Monday 29 October 2007

Shanghai - a distant memory already!

Well, I had a safe journey home from Shanghai - I was actually "bumped" off my flight, but as that meant they moved me to another flight and put me business class I wasn't actually too annoyed! Once I got home I slept for hours ! I am one of the lucky ones and don't suffer from jet lag as such, although I was very tired and did a lot of sleeping. But I was always aware of the time and did my sleeping (mainly) through the night, though confess to an afternoon kip on the Monday and Tuesday after I got back!

Last Monday Mark went into hospital for the day and had his gall bladder out (together with some very large gall stones !) and he is making a good recovery, though still suffering a bit as a result of the anaesthetic ... before he went in, we had a lovely weekend pottering around and taking photographs, with the colours and light really starting to tell us that autumn is well and truly here. Thought you might like this one, just to show how pretty it is round here!

As for me and the bridge stuff - well, I have been getting the results of the EBU Autumn Sim ready to post -they will be going to the post office this afternoon at last. The BGB one is having the frequencies checked at the moment then I will finalise that and, of course, we are gearing up for the Children in Need event - click here for more details of that and click here for lists of clubs playing in the event. Do join us if you can and help us raise lots of lovely money for the charity - we sent them over £53,000 last year and it would be wonderful to beat that in 2007. If you can't join us but would like to make a donation - well that would be wonderful. Just click here and it will tell you how !

Then once that is over there is the European Simultaneous Pairs on Monday 26 and Wednesday 28 November - all the material for that is sent by email, and if you would like to join us - well that would be great - just email me ( and we can sort it out for you! By which time it will be time to pack up and send out the next BGB Event - the January Pairs ! Arrrrggghhh!

And in the meantime I really (really) need to get the entry forms out for 2008 - they are nearly ready to print so I hope to get that going in the next few days!

The EBU site has now got its complete calendars up for 2008 - do let me know if you spot an error won't you, or if you want your county event included, drop me an email. Club events can go on the club events page, so if you have an open event, again, let me know and I will try and sort it out for you.

Saturday 13 October 2007

So long ... and thanks for all the fish !

Well, it is just about over ! The last 8 boards are being played (and are, I am told, pretty exciting!) - as I write this the USA team has just pulled back a raft of IMPs in the final with Norway ... but now I am finishing off, I learn that Norway has won !

Carol is double checking the minutes from this mornings meeting - and you should watch this space for exciting news about the junior events in Beijing next year! Christine is sorting out her last bits and pieces and we are all cutting CDs and DVDs of the data we have accumlated on our laptops so that it is all backed up in case of disaster - then we will give them to each other for safety (how paranoid can you get !)

Goodbyes are being said, as we all prepare to go our separate ways. Few of us will meet again until next year in Beijing, which makes these annual events extra special. Love is being sent to the ones who didn't make it this year for various reasons, boxes of material are being packed up ... how on earth did we fit it all in to get it here ? There is always so much more to take home, despite using up lots of consumables !

Then it will be time to go up to the room, open my suitcase and hurl everything into it - after all, packing to go home is just target practice ! Though why on earth packing clothes to go home should always seem to take up more space is also totally beyond me. Life is, indeed, full of mystery.

Tonight is the Victory Banquet, when we celebrate the achievements of the winners, relax with friends over a dinner, and - I am told - watch and enjoy a show, so that should be great fun. Not that I want to be too late, as I have to catch a shuttle to the airport at 06.00 tomorrow morning - yuk ! My flight is at 10.55 and I land at 4.15 ... please don't expect me to be in the office on Monday though. Sleep is top of my list of priorities (after cuddling family and cats of course !)

So - as in the title (thanks Douglas Adams !) ... so long and thanks for all the fish - thank you for reading my blogs, and I hope you have enjoyed them. And I will be back with more in due course ...

Friday 12 October 2007

nearly there ...

Sorry I didn't get to post anything yesterday - it was a really busy day and I shut down with such a sense of relief, I don't think I could have typed another word!

Today has seen the 2007 Laws adopted by the WBF Executive Council, and they are posted on my website for download, translation and adoption by the Zones. I will be emailing out very shortly to tell all the NBOs, Zones, TDs and Press about it ... it has been the culmination of 5 years work by a great sub committee, all of whom are very relieved and are wandering around looking relaxed!

We are all looking with some dismay at the amount of material we have to get home with us - many of the people here have been shopping to good effect, and have quite a bit of extra baggage. Mine was very overweight on the way here, but I haven't been near a shop, being a good girl, so if I can disgorge some of the non-essentials like the shampoo, I may get near the 23 kilos I am meant to have!

