Minutes of Nottingham Contract Bridge Association Committee Meeting
Held on 6th June2018
(Action Points are in bold italics)
- Apologies for absence.
These had been received from Paul Sweet, Hilary Kirkland and Mark Goddard.
- Approval of the minutes of last meeting.
The minutes of the last meeting were agreed.
- Matters arising.
There was an update from Keith who explained that the travel expenses for the county team away matches had now been put on the website.
- Welcome to the new committee.
- NCBA objectives/strategy
- Individual expectations
- Team work
Toni welcomed the new committee and explained that, when she joined the county committee three years ago, the then Chair said ‘we are here to manage decline’, and whilst the latest EBU stats said Nottinghamshire was the worst Midlands county for Bridge players per head, and people agreed Bridge was declining nationally and in the county, there was still pockets of inspiration and growth that we should support and promote.
The two key goals, namely promoting Bridge in Nottinghamshire and organising county events/leagues, were underpinned by the AGM ratified five objectives: training and development, promotion/advertising, county events and competitions, internal organisation and engagement/communication.
The NCBA committee needs to work together as a team- we will all have different objectives and interests, but it is a collective supportive inclusive result we need. Everyone needs to be active and take on a role.
Each member then listed their personal wishes/ideas to see NCBA flourish in supporting these goals and objectives:
1. Improved county team processes and performance
2. Increased event participation, especially at county Sunday events and the Green Point weekend, which was one of the main income generators for the county
3. Improved planning/budgeting
4. Increasing the number of people playing bridge, both beginners and returners
5. Work with Schools
6. Bringing unaffiliated Clubs into the fold
7. Improved attitudes
8. Afternoon activities to reflect the fact that the average age of EBU members was 70)
9. Better engagement/communication with clubs including the county ‘image’
10. Club representative’s role working better- our message isn’t getting across
11. Supporting the transition from beginner to club member
12. Better promotion and publicity
Discussions around these points identified the key issues and possible action points:
1. Bridge may have declined because of the loss of night schools, a numbers game, P2P , growth of unaffiliated clubs, different economics in the Midlands, existing areas with teachers who monopolise the market and don’t translate their pupils to surrounding clubs or are ageing and declining, but don’t support new teachers moving in. We need to analyse the EBU statistics. There are many myths. Whilst the clubs’ conference identified the age range 55+ as the most effective age to target for newcomers, we should look long term too at the younger age bracket.
2. There is good growth in Phoenix (possibly biggest active membership now??) and Woodborough, partly due to training and focus on beginners and nice attitudes with little elitism. Snotty 1 and Snotty 2 are working well but still only 25 + 10 attendees- the open day attracted 80+. Not all will continue through to become good club players. There are areas in Nottingham with no teaching support, such as Bingham. Fast track courses need to be evaluated. We could have a County wide ‘Open Week’ in the summer ready to promote new classes, etc. from Sept/Oct- prior to this all NCBA committee members are to visit club committees/clubs and promote events etc. with a flier (see below). Local publications like NG magazines that are published locally could be a good source of publicity. Snotty had also made use of Facebook advertising. All members of the committee are to identify local publications that we could use and forward them to Clare. All members of the committee are to indicate if they wish to teach. If we promote bridge then we must have something to offer people.
3. What do unaffiliated clubs get from EBU? Bev Purvis’s talk last year didn’t seem to achieve much. Apparently it costs an affiliated club £30 per year and 42p per person on a drive. You have to play 18+ boards. You get EBUScorer though that is not user friendly, a magazine and access to competitions etc. We could charge members of unaffiliated clubs more to enter our events, but still let them in to increase numbers, income and hope for clubs to sign up further down the line, but maybe then there would be no need to join! There is little incentive for them to join. Some of the people attending lessons are creamed off to unaffiliated clubs despite the affiliated clubs making the effort to teach bridge.
4. Calverton secondary school has already agreed to permit some bridge training. Nottingham High School may need to be approached as the key teacher has now retired; Paul Morris was suggested. Toni has a contact in Stamford willing to meet her and give advice, as they have a good schools network. There are issues around police checks. Both Toni and Clare were qualified school teachers. A youth committee should be formed to draft a plan and cost out what could be done. All members of the committee are to indicate whether they wish to be involved in this sub-committee.
5. Organisations such as local U3A groups and WIs could be sent a generic letter from NCBA asking if they wished to host a talk on bridge. John Edwards may have an insight. Promoting more teaching is good but who will do it and carry on the classes/drives to support the newcomers once they have finished the beginners course. Toni is to design a generic letter to be sent to these organisations. All members of the committee to consider if they would be willing to deliver talks to such organisations or know of someone who would be willing to do this provide a common PowerPoint/script was produced.
