Report from Council - April 2015
Since my last report, I have attended a number of events:
- Mixed Swiss Pairs & Teams: Well done to Cathy for generating such an encouraging level of entries and to Horst and Maureen for running things so effectively.
- Senior Trials: This was my first experience of playing in a pairs trial and I enjoyed it immensely. It was most encouraging to see that 18 highly experienced pairs had entered. Angus and Anne ran the event like clockwork and I was most impressed at the friendliness of all our opponents, despite the fact that selection for the Teltscher Trophy team was at stake. Congratulations to Danny Kane, Irving Gordon, Charles & Vi Outred, Harry Smith & Roy Bennett for their selection and best wishes to them for a successful result in Dublin next month.
- Men's Pairs: Despite encountering a number of technical problems, Ian Hunter did manage to complete a somewhat complex movement (34 pairs over two floors) without any other TD assistance and only discovering that he would be left to run the event at the last minute. Feedback from participants has resulted in the introduction of advanced TD training courses over the next few months (see below).
- South District Congress: Many thanks to Cathie Forbes for extending me an invitation to participate in the Congress Pairs and to Ian Ellison for agreeing to partner me.
- West District Congress: Convener "rookies" Peter Edmond and John Glen did an excellent job of organising the Congress which had moved from Peebles to the New St Andrew and Buchanan Clubs in Glasgow. Horst and Maureen did a great job of running the main Congress events smoothly and Angus did the same for the Bronze section.
I also attended the Southern heat of the School's MiniBridge Championship in Stirling - what an uplifting experience due to the enthusiasm of the children taking part! Jenny, Ann, Liz, Tim and all the teachers are to be congratulated for all their work which culminated in 13 teams in the Southern heat and 20 in the Northern heat which was held the following week in Elgin. This was a record entry for the event with over double the number of teams that had ever participated in previous years. Well done to the Kings and Queens team from Balloch Primary School who were declared the overall winners.
Between now and the AGM at the end of next month, I am looking forward to participating in the New Melville Congress, the Harrison Individual, the Scottish Swiss Pairs and my first ever SBU Overseas Congress which, this year, will be in Corfu. I look forward to seeing many members at these events. Best wishes to Sam Punch, Paula Leslie, Anne Symons, Helen Kane, Liz McGowan & Michele Gladstone who will shortly be doing battle with the other home nations in the Lady Milne Trophy in Birmingham. On a similar theme, all the very best to Jun Nakamaru-Pinder, Stewart Pinkerton, Olivia Bailey, Soozy Nesom, Liam O'Brien & Ronan Valentine who will make up Scotland's under-20 team at the Junior European Championships in Tromso in July - they will be accompanied by an under-16 team from Hutchesons' Grammar School who will be our representatives in the first ever "Kids Event" which runs alongside the main Championships and to whom we also extend our best wishes.
As ever, your delegates faced a lengthy agenda at our latest Council meeting:
- Council have agreed to recommend to next month's AGM the appointment of Ian Hunter as our first ever President Elect. This role was agreed at last year's AGM and will provide greater continuity as we would expect Ian succeed me as President in 2016.
- Sincere thanks are due to Sandy Duncan who published the final version of his MEMPAD Report. This will shortly be posted on the website and Council have undertaken to take his conclusions on board as further development is undertaken. In particular, the priorities and needs of clubs will be factored in and members who have expressed an interest will be invited to a workshop to specify requirements for the next phase of development.
- Revised minimum purchase levels for master points (based on usage) already available to clubs submitting awards electronically will be extended to those few clubs still printing off paper points.
- After a number of years of exceptionally hard work as our Master Point Secretary, including overseeing the launch of MEMPAD, Janet Rixon has decided to vacate this position to allow her to focus on other activities. Interim arrangements are currently being put in place by Bill Whyte, Convener of Member Services and we would ask for members' continued patience while these are being bedded in.
- In-depth discussions were held on the revised budget and financial projections for the 17-month period to 31 August 2015 and the budget for 2015/16, all of which had been presented by Fiona Greenwood, Convener of Finance Committee. Due partly to the extension of the current financial period from 12 to 17 months but also to increasing costs and decreasing income, we are currently looking at significant deficits for both these periods. Although our overall capital position remains healthy, such deficits are unsustainable in the long term and remedial action plans will be put in place. In particular, proposals for modest increases in the level of subscriptions for 2016/17 and 2017/18 will be submitted to next month's AGM.