The Championships are all winding down - we are busy checking to see who will become World Grand Masters at the end ... looks as though there will be one or two, but of course it depends on who wins! You can only become a World Grand Master if you have a) 10 placing points - very hard to come by - AND b) have actually won a World Championship.

Poor Carol has been in meetings again today - the final council meetings, where they deal with the reports from all the committees and things like that, and make plans for the future. Beijing is going to be really (really) exciting next year, so watch this space for more information and all the details!

And now it is just one more day - I fly home on Sunday, and Mark is going to meet me at the airport and take me home, to my fabulous family, to my extended family (Mark's sons), my cats, the railway station and my own bed! And to my relief I have heard from my younger daughter who has got to Lima safely AND found an internet connection which is marvellous! Tomorrow will undoubtedly be extremely hectic, with all the final last minute things, the packing up and so forth, so if you don't hear from me ... I will be in touch again when I get back to England, home and beauty !!

Wednesday 10 October 2007

eeeek ... look at the time

I thought I would try and finish early - joke !!!

But it has been a good day for getting things done. You may have seen the picture of the Laws Drafting Sub Committee in today's bulletin, relaxing after a job well done. It has been a long hard slog for them to get the draft done and they certainly deserved the celebration !

The day went quickly - the last bits of the laws printed off for the final final proofread, the transnational teams checked, the start of the arrangements for the Victory Banquet, plus sundry other bits and pieces. A working lunch with Anna Maria Torlontano, working on Women's Committee things - there is a new project afoot for a WBF / BBO Women's Festival to be held next April which should be excellent fun, so watch this space for more information as it becomes available.

I am told that the bridge is quite exciting too !!! After the fall of mighty Italy, everyone is watching the South African team of course to see how they fare in the semi finals. We got 148 teams in the transnational in the end - what you might call a goodly number ! They are all battling it out now - when you go down between sessions the noise is just unbelievable mainly because the halls are all marble so the echo is incredible! I am just grateful that it is 2 floors down - I remember in Istanbul the playing rooms were right outside our office and every time the players came out we were nearly deafened by the noise.

There are lots of meetings going on with IMSA (International Mind Sports Association) to set up the World Mind Sport Games in Beijing next year - poor Carol has had the joy of taking the minutes at those ! And Christine has been going nearly demented sorting out the entry fees for the Transnationals and the payments to all the staff, the per diems etc.

So - now it is time to go and find some Appeals Committee members who may be needed for an Appeal, then I am going to call it quits for the day - it is 7.20 pm and I have had enough for one day

I have been online (thank you MSN) to Mark in the office, and as he has installed a webcam there, have been able to watch him at work, and also see my daughter, Vickie, who is busy packing up the CiN material ready to post when the post office will accept it. My younger daughter flew off on her adventures (see an earlier blog for more detail) at some "oh-mi-god" o'clock this morning, lucky girl! and I am going to have a little brag about my granddaughter, Jasmine who has just won the Year 7 cup for Maths at her school :-) Heaven knows where she gets it from - it certainly doesn't come from me !!

more tomorrow ... hope I am not boring you !!

Tuesday 9 October 2007

No gossip !

There isn't a lot to say about today - it has been reasonably quiet, giving me a chance to work on the new Laws documentation and ensure that it is all in order - printouts are being done for proof reading, so I have had a chance to concentrate on that.

The wind has died down and the sun even came out for a while I am told ! I have been hiding behind my i-tunes to such good effect, I don't even know what has been going on in the bridge ! No doubt you can find that out by going to all the links and looking at the results and Vu Graph and things like that. And there are bulletins to read as well, with lots of the hands being reported.

So, not much news today - will try and do better tomorrow !

Monday 8 October 2007

Behind the scenes

The offices behind the scenes consist of the WBF Secretariat (where I work alongside Carol von Linstow and Christine Francin) – we are pictured here relaxing in the evening – Carol on the left as you look at the photo, me on the right, and Christine in the middle. It is a big room, which is just as well, we need the space !

Beside us is the WBF Meeting room, set up boardroom style, where the main Meetings are held, including the Meetings of the WBF Executive Council. It has the comfiest chairs in the building, and is really a very imposing room, with a massive oval table with a hole in the middle to put projectors on for presentations and things .

