not be allowed on the premises. Notices to this effect will be placed shortly. If, as some members have indicated to me, they would like to walk their dogs to the club in the summer months as a means of providing exercise both for themselves and the dog, we will try to provide outside water and a place to secure your dog.
A forthcoming charity event.
At the recent one-act play festival in Edinburgh there was one play – “The End Game” – which was about bridge. It was written by one of our members and was very well received and reviewed. We plan to stage this play as part of a charity event in the summer. The final date has still to be decided but it is likely to be at the beginning of June. This will be a charity event with a difference; the play will be followed by refreshments and our normal charity-style bridge. Look out for further publicity about this in the near future.
The Summer Pairs Competitions.
In all the publicity over changes to the club’s trophy competitions it will be easy to overlook the imminent start of the Pairs competitions. The Calvert Cup and the new Aggregate trophy will start on: Wednesday April 5th.
You will recall that the idea here is to increase involvement by spreading the competition out over a longer period and count your three best results to calculate the winner. Two things should be noted:
· The Accumulator will run as normal on the other Wednesdays (although you will not have to pay a supplement to the table money as in previous years)
· The first Wednesday in May clashes with the annual Melville v Carlton match so for May [and only for May!] the trophy competition dates will be the 2nd Wednesday – Wednesday 10th May.
Please do try and play in one or other of these trophy events. The forthcoming events notice board will provide additional details about the two trophies.
The new trophy for less-experienced pairs will start on: Thursday April 6th.
And the details of this trophy too will be displayed on the notice board.
You will know from the last newsletter that a small working group has been meeting to try and improve attendance at club competitions by making them more all-embracing. I promised you that I would update you on these discussions by providing more details about what has been decided. One of our conclusions has been that disappointing attendance for our Wednesday club competitions is largely due to poor publicity about the competitions, so we have decided to have one of our notice boards dedicated to publicising the competitions. For team of four competitions this will provide an opportunity for you to register interest in tournaments. If you are looking for another pair to make up a team we hope the notice board will make it easier for you to find team mates.
We have decided to run three trophy competitions over the summer months, two of them for new trophies. Two of these will run on the first Wednesday of the month from April to September and the third will run over a similar period on the first Thursday of the month. These are:
We hope these competitions will attract a larger entry (time will tell!) because they are spread out over a longer period. April is only just around the corner so do put these dates into you diary. For two of these events there is the additional incentive of being the first to have their names engraved on the new trophies!!
At its last meeting the group considered what to do about the club’s team-of-four competitions. The decisions which were arrived at have still to be ratified by the Board, but I set out below the recommendations for improving participation in these events. Currently the club run three Teams competitions over a total of 10 Wednesdays. We recommend that the total of 10 weeks will be unchanged but the format of the competitions will be changed as set out below. We decided that any changes to these tournaments will come into effect after the summer and will be included in the new club calendar. Each tournament (with the exception of the Purves Clock, see below) will have a trophy for the best placed Bronze category team, to encourage less experienced teams to sign up and take part. Teams will be allowed one substitute in the second week but we hope substitutions will be rare as each event covers a maximum of two weeks. This change might increase the total number of teams as, at present, more substitutions are allowed and this reduces the availability of players overall. The tournaments will be publicised on the Tournament notice board, on the club’s website and in the club calendar – we recognise that, for newer club members in particular, we do need to explain the format of these competitions. Here is my first attempt to do this and to explain the changes we intend to make:
The working group decided that on the two nights that the Westchester Mixed Pairs competition takes place no other tournament will be running in the club. This decision was made to encourage everyone to take part even if the partnership you form is relatively new one. In our experience, in a mixed pairs tournament many pairs are not an established partnership and if you form a new partnership for this event you will not be alone in doing so.
The changes that have made to the Wednesday tournaments are all designed to try and increase participation. We are shortly going to purchase a trophy display cabinet and we hope this will act as a small stimulus to try and get your name engraved on them. We hope too that the notice board designated to publicising these events should also help generate interest.
This month’s newsletter is in two parts. Part one as usual seeks to report on developments for the members and some of these lead naturally on to a section of primary concern to MBA members
Last month I was pleased to receive constructive criticism and suggestion for improving our disabled parking provision. The board at its January meeting had, quite coincidentally, been talking about our disabled parking space when we were reviewing future building and development projects and the constructive comment I received served to reinforce the view that this was an area where we should seek improvement. The disabled parking space is barely sufficient to allow people to get out easily. Can I ask members who park next to the disabled space to try and make sure they leave enough space for handicapped people to access their car?
I also received comment about the state of the disabled toilet. The Board are investigating the cost of upgrading the toilets [including the disabled toilet] as part of our ongoing efforts to improve facilities for our members. Hopefully I will be able to report progress in these areas once we have a better idea of the costs involved. One estimate has been submitted but we need to obtain others to have a comparison.
You will know from previous newsletters that a group has been set up (membership in the December newsletter) to look at the club competitions with the view to improving participation in these events. The group has met and at its first meeting looked at the pairs events. We agreed to spread the competitions out over a longer period so that everyone has a greater chance of taking part. As attendance on Wednesdays has proved to be problematic and other nights at the club are well attended, we decided to run two new pairs competitions on the first Wednesday of the month from April to September starting on Wednesday April 5th. Both a duplicate and an aggregate tournament will run for 6 months. Any pair will count their three best results to determine the winner of each event. The aggregate competition will be for a new trophy.
In an effort to recognise the growing membership of our club who are in the Bronze category and to introduce less experienced players to club competition, it was decided to run a new Bronze level competition on Thursday’s. The Thursday format will remain unchanged but, on the first Thursday of each month, the results will count towards a new club trophy. The trophy competition will run for 6 months [April to September] and the best three results will determine the winning pair. Of course, anyone can play on any Thursday but eligibility to compete for the new trophy will be determined by rank and experience.
Full details of these new initiatives will be put on the notice board and the website. I will also write an additional newsletter providing details and background thinking which have led to these proposals.
The review group intend to meet again shortly to review the club’s teams competitions.
Attendance at the club’s evening tournaments is excellent and growing with the exception of Wednesdays [see above] and, recently, Mondays. This prompted Damien to send out a message asking those who, in previous years had been regular participants, to consider playing more often. Hopefully this will do the trick and attendance will improve but I think we should recognise that members, by their participation, determine the structure of the club’s events. It might be that we should run only one section on Mondays. I would suggest that duplicate tournaments work best when the hands are played often enough to provide a sensible comparison. Should there be insufficient number of comparisons the event becomes unsatisfactory for those who have attended. We will have to consider merging the sections into one if attendance at the match pointed section doesn’t improve. As a starting point for discussion, I think any hands should be played by at least 5 pairs and, if the movement provides less than this, sections should merge. What do you think?
We have put up new notice boards in the playing area. It has been obvious for some time that we did not have enough space to publicise matters, so the new boards should prove a great improvement.
You will have noticed too that we have acquired two new timers in the playing area. When we run two different competitions, from now on both can be timed separately. This development is in response to member’s requests.
I am often asked by those taking lessons in the MBA classes how they should progress into tournament play at the club. I thought it would be useful therefore to set out the routes that the club has put in place to make this easier. As you approach the final set of lessons [or even before this for that matter], you might want to try your hand at duplicate bridge. There is a big step from playing structured hands, designed to illustrate a point of bidding, declarer play or defence, to playing randomly dealt hands. There are several ways forward.
We run Gentle Pairs on Wednesday afternoons. Advice is given when requested on bidding, declarer play and/or defence. Pace of play is slower than that expected in normal tournament play, so there is little time pressure. The atmosphere is relaxed and very informal. There is usually a standby so there is no need to turn up as a pair.
Some time ago Anne Perkins ran a Play & Learn session, in which a small number of hands were played followed by a discussion of any points the participants wanted to raise. We are thinking of re-starting this P&L type session but are having difficulty fitting it into the club’s timetable.
We are also thinking of running a second Gentle Pairs event in the evenings because I have been told by several MBA members they cannot make the Wednesday afternoon event but like the idea. We will survey the MBA classes to see if there is a preferred time to restart the Play & Learn and to run an extra Gentle Pairs event. There will be a problem of finding space to do this too, so things may have to await the end of the League season when the extension will become available more often.
The obvious tournament to start with is on the Thursday night. Almost all the participants on Thursday have recently taken our classes – although some not as recently as others! It is an extremely popular event and David Briggs supplies a brief commentary on the hands played.
Friday night is another relaxed occasion. There are usually a small number of tables and those taking part cover a range of bridge experience! There is usually a stand by so you don’t need to turn up as a pair. However for your own peace of mind it might be better to come along with an established playing partner, as you will be more relaxed if you do so.
I can report a very successful conclusion to the year from the New Melville’s point of view.
It wasn’t exactly a sober affair. 88 of us got the Festive Season off to a rip-roaring start with plenty of good food and wine available. The catering came in for a lot of good comment. I enjoyed the venison in particular. This year the meal was served at bigger tables leading to more interactive start! As usual, the meal was followed by bridge but the reorganisation of the tables did lead to a delayed start to this part of the evening. Next year we plan to start the party at 6:00 to give more time to reorganise the tables.
