Thursday, 23 October 2008

New Initiatives, University Clubs and Online Bridge

After all the excitement of the Olympiad last week with the Under 21 Silver medals early in the week being equalled by the Open team and then surpassed in that nail-biting last few boards of the Women’s event, I want to talk today about how England’s Bridge in the future can build and go forward.

This lot should peak in about 2028 so we need to look to the future.

Middlewich in Cheshire could very much be thought of as grass roots. Wikipedia describes it as a market town of 13,000 inhabitants. "Wich" betrays an origin related to salt production and springs and Middlewich has three canals and a long history. Almost bang in the middle of Cheshire it is set in peaceful and beautiful countryside. It has an active but small Bridge Club and next week they are making a big effort to inform and involve the community. Pauline Smyth is one of the keenest members and working in the town’s modern and attractive library she is in a good position to make an impact on the local poulation.

So next week, October 27th to 31st, as part of the Family Activities programme for half-term, we are running Taste Bridge sessions on four afternoons and two evenings. Invitations have been sent to primary and secondary schools and to local clubs and groups. Members of the Bridge Club have volunteered to come along and help. Paul Hackett hopes to drop in and we shall be glad of support from other bridge-players in the area. The aim is to show how bridge can be fun, how the basics of minibridge can be learned in less than an hour and and also how it can develop into a modern and competitive MindSport. We are particularly hoping to attract teachers, because The Minibridge Initiative of the Youth and Education Trust allows us to offer funded inset teaching for groups of teachers.

The place is Middlewich Library, Lewin Street, Middlewich, Cheshire, CW10 9AS.

Further information can be found on their poster.

I’ll post some photographs and a report next week. Let’s hope a pair of twins aged 9-10 drop in who can become gold medal winners in 2032!

Young Brigeplayers enjoying themselves at the Youth Challenge earlier in the year.

Another area that concerns me is our university bridge. Some colleges and universities have thriving clubs, bridge is popular in Durham and Oxford has a number of keen players, but in other places the bridge club has almost disappeared. Amy Stout has been working hard to get Leeds University Bridge Club up and running again after a shaky period. Nadia Stelmashenko has been trying to get something going at Wolfson College in Cambridge. The EBU can offer help, maybe fund or organise some beginner’s lessons, so I’d love to hear from anyone who would like to get something started up. I’d like to see some iniatitives from local clubs in University towns and cities. Most bridge Clubs must have someone who works or has contact with the local Uni. Get in there and get something started.

Finally an opportunity for Junior Bridge Players to join in a fun activity on Bridge Base Online. Each Wednesday between 4pm and 5pm there is a session in which international players make themselves available to play with Juniors. There are usually a couple of hundred kibitzers and if you register with BBOJunior online half an hour or so before the start you can even play a couple of hands. The players are truly World Class, Michael Rosenberg and Jan Jansma have taken part in the last two weeks. I’m usually online so chat to me if you are there, my BBO nickname is very originally mamos. If you haven’t tried BBO or need help, drop me an email and I’ll help you set it up. It’s easy and painless, even your Grandma could do it!