The last two months have given myself and the SBU major problems due to the sudden departure from our ranks of Cathy Ferguson who was our secretary, tournament convener plus entering competition results and Bob McKinnon our magazine publisher to add to our already depleted ranks with the previous departure of Ann Wickens and Joan Lees. Unfortunately it seems we have no one willing to come forward to replace them. I must thank the existing committee conveners and committee members who are all doing extra work but this is very short term as it is too great a pressure on them.
I have managed to play in the Diamond Trophy, the Autumn Congress at Peebles where I must say the catering standards have improved with all the meals supplied to our table of eight being very good.
I missed the National League and the Arthur due to a family holiday but was back in time to go to Aviemore. A very well organized and run congress, which I will return to, I hope next year.
I visited clubs in Glasgow and Edinburgh during this period in league matches.
I was at the Rayne final as director as again our holiday interfered with the local heats and all bar one district took up their places in the final.
Irene and I played but failed to qualify for National pairs.
We are looking forward to the Winter Congress at Peebles and hope to see many of our members there.
I have been getting good reports on Isla Canella Hotelour SBU overseas congress in Spain. Both the hotel and its catering are good and the situation is convenient for trips to Seville and Portugal.
Ian Hunter 5/12/16
In the last two months I have attended a weekend course for juniors and younger at Stirling run by Anne Symons with plenty of volunteer helpers.
It was great to see the enthusiasm of these young players and we hope to run more of these training weekends.
During the months I have played in our local clubs with Irene. We also played in the Central District congress, which had 31 tables. This was a very pleasant weekend and with the help of 3 others I won the major event-the 2 board Knockout, otherwise nothing went well. A well-run congress with Derek French as convener.
Irene and I entered Edinburgh district Watson Trophy and we made up a team unfortunately without success but an enjoyable day.
In the SBU our master point committee has been busy rewriting the rulebook for master points, trying to make it easier to follow and standardise the awards.
The tournament committee and Congress committees have both had meetings in September followed by a game of bridge in GBC which made a nice finish to the evening.
As you will see on our website we are in need of volunteers for both the Education Committee and a Congress Convener.
There must be someone out of our 6000+ members who can help. Please contact me or our secretary Cathy Ferguson. Our email addresses are on the SBU website.
I had intended to play in the Stirling pairs but unfortunately a medical problem arose and I could not make it nor will I make the Edwin Berry next month but I hope to welcome many of you to our Peebles Congress 21st to 23rd October. There are still places available.
To all our bronze players I would like you to take time to look at the events you can enter listed on the SBU website.
To find it go into the SBU website and go down to the bottom of the home page and there you will find an item in blue “Bronze Players”, click on that and it will take you to another page and there if you click on Summary of events it will list all the competitions some of which are only for bronze players and all others where there are bronze prizes.
In the first two months as president I have gone to Budapest to support and encourage our teams but this was not enough for them to reach medal positions. The venue was excellent and it all went like clockwork.
However I did note that a number of teams were sponsored and had their shirts/blouses with the sponsor’s names on them.
I was also attending as delegate for Scotland at the European Bridge League for a meeting on the 23rd June for a report on the cheating problem.
Unfortunately the WBF and EBL don’t seem to have any agreement on the treatment of those found guilty of cheating though one delegate advised me that an agreement had been reached but it was just not being used. So far the cheating legal actions have cost the EBL over €100,000.
The main item at the AGM was changes to the constitution which were passed without any objection. Two years accounts were also presented and I felt the expenses showed the generosity of EBL to the delegates. All meetings I have attended to date have had a meal plus unlimited wine and a further cocktail party for delegates and partners.
I then came home to our wonderful Scottish weather after a lovely (32-35) sunny Budapest.
On the 13th July we held our first full meeting of our new and reduced Council, which went very well. All items were dealt with before we were chased out of the room.
The main items covered at our meeting:
Member services - we are losing the services of our programmer for Mempad and are currently looking for a replacement to handle the site. Fortunately, there is not much development work to be done.
A major review of the master-point handbook has been approved. This has achieved consistency taking into account lower entry levels.
Ann Wickens has resigned from the education committee and will have to be replaced. Ann has done a tremendous amount of work and expanded the remit of the education committee to the extent that it was felt it was too much for one person. Our thanks are due to Ann for her excellent service. The education convener’s task is now expanded and it might be easier divided into three parts.