This was another success. The pair’s event saw 19 tables in play while the teams’ event was equally well attended with 18 teams taking part. From my point of view it was great to see the club used by a complete range of the membership, with new, less experienced members playing alongside experienced internationalists. Furthermore there was a great atmosphere and the food, once again, was of excellent quality.
Laura Middleton together with her niece is running a charity event on:
“I am raising money for Maggie’s Centre and my niece who is in sixth year at school is raising money for an orphanage in South Africa. She is also a fantastic baker so is doing the afternoon tea.
I am organising the tables and the bridge and would encourage all members to come as it should be a fun afternoon.
MBA pupils are very welcome and can use it as a practice - they will be sitting with other pupils all afternoon so should feel quite comfortable.”
Tickets cost £10 each or £40 for a table, for Afternoon Tea and Bridge. There is also a raffle and prizes.
If you want to take part please contact Laura directly on: email@example.com
Continuing my theme from last month, you will have noticed that our catering continues to evolve to meet the requirements of the membership. I have received some excellent feedback on the catering at both the Christmas Party and the Congress but if you have any views which you want us to consider for future developments do let me know them. When we run the Bronze event next year we will provide catering for participants. This year we provided free soup and roll, but, as a result of your comments, we will change this so that more substantial fare will be provided. Your opinions do count!
January and February see the Clubs competitions for the Manson Trophy [the clubs teams championship] and the Westchester Mixed Pairs both starting. Do consider entering these competitions.
There are two benefits from writing a monthly newsletter. One is obvious; it keeps members informed of the latest developments in running the club. The second is, perhaps, less obvious. It creates a clear conduit for members to express themselves and get their opinions known to the chairman and board. This latter point struck me quite forcibly when several Tournament Directors approached me on a matter related to tournament directing in the club.
The tournament directing job is made very much easier when players take their place at the table ahead of the starting time. Please can you make every effort to take your seats at least five minutes before the start? If you genuinely find it difficult to arrive early can you try to ensure your partner can do so? This will help to get tournaments off to a prompt start because the best movement and the number of boards to be played can only be decided when the number of tables is known. A prompt start can, in turn, lead to a timely finish.
We are extremely grateful to those members who take a turn at directing our tournaments. With a healthy number of TD’s, arranging a rota of tournament directing is made so much easier for Damien and Anne. Can I ask you to consider volunteering? Most of the time directing a tournament is trouble free. We have a folder containing very easy-to-use flow charts which help resolve the most common problems and this has to be used only rarely. Every volunteer reduces the workload on others. We plan to run a short training session in the New Year once the Christmas Congress is behind us, so do consider putting you name forward.
A small group has been set up to take the revision of club competitions forward. Together with myself, Tim McKay, Rose Simpson, Brenda Wingate and Damien Byron have agreed to take part and we will meet shortly to get the review underway. I hope this group can be seen to represent members across a wide range of bridge experience. I know, from the replies I had earlier, that there is widespread support for the idea of making the club competitions more all-embracing and this will be the starting point for our discussions. Of course, I will keep you informed of progress.
Tickets for the Christmas Party are selling well. If you are thinking of joining us do get your tickets soon. We will take a note of your choice of food in advance and this will be served at the table. We have noted the comments last year that some were kept waiting some time before being served and plan to have a healthy number of waiting staff to ensure prompt service for the meal itself. Do consider joining us for what is sure to be a great fun occasion!
The Christmas Congress will also run between Christmas and the New Year. In the past this has proved to be a good opportunity to take a break between family celebrations. This year the Congress will run on Wednesday and Thursday the 28th and 29th of December and will take the form of Swiss Pairs on the Wednesday and Swiss teams on the Thursday. Do consider taking part. Details can be found on the club website and application forms are also available in the club.
I am delighted to report the success of the Big Bronze Swiss teams’ event held in November. Damien had the idea of running this when an earlier SBU event from Bronze level players in Peebles had been poorly subscribed but thought the demand for an event below national level did exist. He was right, 22 teams took part in our event with entries from across Scotland. I expect we will run this event again with even greater success.
You can’t help but notice that, at the moment, the heating in the toilets is non-existent. We have called in a plumber to investigate the cause and restore functional radiators but he has still to make an appearance. Meantime please accept our apologies. We will try to get the problem sorted as soon as possible. Note too that there are heated toilets in the new extension.
You might have noticed also that Damien has installed a new mechanism for controlling the heating in the club. This means the heating can be controlled remotely and, for example, switched on early when there is cold spell without having to come to the club to do so. We should all benefit from this new facility.
There have been a surprisingly small number of responses to last month’s enquiry about prize money. I infer from this that many are either content or unconcerned about the matter. Most of those who did reply liked the present system where prize money is allocated on the basis of master points won. We will therefore continue the present system but reduce the workload by abolishing the minimum amount put onto your swipe cards and putting the money on less frequently.
May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a enjoyable prosperous New Year. I hope you continue to enjoy the club, the facilities it provides and that your finesses work more than 50% the time.
Some of you will know that Aileen has had to leave us for personal reasons [although she will be available from time to time]. We will miss her cheerful personality and helpfulness. We have appointed a replacement, Ann Harley, who will start on Monday December 5th and I am confident Ann will maintain the same welcoming atmosphere which is such an important feature of our club.
Another month and more to report, things certainly don’t stand still at the New Melville!!
I was delighted by the response to my last newsletter in which I asked for reaction to ideas to revitalise the club competitions and attempt to make them more all-embracing. I had replies from across the membership, from new members to experienced internationalists, and from everyone there was widespread support for the idea of changing the format. As I said in my replies to some emails, the devil will be in the detail so the Board plans to set up a small group of members to come up with more detailed suggestions. There is plenty of time for this as the club championship has only just been held but the other club competitions will be the subject of review as well.
A few couple of members commented that the club was in some danger of splitting into two sections; with newer members playing in quite different events to the more experienced ones. This had me reflecting on the club’s attempts to draw members into more of its events. At a national level there are several competitions where less experienced players compete only with opponents of a similar standing. This must be right and it is a widespread policy among most national bridge unions to organise ranked events. However, at club level it is potentially more divisive. I think it is important that as members feel they are getting more experience and are more comfortable with matters such as the speed of play, they should feel able to step up into any of the club competitions. I think is simply a matter of giving new members time to develop confidence. As a club I hope we encourage everyone to take the next step and compete with more experienced players. It is incumbent on the more experienced to welcome the less- experienced and be both tolerant and understanding when toes are dipped into waters that are thought to be shark-infested!
You will be aware, I am sure, of the evolving nature of our catering arrangements. The removal of the self-service area at the entrance to the social area has certainly smartened up its appearance. The changes did generate some comment but I hope the decision to have served refreshments [which have, incidentally, removed some of the strain from management of opening up the club premises] and to retain the Flavia coffee-making machine has been beneficial.
Don’t forget we are holding a Bronze level team event on:
You can find out full details on our website and from publicity posters in the club. It should be an excellent opportunity to play against teams from across the Eastern District and beyond. It is a team-of-four event so do organise a team and take part. There are prizes for teams in several different categories so whatever your experience of competition bridge you should consider taking part.
Another event for your diary is the Christmas Party on:
Last year’s party was a great success and we expect it to be even better this year! The caterer who supplied such excellent canapes at the opening of our extension is providing the Christmas fare. There will be a three course meal, some drink and bridge. Tickets cost £25. Meals will be served at the table and we plan an efficient, quick service. Tickets will go on sale next week and although we have a larger capacity [because we now have built an extension!] do book early to avoid disappointment. Your ticket will have a tear-off portion on which you should indicate your choice of first, main and desert courses.
The Christmas Congress is being held on:
for pairs and teams of four respectively.
We hope for a good attendance this year as the congress falls neatly between Christmas and New Year when a break for festivities will seem a good idea.
You may have noticed that the prize money accrued over the last few months has been added to your swipe card. Allocating the prize money quarterly with some members having theirs held back until it was more substantial proved to be a lot of work. The Board debated the possibility of allocating the prize money only once a year. During this discussion, it emerged there was quite a divergence of opinion among Board members. Opinion ranged from abolishing the prizes altogether to having a system where prizes (not necessarily cash!) were allocated on the night. When we last sought members opinion on the matter, there were also differing opinions but the consensus that emerged then was that a greater spread of prizes would be appreciated. This generated the idea of allocating the prizes in line with the master points won. Opinion might have changed by now so it was agreed by the Board to seek members’ opinions once more. Please let us know what you think, either be email or by direct contact with a board member.
Scott MacDonald has indicated that he would like to step down from the Treasurer’s position. Scott has carried out an excellent job especially given the complexity of handling financial matters while the club’s premises were modified and extended. We are all immensely grateful to him for the diligent way he has carried out these duties. The Board has decided that the Treasurer’s job should be rewarded, as in the past, with payment of an honorarium. If you are interested in this task please do get in touch. Scott will be willing to go through the task with you if you think it is for you. Of course, Scott will also be on hand to advise his successor after the handover.
The last few monthly letters have tried to be informative; keeping you up-to-date with progress on the extension and other matters. This month’s newsletter is different; I intend it to be both informative and provocative – but not in that order. For information please continue reading on to side 2. Provocation starts here!
