President's Reports

It is some time since my last message.

Many of you have been in touch in the interim period seeking advice and/or updates on many of the items I referenced as “works in progress” or “under development”.

The most important consideration which really underpins everything else is which rules, advice and guidance should be adhered to and/or followed by the SBU, Districts and Clubs when considering if and when it is safe to return to face to face (F2F) bridge in Scotland.

It is relatively easy to provide good advice as to how best to ensure safety, once it is clear that any bridge provider is, all things being equal, free to consider restarting F2F bridge.

There are excellent bridge club tailored risk assessment templates available. There are many sites offering various environmental economical safety enhancers- Table top dividers; table extenders; screens; table top card dealers; sanitisers etc.

However, it seemed to me to be irresponsible and unsafe for the SBU to give out any information that might suggest we were endorsing a return to F2Fbridge under any circumstance if it were not absolutely certain that such information was sound.

The reference text in Scotland, as reported in our original message foretelling the advice for all F2F bridge to cease in March 2020, was and remains that found here-

However, Section 3, “Information and Guidance for Specific settings” does not specifically or even generally cover bridge Clubs. E mail exchanges with Health Protection Scotland seeking clarification, resulted in the advice that Bridge Clubs should adhere to the Household gathering rules pertinent at the time irrespective of the setting. The latest published Document, as of September 14th., stated

When meeting people outside your household for a social gathering, you may meet people socially from no more than 1 other household at a time indoors or outdoors. You should stay at least 2 metres apart from people from other households at all times.

No more than 6 people in total (from a maximum of 2 households) may meet at any time in such settings,

I am sure I don’t need to remind you that today this advice became tighter. Now you cannot mix with any other household member indoors.

Having been advised by Health Protection Scotland that such rulings were unlikely to be relaxed for the foreseeable future, the SBU Council, on the 20th September 2020, agreed that Clubs and Districts should be advised that F2F bridge in Scotland will not be possible until such time as significant changes or clarifications to the rules are announced.

If and when we can announce that, with all Public Health measures being in place F2F bridge can resume, we shall provide as much help as we can to help play resume safely.

We have clarified, for example, the terms of our cover with the SBU Insurers. Once it is considered safe to return to F2F bridge in Scotland, as long as we and Clubs which rent premises can evidence that we have done everything we can to follow relevant guidelines to mitigate the risk of players and/or staff contracting coronavirus in the play environment the SBU Public Liability Cover would protect us. Scott Macdonald, SBU Treasurer, will be happy to advise eligible Clubs further on the terms of cover. Clubs who own their own premises should seek advice from their own Insurers.

The SBU is now planning an online Bridge Calendar for the 2020/21 season. If in the meantime F2F can resume we shall regroup. The Tournament Committee, together with the Master Point Committee, and the Finance Committee are tasked with drafting up asap an on-line calendar to include National events, hoping to be able to provide a reasonable mix of events for all, whilst doing their best to not stifle Club and District initiatives.

Our newly renegotiated Contract with BBO with the removal of the Exclusivity clause, now allows us to consider other on-line bridge providers. This will help all of us broaden the type of on-line bridge experience we can offer.

In line with Scottish Government advice as described, the SBU December Congress at Bellshill has been cancelled by the hotel. It is hoped to run, on the same WE, a National on-line Congress, convened by Bill Whyte. I have asked for a virtual president’s drinks party to be included! [Bring your own.]

Meanwhile, an advert is being prepared for a replacement Congress Convenor to help ensure continuity with our work with GEBOS [formerly BOS].

The Tournament Committee has reported that over 30 BBO TDs were trained through the first training programme. Many of those trained have, in turn, volunteered to train others to help Clubs start their own online presence. These new trainees are “finished” off by Anne Brodie Allen to help ensure our trained BBO TDs meet the spec. laid down by BBO.

There are now many games available in the various SBU, SBU_X, and SBU_X_XX virtual clubs. A considerable amount of work is undertaken by the TDs themselves, by Eddie McGeough, Alison Carmichael, Gordon Milne, and Alan Officer to ensure that results are uploaded in usable and recognisable forms, and that, where applicable, MPs are allocated. The SBU has agreed to trial embedding a Bridgewebs site on their own Website to help further the translation and scrutiny of results.