- After many years of dedicated service as SBU Treasurer, Tim Wickens will be stepping down from this role at the end of August. Interviews have been held to identify a successor and I have great pleasure in advising that George Plant will take over with effect from September.
- Teaching of MiniBridge in primary schools continues to make great progress but, so much so, that we are now in danger of becoming victims of our own success! Additional volunteers are needed to build on existing activity - if you feel that you can assist in any way, please contact Ann Wickens, our Education Convener or your District Education Coordinator.
- In the run-up to December's retirement of Ian Ross as Chief Tournament Director, Horst Kopleck has agreed to take over the role of manager of our Peebles Congresses and will be working with Ian during the rest of this calendar year. The Tournament Committee continue to investigate alternatives for Ian's other responsibilities.
- During this summer, two advanced training courses will be held in Glasgow and Dundee for our more experienced tournament directors. They will focus on use of technology in an effort to eliminate some of the problems encountered in recent years and improve the level of service delivered to tournament players. Participation will initially be by invitation but additional places may become available if number constraints permit.
- Liaison officers have been appointed within each District and in some of the larger clubs to help encourage tournament entries. In particular, clubs will be encouraged to hold heats of the Celtic Simultaneous Pairs which help generate additional funds for the SBU.
- A trophy has been sourced for the 2nd Division of the National League and will be presented to this season's winners.
Apologies for the length of this report but I hope it gives you a flavour of the vast array of topics that Council need to look after on your behalf. Hopefully, as many members as possible will attend next month's AGM - we would particularly like to see the winners of all national events being presented with their trophies.
Report from Council - July 2014
It gives me great pleasure to provide my first report from Council as your new President. My first meeting has been described by some as a baptism of fire but I regard robust debate as healthy within any democratic organisation and would have been disappointed if there hadn't been a number of differing views expressed on some of the more sensitive issues on our agenda. The key thing for me is the enthusiasm and dedication of your elected delegates and how they all rally round behind the majority decisions.
The first thing I wanted to achieve is to make all our members aware of the structure of Council's various committees and which delegates serve on each one of these - this can now be seen from the structure chart which has been posted on the Admin section of our website. Committee conveners will be submitting their draft action plans to an Executive Committee meeting in September - once these are agreed by Council in November, they will form the basis for development activity during 2014/15 and beyond. Executive Committee will also be examining in more detail the recommendations of the working party report into Council's future structure and will be developing their own action plans to address the issues raised.
Three Scottish teams (open, women and seniors) recently participated in the European Bridge Championships in Croatia - although it is fair to say that their results were a little disappointing, it only goes to show how fierce the competition is at this level and further emphasises the magnificent achievements of our medal-winning senior team in Dublin in 2012
Council's main focus for now is the Commonwealth Nations Bridge Championship which is to be held in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Glasgow from 8-14 September - please have a look on our dedicated website at www.commonwealthbridgescotland.com to see how this is shaping up. This will be the highest profile bridge event ever to have been held in Scotland and Fiona Greenwood and her team are doing a great job of bringing it to fruition. They urgently need the help of volunteers in the following areas:
- Airport meet & greet
- BBO operators (training provided)
- Board dealing
- Information desk
- Venue set-up
- Accommodation (for volunteers from outside Glasgow)
Volunteers are vital to the smooth running of the event and I would urge you to get in touch with Fiona or myself if you feel you can help in any way, even if it's only for a few hours.
As agreed at our Annual General Meeting, an independent review of MEMPAD is to be carried out to ensure that its continued development accurately reflects the needs of our members and that cost/benefit procedures are sufficiently robust. Sandy Duncan has kindly agreed to undertake this review and we are currently working on his terms of reference - please feel free to share your thoughts with Sandy.
While some clubs are closed during the summer months, others are already starting to collect members' subscriptions for 2014/15. Club officials are reminded that SBU subscriptions should be recorded on MEMPAD as soon as possible after each payment has been received and the funds subsequently forwarded to the SBU Treasurer for confirmation - most club officials seemed to cope extremely well with the new system last year but, if further guidance is required, this can be found in the secretaries' and treasurers' guides which can be found through MEMPAD's help tab on www.mempad.co.uk.
