Farewell to Barry Capal

Barry Capal retired on Friday after eleven years as General Manager of the EBU. He was the longest serving GM since the title was created, and only Dimmie Fleming served longer in the former position of Executive Secretary.

Gordon Rainsford, who will be the new General Manager said “I’d like to wish Barry all the best in his retirement and thank him for his time at the EBU. I’m very excited about my new role and delighted to have such a pleasant and professional staff to help me in it!”

Barry has written a final blog with his farewell thoughts, and some highlights of his time at the EBU.


I am about to retire from my position as General Manager after just over eleven years. I would never have dreamed that I would still be here all this time when I started but time just runs away as you get older, as I am sure many of you will agree.

I came to the EBU at an important time in the development of the organisation. Most of the first three and a half years were taken up with increasing efficiency and saving money, alongside working with a group that had been set up by the EBU Board, the Membership Development Action Group whose remit was to find a way of changing the momentum of the EBU to one of growth rather than stagnation. After about two years we published our findings which was to develop Universal Membership, colloquially known as “Pay to Play”. The late Dr John Carter came up with that one!

Once the plan was published we entered what I am sure was the most stressful time in the life of our organisation. While many liked the plans, there was a small, activist group who fought us all the way. I certainly had never experienced anything quite as stressful during 21 years of starting and developing my own business. Ultimately, as you all know, the changes were agreed by our shareholders and in April 2010 it all started, and massive changes took place with minimal hassles. During this period we developed some information technology ideas that have served us so well. Those ideas are today being taken up by other bridge federations to our great pleasure.

In the period immediately after this process going live we started another group considering how to implement a national grading system. This was to eventually become our NGS, which has become a very popular facility. The web pages which detail NGS changes are among our busiest. This entire system was enabled by the architecture we implemented for Universal Membership.
The last major change that I have overseen is our new membership management system, Workbooks. It has taken a long time to get it live, without taking any risks with our day to day business. Even today as I write there is some similarity to the serenity of a swan on the river, without knowing what is going on underneath!

Throughout my time here I have worked incredibly closely with many EBU Board members and three different chairmen. Many of you may not realise just how much time is put in by Board members especially the Board’s officers. Sally Bugden and Jeremy Dhondy were and are effectively executive Chairmen, but totally unpaid for enormous effort.

Of course none of what we have done and will do could be achieved without huge efforts by the staff in Aylesbury. Not only do they have to deal with the calendar driven work but they have also to cope with many daily interactions with our members as well as helping to interpret and deliver policy decisions of the Board.

I leave the EBU in good hands and I am sure you will give Gordon the same level support I have been fortunate to have for all (well most) of my time here. I will miss working, but there comes a time when reality kicks in and for me this is the time to retire.

I am sure I will play more bridge in retirement and hopefully improve. My wife and predominant bridge partner requires that to happen!

Please support your membership organisation, with any perceived warts and all. It is the only way there is a future for the game of bridge in England – I am sure you all want that!