I want to provoke discussion about the club competitions because attendance at these has been falling steadily over the last few years and I would like to reverse this trend. The Board have discussed possible changes to the club’s competitions and I set out some possibilities below.
I must first set out a prejudice of mine. I don’t like questionnaires very much. I think they are very difficult to design without biasing the outcome and analysing the replies is a matter for a professional. So I prefer to set out some possibilities and see how members respond. If there is a substantial division of opinion then this might result in a questionnaire to resolve matters.
The club recently held the competition for the Calvert Cup. Only 13 pairs entered and of these 5 pairs were only able to play in two out of the three weeks. I have an ambition to make club competitions more all-embracing and to make it easier for members to take part. I also want to provide a club competition for Bronze level members who comprise by far the largest group in the club (at the last count, 326 out of 412 members were classified as Bronze level).
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and I think the Carlton have a better approach. They run their championship on a set Monday of the month and spread the competition out over several months. I propose a similar set up here.
We could run three different club championship competitions. In some ways this would be analogous to many golf clubs running an A and a B championship. Three competitions could be:
Each could be run on a set day of the month over a 5 or 6 month period (obviously avoiding a clash with the Carlton’s dates). For example, 1) could be held on the 3rd Monday; 2) on the 2nd Monday and 3) on the 1st Thursday of each month. The best two (or three?) scores would count towards qualification for a finals day. The top pairs (16 or 20?) in each category would qualify for finals day the date of which would be published in the calendar well in advance. Qualifiers who did not wish to take part would simply make way for the next best qualified pair.
This would have the advantage that pairs playing regularly would automatically enter the competitions. The number of qualifying opportunities would be increased over the longer period and there should be therefore a reduction in the number unable to take part because they happen to be away or otherwise committed to something else. The qualifying tournaments would remain unaffected except that the number of tables might (hopefully) increase on qualification days. The club would also be recognising that many members like to play in aggregate tournaments and would be providing a trophy competition for them in addition to their regular tournaments. I stress that the weekly tournaments would remain unaffected except a few would be labelled as “qualifiers”.
Can I have your reaction to this idea? You can send me your views by emailing:
Or by using the “Contact us” button on the club’s website (which leads to the same destination)
Or you can talk to any Board member and tell them what you think.
The catering arrangements continue to evolve and the Board agreed to a substantial change at its last meeting. From October 10th, we will employ Aileen Dunn to provide a “fully served” service of tea and coffee. Aileen will be available from 6 to 9pm each evening so coffee and tea will be available for early arrivals. The Flavia coffee dispenser which was giving problems of various sorts, will be removed. This arrangement should have several advantages:
It will improve the appearance of the space around the previous self-service area as the waste bins and machines can be removed. They were both unsightly and their use led to stains to the carpet because the table on which the drinks were made was small and spillages often occurred
Coffee and tea will be served over a longer period.
Service at the break will be improved because Aileen will be joined with a second server, so queues should be shortened.
Tournament directors will not need to turn up as early as Aileen will open up the club for us.
There will be a reduced choice in the types of coffee available but otherwise I think this will be an overall improvement in the service.
This took place on Friday October 7th as previously advertised. Over 60 members attended and I was really pleased to see a full cross section of the membership taking part. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was carried out by Margaret Archibald who spoke on behalf of the members by expressing thanks to the Board for overseeing this project and her delight in how non-disruptive the whole exercise had been.
Again as advertised, the club held a fund-raising event for this charity. Anne Perkins was the main driving force and Denise King paid a large part in selling raffle tickets. Attendance was disappointing with only four tables, but the amount raised in total was excellent. The final amount has still to be totalled but is in excess of £600 at the time of writing. Some books are still available for purchase and can be seen in the cloakroom for a little while longer.
We have had a problem with the drains that had to be fixed quite quickly and generated an unexpected expense. This was bad news but the cause has been investigated and the problem fixed. A previous repair to the drains [before our occupancy of the building] had used a drain section of the incorrect diameter. This had led to tree roots seeking out water and growing through the narrow gap. Inevitable the roots grew and cracked the drainpipe eventually leading to blockage. Hopefully this is the last we see of this problem.
Time flies when you are busy and last month was no exception. Progress has been maintained on several fronts and there are a few more dates to add to your diary. However the first thing to do is to pass on my thanks to you all for your response to the request to pay your annual subscription one month earlier than usual. As I write 261 subscriptions have been received and this has enabled us to pay the builder on time for the work on the extension. Thanks to your efforts a cash flow problem has been averted and paying the builder promptly has not been problematic.
The reaction of members to seeing the building project nearing completion has been quite brilliant. A few minor things need to be done by 7+7 but their work is essentially completed. A very common reaction has been to be surprised by size of the new playing area! Seeing the plans on paper is no substitute to seeing the real thing completed. We now wait for the decorator to do his work and for the doors to be put in place. For technical reasons we have had to change the specification of the doors which will now be sliding [rather than folding] doors. This reverts back to our original idea. We expect them to be put in place shortly.
In appreciation of your tolerance in putting up with disruption during the building work and to mark a significant event in the club’s development, the board have decided to have on official opening ceremony of the extension. This will take the form of drinks and canapes followed by bridge (no table money) for those who wish to stay on after the opening. This will take place on: Friday 7th October at 6.00pm
As in past years we will be supporting MacMillan’s “world’s largest coffee morning” which provides support for cancer sufferers. However our event will involve tea in the afternoon! So another date for your diary is: Friday 30th September at 2.00 pm
We plan to sell a table for Chicago bridge and afternoon tea with just the latter for those who don’t want to play bridge. Full details will be placed on the notice board shortly. As in the past, there will be a raffle and a book stall so if you have any raffle prizes or surplus books please do donate them for this event. Volunteers to help run this event will also be welcome, please contact Anne Perkins if you want to help.
We are required to have a practice evacuation of the building in the event of an emergency. We will hold this in the near future. We will also be putting up notices informing everyone of the assembly point to be used in the case of such an emergency. The assembly point will be the pavement to the North of the pedestrian access gate [where the advertisement of our MBA classes is currently posted]. Notices detailing the procedures to be followed will also be put up.
I am happy to report that the enlargement of the MBA room appears to have been justified already with a continued enthusiasm being shown for learning bridge. Lessons start on: Monday 19th September 2016
If you know of anyone who wants to learn bridge, get them to enrol quickly as some classes are already full [although no one has been turned away!]. For the first time we plan to run a morning class so this will increase the number of classes from 6 to 7 per week.
As the current project reaches its conclusion it is time to look to the future! Some further work is necessary to complete the current phase. For example, paving from the new emergency exit is needed to allow easy evacuation of the building. Other work, for example moving the position of the bicycle racks and enlarging the disabled car parking space, will be carried our as soon as finances allow. The board has drawn up a list of possible projects and if you have an idea you would want to be considered now is the time to suggest it.
At their August meeting the Board of Directors agreed that, from October 1st, the cost of all bridge sessions, including afternoons and Thursday evenings, will be standardised at £4 per person. At the same time prize money for Monday afternoon and Thursday evening ‘No Fears’ sessions will be standardised in-line with our other events. That is, members will be rewarded at the rate of 6.5p per Master Point won and the prize money will be put directly onto their swipe cards once per quarter. SBU Master Points are issued to anybody who finishes in the top third for any event.
The charge for league matches will also rise to £4 per head but this will include the refreshments taken at the half way stage of a match. Refreshments for league matches will be available in the new match room. Normally, we expect league players will remain in the match room for the duration of the match as there are toilet facilities in the new area. This should ensure minimal disruption to those playing in the main playing room.
These changes will result a simplification of the till screens with fewer choices on offer. When we hold special events such as a ‘simultaneous pairs’ then a surcharge button for these events will appear for the event in question.
I have been asked to draw your attention to the above charity, which works to combat loneliness in the elderly by contacting them for a chat. They make 10,000 telephone calls a week to this end. One of our members, David Land, helps with this charity and has been asked by them to publicise their work. David is very enthusiastic about the work this charity does. If you want to know more about this charity you can talk to David at the club or contact him by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or find out more about them from their website: www.thesilverline.org.uk
When I started writing monthly newsletters I was concerned that there might be some months when I had to write:
“Nothing happened” and “Nothing’s planned”
I am happy to say that this hasn’t been the case so far. I can report this month’s activities include:
Most of you will know that things have progressed well. The changes to the inside are virtually complete with the decorator having completed his work. A little work needs to be done in the kitchen, but the changes are otherwise more or less complete. I have received nothing but favourable comments on the changes made to date.
The external work continues too. The builders have put up a temporary screen while the changes to the end wall in the playing area are effected. While this is not the most aesthetically pleasing structure imaginable it is functional, practical and temporary. It should be in position only a little while longer, meanwhile the evening bridge sessions continue as normal but afternoon bridge has decanted to the MBA room to prevent disruption from the inevitable building noise. I am grateful to members who play in the afternoons for their forbearance over this disruption.
The Board have decided on the type of folding doors that will link the existing playing area to the extension. The partition separating the two areas will be in place most of the time, with access to the extension via a simple door. However, the extension can be opened up for large events such as congresses and SBU tournaments as well as social events such as our Christmas party. This will create one large playing area that can accommodate up to 36 tables.
