Bridge notes: National association membership declined by almost 40 per cent during pandemic

Pat O’Mahony to retain the presidency of CBAI due to Covid disruption

Pat O’Mahony from Cork will retain the presidency of the Contract Bridge Association of Ireland for another year as his normal tenure of one year in office was seriously disrupted by the Covid pandemic.

Gordon Lessells who was nominated by the North Munster region to succeed him was formally confirmed as president elect at the association’s annual general meeting which was held in Cork on Saturday.

Emer Kee (Donegal) and Brendan Martin (Wicklow) were re-elected to the positions of vice president and honorary treasurer respectively. Linda O’Riordan (Cork) is the new honorary secretary. Chief executive officer Dermot O’Brien, in his first address to an AGM, revealed that membership of the association had fallen from 34,643 to 21,608, a decline of almost 38 per cent, since the pandemic struck.

Some 120 clubs had become inactive and the CEO indicated that some permanent loss was likely. A working group will be established to study the impact of online competition on the association while a national promotions week, aimed at attracting new members, will be organised in August.

The data base at head office in Templeogue is being reorganised to enable members to access information not previously available to them. Members will be able to change personal details such as addresses and telephone numbers via the internet.

A question mark hangs over the future of the annual friendly matches against Northern Ireland (Sonya Britton trophy) and against England (An Corn Cairdis) which were not contested for the past two years. These matches were initiated more than 30 years ago as part of the CBAI’s campaign to rejoin the home-international series, an aim that was achieved in 1998.

In Northern Ireland an investigation into the ethical behaviour of players while competing online has resulted in a three-year suspension of two players.

The suspensions apply to CBAI events in accordance with the European Bridge League’s reciprocity agreements. Speaking at the CBAI AGM, O’Brien issued a stern said that such behaviour will be exposed and severely dealt with.

Ballina congress competitions, the proceeds of which will be donated to charities, will be played on the BBO website from Friday to Sunday next. All tournaments will be one-session, evening events. For entry details see cbai.ie or fob.ie. This may well be the last online congress; organising committees of Cork, Donegal and Kenmare congresses respectively, which will be held later in the season, have indicated their intentions of returning to ‘live’ bridge.