Finance is improving with a surplus forecast for next year. It appears we may have a liability to corporation tax and we are consulting our accountants on this matter.
There was a discussion on financing our national teams and the selection committee will consider it further. We must take into account where the competitions are being held rather than have a fixed amount per team as costs of accommodation and flights vary.
A new master-point rank of Regional Master immediately below Scottish Master will be introduced from 1st September requiring 100 points with at least 25 to be red. These players will be deemed silver.
It was agreed we should record psychic bids for events run by the SBU from1st September.
It was agreed that information will be sent to all districts via the chairs in order that the district committees may comment on the items. We will try to issue information on forthcoming items up for discussion at council meetings at least a week prior to the meeting.
On a different subject Irene & I went to the Peebles congress full of trepidation based on our last visit but the hotel seems to have got its act together assisted by Joan’s promptings. All was well, with the food of a good standard and much improved service. I do recommend going if you can in October or December.
PS We are still looking for someone in the SBU that has some experience of marketing.
President’s Remarks – Annual General Meeting - 31/5/16
As I complete my two years as President, I hope that you will agree that Council has continued to make progress and that you will share my optimism for the future.
There have been several developments during the year and further change is in the pipeline:
- Cathy Ferguson continues to do an excellent job of managing Council business
- Constitutional changes are proposed to this year’s AGM to reduce the number of delegates and increase the efficiency of Council meetings
- Our financial year-end was amended to 31 August from 2015, bringing it into line with the playing season – while this has temporarily made year-on-year comparison more difficult, this will prove beneficial in the long term
- Fiona Greenwood, Finance Convener, has introduced tighter financial controls to ensure that all aspects of expenditure are more effectively managed
- George Plant has also settled well into the role of Treasurer and has been producing some excellent new management information reports for Council
- Under Anne Perkins’ ongoing Convenership, the National League has continued to grow into one of our pre-eminent events and is now an invaluable tool for selection of our international teams
- Scotland has continued to host our full share of home international events and we are indebted to all those who have helped to make this possible
- In a competitive sense, huge congratulations are due to the members of our Lady Milne team who swept all before them in Dublin last month
Law & Ethics Committee:
- Liz McGowan and her team continue to provide advice and guidance to players to help improve behavioural standards
- Disciplinary procedures have been updated to reflect WBF guidelines on cheating as a result of recent transgressions at international level
Member Services Committee:
- Development continues on our website in support of clubs and members alike
- Thanks to the tireless efforts of Bill Whyte and his team, MEMPAD functionality continues to expand - this is reflected in increased usage and improved data quality
- Electronic master point processing has quickly become the norm and now includes National and District events as well as the vast majority of those run by clubs
- Under Ann Wickens’ guidance, the Education Sub-Committee have made significant progress on many fronts – in particular, teaching in primary schools continues to grow as seen by further record entries in this year’s schools’ MiniBridge championship
- We are currently trying to identify a successor to Ann – applications to Cathy, please
- Ian Hunter and his team continue to review our tournament programme and this will remain as ongoing activity under Peter Hodgson, his successor
- Centralised recruitment continues to boost entry levels for many of our national tournaments – many thanks to Cathy Ferguson for all her efforts
- Joan Lees and her Congress Sub-Committee continue to provide an excellent programme of events at Peebles and overseas
- Further training courses were organised for tournament directors to improve the quality of service provided to tournament players
- Master point policy continues to be reviewed by Peter Hodgson and his team – particular focus has been devoted to refining silver and bronze award levels with a new silver category of Regional Master to be introduced from September
During the year, I have tried to play in as many events as possible. I would like to express my thanks to the Districts who invited me to their congresses and to all those individuals who helped to run them. Despite occasional criticism, I believe that our tournament directors do an excellent job and they are due a big “thank you” from all those who participate.
As the 2016 AGM marks the end of my two-year Presidency, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Council delegates and committee members alike for their unstinting support. Players are not always aware of all the work that needs to be undertaken to ensure the smooth running of tournaments at national, District and club level – we couldn’t enjoy playing the game we love if it wasn’t for the efforts of those who help with the administration.
In particular, I would like to thank Mike Ash, Past President, for all his support and to extend my best wishes to Ian Hunter, President Designate, once he has been formally elected as my successor.