The board decided at its August meeting to put out the subscription requests to members one month earlier than usual. This is, as I wrote in last month’s newsletter, because we have a slight problem with cashflow as work on the extension is proceeding some way ahead of schedule. Soon you will receive a request for your annual subscription. The subscription is, as last year, £45 (+ £7 SBU subscription if you pay this through the Melville BC). If a proportion of you can pay your subscription by 1st September [as opposed to the normal 1st October deadline] this will certainly be good enough to see us through a temporary problem. Damien is away for a period and we don’t want a lot of cash in the club waiting to be processed and banked, so we ask that, if you can pay early, you do so either though the bank or by cheque. Of course, next year we will return to the normal timing.
The shelves that were previously in the playing area have been repositioned and replaced with narrower ones which has created a little more space there. The old shelves have now been moved into the MBA room and this has allowed us to display the Kelsey library along with our existing bridge book holdings (many donated by Keith Youngs). The books are all catalogued but not yet classified in any meaningful way. If anyone has any ideas how this might be most usefully done then please do get in touch. With a total of 506 different bridge titles our library is certainly extensive and will be a useful source of information to players at all levels. The existing book shelves are now full and we still have to house the collection of Kelsey first editions. If you want to borrow a book please record this in the book provided.
You will all be aware that we have increased our membership largely through the success of our teaching programme. The club now has a large number of new members who are comparatively inexperienced in tournament play. The Board have decided to cater for new bridge players by putting on a new team-of-four event specifically designed for, and only open to, Bronze level players. It will be open to players throughout Scotland and will be held at the New Melville on:
The format will be Swiss Teams starting at 11 am and finishing by about 6pm. More details will be made available on our notice board in due course as well as on our website. They will also be circulated to Melville members using Pianola. Please consider entering a team. We are going to publicise the event widely and hope it will provide an opportunity for you to meet other bridge players as well as gain experience of competition bridge. In Swiss teams you play teams who are doing equally as well as your team on the day, so the method of scoring ensures you are always playing against interesting opponents! If the event proves popular and entries are up to expectation there will be substantial prizes for Bronze-level players in all categories.
In a similar context, the SBU are also running a Bronze Simultaneous Pairs event and the Melville is running a heat on:
Make a note of both of these events in your diary.
A number of you have asked about the allocation of prize money to your swipe cards. This is in hand and any prize money due to you will be added to your cards shortly.
We had a surprise a short while back when we were told that in the near future a new care home is to be built on the field adjacent to Pinkhill. The developer has been in touch because their plot has Japanese knotweed growing on it which they wish to remove because it can cause extensive damage to building foundations and drains. It is growing on our land too and, since there is little point in removing it from only one site, the developer has offered to clear our grounds at no cost to ourselves. We have accepted this offer and expect clearance work to start shortly following liaison with our 7+7 builders. We are assured that the clearance work is to be carried out in an approved manner by an experienced knotweed removal firm.
Many of you will have read on our website that Olivia Bailey and Jun Nakamuru-Pinder won a Gold medal at this event when it was held in Latvia recently. The Board have decided to recognise this outstanding achievement by agreeing to sponsor them when they next travel to an international event.
This month’s newsletter was meant to come out at the beginning of the week but attendance at the Peebles Congress followed by amnesia has led to a delay. The Board were kind enough to re-elect me as Chairman for another year, but I don’t think they had realised they were electing a tardy and forgetful chair!
Those who were not able to attend the AGM in June might be unaware that four members were elected to the board. The new board members are: Liz Fisher, Alice Lappin, Christine McLaren and Brenda Wingate. I am sure they will make a valuable contribution to the smooth running of the club and I am grateful to them for volunteering to take an active part in the club’s management.
It might seem a long way ahead but there are some dates for your diary around the Christmas celebrations. The Christmas Party will be held on: Thursday December 22nd 2016
The club’s Christmas Congress will be held on: Wednesday & Thursday December 28th & 29th 2016
Of course it is far too early to actually sell Christmas merchandise but please make a note of these dates in your diary and look out for details nearer the time.
These events might well be the first time we use the extension for large-scale club activities and can take advantage of the new facilities. So do come along and assess the success of the new arrangements.
You will have noticed that the alterations to the club premises are continuing. I can report that so far everything seems to be on schedule. The alterations to the interior spaces are virtually complete and the difference is very marked. Many members have commented to me on how beneficial the changes to the MBA room and the social area will be when they are completed. There have also been many favourable comments on how neatly and efficiently the 7+7 workmen have been in carrying out the work. In the near future the decorator will come in to finish this aspect of the project.
The extension is also going ahead smoothly. The Board have had to make a few decisions over the detail of the extension. We have decided to incorporate a boiler in the extension which will mean the existing boiler isn’t working at or beyond its maximum capacity and the supply of hot water to the extension will not have such a long run through the existing premises. This will mean much less of a wait for the hot water to come through. The Board have also discussed the details of the doors which will join the extension to the existing playing area. The original estimate had a budget for doing this which was always recognised as an approximation. We have now obtained real estimated for this aspect of the work and I am pleased to report that the amount originally designated for this was not too wide of the mark. The firm that fitted the sliding doors at the entrance to our building shortly after we moved in will now supply a folding door partition to link the extension and playing area.
The AGM reported that the club is in a healthy financial position and the increasing membership and participation in the club provides every hope that this will continue in the immediate future. However a fairly large amount of the club’s reserves are tied up in a bank account which, while providing a reasonable rate of interest in the present financial climate, cannot be accessed immediately. The building work is also ahead of schedule which is good news but will mean the club has to settle payments ahead of the time we had expected. This might [I emphasize might] lead to a cash flow problem when we pay all those involved in the alterations and decorating the new premises. If this proves to be the case we might ask you to pay the annual subscription one month earlier than usual. If a proportion of the club’s members can pay their sub one month in advance of normal this will get around the problem [should it arise!]. If, for any reason, this would prove a problem for you the please don’t worry, simply pay your sub with normal timing. I am mentioning this simply to remove any element of surprise should a request for annual subscriptions arrive earlier than normal! Of course, the subscription requests will revert to normal timing in the future so this is not a device to shorten the subscription year to eleven months!
The alteration to the club premises has already had a beneficial consequence for members. The three advanced classes offered over the summer were all oversubscribed and we had a waiting list but the expanded MBA room has meant we can provide the classes to all who had signed up.
The MBA classes start the week beginning: Monday 19th September 2016
We do not advertise these classes except for putting the information on the club’s website, so if you know of anyone who is keen to learn our game, do let them know. We do rely on word-of-mouth to recruit to our courses.
This month’s newsletter is both later and shorter than usual. This is because there isn’t much to report as I’ve been a little out of touch with events having been on holiday. What there is to report however is quite important.
As you probably know, the AGM will be held on:
And I hope you can attend to hear of progress, plans and prize-giving. An apology is in order before we get there. The Board’s original intention was to publish the accounts well before the meeting so all could have an opportunity to study them. This looks like being thwarted as our accountants have been unable to process them as swiftly as we hoped. This is largely due to the complexity of the accounting process. As we are a charity we have to conform to strict rules and making sure the accounts meet all the legal requirements is not a simple task. A projected change to our VAT status [which is important given the building work] has added to these difficulties. However the good news is that when the accounts are prepared they are unlikely to make dismal reading.
This was held on Monday May 30th in aid of Bowel Cancer research. I am pleased to report a good turnout. All table money was donated to the charity and opportunity for members to add to that through a raffle and donation of additional aid resulted in £600 being raised.
You will have noticed that the building work on the extension has started. So far we have been blessed with good weather and, so I am told, smooth progress is being made. The cloakroom and office have both moved as planned and we are certainly befitting already from the increased office space. Several members have commented, while playing in the afternoons, that the sound insulation seems very good as the noise of the excavating JCB is not too intrusive. No doubt there is more disruption to come but so far so good!
I look forward to seeing you at the AGM
Things have moved quite quickly since the last newsletter when I had to report slight delay. Since then a small working group have met with the potential builders and we had a “single item” board meeting to discuss the approval of a builder. We have decided to ask 7+7 (a building company based in Mussleburgh) to do the job and we hope to sign the contract with them very soon.
Planning permission has also come through and the work is planned to start on May 31st. Planning permission was granted with one slight modification to the plans, another emergency exit will have to be provided in the extension itself. The extension work will mostly take place outside with breakthrough into the existing premises only taking place in the last stages but, while the foundation work is started outside, it is hoped to carry out the internal modifications. So I’m afraid there will be some disruption over the summer as changes to the MBA room and the social area are effected. I’m sure you will be understanding while this is going on. It is hoped to complete the whole project in 12 to 14 weeks.
Enlarging the MBA room will be work that is isolated from other areas of the club and will take place while the MBA teaching is in summer recess. So the only obvious repercussion when this work is carried out will be that the Falcon club will need to move back into the main playing area on Thursday evenings. The remaining internal work, to the kitchen and social area, will be more disruptive. The work will be screened off from the rest of the social area but we expect to be able to provide tea and coffee from the Flavia machine and hot water urn. We hope this disruption will not last too long but ask for your forbearance and understanding while the internal work is carried out.
The annual friendly fixture took place on Wednesday 4th May. There were 16 tables in play but I have to report a win for the other side! I am sure it was, as usual, an enjoyable evening for those who took part and we hope for a different result next time.
