Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

New Rules for playing in Canadian team trials … need some thought

The CBF announced a new rule for those who wished to play in the Canadian team trials with the goal of representing Canada. I believe starting in 2013 (but I am not sure) you will have to have been a continuous member of the Canadian Bridge Federation for the past two years.

The Canadian Bridge Federation has one major functions and attempts some others as well. Like the USBF it selects teams to represent Canada in international play and attempts to provide at least some funding for these teams. It also tries to act as a national bridge organization providing Canada specific functions (in parallel and in addition to the ACBL). Functions include allocating charitable funds, providing a Canadian magazine, Bridge Canada (now online), encourage junior bridge and so on.

The CBF receives the money it needs to fulfill these functions by running tournaments to fund international teams.  The actual team trials themselves are used to raise money for this purpose with significant surcharges to the fees players pay.  Money raised for these purposes must be used to actually fund the teams.  In addition there is a CBF membership of a mere $12.  Long ago most Canadian ACBL members were also CBF members.  Today the percentage is quite low … so very few $12 fees are collected.  The CBF has always been short of money and this problem continues and has grown.  Why don’t most Canadians pay the fees.  For right or wrong they don’t think the CBF has anything to do with them.  I suspect most of them see it as an organization that functions for a small number of elite players.

You can imagine that this has created a problem.  One answer came from the board of directors meeting in Regina.  They decided that players would be ineligible to play on Canadian teams if they had not been continuous CBF members, I believe for two years, before the trials.  In the past if you entered you did have to join the CBF but that could be done a few weeks before you played.  It seems reasonable that players who plan to play in the trials should pay to belong to the CBF.  I imagine the board thought so when they passed this motion.

The problem is that it is a retroactive fee.  Let me talk from a women’s point of view.  There were only eight teams entered in the women’s trials.  Some came not expecting to have much chance but for the opportunity of playing.  All of the teams had only four players.  Why?  Because at least in the case of the teams I talked to they couldn’t find another pair!  It is expensive to go to Regina, stay in a hotel and pay the high card fees.  And there are relatively few serious women bridge players in Canada.  In fact, among the entries there were only a very few who were much under sixty.  Pretty well the entire field would have qualified for the seniors event.

So how do these two things relate.  Imagine that you are trying to encourage some young players to come out and play in the trials.  You want to get them excited about playing internationally.   Apparently, when I asked Nadar Hanna they can play, they can win but they will not be allowed to collect the prize money or represent Canada because these young ladies didn’t think about joining the CBF two years earlier.  I am not sure what happens to the team.  If only two or three players were “eligible” perhaps they ask the second place team to go instead, or maybe the third or fourth place team.

I talked to a number of women who “came” back to bridge after they had been away to raise their children.  I was one of them.  I got back into playing when the trials were near by in St. Catherines and a friend asked me to play.  We won.  I hadn’t been an ACBL or CBF member for years.

There is an exemption I believe for people who have NEVER been CBF members.  I am not sure.

In any case the inevitable consequence is that fewer people will be eligible.  Fewer teams will form, especially the spontaneous ones.  Less money will be raised to support the teams that do go.  This will be true in the open too but at least there are a reasonable number of mostly six player competitive teams already playing.  I won’t discuss whether this is the way to pick the best team to represent Canada but I will say that if a team enters and wins and is not allowed to go for this reason I wonder what those players and all Canadian players will think.  It is probably not important because they just won’t enter.

I would like to urge the Board of the CBF to change the rules for women.  If a women has not competed in the team trials for a period of time (perhaps 3 years) then exempt them.  We need them in the field.  Players who always play will know they have to play their fees.

I believe that serious players and all Canadians should pay the $12.  When I heard about this rule I was angry and since I am “retiring” I planned to not pay.  But as I am calmer now I think Canada needs a strong CBF.  Whether you planning to play in the trials or not you should pay.  But lets not create obstacle for women who stopped to raise children as I did or haven’t recently thought about playing internationally from participating.  In Canada we used to have a body that encouraged people to play sports called Participation … we need to think that way in serious competitive bridge too.    And ladies if you want to be on a team and can’t find one talk to Jan Anderson.  (I hope you don’t mind me volunteering you Jan).  You can talk to me too and I will try to help if I can.

Comments from all are welcome.

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