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