We have now acquired a debit card reader and swipe cards can be topped up easily enough using it. It has proved popular with those members who have used it. The club’s preferred method for topping up is by using on-line banking as the debit card reader does invoke a small charge for the club. However, for those who discover they are running out of credit only when they are paying at the club, the reader is a very convenient method of topping up. We would prefer you not to top up your card using cash.
We are coming to that time of the year when changes to the Board are going to take place. This year Pat Walkinshaw and Denise King have indicated that they both wish to stand down. Pat and Denise have both made a very valuable contribution to the smooth running of the club and have our thanks for the jobs they have done. I’m sure they will both continue to support and help the club in the future but we do need to find two [or more] replacements. Do consider putting your name forward to serve on the Board. The duties are not too time consuming and it is always satisfying to make a contribution to the smooth running of the club.
Nominations for the board will be approved at the AGM which is to take place on Wednesday June 15th. Please do try to keep this date free.
When I first started writing the monthly Chairman’s newsletter I feared that some months there would be nothing much to say and sometimes members would read the newsletter only out of curiosity and not learn anything new. Up to now I can report this has, from my viewpoint, not been the case and there has always been a reasonably substantial news item to report. So what do you need to know this month?
The board decided, at its last meeting, that it would reward those members who act as Tournament Directors by not charging them table money when they do so. From now on TDs get a free game. This brings us into line with most big bridge clubs and something we should have done some time ago. Even though the monetary reward is small, we hope this policy change will result in an increase in the number of people wanting to act as TD. Do get in touch with me or with Damien if you want to help in this way. The task is not as difficult as many fear it to be!
I’m pleased to report another success for the April congress. It was very well supported by members and there was a great atmosphere in the club. It was especially pleasing to see such a wide spread in bridge experience among those taking part. With internationalists and grandmasters at one end of the spectrum and MBA members still taking lessons at the other, the event was a great demonstration of how the club is for everyone and bridge can be enjoyed by all. Thanks are due to David Briggs for organising the event and for Damien playing a major role in ensuring its smooth running on the day.
Catering at the congress was deemed a great success by those that I spoke to about it and we plan to continue using the current caterer who provides such good fare at great value for money. Speaking of catering however, the board have decided to make some changes to the routine food provided. Cake sales have been very disappointing and we cannot justify continuing to provide cake as a sale item. I know that the chocolate biscuits are popular with many, but there has been a problem for some time with chocolate stains on chair backs and carpet, so we will stop providing loose chocolate biscuits when the current stock has been used up. Instead we will provide a variety of individually wrapped biscuits. These have the advantage that they come with “best before” dates on the packaging so that we conform more closely to health and safety requirements. We hope too that this will reduce the amount of chocolate fragments finding their way on to the furniture.
Several of you have asked about allocation of prize money to visitors. As you know we now load the prize money, at quarterly intervals, onto the swipe cards. Swipe cards are available for visitors too under the same conditions as members have them. That is to say, they need to pay for the cost of the card (£5) and load their card with the £20 minimum top-up. If visitors do not want to acquire a card then any prize money they win will be used for charitable purposes.
Several less experienced and new members of the club have approached me recently having been quite upset by more experience players who should know better! The issue is not so much what has been said but a failure by long-standing members to realise how eloquent body language can be. An abrupt gesture or pulled face can be quite upsetting and off-putting especially for those who are struggling to overcome nerves or come to terms with novel situations. I promised that I would draw this matter to everyone’s attention. We are a friendly club and want to maintain that reputation so please do be aware that experienced players have a responsibility to ensure new members are made to feel comfortable and welcome at whatever tournament they choose to play in. New members are the future of the club.
There isn’t much to report here. We still wait planning permission and approval via a building warrant. We have obtained three quotations for the planned work, but unfortunately these quotations were not comparable as they differed in significant details. We have gone back to all three builders seeking clarification and hope to be in a position shortly where we can appoint a builder to do the work.
I am pleased with the way you feel able to approach me and comment on events as they occur. Please do continue to raise any matters with me as I do want to keep my finger on the pulse of club affairs.
It was a good thing that February was extra-long this year as we needed that time to cram all the club’s activities into the month.
As you know the last day of the month was used to hold a General Meeting at which the case for building an extension to the clubs premises was made. For those who could not be present, I can report that the meeting approved the plan to build an extension at the east end of the club. This will be of substantial benefit as it will greatly improve the facilities we have. The plans are on display in the club where they will remain for a little while yet. In a nutshell, by moving the match rooms into the new extension we can move the cloakroom and office into the old office and South match room respectively. By incorporating the North match room into the social area and creating an extra servery point, we hope to improve the relaxation area and service at break times. There will be some inconvenience of course but we are confident the long term benefits will greatly outweigh any disruption to the club’s activities. At the meeting members advanced a number of points which were greatly appreciated by the board. It is always gratifying to know that members take an active interest in the club.
At the same meeting, members approved a change to the Articles which now allow board members to serve for 5 years if they wish. This should provide an increase in experience of sitting board members to the benefit of the club. It does not however mean that every board member has to “serve” for the maximum period now allowed. We will need members to come on to the board at the end of this year, so do consider volunteering to help run the club. From first-hand experience I can say it is fun, not too onerous a task and is much appreciated by the membership as a whole.
I am delighted to report that participation in club events continues to increase. The last Thursday of the February saw 150 people playing at the club. The trend for all evenings continues upwards with possible exception of participation in club tournaments on Wednesday evenings. The Board are constantly discussing ways to make tournaments more accessible to members, especially those who have just joined the club and want to gain some experience of duplicate bridge. The Board plan to introduce another session of Gentle Pairs [where fewer hands are played and help provided with bidding] for those who are unable to attend the Wednesday afternoon session. These are intended for those who are still attending MBA classes. Look out for a notice advising about this when details are finalised. For those who have completed classes but are nervous about entering a pool with more experienced players [sometimes known as “sharks”], shallow water is available on Thursday evenings. The relatively new ranked-pairs tournament on Wednesday evening is also a good starting point. Once less experienced players are used to playing at about 7 minutes/board, Friday evenings provide another opportunity to relax in a TGIF atmosphere!
No newsletter would be complete without some report on swipe cards. There has been a large reduction in the amount of small change that has to be carried to the bank but not such a big drop-off in paper money. The club intends to purchase a debit card reader which should considerably reduce the banknotes handled by the club. When this has been obtained, please do try to top up cards using Internet banking [preferable], or using your debit card and avoid using cash. Using a debit card, however, will result in some slowing down in topping up as it will become a two stage process. Entering the top-up on the card reader will transfer funds to the club but not put them onto your card. This latter transfer will then be put onto the card in the club immediately as at present. So if you need to top up at the club, try to arrive in plenty of time to allow this to happen.
At its last meeting the board decided not to organise a barbeque this summer. Given the great success of last year’s event this decision was made reluctantly, but with the planned extension work likely to be under way over the summer it is prudent to avoid mixing JCB’s with beef burgers.
We are in the process of selecting the builder. Several builders are coming to the club to look at the job while we are applying for planning permission and a building warrant. I will keep members up-to-date with developments as they occur.
The good news is that the club continues to prosper with increased membership and attendance. There are several things to report and some important dates to put in your diary.
You will know that I have promised to keep you informed of our intention to extend the club premises so as to improve some aspects of its use. To this end we plan to hold a General Meeting on: Monday February 29th at 6-00pm.
At this meeting, I will outline the plans to build an extension to the premises and to modify the internal space. I will explain our reasons for wanting to do this and seek your approval for this work. The Board are now confident that it can afford to improve what are already our excellent facilities by removing some inconvenient aspects of our current usage. If you cannot attend this meeting please do feel free to discuss this with me at any time.
At this meeting we will also seek approval to change the Articles of Association so as to allow Board members to serve for more than three years if they wish. I hope this will be a comparatively minor and uncontroversial agenda item. The meeting will be followed by the normal Monday evening bridge sessions.
A more formal notice announcing the General Meeting, in line with Company law, will be issued by the Company Secretary shortly.
The one day Spring Congress will be held on: Sunday April 10th
Congress entry forms are now available. This year we are using the caterer that had such good reception when he catered in the club at the recent SBU Winter Teams of Four. We are confident that the catering will be excellent and the good news is that, at £8, the cost of the meal has gone down compared to last year. For those who want to eat there is a menu on the Congress entry form and you are asked to choose from a choice of main course and desert so that the caterer can know in advance what is required. The Congress proved popular last year and, if increased attendance at the Christmas Party is any indication, you should get your entry in early to avoid disappointment!
