Club Management Focus: Summer 2013

40th Anniversary Celebrations

Both Newent BC in Gloucestershire and Winchester BC in Hampshire have recently celebrated their 40th anniversary of opening as bridge clubs.

Newent Bridge Club

Newent BC is a thriving club and a superb turnout of 18 tables was present to celebrate their anniversary on 12th June, including 3 of their founder members, one of whom, Pam Jenkins, is aged 90. Newent Bridge Club run a program of Bridge lessons which start in September, run through to about Easter and cater for all standards of players from the complete beginner to experienced players who are out of practice. The club also provides instruction and guidance to rubber bridge players who wish to play duplicate bridge within a typical club environment.

Once players feel ready they join the social bridge session which runs on Friday evenings. Partners are always available for these sessions. Players can, of course, play in the more competitive Wednesday session if they feel ready to mix it with the more experienced players.

This formula has proved very successful in integrating new players into the club with the result that membership numbers have grown significantly in recent years.

Winchester Bridge Club

This July the club celebrated its 40th anniversary with an event attended by 33 members and seven distinguished guests, which included a founding member, Mr D.L.Parry. The first session was held at a church hall. Soon, the club expanded rapidly and moved to a pub, where duplicate, rubber and teaching took place on three evenings a week. Since then the club has moved twice, firstly to the Conservative Club, where it remained for several years, then to its current premises at Winchester Racquets & Fitness.

The club now has the use of a card room for four evenings each week. Monday is teaching and cut-in, Tuesdays the main duplicate, Wednesdays partnership rubber and Thursdays duplicate with some teams nights. Membership numbers have fluctuated and were as low as 52 three years ago. After a concerted membership drive, including an Open day and informal Sunday afternoon Bridge during winter, numbers are now healthy at around 80.

It is notoriously difficult to help students to make the transition to becoming regular members. Our pathway for improvers starts with Sunday afternoon Bridge, which is relaxed and non-competitive, so less experienced players can learn and play in a controlled environment. Then they can move on to rubber or Thursday evening duplicate (less competitive than Tuesdays). The committee recognise the need for players to be friendly to newcomers and tolerant towards beginners. The principles and directives of Best Behaviour at Bridge are enforced. The result is an atmosphere where the game is enjoyed by all.