Alfred Sheinwold once said in relation to bridge “Learn from the mistakes of others. You won’t live long enough to make them all yourself.
How apt is this advice to the tricky, voluntary activity of being a bridge administrator? – In my experience, a lot.
I suspect only a small number of the 700+ players who pay an annual capitation fee to BFACT will know what BFACT does, why it does it, and the volunteers who sit on its Council. This is hardly surprising because what we do generally does not impact much on the bridge player who just wants to play a couple games of club duplicate each week. So this website hopefully will fill an information gap and kindle further interest in what BFACT does.
BFACT has three main roles. First, it is responsible for running a number of competitions to select players to represent the ACT at the national level principally in the Australian National Championships (ANC). Every eight years or so, we have to actually run an ANC here in Canberra. We probably spend a large proportion of Council meeting time discussing aspects of this function. Second, BFACT has a broad mandate to promote the playing of duplicate bridge in clubs in the region (this includes director training, interclub competitions, youth bridge and start-up assistance for new clubs). Third, we represent the interests of ACT bridge players on the national body, the Australian Bridge Federation (ABF). Most ACT bridge players intuitively would say we don’t do enough to promote bridge (and may well be right) and the same bridge players probably wouldn’t trade a winning finesse for knowing what we do at ABF meetings.
Coming back to the Sheinwold quote, the merry band of volunteer bridge administrators on the BFACT Council neither undergo specific training to do what they do, nor are they the subject of envy by a large corps of would-be bridge administrators-in- waiting. Most come to the issues armed with old-fashioned common sense which they try to exercise in the best way they know. Unlike the life expectancy of bridge players which has gone up significantly in recent decades, the lifespan of a volunteer bridge administrator has contracted sharply as life in the 21st century becomes more and more litigious and less forgiving of human error.
If this website increases the level of forgiving of bridge administrators by just one percent it would have achieved something momentous!