You will know from my last newsletter that the club has received a generous donation of a complete set of Hugh Kelsey’s first editions as well as his bridge library. I have now catalogued these and can report that [excluding the foreign language editions] there are 67 titles in the “Hugh Kelsey Writings” section. I have also catalogued his library collection along with the bridge books we hold in the club. You might be surprised to learn that we hold a total of 484 different bridge titles. Many are present in several copies or editions and I can report that there are about 750 books in the library. I did try to categorise these books thinking that they would be more useful if they were classified in some way. This proved too difficult for me but if any member has experience and expertise in this area and wants to volunteer……
A downside of possessing this extensive collection is that we have nowhere to display them at present. We will hope to display the complete set of Kelsey first editions when [if] the extension is completed possibly by combining them with a display of the club’s bridge trophies [which are also stored out of sight due to a lack of display space]
For several good reasons, it has been necessary to change the date of the AGM from that announced in the calendar. The AGM will now take place on: Wednesday June 15th at 7:30pm
I hope this doesn’t interfere with any Accumulator bridge you might have fixed up as obviously there will be no Accumulator event that evening. My apologies if you do have to re-arrange an Accumulator date. The Accumulator will run on Wednesday 8th June instead.
Happy New Year to you all! In 2016 I hope all your finesses succeed and your defence is impeccable. Most of all I hope you will continue to enjoy your bridge and playing at the club.
I can report that the Christmas Party was a great success. The club was full with 96 people attending and enjoying themselves. At present, this is the maximum number we can comfortable accommodate in the club and the Board are delighted the event proved to be so popular. Coupled with the popularity of the summer BBQ it is clear that the club’s social events are proving to be very popular. This is in no small part due to the organisational skills of Pat Walkinshaw and Rose Simpson who, along with a small army of other helpers, work hard to get these events up and running. Starting the party with canapes and cocktails got the Christmas party off to a flying start and the feedback I received from those present was universally positive.
The Christmas Congress too went well although the numbers here were not at a maximum. I feel this was at least partly due to the events proximity to Christmas itself and the difficulty of knowing when exactly to hold the Congress. The Congress itself went well, due, in no small part to the organisational efforts of Damien and Anne. The Board plans to continue with the Christmas Congress and will gain more experience of when to run it in conjunction with Christmas itself as time passes.
Hugh Kelsey was a famous bridge player with a quite prolific output of bridge books. His family have been in touch with the club and offered us a complete set of first editions of his books as well as other bridge books from his library. The board were delighted to accept this donation and feel honoured to have been chosen as the club to display them. We are going to purchase a glass fronted bookcase to display the first editions along with a notice to explain their significance and origin.
To continue this theme, you will have noticed that the club has accumulated a number of bridge books in recent months, many kindly donated by Keith Youngs, and these are frequently perused by members. My hope is that over the years the club will develop an extensive library of bridge books which will reflect the development of the game over time. Some of these developments can be very thought provoking. For example, did you know that in the very early days of Auction Bridge there was a bid of Nullos!! You could bid not to take tricks [much like misere in solo whist] so that a bid of 6 Nullos would contract you take no more than 1 trick. You will be pleased to learn this idea was never incorporated into the official rules of bridge – the game is hard enough already! Of course for the contract to succeed the hand had to be played in conjunction with your partner’s so it was not like misere at all. Both sides in the partnership would have to agree they had poor hands!! Incidentally, the bid was ranked above spades and below no trumps. I got this information from “Foster on Auction” by R. F. Foster (1921).
The Board are still actively pursuing this possibility although there isn’t much to report in terms of decisive moves forward. Opinion is being sought over whether or not VAT can be recovered by the club and this is likely to be a major factor in deciding what we can afford to do. The Board do not want to do anything unless it is a complete project, significantly improving the club. This has to be done without compromising its sound financial footing. I hope there will be more positive news next month.
The number of tables in play continues to increase which is very gratifying. We are continuing to develop ways to getting relatively inexperienced players to be more familiar with tournament play. One difficulty we are experiencing is getting members to move on to different levels of tournament play as they progress. I can see the difficulty: If you are enjoying playing in a particular event then why move? I suppose the answer is that the best way to progress is to challenge yourself by playing against the more experienced members. The board will continue to try innovative steps in making different sorts of competition available so keep an open mind about playing in different sorts of tournaments.
A Merry Christmas to you all. I hope you are vulnerable only to the good things of the festival season and doubles are only of a pleasant “extra helping” sort.
Tickets for the Christmas Party are selling very well. If you haven’t got yours yet and are planning to come I suggest you buy one before they run out! The same is not true of the bookings for the Christmas congress. Judging by past experience, there is a slower uptake for this event and attendance does vary depending on the time of Christmas in relation to the weekend. However we do need to know soon if you intend to play as the numbers are important for planning the bridge and the caterer does need to know of probable numbers. Can you let the club know if you are planning to come please? Remember that, apart from the congress, the club will be shut between Christmas and the New Year for bridge, so the congress is an excellent opportunity to obtain some relief from TV repeats and couch-slouch syndrome.
The Board has reviewed progress in the introduction of the swipe cards and are grateful to the membership in the way they have put up with some teething problems. We hope they are temporary and that, as you become familiar with the system, problems will largely disappear. The Board have arranged that, for the foreseeable future, a member who is familiar with the system will be in attendance before every session to help you overcome any hitches. There are a few things you can do to make the system work smoothly. Keep an eye on the balance of funds you have available and try to anticipate the need to top-up your card. You can then top-up at a quiet time rather than try to do so when there is a queue of people waiting to pay. The club intends to get a debit card reader which will mean you can top-up using cash, cheque, debit card or internet banking. Personally, I have been surprised how quickly the balance of funds on my card has gone down; I must be playing more bridge than I thought!!
If, inadvertently, you press any button twice and are going to pay for more than you intended, you need to void the double payment. This is done by first pressing “void” on the screen and then pressing the item you have paid for unnecessarily. The total payment, on the right hand side of the screen will now show the reduced amount that you intended to pay before the error.
In the past both the Melville and the Carlton have had money stolen by intruders and one of the benefits of the swipe card system is that unclaimed prize money does not need to be left in club premises. As you will know from earlier newsletters, prize money is to be added directly onto swipe cards. The Board have decided to increase the prize money slightly so that on average 13% of the table money is returned as prizes. Prizes will be allocated based on master points won (6.5pence per master point). In practice, this will mean prizes will be allocated, like the master points, to the top third of the field. Winners of tournaments will receive slightly less but prizes will be distributed to more of the membership. This change meets a commonly expressed view of the membership that prizes should not be confined to tournament winners. Prizes will be put onto the cards quarterly, starting at the end of January. In order to keep the workload for doing this to manageable levels, prizes will be put on the card only when the winnings are £5 or greater. If, in any one quarter, you have won less than this your winnings will not be lost but be held over until you have passed the £5 threshold.
You will all be aware that the Board have been investigating the possibility of improving the premises by adding an extension to the East end of the playing area. An architect has drawn up some possible extensions and also obtained, from some of his building contacts, rough estimates of the costs. At this stage it is still not clear whether we want to progress with this as there is uncertainty over the total cost but we should have a better idea after the Board next meets in January. If the Board decides it would like to proceed with this project we will hold a meeting with members later that month or in February to appraise everyone of the situation and to obtain approval from you.
The results of the three win-a-dinner competitions have now been computed. As was the case last year, there was tough competition for the winner of the match pointed section, but the aggregate tournament did not have so many who fulfilled the requirement of having played 6 times with at least three different partners. Congratulations to Denise King who won the match pointed tournament, to Jennifer Marshall who was first in the Aggregate section and to Keith Clark who was first of the less experienced players [ranked Local master or below]. Each wins a £60 dinner at the No.11 boutique hotel in Brunswick Street.
One of the best things about the move to our new premises has been, as one member put it to me; “the future has walked through the door”. It is both exciting and gratifying to find so many newcomers on the bridge scene. However it is important to remember that newcomers to the game are much less experienced in tournament play and we must all (no exceptions!) work hard to maintain a friendly, welcoming atmosphere in the club. There have been a couple of instances reported to me recently where the sharp word or unsympathetic comment has been made at the table or during tournament play. Please remember, we were all beginners once and it does take a long time to learn everything both about play and procedures at the table. If you are upset by an unwelcome comment, please do get in touch with me and I will do my best to defuse the matter and have a quiet word with the person involved to try and avoid a repeat.
The major event of the last month has undoubtedly been the introduction of swipe cards as a method of paying for tournaments and refreshments. I must thank you all for your forbearance and tolerance while we have all been going through the learning process and getting used to the new system. The board members have tried to be on hand every night to help but there have been queues and some delays while problems have been sorted and lessons learnt. At the last board meeting the various processes were reviewed and some small changes to the procedures have been made to try and circumvent some common problems. It has been decided to do away with the duplicate receipt. In the future only one receipt will be needed. This change will start on Monday 10th November. The receipt will be given to the Tournament Director as usual and these will then be handed to the server who will use them to calculate how much coffee and tea is required. This should eliminate waste and also help to make the payment procedure a little simpler when you arrive.
We have also decided to move one of the registers to make it less congested around the entrance doorway. I think experience is showing that using the corner of the card to tap the computer screen is much easier than trying to use a finger. It seems more reliable and accurate. You might have noticed in bars and restaurants that the staff often do this and perhaps these professionals do know best! We do hope that, as we become familiar with the system, it will operate more smoothly. On the positive side, as you might expect, the club is now carrying far less cash on the premises and this must make us less vulnerable.
You will know that the club intends to put prize money on the cards and that the prizes in the future will be awarded on the basis of master points won. So the top third of the field will receive prizes. We hope this change meets with the wishes of members who had expressed dissatisfaction with the prizes being confined to the winners and runners-up in tournaments. Although the exact scale of prizes has still to be calculated, the policy of returning about 12% of table money to the members in prize money will be maintained. To reduce the workload for Damien and Anne, prize money will be placed on cards quarterly.