Next to that is the duplication room – now, I am sure that some of you will deal the boards for your clubs using the duplimate machines – spare a thought for the team doing it here in Shanghai – they are pictured here with some of the hundreds of boards that they deal again and again. The hands played in the events are, of course all the same and during the fortnight this team will deal a staggering 40,200 boards!
As you can see, there are stacks and stacks of boards just awaiting their attention !
The pink shirts, by the way, are the "uniform" polo shirts worn by all the members of the Shanghai Bridge Association who are working here and helping us - there are so many of them, and they are really great, helping in all departments, practising their English and allowing us to try and speak in Chinese !

On the other side of the corridor is the Main Office, where the photocopying of the hand records is done, and where the Operations Director, Maurizio Di Sacco has his office. Next up is the IT department, full of boxes of equipment (mostly empty at the moment) and there are a couple of desks set up there with computers for use by committee members.

The final room on "our" corridor is the bulletin room, where the editors try and convince me that they are slaving away all day and deserving of my deep sympathy! They do a great job on the bulletin though, as I am sure you know from reading it each day!

Across the way – over on the other side of the main corridor is the Vu Graph room and the filming studio, and I posted a picture of that early on in these blogs. Next to it is the Press room where all the members foregather to write and send their articles. Behind that is a small meeting room that is used for Appeals and sub committee meetings. And that's about it really for the offices – in some ways we could do with a bit more space – another couple of meeting rooms would be useful, but we manage OK !

The Vu graph theatre is also on this floor, and is packed for every session ! The computer championships is being played up on the 5th floor (we are on the 3rd floor) and the main playing rooms are all downstairs on the ground floor. However, the semi finals have been moved up to the 5th floor to permit the Transnational open teams to take up all the space on the ground floor – it is going to be a bit of a squeeze as at the moment we are expecting some 150 teams!

It has been the most chaotic afternoon, with teams registering left right and centre, changing their team members – which sometimes changes the amount they have to pay – but, we have got there. It is about to start !! And that is my work done for today … phew – I am exhausted !!

Sunday 7 October 2007

Mid term blues ....

It is a funny thing with these championships, but around this time you tend to get the mid-term blues. It isn't helped by the fact the often – as in this case – the offices are windowless, so we get no sunshine, no daylight. Living in an hotel is just hard work – however comfortable the room, the pillows are not your own, the sounds around you are different. In this case there is the constant hum of the air conditioning (very necessary, believe me!), and you just don't sleep very well.

The days are long – I am generally in the office by about 8 or 8.30, finishing around 7.30 or 8 in the evening, sometimes a bit earlier but not a lot. So that in itself is tiring.

Here there is no chance of going out for a breath of fresh air – it is hot and sticky outside, not fresh at all, and the pollution is … well, let's just say that fresh it isn't ! And I am a country girl at heart – I am lucky enough to live in the country in England, in a village, but behind the station (I live in a Railway Station in case you didn't know!) there are trees and the river and lovely wildlife and I am missing it dreadfully ! It isn't helped by Mark not being here with me, by knowing that my daughter Vick is going to be at home packing up the Children in Need material and I am not there to help and – most difficult of all in many ways – knowing that my younger daughter, Catherine is about to leave for a year to travel through South America, New Zealand and South East Asia with "her" Mark (all these Mark's get very confusing). So … mid term blues! And in the words of the song … "I wanna go home" !!

Anyway, today is a "Transnational" day, when the teams who have not qualified will make themselves into new teams to play in the new event, and will come to register ready to start play tomorrow, so it is busy busy busy and the office will be buzzing all day – which is why I am actually writing this first thing, although I won't post it until the end of the day in case there is any extra news.

And there isn't much really ! The quarter finals are under way and, as I guessed, the transnationals have kept me very busy – I have been preparing invoices, checking the numbers of teams and the names and things, and Christine has been dealing with the finances.

And the day has run away with me as usual, and it is time for me to close down and go and find some dinner … then to bed and back to the fray tomorrow ! Hopefully the blues will start to turn rosy pink as we get closer to the end :-)

Saturday 6 October 2007

It's getting positively tense here

It's the last day of the round robin - indeed as I type it is the end of the last match, and the qualifiers will be decided in a few minutes. For the rest of the teams it is either a plane ticket home or entry into the Transnational Open Teams ! Looks like it was all quite close at the top as well with an exciting finish in the race for qualification! It is just finishing then there will be the Captains' Meeting to determine who plays who in the quarter finals - thank goodness I don't have to attend that :-)

It's been quite a reasonable day for me, sorting out Transnational entries as teams realise they will not be playing in the Knock out stages, finding some pictures of Beijing for the Bulletin, to tell the world about the World Mind Sport Games next year, printing up some more documents for the Laws Committee and generally dealing with various bits and bobs as they came up.