6. Keyworth and other clubs in the area, such as Derby Bridge Club show that afternoon bridge is growing in popularity, especially in the winter, as the older population may not like driving at night. Also, social bridge events like Café Bridge are on the increase. It was hoped to start a joint venture with Nottingham Bridge Club to run an event during the day, starting mid-morning and running to mid-afternoon with a lunch included. The daytime drives may encourage people, and the times would be when there is little traffic and older people can use free public transport. A possible joint NBC/NCBA event on 12 July may be too soon to organise but Chicago was considered to be good. Clare and Toni to liaise with Nottingham Bridge Club. The lady who does the catering for the county events had said she would be available to provide a buffet lunch for these events.
7. Hilary had sent by email a suggestion about running the Jack High competitions and handicaps but the committee on the whole were not enthusiastic about this, as it was felt that NGS, the main tool used in these type of competitions, was inaccurate and can be divisive. Bridge is a competitive game and people are expected to earn their spurs for a win. But there is a need to build more interest via personal attendance at clubs (playing) and committees (to discuss more clearly our needs and support we can offer).
- Price of county events may be too high to attract some players, despite bridge in Nottingham being a cheap pastime and P2P relatively small, people still stand on principle about it. Suggestion that we reduce prizes to reduce entry and simply cover costs- it’s a gamble. Possibility of using free entry to some of these events as club prizes to encourage new people to try them out. Social events during the day may be supported especially if they are Charity events. Graham will cost county events out so as not to include prize money.
- Committee roles.
- Vacant positions (County Captain and President)
Do we need an EGM to change the constitution regarding these roles?
The role of county captain was discussed. Toni felt that someone could be persuade to captain the team if the administrative part of the role was split away and done by another member of the committee. Shirley Ashtari agreed to take over the admin responsibilities for the county team. Clare and Toni had discussed the position of President and Clare had made an approach to a suitable candidate based on a suggestion from Mark Goddard but had heard nothing. Clare will ask again and then try the other candidate that had been suggested. All members of the committee should have an active role and contribute to the committee.
All members of the committee are to consider the list of possible roles below to add to them and to comment on their areas of interest.
- County director
- Teams of 8 secretary
- Teams of 4 secretary
- Webmaster and IT
- Promotions and publications
- Youth officer
- Un-affiliated club liaison
- Teaching and development
- Events manager
- County teams’ captain
- Deputy chair
- County teams organiser
Job descriptions for each role undertaken by a committee member should be drawn up and the role made transparent by putting the descriptions on the web.
- The club representative system does not seem to be working; do we need to invite the reps to committee meetings?
The committee had decided that the club reps system was not working. It was suggested that we look again at ensuring that all the affiliated clubs had a rep on the committee. The lack of anyone from the Phoenix bridge club was mentioned as it was a thriving club with one of the largest memberships in the county. Toni to ask Phoenix, if they could send a representative to the committee meetings. Toni said we should produce a calendar of events. She showed us one she had picked up from another county. Clare agreed to design one using Word that could be printed out. This was to be available for the next meeting so we could then decide how it was to be printed. The committee would then try the personal touch and make an effort to distribute these to the clubs. All members of the committee would be expected to visit a club and play in the club. Individuals to make a choice of which clubs they felt they could visit. Clare also agreed to make a note that, although we would not have a clubs conference this year, we would book one for September 2019. Toni to draft a letter to clubs to invite clubs to the next committee meeting, to dispel myths, provide two-way communication, to try and get more effective clubs reps and promote our new calendar.
- Feedback from meeting with David Treherne (Chair of NBC)
- Wednesday and Monday nights.
- Future events
- Trophies and boards
The Monday night session at Nottingham bridge club is failing and various options had been considered to try and revive the attendance. Keith Rodgers, who plays on a Monday, had offered to operate a system whereby people emailed him if they intended to play. Whats App was considered an easier method for emailing re the low attendance nights, rather than using Keith Rodgers, as he was often out of the country. Jane Hall is to advise Clare on how this system could work. It was decided that Nottingham Bridge Club should lead on this with our help. Clare and Toni would be meeting Dave and Mel again on 21stJune, once The Nottingham Bridge Club had held their next committee meeting. Other events were suggested such as a Swiss team’s event that could be run on a Monday in a similar format to the successful one run at Derby. Paul Sweet, in his email, had also suggested that we look at running a Swiss team’s event. Nottingham Bridge Club would like to run the City Cup competition, presently held on a Monday, on a Wednesday, as they feel the attendance would be higher given that so many clubs play on a Monday. This would run on the first Wednesday (providing the bridge club committee approved) and then we would run an event on the second Wednesday. The third Wednesday would then be used for training events. Clare had secured four people to run a masterclass and hopefully the majority of these could be run on the third Wednesday. Other training such as using the EBU hand bank on certain topics could be arranged. It was also suggested that we run a joint venture during the day ( see notes on discussion above). Ian raised the problem of being charged for the use of the bridge club, but Toni said that any joint venture in which the profits were shared should not be charged by the club. The bridge club did not charge us for training events.
