St Francis Bay Bridge Tournament at The Links

There was an excited air of anticipation when one hundred and twelve competitors walked into a beautifully prepared St Francis Links Conference Centre to compete in the annual St Francis Bay Bridge Tournament which was held from Friday 13 to Sunday 15 May 2016.

Teams from Cape Town, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Jeffreys Bay, Port Elizabeth, Cradock, Bedford, and Port Alfred joined local bridge players in what has become one of the biggest and most popular tournaments in the Eastern Cape. Several teams had to be turned away when it became fully subscribed.

Joy Faulkner from Port Alfred said: “The organisation was fantastic, slick, and professional. With the wonderful new dealing machine, and new electronic scoring system and the perfect venue, everything went smoothly.” These sentiments were expressed by all the participants who were asked to comment. Attention to detail was phenomenal.

The success of this tournament can also be attributed to the Links as the perfect venue for a competition of this size and nature. The conference centre is quiet and comfortable which aids concentration, so essential for bridge. The catering and service at the Links were outstanding and thanks were expressed to Jeff Clause and his staff for their superb efforts. They could not be faulted in any way.

In his final address at prize-giving, Club President Geoff Ellis thanked his hard-working committee and especially Judith O’Hara who was the Tournament Director, assisted by Eileen Ellis, who also organised and provided most of the delicious snacks for the tea breaks. Pam Golding was thanked for their support and for supplying the pens. He thanked the bridge community of the Eastern Cape for their support, and especially Arie Ridderhof and Joy Falkner from Port Alfred who assisted in many ways: dealing of some of the cards, supplying other necessary equipment such as side tables and card holders as well as help with the electronic scoring. Jeffreys Bay Club was thanked for lending “Bridgemates” for scoring.

This tournament provided a huge learning curve for Judy Beck, Club Secretary, who had to master the new electronic scoring system for teams. This was nerve-wracking but having been tried out at local club meetings on three occasions prior to the tournament it was a great success and saved an enormous amount of time, particularly with so many teams competing. Judith O’Hara also had to adapt her approach to tournament directing with the new system in place. This was her first major tournament to direct in South Africa having directed previously mainly in England.

In a closely contested competition, first place went to the Port Elizabeth team of Des Duckitt, Di Penlington, Raffles Ethrington and Jock Sutherland. In second place (only 0.53 points behind) were, also from PE, Nitza Levin, Naomi Solomons, Dawn Palmer and Shirley Ruben.

St Francis Bay Bridge Tournament winners

Geoff Ellis (left), President of the St Francis Bay Bridge Club, with the winning team from Port Elizabeth Des Duckitt, Di Penlington, Raffles Ethrington and Jock Sutherland.

Judy Beck St Francis Bay Bridge Tournament

Judy Beck who had the daunting task of scoring with a new system.

Judith O'Hara St Francis Bay Bridge

Judith O’Hara who was the main Tournament Director (assisted by Eileen Ellis) and who was responsible for seeing that the tournament was run according to the rules of the game.

Article and photographs – Yvonne Bosman