Seems we are in for a typhoon either tonight or tomorrow morning, so that will be an interesting experience. The local organisers don't think it will disrupt play but it may not be too good for the Grand Prix tomorrow ! Looks like the drivers are in for very wet conditions!

Don't forget to go to the page of links on the site to find out all about this tournament will you - you can get all the convention cards of the players and see what systems they are playing as well if you are interested.

Tonight I am off out for a birthday party, and the Birthday Girl (Adele Wignall from New Zealand) has expressed a strong wish to eat Peking Duck, so we have found a nice restaurant and will be off there shortly. Now it is time to try and phone my daughter - thank goodness for VOIP! and then close the computer down so it can cool off and be ready for me tomorrow.

Friday 5 October 2007

Happy Birthday Mark

Before I tell you about my day, I want to wish Mark, my partner, a very very happy birthday - Mark is in England and I am missing him very much and wishing I could be with him ... Mark, have a great day - we are all thinking of you and I am looking forward to seeing you when I get back. I am being very restrained and not telling the world how old you are please note !!

I left you last night to head for the WBF President's Dinner - and it was such a great evening ! Here is a picture of José Damiani - the President of the World Bridge Federation.

The atmosphere was far more relaxed than it has been at some of these events in the past, and it really turned into a good party - one where it seemed that everyone really enjoyed themselves. The dinner itself was delicious, and my table companions delightful, so a good time was certainly had.

There were a number of presentations of WBF Awards made at the beginning of the evening, then Bill "Kojak" Schoder played the piano for us for a while - for those of you who don't know, Kojak was Chief Tournament Director of the WBF for years and is much loved. Max Bavin (Chief TD of the EBU) is now Chief TD of the WBF and led his team to stand with Kojak - it was a wonderful moment !

Today started with a meeting of the WBF Women's Committee ... I am Secretary to the Committee so need to attend, and that took up a big chunk of my morning, followed by sorting out a few bits and pieces for the bulletin. There was a big meeting of IMSA today (International Mind Sports Association), and so I got invited to their lunch, which was nice.

This afternoon has kind of vanished, strange really as I don't feel I have done very much yet I have actually been hammering away at my computer the whole time so I guess I must have done something ! Quite a lot of time was devoted to the new Laws, getting the latest set of files into order ready for the Executive (that necessitated putting the headphones on and shutting the world out!)

Now, it is time to head out for dinner and (hopefully) an early night to be ready for the fray tomorrow !

Thursday 4 October 2007

Heavens what a day !

The office has really been buzzing today - lots of emails to start the morning, deep joy - thank goodness for good virus protection as there were about a dozen with a particularly unpleasant trojan worm ! So, that dealt with, the day really got going with people needing notices doing for the bulletin, changes made to transnational teams then a meeting about youth bridge with two of the Australians.

The pace this afternoon didn't let up either, with designing posters for the President's Dinner this evening to tell people where to go, plus I was interviewed on Vu-Graph by Jean Paul Meyer - a very nerve-wracking experience let me tell you ... I am unused to being in the public eye like that ... normally I am just behind a computer screen :-) Then there was the President's speech to be typed and corrected ready for him to deliver this evening.

I left you last night to go out for dinner with two members of the Australian Open team - we had a lovely evening, at a Japanese Restaurant. I don't "do" sashimi, but the food we ordered was delicious - some super beef, savoury noodles to die for, vegetable tempura ... all sorts of yummy things !

And tonight I leave you to go and change ready for the President's dinner, always a great occasion and one I really look forward to. I will tell you about it tomorrow :-)

Wednesday 3 October 2007

...Frantic morning !

My feet had to hit the ground running this morning - everything seemed to be needed at once, plus we found that the Special Olympics people had taken over the ground floor and had removed our entire hospitality area ! It was a misunderstanding and soon sorted, but still took some dealing with. The pictures that they have up of the athletes are just amazing - very emotive and touching.

Then there was my normal daily clutch of emails to be attended to, together with a whole raft of documents about the new laws which had to be sorted, saved, converted and printed - a job requiring high concentration so I put the headphones on and disappeared into my i-tunes ! Next job up was sorting out the transnational teams - we have 125 teams at the moment and rising, so it is a matter of checking them into the database and hoping there are no duplicates by mistake! then all the printouts have to be done, so that the people at the registration desk can do their job properly.

