The Acol Bridge Club weekend:
Entertainment and Optimism by Julia Watson
Early afternoon on Friday, I pick up my partner and set off for Thatcham. A fast journey, although I despair of the road works at Neasden ever being finished. It’s a smooth check-in at the Regency Park Hotel and a very comfortable room.
Welcoming drinks at 6.00 – always a good start – followed by an enjoyable dinner. I’m not sure whether more wine at this point helped or hindered my play. Nevertheless, my new partner and I start the duplicate with high hopes of finishing at least half way up the results list. A few successful boards, but some unfortunate bidding and sub-optimal play on my part led to 18th place out of 24. It could have been worse, but I’m still trying to forget my disastrous 3♦ bid.
It’s a relaxed start to Saturday with a late breakfast. I try to be patient with the world’s slowest toaster. Then it’s on to Alex’s seminar. A fascinating presentation, although whether I’ll remember enough to improve my play is somewhat doubtful. It’s sunny so we sit outside for lunch, followed by an afternoon duplicate session. Optimism again fairly misplaced.
After dinner, it’s the ‘fun’ individual duplicate event. My expectations are now limited to avoiding the bottom few places. Moving between tables proves a serious challenge for many, but fortunately Noorul and Alex are on hand to bring order to chaos. Playing with a random selection of partners and Noorul’s instructions to keep the bidding simple inevitably causes some confusion and takes people out of their comfort zone, but I imagine it makes them appreciate their own partners more. An entertaining evening rounded off by a few glasses of wine in the bar.
Sunday – a last chance to dazzle with spot-on bidding and superior play in the morning and afternoon sessions. The result: 19th. The weekend ends with a prize-giving ceremony where cups are awarded to the winners, as well as for other ‘notable’ performances like making a grand entrance by falling down the stairs.
Overall, a most enjoyable and well-organised weekend: good food, a relaxed atmosphere and a delightful partner who put up with the vagaries of my play without ever complaining. So many thanks to Noorul, Alex, Lucy and Petar.
Pamela Harris also reports:
There was a friendly atmosphere on the coach as some of us got to know each other and others recognised opponents with whom they had played at the club
There was further opportunity to make new friends at the cocktail party that evening. A number of participants were looking for potential bridge partners of around the same level and others wished to enlarge their bridge circle. There were a number players on their own and this was a splendid opportunity to connect with others.
We were blessed with good weather and it was very pleasant to sit outside and chat with fellow players. Some with cars visited nearby Newbury on the Saturday and reported that they enjoyed the trip.
It was also a bonus to just come down from our comfortable rooms whenever we felt like playing instead of spending time travelling.
Mr William Brooks gave a speech at lunch on the last day in which he thanked Noorul and his team for ensuring everyone enjoyed the break and everything ran smoothly. There was applause for Mr Brooks and unanimous agreement.