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.
President's Report - April 2016
Since the Council meeting in early February, I have played in the Hutcheson's Shield, the Mixed Swiss Pairs, the West District Pairs Semi-Final, the Men's Pairs Final, the Senior Trials, the National Pairs Semi-Final, the final of the West District Handicap Cup, the Benjamin Individual Trophy and the National Pairs Final. I have also directed at the Junior Camrose and Peggy Bayer and the West District Club Championship. In addition, I attended the Glasgow heat of the School's MiniBridge Championship and took part in the seminar for senior directors run by Fearghal O'Boyle from the Contract Bridge Association of Ireland - many thanks to him for presenting such a successful event.
Between now and our Annual General Meeting at the end of May, I plan to play in the National Swiss Pairs and the first round of the Scottish Cup as well as directing at our Overseas Congress in Mlini in Croatia.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the successful team who won the Lady Milne Trophy - Michele Gladstone, Paula Leslie, Helen Kane, Liz McGowan, Sam Punch, Anne Symons and their non-playing captain, Alan Goodman. The event was secured with a match to spare, averaging over 17VPs per match - a tremendous performance!
Unfortunately I was unable to attend this month's Council meeting as I was overseas but many thanks to Mike Ash, our Past President, for chairing the meeting in my absence, particularly as I can see from the minutes that there were a large number of agenda items to be covered:
- Agreement was reached on Council's recommendations to the AGM for a slimmed-down Council structure and revised voting procedures. Hopefully this will lead to shorter Council meetings with most decisions being delegated to the various sub-committees. I am also hoping for more effective communication between Council and Districts who should be, in turn, closer to the views of affiliated clubs. This will generate a number of changes to our Constitution which will be put forward at the AGM.
- Sign-off was agreed on our response to the lawyer's letter whose clients were questioning the appropriateness of our selection process for the European Women's Team Championship in Budapest in June. We believe that our selectors acted within their Terms of Reference and have the backing of Council.
- It was agreed that the Master Point Policy Committee should carry out a full review of master point awards and entry requirements with an emphasis on consistency and fairness.
- Due to competing personal priorities, Ann Wickens has tendered her resignation as Convener of the Education sub-Committee. She has recommended that the role be split into a number of individual responsibilities and Council would welcome approaches from any members who feel that they can help us to co-ordinate our efforts to continue and to expand the teaching of bridge to adults and secondary school pupils and MiniBridge to primary school pupils.
- It was agreed that Anne Symons and Jenny Cooper would take joint responsibility for the Junior Co-ordinator role.
- Following a report from our Treasurer, ongoing discussions took place on our financial position and future projections.
- Council confirmed that Scotland do wish to enter teams into the World Bridge Games in Poland in September but, given current financial constraints, cannot commit to provide funding support at this stage.
- The Tournament Committee reported on changes to the format of the qualifying stages of the National Pairs and the timing of the Women's Pairs and Teams - details will be published in the 2016/17 diary.
- A new suite of regional and national Bronze tournaments is being developed to encourage the large number of members in this category to participate in competitive events.
- Disciplinary procedures have been expanded in the light of guidelines from WBF on the increased frequency of cheating at international level.
- It was agreed that psychic bids would be recorded centrally and reviewed by Law & Ethics Committee for emerging trends - details (without names) will be published on the website.
As I will be stepping down as President at next month's AGM, this will be my last President's report. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Mike Ash, Past President and all other Council members for their support over the last two years.
I also extend my very best wishes to my successor - Ian Hunter was voted in as President Elect last year and his appointment as President will be formally proposed at this year's AGM.
Since our last Council meeting, I have played in the Bowman Trophy, the Highland District Congress, the second weekend of the National League, the Winter National Congress, the Winter Foursomes, the Winter Swiss Teams (due to non-qualification for the final stages of the Winter Foursomes) and the Hutcheson Shield On the whole, numbers have been increasing slightly of late - many thanks to Cathy Ferguson for all her recruitment activity!
I have also made plans to participate in the Mixed Swiss Pairs, the West District Pairs Semi-Final, the Men's Pairs, the Farquharson Trophy, the Senior Trials and the National Pairs Semi-Final as well as directing at the Junior Camrose and Peggy Bayer.
As ever, there was much to be discussed at last week's Council meeting:
- A draft paper for AGM submission had been prepared, addressing proposed changes to Council structure and voting procedures from May 2016 onwards. Although this received general approval, one or two significant changes were agreed and a revised draft is to be resubmitted to the April meeting prior to its inclusion in the agenda for the Annual General Meeting in May.
- Council held a lengthy discussion on the International Committee's controversial selection decision for the European Women's Team Championship in Budapest in June. The selectors originally selected the same six-person team as for the Lady Milne Trophy in April but, following the withdrawal of Michele Gladstone due to unforeseen family reasons and after consultation with the other players, they had decided upon a four-person team plus Liz McGowan as a playing captain. While there were a number of concerns expressed over the viability and competitiveness of a smaller team, Council decided to back the decision of the International Committee. Complaints on this approach had been received from the other two members of the team who had come second in the trials and it appears possible that these may yet be further escalated.
- Initial discussions were held on the viability of funding up to three teams for the World Bridge Games (formerly Olympiad) in Poland in September. A final decision on this was deferred until Council's next meeting in April to give the Treasurer sufficient time to prepare 5-year financial projections.
- A discussion paper was submitted by the Member Services Convener:
- Following delegation of tasks to a number of willing volunteers, master point processing response times have improved significantly
- Negotiations will be undertaken with English Bridge Union and ScoreBridge to explore the possibility of obtaining block licences for their scoring programs to cover all Scottish clubs
- It was agreed that we would promote an online version of Bridge Magazine to our members
- Following input from Dundee BC, we are to explore the possibility of advertising revenue from Scottish Bridge News.
- Discussions were held on the funding of our growing Education activities in schools. It was felt that the existing budget should be sufficient but that Council would be receptive to requests for further funding if it was felt that this would prove necessary.
- It was agreed that the Convener of Law & Ethics would contact District Secretaries to offer them the possibility of a local workshop on Appeals Committees.
- The Tournament Committee Convener is to contact District Secretaries in an attempt to fill the few remaining vacancies on the upcoming Tournament Director course on judgement situations. Given the spread of experience within the Bronze category, it has been agreed that this should be divided in four, as follows:
1 - Club Masters and Novices
2 - Local and District Masters
3 - Masters and 1 & 2 Star Masters
4 - 3 Star Masters and above.
Many thanks once again to all Council members who continue to give of their time for the benefit of the members of everyone who plays bridge in a Scottish club.