It has been a while since I posted an update. The last few months have been very hectic. On the bridge playing front, I've had a very successful Autumn, winning the Viking Teams, Adamson Trophy, coming second in the Rayne final and 3rd in the Edwin Berry teams. Unfortunately, my National League team narrowly missed out on promotion to the top division, being pipped for 2nd in the last match. Last weekend, Sandra and I attended the last ever Peebles Congress, a grand event with top players from all over the country and abroad. We were lucky enough to team up with our daughter Yvonne and her multiple world ladies champion partner, Nicola Smith and I'm relieved to say we held our end up well enough to finish 7th in the opening teams event, followed by 6th (out of 58) in the main 3 session Swiss Teams. 

There have also been other notable Ayrshire successes with Eddie McGeough and Angela Knox retaining the Bowman Trophy and Stewart Duguid/Ian Burn winning the Lord Thomson Trophy - well done all.

Our District Swiss Pairs just over a week ago was a well supported success and it is nice to hear people commenting about the friendly atmosphere at our events - something which I have been very keen to promote.

Council has been busy as always. We have found a new member to take on the task of premises maintenance and welcome John Dick to the fold in the New Year. Most of you will now have had a chance to sample the new air conditioning at the centre - this has not been totally without some teething problems, the main issue being trying to heat the 2 rooms independently of each other as they have different dynamics. Hopefully, as we get to know the system better, this will not be an issue for long. I think there will be a more noticeable benefit in the summer months, when we can properly cool the place down.

We have had to remind some centre based clubs who give complimentary tea and coffee to their members that the ABU does not provide for free milk and other ingredients and that this expense must be borne by the clubs themselves. I am however, pleased to report that the ABU accounts are in a healthy state, even with the reduction in table money, which took effect in September. We have some of the cheapest table money in Scotland and the Council think it is more than reasonable that drinks etc are paid for by those who consume them.

One issue that I shall be investigating is the possibility of clubs contributing more to the dealing of their own boards. In David Sands, we have a trojan, who is very happy to come to the centre early and keep our boards up to date. A recent stay in hospital revealed how vulnerable we are without him. Some weeks with league matches, up to 11 or more new sets are used and it is a time consuming task keeping them properly dealt. It may involve training one or two more people from clubs to use the dealing machine or even asking clubs to contribute to the expense/time involved by those doing the work, but I am keen that we don't leave ourselves too exposed.

Numbers attending our clubs have been holding up very well. Kilwinning BC has been transformed, remarkable considering how close they were to folding just a couple of years ago - well done them. Our afternoon clubs also continue to flourish and last month we held two viable semi finals of the Ayrshire Pairs. This has resulted in a 10 table final in the New Year, something which has not happened for quite a while.

That just leaves me enough space to wish everybody an enjoyable Christmas. A chance to relax and recharge the batteries ready for the friendly competition and good bridge that hopefully awaits us in 2020.