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Wot? Me direct?

From Ian Bailey

Surely you have a regular session at the club where you have a game with your favourite partner. If you are anything like me, you will be kicking yourself over at least one silly thing you did the previous week and have determined not to make the same mistakes. Again, you could be like me and avoid last week's mistakes but find new ones.

When you arrive at the club, you greet the other players who quite likely have made similar resolutions. Having dispensed with all the niceties you make your way to your customary table and prepare yourself for the coming session. You are quietly confident that this week you will cover yourself in glory.

The game then gets under way without any apparent fuss. Have you ever given thought to the things that have to be done to get the show on the road? Yes, the director has decided on the movement, given out the cards and set up the bridgemates. Do you think that you could do that? There's no need to cry out that this is quite impossible for you to contemplate anything of this nature.

How many directors are there in WA? Well, the BAWA handbook lists 35 clubs. If there are two directors per club this runs to over 70 in all. This just shows how many directors are needed to keep our clubs in operation.

Contrary to anything you might believe, directors are not superhuman beings. They have normal lives. They get sick. They attend funerals. They have emergencies. And they even have holidays. So when they are occupied by one of these events, they have to find someone who can fill in for them. This means there has to be a pool of directors who can cover for absences. Some clubs have a good pool of directors. Others sometimes have difficulty in filling spots.

Has your club got a good selection of directors? How easy is it for the club to find someone to come in and help out? Maybe this is where you could help.

What do you need to know to run a game of bridge? There are three main elements of the task of a director -

  • Knowing the laws.
  • Selecting the movement.
  • Scoring the event.

Let's look at these three things. At first glance the book of laws looks formidable. Well, in truth you need to have a general acquaintance with the laws but in practice there is a relatively small number that crop up on a regular basis. Like bids out of turn, leads out of turn and revokes. These need a fair knowledge, but the remainder can sit in the recesses of the memory and when an unusual situation comes up, you can find it in the book. It is no disgrace for a director to look up the rules.

I can add that knowing the rules comes in very handy when your opponents step out of line, such as a lead out of turn. You can contemplate your options while the director is heading towards the table and you are in a better position to choose your most convenient option.

The selection of the movement is not as difficult as it may seem. There are books that will give the best movement for a particular number of tables. These days computers will help you to select a movement. It's not quite accurate to say this is a breeze, but it is nowhere near a chapter from the book of black arts.

Lastly, the scoring. In days of yore, this had to be done by hand, and took some time after the conclusion of play. I will show my age by saying that I recall sitting around a table with a couple of others putting match points on travellers and adding them up. These days computers can do the job and in very short order too. So you don't need a degree in maths to carry out this task.

Previously I said that directors are ordinary common people. Among other things, they get older and the time comes when they have to retire. So we do need more to step up and replace these folk. As a director, you do not necessarily have to show up every week, but it is very useful for the club to have you available to step in when the occasion arises.

How about going this a little serious thought? Later on the the year, BAWA will be running a directors' course. Details are on the BAWA web site. Here's a challenge - why not give it a go? You may find that it's not your cup of tea, but you never know until you have had a closer look at what is involved.


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