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Chairmanís AGM Report

This time last year, no one would have predicted that 13th March 2020 would be our last session of face-to-face bridge for the remainder of the year and beyond.  

Had the pandemic struck in the last Century, it is almost certain that the Bridge Club would have ceased to function.  Fortunately, technology was on hand to enable the club to offer its members online bridge.  George Whyte took up the challenge and within a couple of weeks after shut-down, 24 members were playing online bridge in a closed group on the Bridge Club Live platform. 

Then, in early April, following more great work by George, the Club migrated to the Bridge Base Online platform.  This enabled us to play duplicate bridge twice a week as a Club, with results displayed on our website and forwarded to the EBU for Master Points allocation. Our three other Tournament Directors Ė Graham Baskerville, Roger Button and Mike Porter - were also heavily involved in setting up and running the tournament sessions, and they continue to do so.

The first BBO session was on 30th April with nine tables.  Since then, more members have become involved, and the Club has welcomed several new members.  As a result, we have now reached levels of 16 or 17 tables a session. 

The opportunity to play RealBridge came in October when another technology breakthrough provided clubs with the opportunity of playing online with added sound and vision, creating an online face-to-face experience.  Mike Porter and Graham Baskerville worked to get the facility up and running for our Club, and at the end of November Chippenham Bridge Club launched its first Wednesday RealBridge session.  RealBridge is now a regular Wednesday afternoon fixture with results posted on the website and forwarded to the EBU for Master Points.

There have been a number of changes to the Committee since the last AGM.  Gill Spurway stood down temporarily as Secretary and was replaced by Mike Porter. Gill has now agreed to resume that role and we are pleased to welcome her return.  My thanks to Mike for holding the fort during Gillís absence and for the great job he has done.  In June, for personal reasons, George Whyte resigned from the Committee and terminated his membership of the Club. Georgeís contribution to the Club has been enormous, and we were very sad to see him go. My thanks to Ray Hatherly, our Treasurer.  In particular for all the work he has done in the design and implementation of the charging system we now use for RealBridge.  Because of their heavy involvement with online bridge, Graham Baskerville and Roger Button accepted an invitation to be co-opted onto the Committee and my thanks to them and Committee-member Mike Barnard for all the work they have done and the support they have given me.

Not all our members have opted to play bridge online, and we miss their company.  Hopefully, they will be back and ready to go as and when face-to-face bridge is possible.  The arrival of a vaccine gives us hope that it wonít be too long before we are putting up the tables and tapping the tablets.

There is, of course, a discussion to be had.  When itís possible to return to face-to-face bridge, do we pull the plug on online bridge or continue with it, at least for some of our sessions?  Members will, of course, be consulted on their preferences.

 Bob Raggett