It was agreed that we should promote NCBA with a County trophy board and honours list in Nottingham bridge club. All members of the committee to consider what they wish to have included on the honours board. Ian and Clare are to liaise over the purchase of these items and the valuation of the trophies.
- Competitions Schedule
- Calendar of events
- Take up
- Nottingham Green Point events in July
Graham circulated a list of possible dates for next year’s events. It was decided that we should hold the main events on the following dates.
- Priday Cup 30th September
- Mixed Pairs 4th November
- Knockout Teams 27th January
- Journal cup 17th March
Graham to book dates with the bridge club and Keith to advertise on the web. Graham was now organising the green point event and contacting previous players about this year’s event. Anybody playing this year will be asked if they object to being contacted in the future to comply with data protection. It was worrying that Leicester had cancelled their green pointed pairs earlier in the year due to lack of interest. Clare and Graham hoped to play in the Leicester event to support them and also advertise the Nottinghamshire event in July.
- EBU grant for part timer
Toni had received a letter from the EBU regarding funding available to counties to employ a part timer to support membership. Toni to distribute this to all committee members and they are to feed back their comments to her. Clare had details of the statistics on numbers of bridge players in Nottinghamshire which showed that we had a low number of participants. She will email this to all committee members.
- EBU rules regarding associate members.
The EBU had now requested that all associate members had to be registered with them. However it was difficult, if these people did not take part in county events, to identify who they were. Clubs are best placed to do this as all members of an affiliated club are either a full county member or, if they hold allegiance to another county, an associate member. Apart from three members who had been registered, Clare did not know who the others were. They were likely to be people who lived on the borders with another county or who had moved to Nottingham but not changed their allegiance. This problem emphasized the need to engage with clubs because any such request at the moment is likely to provide us with the information needed to sort this out. Keith raised the issue of whether you had to be a county/associate member to play in county events. Clare is to clarify whether this is the case.
- EBU Welcome pack for bridge students
Clare distributed the welcome packs she had received from the EBU. These could be requested for all new students of bridge.
- Follow up from request at AGM regarding the use of budgets
It was decided that, once we knew which initiatives we wanted to follow up on from the earlier discussions, then these would be budgeted for.
- Signatures for accounts
Irene Auld may still be a signatory on the county accounts. Ian is to find out who are the signatories and report back the names to the committee.
- Changes in Team of 8 Rules.
Jane had suggested the following changes to the teams of 8 rules.
- It was emphasized that teams must let the secretary know if they were withdrawing or entering a new team in the league. Also that any unresolved dispute must be referred to the secretary
- Eligibility and the meaning of the word “bone fide” club member was clarified to comply with the Garden Cities rules
- Starred or nominated players must now play in at least half of the available matches for the team for which they are nominated.
- Any use of an unauthorised player will incur a penalty of 5 VP per player, per match.
- It was clarified in the rules that it was the responsibility of the home team to contact opponents to arrange fixtures. The home team should not ask for the away team to contribute to the cost of the match.
- It was decided not to change the way the matches between teams from the same club were played. They would still take place at the start of the first and second halves of the season.
- As the date of the Garden Cities could change, the first division would be advised by the league secretary of the date that they needed to have played all their matches by.
- The rule regarding the cancellation of matches would be significantly changed in response to difficulties experienced over the years. In future matches could only be cancelled by mutual consent. Teams would be advised to make (Draft)some arrangements for last minute non-availability of players. In the event of poor weather conditions a match could be cancelled.
- If there was a tie at the end of a season for promotion or relegation then the decision would be based on the team with the most victory points in their head to head matches. In the event this method still produced a draw it would be decided by a draw of a card by the NCBA committee
- Any form of paper or electronic scoring was acceptable so long as it was agreed by both teams. Any electronic system must not show the results of previously played hands.
- All players in every division were recommended to have convention cards otherwise they may be disadvantaged in the event of a dispute or ruling
Clare was to contact David Burgess to make sure he was willing to continue as a named referee in disputes. Jane to survey clubs before the end of next season on how changes were progressing. Once we had another qualified county director they could be added to the list of referees.
The possibility of putting NCBA members forward for a “Dimmie Fleming” award was discussed. Graham and Ian to produce a statement of the achievements of suitable candidates and show them to the committee for discussion.
The date of the next meeting was fixed for 8th August.