Thank you for so patiently waiting for your BBO earnings. As you know, the first payments have now been made.

The Membership Secretary reports a so far near normal return in Subscriptions. We are indebted to our members for their loyalty and especially to those working so hard to keep clubs “going”. Although some clubs are hibernating, some are temporarily merging, and one or two new applications are the pipeline from clubs seeking to affiliate.

As referenced earlier, the SBU aims to do everything they can to help Clubs keep afloat.

The new SBU branded teaching courses have been launched and there are a considerable number of on- line teaching initiatives happening across Scotland. As stated in the previous Home page post from our Education arm, the SBU supports all teaching initiatives across Scotland. New consortiums of teachers already report extremely rewarding and valuable resource sharing.

Although the Council has not agreed to publish Council minutes, they have asked me to regularly update you on significant decisions.

Please, in the meantime, do continue to contact your District Chairs or, where appropriate the SBU Secretary, Convenors or myself, with your comments and concerns.

With Best wishes, Joan                                                                                                         22/09/20

Dear Members,

I was so pleased to see so many of you in attendance via Zoom at the virtual 86th AGM of the SBU on Tuesday 30th June.

I hope that you all have been managing to play bridge in some way or other over the last few months?

As you know, the SBU have now entered into a contract with BBO to run “proper” tournaments on the site and are enabling many Clubs and Districts, in turn, to run their own.

Being a BBO TD Director requires special skills and many have been trained already to a National level and those trained, in turn, have been training others to run club and district tournaments in these virtual clubs.

Clubs and Districts should soon start to receive income from their own matches. Hopefully this will help them survive financially and help club members once again play routinely against “well kent” names, if not faces.

Long before the SBU entered into the fray as an on line games provider, Harry Smith backed by Paul Gipson started his very popular Lockdown events.

The amount of work involved and the dedication applied to best ensure each time that the numbers were optimal and that a good but informed time was had by all was, and continues to be, well beyond the call of duty. Well done Harry and team. Harry was the well-deserved recipient of the 2020 President’s prize at the AGM.

Meanwhile Howard Greenwell agreed to run, on our behalf, Bronze teams, whilst the newly set up On Line Committee [an off shoot of the Tournament Committee of the SBU], set out their stall to Council for an on line presence. Howard’s venture stems from another extraordinary amount of work with 8 leagues of 8 running. No one can remember any SBU bronze teams competition attracting so many.

Harry, Howard, and Paul Gipson have all been generous of their time and expertise in other ways. It is thanks to Paul’s you tube demos that many entered into the world of on line bridge in the first place..

None of the development of the SBU on line presence would have been possible without Anne Brodie-Allan, a SBU member from the North, and the determination and hard work of Eddie McGeough and Anne Coles. ABA we quickly realised is indefatigable. She has been a BBO on line Director for some time and was  greatly instrumental in guiding us through our application, in setting up the whole infrastructure, in training on line TDs, and in running tournaments, the last two still ongoing.

Such a steep learning curve for all of us and all of you. Considering new processes and procedures. Guidance documents on etiquette, setting up, downloading results into recognisable formats- not a straightforward process. Does our appeals process heard by the Law and Ethics Committee cover the new play platform? To undo or not to undo? We don’t necessarily get it right each time, there is so much to consider, so many to consult. And of course there are so many opinions freely given from members.

Many of you had already been enjoying on line bridge thanks to your Local Heroes, in Dunbar, Berwick, Perth, St Andrews, Inverness, Aberdeen, Montrose, Arbroath, Hamilton, New Melville, the Carlton, and Colinton Castle in Edinburgh, Ayrshire, Dundee, and Kyle of Lochalsh, to name the ones I am aware of.

So many people helping keep their local bridge Communities together. So much good work and good will during these very difficult times.

Many teaching centres have continued to teach and run play sessions on line with pupils and are preparing to teach on line for the new session.

As you know both the SBU Overseas Congress in May and the July Congress have been cancelled.

At present the December Congress is “still on”. A new booking process will be in place so that accommodation costs will not be paid until arrival at the hotel. The viability of the Congress is and will continue to be monitored closely.

There have been a number of approaches from members about the bridge calendar. Consideration of this is a work in progress. What could be run over the next few months for whom by whom?

