Club Focus: Winter 2010

Adur Valley Bridge Club

by Bob and Kathy Whiting

Adur Valley Bridge Club was established with universal membership in mind, just over a year before the introduction of Pay-2-Play. It now comprises four duplicate sessions, two school Minibridge clubs and a teaching session, all meeting at different locations across the (you guessed it) Adur Valley, in deepest rural West Sussex. From Partridge Green in the north to Shoreham Beach at the mouth of the River Adur in the south and from Storrington at the western reaches to Keymer in the east, we offer duplicate bridge morning, noon and night throughout the week. Well, so our website header at reads! And we do have a session on Monday mornings (a bright 9.30 start), then Tuesday afternoons and evenings and finally, one on Friday afternoons.

A host system is operated at all four sessions, which has enabled us to increase our membership steadily for the three pre-existing venues. But it's our new session at Shoreham where the host facility has proved invaluable. A new bridge club invariably means new partnerships and many have been forged over the first eighteen months thanks to the host facility. We have non-playing directors at all our sessions, who also act as the host and are at the venues in good time to set up and be ready to welcome players as they arrive. After pairing up those without partners, the director will play with anyone who remains — or read the latest issue of English Bridge if not!

Emphasis is placed on enjoyment of the game in a competitive, Best Behaviour environment and quality biscuits to go with the tea and coffee during the break. Because we play in heavily used, hired accommodation, we have to be tight on our timings but that does have the advantage that players are kept up to speed and we generally complete 24-27 boards depending on the number of tables in play.

Communication between the club and its 260+ members is via the website and email wherever possible supplemented by a twice yearly newsletter in February and August. We use the mailings to seek feedback on what we do and might do in terms of competitions and member services. And bridge players are not renowned for keeping their opinions to themselves, so they provide useful and (so far) positive feedback.

We welcome visitors of all experience levels to Adur Valley and offer discounted membership (the bulk of which covers the cost of P2P) for those who join for more than one venue. Membership includes annual competitions at all venues, access to the two single session closed events of the Charity Spring Pairs and Autumn Teams and, this year at least, a voucher for a complimentary bottle of excellent house wine at a local seafood restaurant.

As we all know, clubs will only continue if there is a steady stream of new members and players. We have close links with beginners classes held at the same venue, which feed the Partridge Green lessons. Our intermediate level classes and assisted play sessions run throughout the year, the classes being topic based and re-run at the end of each five-term sequence. Students, who are automatically given student membership for the duplicate venues, sign up termly for the lessons, but are able to turn up on spec. for the assisted play, which runs between the lesson blocks.

Catch 'em young! We have two Minibridge clubs in local primary schools, run as paid for after school clubs of an hour. Take up has been relatively small, but this means that the pupils get plenty of direct tuition with cards and the Blue Chip Bridge software on the schools' whiteboards and computers (the most popular aspect of which seems to be choosing the background screen colour and card patterns!). Pupils are given their own brand new pack of cards on joining and a rosette (with different suit centres starting with clubs and culminating in the gold NT) on completing a term's series of meetings. They wear the rosettes proudly in school, encouraging others to join them.

Adur Valley in the future? Definitely. Yes, it's hard work, but the happy smiling faces make it all worthwhile — and that's just at the duplicate sessions!

Bob and Kathy Whiting