The Christmas Party is scheduled for Thursday December 17th. Tickets are now on sale and can be bought at the club. Please do support this event; if the barbeque in the summer is any yardstick the party will be a great success. Tickets cost £20 which will include a three course meal and wine.
The Christmas Congress will be held on Sunday 27th and Monday 28th December. The popularity of this event continues to grow as members seek a break from Festive activities. As usual the club will arrange that the Swiss Pairs event (on the Sunday) will have an even number of pairs so there will be no sitting out involved. A Swiss Teams event will be held on the Monday so please organise a team of four so that you can enjoy the whole of this popular event.
I expect you will have heard of the embryonic plans to increase the flexibility of the club’s premises by extending the building out to the Eastern side. These plans are only a little further forward. The board are unanimous in the view that the premises could be greatly improved by an extension with the advantages spelt out in my last newsletter. We are meeting the architect shortly to try and get some estimate of the costs and only when we obtain these will we have a clearer picture. As I said last time, no decision will be made without involving the membership and obtaining your approval.
On some occasions the social area is very crowded. This is especially true of Mondays and in an attempt to stagger the demand we will experiment with taking the mid-session break a little later. The MBA class has a natural break at the end of the taught phase of their lessons before they start card play and this is usually about 8:00 or just before. To ease congestion therefore the break on Monday for the two tournaments will be put back to 8:15 and 8:35. Of course we will monitor the success (or otherwise) of this change.
You will have noticed that I have put a leader board for the win a dinner competition on the notice board. The rules are also on the board as many members seem unaware of this competition. I have not had time to compute the winner of the “inexperienced player” section but you can survey the leader board to see where you are and, if you qualify for this section, where you are in relation to other candidates. The important point to remember is that you need 6 scores with a maximum of 2 counting with any one partner. The prize is a £60 dinner-for-two voucher to be spent at the No 11 Boutique hotel & brasserie in Brunswick Street. There are a couple of weeks left in the competition.
Following this month’s Board meeting there are two obvious items which are worthy of comment.
We started to use these on Monday 5th October and, so far, things have gone relatively smoothly. Most members have added money to their cards by renewing their subscriptions and adding extra funds as suggested. Monday night was a good test of the new system as the club was very busy. However, the hard work put in by Damien to ensure that these funds were correctly recorded on the cards and in making sure most of the cards were handed out in advance of the start date, really paid off. Members were able to use their cards without too much difficulty. I believe the frequently asked questions document circulated by email also helped. I hope that, as we come more familiar with the system, the system will operate even more smoothly. One detail has still to be finalised. The “loyalty-points” system, whereby frequent users of the club would obtain further financial benefit, has proved difficult to implement due to the nature of the software driving the whole process. We will find a way of providing benefits for frequent users but this will require more work.
The Board has had some interesting discussions about increasing the flexibility in the use of the club premises. Members will have been aware for some time that we are a victim of our own success! On some nights the social area becomes very crowded. We are aware that the MBA teaching room is a bit on the small side when classes are full, which is most of the time!! The match rooms too are a little small and can get stuffy when matches are played with the door shut. The Board have been looking at the possibility of extending the premises to get round these difficulties. Investigations are at a very early stage but one possibility being considered is to build an extension at the East end of the building and moving the match rooms into this extension. If we can afford to do this, and at the moment we do not have an estimate of probable costs, we might be able to overcome these problems. The important thing for you to realise is that no decision will be made without holding a members meeting to obtain approval of any plans. We will only recommend proceeding if the benefits far outweigh the inconvenience and only then if the membership provides the authorisation.
The Board also arranged:
Dr. John Steyn has kindly agreed to provide a first air training session, including use of the defibrillator, on: Monday 2nd November starting at 6:00.
We are sorry about the delay in getting this organised but hope that as many as possible of those who signed up can make it. The session should last about 40 minutes. Anyone who has not signed up would like to take part is welcome, but please do let Damien or Anne know or add your name to the list.
Congratulations to Julia Palmer and Jane Stephenson who won the Pairs event at the Dunbar Congress. Congratulations also to Fiona Greenwood and Veronica Guy who were part of the winning team of four at the same event.
This month’s newsletter has been delayed because I have been away walking the Great Glen Way with exceptional luck regarding the weather! Time to bring you up to date with developments and my recent thoughts.
My luck is not confined to fine weather while on holiday, I am fortunate to be Chairman while the club is burgeoning and the membership continues to grow. The new teaching season starts this month and once again we anticipate a successful season. Exact numbers will not be known for a few weeks yet but it is already clear that the demand is high and numbers will be at least maintained at last year’s level. For those who are just setting out on the lessons, I hope you enjoy the challenge and find the club a welcoming place to learn new skills. For those who are continuing in the classes, welcome back! I trust you will find the new teaching year as stimulating and as challenging as the last. The club will continue to provide new playing opportunities for you to reinforce your bridge experience and I hope this is just the start of a successful and enjoyable time playing bridge in the Melville.
Members will have noticed that the hardware for going cashless has been installed in the club and we are on course for introducing swipe cards from October 5th. You will have received your letter inviting you to pay this year’s subscription [reduced this year to £45] and to add a supplement [suggested minimum £20] which will appear as credit on your swipe card. I have my fingers crossed that all will go smoothly when the new system is introduced. We will have people on hand to show you the ropes when the system starts, but, in principle, it is very simple. Simply touch the screen for the item you wish to purchase and swipe your card to obtain a receipt. We hope that buying your refreshment in advance of the mid-session break will avoid large queues at the interval. If you are paying for both table money and refreshments at the start of the evening simply print out two receipts – one to be handed to the TD at the start of play, the other handed in at the interval when you get your refreshments.
As I wrote last month, using the swipe card will give you an immediate financial benefit as the table money will be less than if you decide to pay by cash [£3.60 as opposed to £4.00]. There will be discounts on refreshments too.
These started this month. The annual Ladies v Gents was held as usual but this year there were two sections. The ladies triumphed in the “more experienced players” section but the men were ahead in the “no fears”. Honours even! Turnout in this event has been declining over the years so this has led to some discussion as to whether this event should continue. It could be replaced by a new event to mark the start of the Melville competitions if this was to prove more popular. Let me know if you have any strong views on this subject.
Several members have commented on the garden around the club and the Board have decided to set up a small sub-committee to look into this matter. Nothing has been decided yet but some changes are likely come next year. Again let me know if you have any views or, more importantly, can volunteer some expertise.
You will know from my last newsletter that I intend to make myself available for comment, suggestions and any other matters on a fairly regular basis. I am pleased to report that last month these sessions went very well from my point of view. Most comments were to wish me well in my new post which was very gratifying for me. Other matters were raised of course and I have taken these to the Board and also discussed them generally with some members in my “meet the users” sessions. The most frequent comment has been about prize money! There seems to be an opinion that prizes should be spread more widely. There also some who think that the members who play most should derive some benefit or reward. Both these matters will be addressed when we introduce the swipe card system in the near future. This important development will be explained fully in an additional newsletter which I will write as soon as we have some idea of a date for its implementation. For the moment it might be sufficient to know that there will be substantial benefits for both the club and the users of the club deriving from the introduction of swipe card technology and we will try to make the introduction as painless as possible.
Another matter raised by some lady members was about the Ladies toilets. “Not up to the standard of the rest of the club” and “basic” were two comments. This matter has been noted by the Board although refurbishing the toilet area might not be a simple matter so no immediate action is planned. If you have any brainwaves or suggestions about this do let me have them. At the very least, they can be put into the pot of “future developments”. I will continue with my “meet the users” sessions this month and a notice of my availability can be found on the notice board.
Before we know it the new season will be upon us. Traditionally, the season’s start is signalled by the Eastern District teams’ competition for the Watson Trophy. This year this will be held in the Melville on Sunday 6th September. Do consider putting a team in for this trophy; it would be nice if the winning team came from the Melville membership. On a club level, there will be several competitions running and details of these will be available in the Club calendar, due out shortly. One competition to which I want to draw your attention is the “Win a Dinner” competition which was held for the first time last year. There are three winners, each winning a £60 dinner-for-two voucher and I can assure you this is a prize well worth winning! The competition runs from September 21st, to November 20th. Counting the six best scores, the best placed member from the match pointed club nights, the aggregate club nights and the best placed less experienced member (unranked, novice or club master counting either aggregate or match pointed events), will each enjoy a fine dining experience. I am highlighting this event early because, based on the experience of last year, not many members qualified for the prize, especially in the aggregate and less experienced categories. Why was this? Many members did not qualify because the six best results with at least three different partners are required and many partnerships did not vary. So organise your bridge diary now so that you play with three or more different members! The competition rules can be found on the notice board.
Don’t forget too the new tournament I mentioned last time. For members who are of Club, Local, District or Master rank a tournament will run on Wednesday evenings starting in October. It will be run alongside, but separate from, any existing tournament for more experienced players.
As I mentioned above, we are progressing with the introduction of swipe cards and the Board have agreed on many of the details. We have identified a preferred supplier of the new system and when we know a likely start date following its installation, I will write a separate newsletter about it. We will also hold a members forum to explain the details and answer any questions you might have.