What about advice from the SBU to all players including Clubs and Districts about safe returns to Face to Face bridge? - In the pipeline.

Many are hard at work preparing two new SBU endorsed teaching programmes for Adult bridge.

Special thanks to David Briggs and Nigel Booth at the New Melville who have generously agreed to adapt and SBU brand their system using our Working Groups’ system File, and similarly  Perth Bridge Club with Gill and George Roberts. Many many hours of blood sweat and tears spent. Thanks to Beryl Campbell and Susan Chapple for their patience and care scrutinising the drafts.

Meanwhile I am delighted that Sam Punch has agreed to be the new  Education Convenor with named leads in Children and Young People, Tutor Support and Training, Marketing and Bridge Promotion, and  Universities.

The SBU is an extended family of bridge players. There are so many family analogies but there are some differences. Every two years there is a new parent who is new to the family and usually new to the post. Family dynamics are often complicated and the SBU is no exception to this. Some family members are more conciliatory than others and some better communicators. Some are harder working, some are ever ready to help and some need encouragement. Some are ever ready to criticise.  I would like to see everyone being involved and having their say- however challenging- to help us grow and be the best we can be. I’d like it to be a bottom up and top down organisation. I’d like to see Districts ensuring they have the infrastructure to cascade all the information their chairs and secretaries receive down to all members, and be prepared, in turn to report members’ ideas, thoughts, and fears up.

However, the SBU should not just involve itself with affiliated Clubs. It should be Scotland’s bridge resource. The Web site should carry details of all known teaching centres, irrespective of the system taught. We all should do everything we can to foster a love of bridge and enable as many as we can to enjoy it.

When I was asked to write a piece for the SBU News “Player profile” I was newly on Council and there was no suggestion nor expectation that I might be invited to consider being the President Elect.

Easy then, to pontificate about what the SBU should do, after all, we are all good at that.

Here is what I said:-

 Opinions on Bridge Administration

The SBU should

  • Ensure that all systems are in place to enable best, efficient, effective and correct practice in the game of Duplicate bridge
  • Endeavour to promote the game of bridge to ensure its viability
  • Help educate & sustain its bridge community

Act with integrity, clarity and transparency

Let’s see how I do.

Joan Forsyth 05.07.20



Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen and welcome to the 84th Annual General Meeting of the SBU.

There are some minor amendments to our constitution as advised in our agenda and I trust it will be approved.

It has also been decided to stop charging fees to our member clubs, which, I am sure, will please our club treasurers.

We had a problem with the men’s pairs this year and a decision was made to refund the entry money.  The wrong movement was used resulting in us only playing 11 of the 24 pairs. Plus the results were not available for checking by the players. Finally all the results when published were allocated to the wrong pairs, which, with the help of many of the players took 3 days to finalise.

We also had problems with our ladies pairs and the competition, due to the collapse of the computer, was not properly graded for the matches in the swiss pairs.  Who says we are not an equal rights organization.  Unfortunately we had to refund the entry money for both events and the SBU met all the overheads plus prizes were still awarded.

Richard Jarvis, one of our past Presidents and a strong supporter of our competitions, died in February and he will be sorely missed. Believe it or not the last hand he played was 7NT requiring a squeeze play.  We also lost Ian Morison who was one of our top players in the 70s and our second grand master.

In my second year as President, in connection with the European Bridge League, I have had the pleasure of visiting Belfast for three days of meetings.

Our ladies went on to represent us in China following their good result in the World Championship. In a very strong field of eight teams they were doing well but unfortunately fell away at the end due to exhaustion as they only had a team of four , however we did win the prize for the best played hand by Sam Punch.  Our ladies have once again triumphed in the Lady Milne winning by a narrow margin over England.  This has been followed up by our seniors winning the Senior Camrose comfortably with a match in hand.  The rest of our international performances were poorer.

Liz McGowan is still trying hard to reduce her workload but has continued on the temporary editorship of the magazine and is doing a great job. Still would appreciate someone else taking on the task.

Thanks are due to our TDs who are having a few problems in placing results on the web but provided there is a working wifi this will be improved.  We are also going to increase our training but are waiting the results of a report we have commissioned to find the best way forward.  This year in an effort to improve our director’s standards, we again had Fearghal  give a training session in Edinburgh that was well attended by a number of our intending directors.

