April 2015

Bridge as a sport – the Judicial Review

Bridge has again been in the headlines recently, with reports in the national media on the case involving the EBU, Sport England, and whether ‘bridge is a sport’.

In the most recent hearing Mr Justice Mostyn ruled that a judicial review could be undertaken against Sport England’s refusal to recognise bridge as a sport. This is a first step in the legal process to have Sport England recognise bridge as a sport, so whilst it is not a definitive decision in itself it is an important and positive step towards a favourable ruling and a reversal of Sport England’s position.

Sport England is the organisation which determines which activities are recognised as sports in England, and it chooses to use a 1992 definition provided by the European Sports Charter. This definition refers to “sport and physical recreation”, which Sport England has chosen to interpret as excluding all Mind Sports. The last time Parliament assessed the issue of ‘what is a sport’ was when considering the Charities Act in 2011, and on that occasion it specifically included Mind Sports. The Charity Commission now recognises as ‘sports’, activities which promote health involving physical or mental skill or exertion, and as such includes bridge as a sport. As you will know, English Bridge Education and Development, and some county bridge associations and clubs are now recognised as charities due to the public benefit offered by playing bridge. The EBU therefore believes that the position of Sport England in respect to bridge is contrary to the most recent legislation. It is also at odds with the position of the International Olympic Committee, the European Union, and the governments of other European countries (including Ireland, the Netherlands and Poland), who all recognise bridge as a sport.

A reversal of Sport England’s position would give the opportunity for the EBU, and counties and clubs, to receive funding (whether from national or local sources), which can be used, for example, for the development of playing facilities, or for teaching initiatives, whether for children or adult players. It would also enable bridge to receive greater opportunities to be included in the pursuits available to certain groups. These factors would enable, for example, greater exposure to school children, or to those older people who may be affected by social isolation or cognitive decline. It would also be an important step in the EBU’s case with HMRC regarding VAT.

The EBU hopes that a favourable outcome will be to the benefit of its members, but also to all current, and potential, bridge players in the country, and to society as a whole. We hope that irrespective of personal opinion of what constitutes a ‘sport’, all members will appreciate the inconsistencies in Sport England’s position, and that the benefits of playing bridge deserve the greater exposure that a change in their stance could generate.

Given that bridge is currently in the public’s thoughts we would encourage you to contact your local media, or your local MP (perhaps after May 7th), and extol the virtues of bridge. You need not address the issue of whether it is, or isn’t, a sport – that is something which will ultimately hinge on a legal ruling – but please explain why it is such a worthwhile pursuit and should get the greater prominence and funding which the status of ‘sport’ would allow it to receive. Any positive response which your contribution receives may aid the EBU’s case, but more significantly can help increase interest in bridge in your local area.

Links to press coverage and media interviews are available by reading more...

Godfrey & Thrower win National Pairs

Phil Godfrey and James Thrower (both Yorkshire) - pictured left - have won the National Pairs competition.

After coming through the club heats, and regional final, fifty pairs played in the national final in West Bromwich on 18th and 19th April. Phil and James ended the seven session final on 61.51%, over two per cent clear of the field. Krzysztof Ginda & Mark Hooper (both Dorset) were second, with Waseem Naqvi & Tony Waterlow (both Middlesex) third.

The National Pairs is an event in the Championship Series, counting towards the Player of the Year Championship. The victory takes Phil and James into a tie for tenth place. The competition is led by David Gold.

Please note that in 2016 there will not be a 'club heat' stage, and all participants will be able to take part in the regional qualifying round. Information on the 2016 competition will be available later this year.

Sandy Constable: 1919 - 2015

Oxford Bridge Club has announced the sad passing of Sandy Constable.

Sandy was a recipient of the EBU's Dimmie Fleming Award in 1997 for his services to bridge in Oxfordshire, and was President of the Oxford Club for over two decades.

EBU team wins the Corn Cairdis

The Corn Cairdis - Cup of Friendship - match, between teams representing elements of the English Bridge Union and the Contract Bridge Association of Ireland, has been won by the EBU.

The match took place 18th - 19th April at Stamford Bridge Club, and included teams representing the counties, the clubs, and the officials. The EBU team scored a combined 253 VPs to the CBAI's 226.

EBU Chairman Jeremy Dhondy is pictured receiving the trophy.

Wales win Lady Milne; England 2nd, EBU 4th.

Wales have won the Lady Milne Trophy - the match between the women's teams of the home nations - by a small margin, with England second and Scotland third. The event took place from 17th to 19th April in Birmingham.

Although Wales only won two of their five matches they picked up enough VPs to claim the trophy. Wales finished on 56.92, with England scoring 54.71 and Scotland 53.72.

As hosts England were permitted to enter two teams, and the EBU team finished fourth. Like both England and Scotland - and indeed Northern Ireland who finished fifth - the EBU team won three of their five matches. It was the margins of victory (or defeat) which decided the final placings.

The teams were:

England (picture): Sally Brock & Anita Sinclair; Gillian Fawcett & Jane Moore; Catherine Jagger & Sarah Teshome; NPC - David Burn

EBU (picture): Marietta Andree & Janet Cahm; Hannah Cornfield & Kath Stynes; Sarah O'Connor & Anne Rosen; NPC - Simon Cochemé

The full results, and a post-match blog from NPC Simon Cochemé, are available below.

Anstis/Butcher and Lyne/Newport highest scorers in Education Sim Pairs

Arthur Anstis and Cameron Butcher were the highest scorers in the bridge section of recently completed Education Simultaneous Pairs. They scored 72.58% playing at the heat run by the Chiltern Bridge League in conjunction with Oxfordshire Bridge Association.

Hayley Lyne and Holly Newport were the highest scorers in the minibridge section with 65.53%. Hayley and Holly were one of twelve pairs who played at New Scotland Hill primary school in Berkshire. The second highest scorers, with 63.14%, were Euan Coveney and Robert Rainsden, who played at Goring Primary School, near Reading.

The results are still provisional at this stage - if there are any outstanding results, or any queries, please contact ian@ebu.co.uk

The event was organised by English Bridge Education and Development, the national charity for the promotion and development of bridge. To support its work, or to see the other activities it organises, please visit its website.

Cambridge B wins Portland Bowl

The Portland Bowl, the knockout event for university teams, has been won by Cambridge B.

The team of Kyle Lam (Captain), Michael Alishaw, Freddie Illingworth and Toby Nonnenmacher (Stefan David and Helen Holmes played earlier in the competition), beat Cambridge A in the semi-final and Manchester A in the final to retain the trophy for the university.

Manchester A, who were represented by Kirstyn Fuller (Captain), Mitchell Dytham, Kelvin Lau and Max Sampson (and Alex Combe earlier in the event), beat Oxford A in the semi-final.

The finals weekend was hosted by the Portland Club, in London, on 11th and 12th April.

Byrne & Bell win Yeh Bros pairs

Michael Byrne and Mike Bell (pictured left) have won the pairs competition at the prestigious Yeh Bros event in Shanghai last week.

After coming through two qualifying rounds they dominated the final, finishing 136 IMPs clear of the other nine pairs after 27 boards. Paul Hackett, playing with Irishman Tom Hanlon, was second. In the consolation final Barry Myers and Sally Brock were third.

In the teams event the England team lost in the first knockout round, and an invitational team containing English players bowed out after the qualifying round. The field featured teams from the world's strongest bridge nations, invited as a result of good performances in World and European competitions, and was won by the China Open team.