During August, members' diaries will be distributed through Districts and then on through your home club - if you don't receive yours, please ask your club secretary to chase this up on your behalf. This year, the diary will replace the Competition Handbook. Another change for 2014/15 is that entries for national tournaments will be collated by a central convener, Cathy Ferguson.
Finally, may I extend to you all my best wishes for an enjoyable season. I am planning to attend as many events as I can and hope to meet as many members as possible. If, however, I don't have an opportunity to meet you face-to-face, please don't hesitate to drop me a note with your views on any bridge-related issue - I welcome feedback and will do my best to answer any points raised as openly and honestly as I can.
Report back from Council – April 2014
The final meeting of our annual cycle is always busy and this year we also had to consider a report from a Working Party that we set up to look at how the Council is managed and provides services for its members.
The Council welcomed the report, even though it set us many challenges. We have agreed to ask the Member Services committee to report back in November so that we can consult clubs and players on what services we can provide and how we deliver them. In the meantime the Mempad team will circulate information directly to clubs and on the website on what you need to do to get the benefits of the system and, in particular, transmit results directly from your clubs computer and how club secretaries can amend data for their own members.
A couple of initiatives will be welcomed by all members:
We have decided to provide an SBU diary to all members. Next year’s edition will have the dates of all National events and it will replace the Competition brochure previously distributed. If clubs want to display information on their notice boards, copies of all of tournament information and District calendars will be on the website.
We are hoping to have a regular free Newsletter for all members during the course of next season. The SBU News will continue at 4 copies for £12 – with a reduction to £10 for payment by standing order. This still represents outstanding value for a fine magazine that has had no price increase for some time.
We have also decided to trial the appointment of a Tournament Secretary. This person will handle all entries to all National events, oversee arrangements and make sure that results are reported and master points are processed. We will still require local people to help with venues and catering but I believe that this initiative will go a long way towards ensuring that many of the administrative problems encountered this year will be addressed.
Last - but not least - the Council was delighted to nominate Russell Frame as our nominee to be our next president.
As this is my final report back, may I take this opportunity to thank all SBU members who have helped me over the last two years – including those who have told me when things didn’t seem right or how we could do things better. In particular can I thank all members of the SBU Council, who work so hard on our behalf - and who do not get much thanks!
We have a great bridge union in Scotland and although it can – and will – be even better, may I urge all members to see the ‘cup as half full’ and support the work of the new President and Council. Most importantly can I urge you to attend the AGM on 27 May. I look forward to seeing you there!
Report back from Council – September 2013
Following the summer break the Council had a big agenda for its latest meeting. The Executive Committee, including the chairs of our 5 committees, has discussed each committee’s work plans for this year and beyond. These will now be agreed by Council so as to form a clear agenda for the future. We will publish these on the website and, as always, welcome comments.
Amongst the most important initiatives is one to get the many people who having been learning bridge involved in the Union. Initially we will trial this in one or two districts so if you are working with bridge students, please look out for details.
The full role out of the new Mempad system is underway and the system is getting very good reviews. If you haven’t yet logged on, can I strongly recommend that you do that and suggest that your club opens its link as soon as possible. We are also getting encouraging feedback about the new website and we are continuing to try to improve it. Please remember that you can enter events on-line.
Council was delighted to confirm the appointment of Joan Lees as our new Congress convener, taking over from Peter & Helena Cohen in January. It is a hard act to follow but we are all sure that she will do an excellent job. By the way, there are still places at the October Peebles Congress – if you haven’t already done so, get your entry in now!
The new format National League started in early September and, with an entry of 16 teams, it was an undoubted success (not least because of the splendid hospitality of the Perth club). There are two more weekends before we know the winners. However, with 60 plus players involved, it shows that this kind of intensive high level bridge has an appeal to more than just the elite.
The Tournament Committee has set itself the daunting task of reviewing all of national events that we run and recommend which events might be changed or replaced. I know that the committee would welcome any suggestions. Either contact Ian Hunter or me.
Finally, but by no means least, the Council endorsed the initiative by the Laws & Ethics committee to promote Best Behaviour at Bridge. The committee is producing a series of posters and programme of monthly memo which will contain simple points that clubs can draw to the attention of players.
As the new season gets underway can I wish every member the best of luck in all events – as Gary Player said “The more I practice the luckier I get!”. True in Bridge as well as Golf.