Currently investigations are under way by Alan Officer to make improvements to our web site, as currently it is not always easy to find what you are seeking. This will require funding but currently no figures are available.

Our national league continues as our most successful event.  I am still appealing for more home grown players in our congresses and we are trying out format changes as you will see  in our July Congress brochure allowing you to play in the pairs on Saturday and teams on Sunday. Future weekends may also change please watch our SBU site.

Our overseas congress continues to grow in strength and as I predicted this was our largest turnout yet despite a number of our regulars not being able to make it but many new faces replaced them. All participants enjoyed this congress very well run by Duncan and Russell as our directors.

This coming year we go to Porec in Croatia, which I am sure you will enjoy. I look forward to seeing many of our members there.

I was invited to attend a dinner at St Leonards B C in Ayr celebrating being 75 years old. Very pleasant evening.

I attended the Scottish Swiss Pairs, which went very well, and the new premises were certainly spacious.

Our aims for education have been extended in the past year and a great deal of work has been put in by our education committee in designing new teaching courses These courses are to differentiate between various categories of pupils. The education committee has also been involved in running and organizing mini bridge competitions plus other bronze events.

Another project linked to the education committee which is suitable for part of our EBL fund, is the bridge film “Double Dummy” which is designed to entertain and generate interest in learning bridge. This film will be shown on 3rd June in the MacRobert Filmhouse at Stirling University at 5.00 pm with an entry price of £5. Come along with a non bridge-playing friend. Please.


What do the SBU do for our members?

  • We organise competitions and congresses (usually successfully) for all classes of players and employ the directors and scorers plus display the results on our web page
  • We train the directors and scorers from club level upwards
  • We assist clubs or players with movements when requested
  • We have lessons available for club teachers to use
  • A body where any one teaching can obtain advice
  • We organise our national teams representation
  • We have public liability insurance covering any injury or damages caused by the bridge club members in any rented premises, which usually costs £75+.  Any non affiliated club would not have the benefit of our free insurance cover.  Nor can any non member of the SBU play in any SBU or district competitions though members of affiliated bridge unions may play in some competitions.  The only open competitions are the SBU congresses.

One year gone and to be honest due to the resignations a difficult year and my thanks are due to my team for doing the extra work required.

I know results, including posting and tournament directing involving starting times and lack of Wi-Fi, have spoilt some of our tournaments, these are on our urgent list for improvement.

I have to say our web page is not the easiest for finding items. Currently research is proceeding on finding a more user friendly format with a better layout but as my computer knowledge is limited I cannot supply any technical details.

In April Irene & I played in the CD charity Pairs which raised over £1500 for Marie Curie. A very friendly event with a mixed standards of players.

Unfortunately we did not qualify for National Pairs or Spence cup at the end of May.

Due to our departure on Monday 8th May to Isla Canela we did not manage the Scottish Swiss Pairs but hope to manage next year.

With regard to our well attended overseas congress I can report that the Hotel staff and catering were excellent. The Hotel had three show cooking stations plus an amazing display of other dishes. We had mainly good weather though our visit to Seville, a beautiful city, was a bit uncomfortable at 33 in the shade.

The bridge was very enjoyable well run by our TD’s Duncan & Russell assisted by their spouses. We also had the assistance of Joan who, though retiring as congress convener, was still helping with the assistance of Jack.

Many of those at the congress have already made bookings for next year at Paphos in Cyprus. The hotel is our players favorite hotel, even better than this years hotel.

Back when I was Convener of the Tournament Committee we were considering scrapping the individuals due to lack of support but this year we were over subscribed and my apologies to those who were not accepted.

The problem with an individual is the players expect to play with all the other players and 25 is  the ideal number. We will look at  the possibility of a different format where players play with a reduced number of players. I myself played in the Benjamin, which was also fully subscribed.

Players please note that if you can’t attend it is important to let the TD or organisers know as soon as possible due to the problems in setting up movements especially for an individual.

I have only played locally and at a teams event in Stirling but will I hope get round more clubs this season.  

We are now looking for an individual to take responsibility for our trophies as so many are left at the AGM or not even returned. This position will have expenses paid but has no responsibility for the theft of trophies. Please apply to myself, George Plant or Avril Sloane our secretary  in the first instance.


Ian Hunter

SBU President