On Saturday last the club had a very successful BBQ “flanked” by two sessions of bridge. Fifty two people attended and I think it clear from the enthusiastic involvement of those present that it was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Already we plan to repeat it next year but will avoid clashing with the Festival and Fringe next time. The BBQ’s success would not have been possible without the hard work and organisation of Pat Walkinshaw, Rose Simpson, Elaine Greenslade, David Land, Peter Bowbrick and Rose’s friend Anne-Marie so thanks are clearly due to them. The success of the BBQ augers well for the next big social event…..
We have decided to hold the Christmas Party on Thursday December 17th. This date avoids a clash with the Carlton party which happened last year. We will use caterers who have provided us with good service and great food in the past. Keep the date free in your diary so that you can start the Festive season with a bang.
Things might not run quite so smoothly towards the end of this month and the beginning of September as Damien plans to be away. Plans have been drawn up to cover routine matters such as opening and closing up the premises and setting up tournaments. Please be understanding however if there is the occasional hiccup.
I am looking forward enormously to serving as the New Melville chairman this year. I hope the club will continue to prosper and develop as it did under Alan Goodman’s leadership; I have something to live up to!
I plan to continue the Board’s policy of listening carefully to the members and will call in to the club regularly to obtain your views and opinions. I want to be a listening chairman. I believe those that use the club should have a say in how the club is run and so I will start my term on office by making myself available for comment and discussion at regular intervals. I will try to be in the club early in the evening well before the start of bridge so if you want to talk to me on any matter you can do so. If I am playing that evening I will obviously be available afterwards too. I normally play most Mondays, some Wednesdays and nearly every Friday. I do intend to be around on Tuesdays and Thursdays too and I have placed a list of my attendance dates on the notice board, so you will know when I intend to be in. Of course, that does not preclude you contacting me in other ways if you have something you want to raise.
Those of you who were able to attend the AGM will know that the club has had a very successful year and both the membership and members’ use of the club continue to grow. At the July meeting of the Board several developments were discussed. One of these was raised at the AGM; in order to reduce the amount of money held in the club and to reduce the frequency of trips to the bank, the club is considering adopting a card system of payment similar to that already used by many golf clubs. The board have decided to progress with this idea. Members will be encouraged to pay for table money, refreshments and annual subscriptions using a club card which has been preloaded with the necessary funds. We are consulting several different companies who provide this service and when we have more details on how the system will operate, I will let you know these. The intention is to get the new system operational by September if possible.
The club calendar of events is being prepared and will be available shortly. There are several new initiatives which I hope will interest you. The Board has listened to complaints about the format and timing of the Purves clock and has decided to revert to the Wednesday slot. It has also decided to change the format to a Pivot teams event. Run over three weeks, players partner a different team member each week. This is a new format for the club and is something different; some of you will recognise it has a similar format to the Atholl Cup run by the Eastern District. We hope everyone can identify three members they enjoy playing with and make up a team.
The club are introducing, for the first time in my experience, a stratified tournament on Wednesday evenings. We are conscious that the club has many less experienced players who have joined the club only recently and we will provide a tournament specifically for those in this category. A tournament for members who are of Club, Local, District or Master rank will run on Wednesday evenings. This will start in October and will run alongside the normal club tournaments which, as usual, can be entered by any club member. By expanding the number of competitions the Board hope there will be greater participation in club tournaments which have seen a falloff in numbers recently. We wish to encourage new members to take a full part in club tournaments and to be adventurous in widening their bridge playing experience.
Details of this and other tournaments will be publicised separately both on the notice board and on the website.
You will now that Anne is off work at the moment and we are finding out just how much she does for the club. Anne is now out of hospital and has started on the road to recovery. We all wish her steady progress in regaining her health, drive and enthusiasm.
On several occasions recently the playing area has been left with a large number of plates and mugs on the tables. Please can you help the club by taking any cutlery and crockery back into the social area at the end of the evening? Even seemingly small things like this are a great help in keeping the place running smoothly and looking tidy.
The club would welcome help too with more bridge-related matters. We appealed recently for volunteers to help with tournament directing and were gratified with the response we received. At the moment Denise King and Bill Rae are shouldering much of the burden of dealing boards. If anyone has some spare time and would like to help with this it would be greatly appreciated. The procedure is not very complicated and can be learned quite quickly.
There has been a gratifying response to the appeal for first aiders. The delay in setting up the training session has had two major causes. Firstly it is another illustration of how much Anne has been doing for the club as she was overseeing and organising this matter and secondly we have been investigating purchasing a defibrillator and wanted to combine training for this with the first aid training session. The Board believe they have identified someone who will deliver the training and when the defibrillator is delivered we will contact the volunteers directly to work out the timing of a convenient training session.
It has been another very busy bridge playing season as we approach tonight's AGM.
Over the past twelve months membership of the club has continued to grow and now stands at 351 with a further 107 associate members who have been taking classes in our bridge academy. There has also been a growth in our bridge playing activities and we have exceeded the target of 65 tables of play per week, set last year, by on average 10%. This has been achieved partly by offering more playing opportunities for new players and partly because we have a lot of new members.
It's fantastic to see the club full on so many days of the week with opportunities for players of all levels of ability being able to enjoy a game with other members of a similar standard.
Although our premises were built to a very high standard, the Board has worked hard to improve the facilities at the club. In particular we have a new automatic door entry system which makes it easier for people who were otherwise struggling to open the rather heavy existing doors. The social area has also been improved with more modern seating which allows more members to have a seat during the mid-session intervals. The emergency access path at the rear and side of the building has been widened and extended to make it easier for anybody in a wheelchair to evacuate the building.
I'm delighted also that the Bridge Academy continues to be a huge success – many thanks to David Briggs, Jeff Bond and all the teachers for their considerable efforts.
The two Melville congresses at Christmas and Easter have both been very successful with record numbers of participants again this year. I have no doubt that both congresses will continue to thrive in the future. The biggest danger is that demand may soon exceed the amount of space we have available. I hope this doesn't mean we have to start looking for larger club premises!
Members continue to make significant contributions in regional and national competitions and on the International scene. Although the club boasts many of Scotland's finest players it is also extremely proud of the fact that our membership is made up of a cross section of players from beginners to expert. Long may that continue.
Although the year has been a great success, this would not have been possible without the enormous efforts of a number of members. Having a club manager and assistant has not only ensured the club runs very smoothly but has allowed us to introduce many more sessions of bridge for all levels of experience. Both Damien and Anne have made an enormous contribution far beyond the call of duty on many occasions. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude. Our thoughts are with Anne as she battles with her health issues- we hope she gets better very soon. I would also like to convey my thanks to all the many volunteers and to Board Members, especially Fiona Greenwood who is retiring from the Board this year and Scott McDonald who has taken over the demanding job of treasurer with great enthusiasm and diligence.
Finally I'd like to close on a personal note. I shall be stepping down from the Board after 3 years as chairman. All I can say is that I am delighted to have been able to play a part in the recent development of this great club. Thanks to so many people who have provided the support to make my job as chairman so easy and enjoyable.
The season has been a great success with record numbers of tables on a number of evenings. Thanks to all members for their support.
In response to members' comments we have agreed to change both the front and inside doors to make entry and exit more manageable. We have also instructed a local builder to improve and widen the exit from the emergency door at the back of the building to make it easier for everybody to evacuate the building in the event of an emergency. Work will be undertaken as soon as possible.
First Aid Training
A number of members have asked if there are any trained First Aiders available during any given bridge session and also if a defibrillator is available on the premises.
St Andrew’s First Aid would hold a session for interested members that would cover the following:
The Board would be willing to pay for this course to be run at our premises, but it only becomes cost and practically effective if we have 12 – 15 people willing to undertake it – the more trained people we have, the more likely that at least one would be present on any given occasion. When we have enough people with basic first aid training, the club will also purchase a defibrillator such as they have at the Carlton and many golf clubs.
Anyone willing to undergo this First Aid course should let Anne or Damien know by the end of March please.
Views are very mixed about whether we should pay no prize money at all, pay only to winners or spread winnings out to a wider number. Bearing in mind that the wider the distribution of prize money the more administration is required,
I would ask members that have strong views on the matter to let Anne or Damien know their opinion. We would only propose to make changes if there is a strong weight of opinion in favour of change.
Future Board Members
There will be at least one vacancy for a new Board member at the AGM in June. If you may be interested please let me know so we can have an informal chat.
Clocks for timing tournaments
We propose to introduce visible timers so that players can see how much time is left during rounds of a tournament. The purpose of this is to ensure rounds are time managed more effectively.
Following the success of earlier sessions, more “Play +” sessions are planned.
The Ronaldson Bowl and Pinkhill teams tournaments start soon. Whatever your standard or experience please enter a team and enjoy these friendly tournaments.
Please look at the notice board for further details.
Well done to Iain Sime and his team for winning the Manson Cup and to Mike Ash and Laura Middleton for winning the club mixed pairs.
Well done also to the numerous Club members who have won national and regional events over the last few weeks (details of which are published on our website).
Previous chairman's newsletters below are in PDF format. Click on a link below to read one.