Managed to escape for a quick lunch and a whistle stop walk round the hotel to take a few photos - there are too many to upload here so if you want to see them, click here. Didn't stay out too long though - it is HOT out there !!!

Then back into the lovely air conditioning and off into to the playing area to try and find someone to arrange a meeting (failed miserably). However, I did meet up with friends from South Africa and had a nice natter with them. Back up to the office to get going with the report I have to do but was called into an appeal to give some information to the Committee which took an age .

And suddenly it is 19.30 and I haven't done half the things I set out to do today! So I guess it is an early start for me tomorrow :-) ... time to wander down to meet friends for dinner.

Tuesday 2 October 2007

Chinese feasts !

Well, after the first Chinese feast on Monday, when I was invited to a dinner offered by the Chinese Bridge Federation, I had a marvellous evening last night - I was invited by the President of Zone 6 to a private dinner at a restaurant in "downtown" Shanghai. It all started with a bus trip to the restaurant - an adventure in itself as it is a Chinese Holiday this week and the streets were thronged with people, wandering all over the road, with street vendors selling everything from clothes and souvenirs to food and drink.

We made it safely to the restaurant which was in one of the old buildings and is used for private parties. And the food started coming - I have never seen so many courses ! There was something for most tastes, and it was a real challenge to try them all. I found that I really don't particularly like jellyfish ... it had been (I think) fried, and was kind of like a solid crunchy but nevertheless jelly-like texture - I can't describe it better than that. I bottled out on the sea-cucumber, but tried most of the other dishes. Some I liked better than others, but there were some really fabulous ones among them. The slow cooked pork was memorable and the braised beef nothing short of magnificent. I was surprised to find foie gras and caviar (not togther - as separate dishes!) on the menu and I have no idea what variety of mushrooms we ate but they were excellent. There were some amazing vegetable dishes including one of the smallest peas (or maybe a variety of bean) that I have ever seen and were quite stunning! I discovered that I can live without ever eating Lotus again, and the shrimps with ginko aren't very interesting unless you dip them in the vinegar/soy dipping sauce. The company was fun and it was a great evening.

This morning started with reading the bulletin as normal, but it was full of bridge hands so I didn't linger over long with it !! Then there were some reports to type up and get ready for the WBF Women's Committee Meeting which is on Friday, then a report to write for the Executive Committee about the
World Wide Bridge Contest (by the way, don't forget to come and play in that next year will you !!)

Then I went on a search through the building for the on-site organiser which gave me some exercise (it's a BIG building!). I didn't actually find her but I did find a good view out of the windows next to the lifts, so that is what the pictures are - the big tower is the very famous Shanghai Telecoms tower, and the view is just up the street - as you can see, even mid-afternoon it is very busy.

Having failed in my mission to find the person I was searching for, I returned like a good girl to my desk and sorted out the lists of transnational teams

The bridge progresses successfully I gather - the playing conditions seem excellent and the teams are happy which is the really important thing at these events!
Now, as it is 7.15 pm, I am going to upload this and go to find some food !

Monday 1 October 2007

Phew what a day!

It has been a strange day here - I overslept slightly which didn't help (only until 07.30 but still a bit later than I intended), so didn't get into the office until about 8.30. There seemed to be all sorts of bits and pieces that needed dealing with - players coming with changes to their systems, work to do on the new Laws, entries for the transnational teams coming in ... all sorts of things. The WBF Meetings got underway, so Carol disappeared into the meeting room for the day to take the minutes, and Christine and I were left to hold the fort in the office. Somehow I don't seemed to have stopped all day, but as it has all been "bitty" things I don't feel I have a lot to show for it, but I suppose it was reasonably productive on the whole.

As far as I can tell, play is going smoothly - we are on the 3rd floor of the conference centre and play is on the ground floor - you can't even hear the hum of noise when the players start to come as we are quite isolated up here. The Bulletin room is opposite the office, with the editors coming and going, but the Press room is across the corridor and we don't even hear them ! We are kept well supplied with coffee by the organisation - I am going to be bouncing off the walls tonight I think, I have drunk so much caffeine !

Last night I worked late, helping with the bulletin, but after that I went with one of the Tournament Directors up to the Moon Bar, which is fabulous with great views over the river, where you can see the lights of Shanghai - it was beautiful and we sat up there with friends and took it all in. Tonight I have been invited to dinner with the President of the Zone 6 Bridge Federation and am really looking forward to that.

Tomorrow I will try and get out and about with the camera a little bit, if I have time.