National Swiss Pairs - 18/19 June
We acknowledge the level of communication from New Zealand Bridge, the region, and the Nelson Club should have been better.
Regrettably players have learnt about the decision to move the event online through third parties and others had no knowledge of the change. We apologize if the decision to change has caused any distress.
The delay in communicating has led to a lot of speculation and misinformation circulating. As a rule, the Board takes pride in its communication, so a valuable lesson has been learnt.
For the record the Board was approached by the Nelson Club and the region following the outcome of several local tournaments that turned into Covid spreader events in the local community. Because of the outbreak, the Nelson Club and others in the region have closed their doors. The Nelson Club was at a point that they were unlikely to be able to host the event at all, let alone safely.
The club and the region saw only two options- cancel the event or move it online. After careful consideration the Board approved moving the tournament online giving what was hoped to be a suitable outcome, compared with cancelling the event. Any suggestion it was done for monetary reasons is so far off the mark. We understand that people may be out of pocket for flights and accommodation, but if the event wasn’t online, it would not have happened at all, and that money would still have been lost. Under the present health conditions, it is recommended that players consider the insurance on offer from the airlines.
National Teams – 2/3 July
Around the same time, the Hamilton Club decide that they were not willing to host the national team’s event. Unlike Nelson that was exposed to a Covid spreader event, the decision of the Hamilton Club and that of the region appear to be philosophical. As there was still time before this event, a new location was sought. We were delighted that the Rotorua Club was willing and able to host this event. The event will now be played in Rotorua.
North Island Teams- 30/31 July
Unless there is a change in the Government settings this event will be played face-to-face.
NZ Bridge is still committed to getting everyone back to the table where possible. The decision to support face-to-face bridge serves the vast majority of players and is consistent with Governments overall objective of returning life to normal as quickly as possible. We do however recognize that the online game has a place.
Currently we have a working party reviewing our online bridge strategy. A major consultation will be launched at the Regional Conference in Wellington this weekend. We will be seeking views from all stakeholders - clubs, regions, players, directors, and other interested parties. We know there is considerable discussion on this topic, and many perspectives being shared, across our bridge community. It is clear the discussion needs to extend beyond the simple question of face-to-face and online but incorporate the tournament programme. There may be other issues, not yet considered, that arise during the consultation process. Therefore, before making any decisions about what the future of face-to-face and online bridge looks like, we need to fully appreciate the consequences and impact any decision may have on our Game.
Pending the outcome of the review we are conscious that circumstances could arise that makes it impossible or inappropriate to proceed with a face-to-face event. We could be intransient saying irrespective of the conditions the game can only be played face-to-face. Equally we could be less intransient and be flexible allowing events to be transferred online under special circumstances. To ensure there is integrity in the process and to avoid frivolous applications we have determined any application will only be considered where special conditions or an emergency prevails.
The question is what constitutes an emergency that would allow an event to be moved from face-to-face to online. We need to think beyond just Covid and deal with other scenarios that would make it impossible to physically run the event face-to-face. Such scenarios could include clubs impacted by fire, earthquake and other natural disasters, a health emergency other than Covid, or a state of emergency.
It is appropriate we deal with
1. Club tournaments,
2. Regional events and,
3. National events
separately as they all have their own characteristics.
Whilst New Zealand Bridge administers the tournament schedule and is the owner of the masterpoints scheme, a club has absolute discretion whether to proceed with an event or not. Grounds may include that it is not financially viable or due to external reasons. If a club elects to cancel an event, then
1. New Zealand Bridge will not sanction a replacement event on another date. If we allowed replacement events, we would inevitably compromise the tournament schedule.
2. Unless there is an emergency situation, or other major cause, as mentioned above, a shift to online with masterpoints will not be approved.
3. The event can be moved online without masterpoints.
4. Where special conditions for clubs prevail an event maybe approved with masterpoints and be played online.
Cause is defined as fire, earthquake, flood, Covid and any change in the health settings or other health condition. A health emergency is where an unsafe environment is created and where it is necessary for the club to close for not less than 7 days in the period concerned. We are equally mindful that under the Incorporated Societies Act (if applicable) clubs must operate in the best interests of their members; under Health and Safety legislation care for their members and staff; and of course, comply with any civil or state emergency.
Special conditions for clubs could potentially include situations where, due to Covid or other local circumstances and while not constituting an emergency, a club can see ten to seven days prior to a scheduled event that the entries are significantly lower than in previous years and may make the event financially unviable. We are acutely aware of the need not to overburden clubs and will consider applications, on a case-by-case basis, for transfer of club events online where the club can provide proof that it is not in their best interests to run the event face-to-face. There may be conditions placed on who is eligible to play in any such club events that are transferred online. For example, entry may be limited to players from within the region.
Regional events come under the auspices of a regional committee. The event is effectively underwritten by the regional committee. The running of event is delegated to a club.
In the event of an emergency, and if there is deemed to be sufficient time to do so, the regional committee should in the first instance seek an alternative location. If the emergency occurs within 21 days of the scheduled event or an alternative location cannot be found, then an application to transfer the event online can be submitted for consideration.
1. New Zealand Bridge will not sanction a replacement event on another date.
2. Where special conditions prevail, an event may be approved with masterpoints and be played online.
If approval is granted to transfer the event online, then those already entered will be allowed to play irrespective of their location. In the event of there being multiple tournaments on the same day or weekend, new online entries may be restricted to players from the region where the event was due to be held. Any such entry restrictions will be stipulated in the tournament listing on the New Zealand Bridge website and on any communications to clubs or regions about the event.
These events come under the direct auspices of New Zealand Bridge. The event is organised and run-in conjunction with a host club.
In the event of an emergency New Zealand Bridge, where practical and if time permits, will seek an alternative venue, in close proximity to the original planned event. If this is not possible, then the event may be transferred online rather than cancelled.
If approval is granted to transfer the event online, then those already entered will be allowed to play should they wish to do so. In the event of there being multiple tournaments on the same day or weekend, new online entries may be restricted to players who had not already entered another event. Any such entry restrictions will be stipulated in the tournament listing on the New Zealand Bridge website and on any communications to clubs or regions about the event.
We hope clubs will only apply where there is a genuine emergency. Please be aware if an application is submitted and the club continues with its usual club sessions, then the application will not be supported. We also want to avoid situations where a club elects to close because there is a single case of Covid among its membership. Regrettably Covid will remain in the community for the foreseeable future, so we need learn to live with the virus while maintaining our concern for the health and wellbeing of our members.
Any application to transfer events online should be sent to Kate Terry in her capacity as chair of our Online Bridge Strategy Working Group (email@example.com) and will be considered within 48 hours. Please note isolated cases of Covid will not be seen as constituting an emergency.
Our focus is to support face-to-face bridge. There will have to be good cause for an event to be transferred from face-to-face to online.
The above is designed to offer flexibility over the next 3 months as we proceed with the review, and we have in place a longer-term strategy to online play. For those calling for all tournament bridge to be moved online now, you will have an opportunity for your voice to be heard as will everyone else as we move forward with the consultation. We will not be making any wholesale change prior to the findings of the working party. We call for patience and allow the working party time to complete their task.
Again, we apologise for our communication not meeting our own standards. In the meantime, we ask for your support as we move forward with the review. In these trying, and ever-changing times it is best we get a measured response rather than rushing ahead and potentially putting at risk the Game.
Hopefully these changes will allow bridge to continue in a safe environment.
Chair NZ Bridge