Update May 9: All CBAI and IBU events scheduled for the 2019/20 season have now been cancelled, although several congresses are looking at holding their competitions as online virtual events. So far, those doing so are South of Ireland (Killarney) Congress (9-17 May), and Yeats Country (Sligo) Congress (5-7 June), but there may be others, so watch this space.

Update April 19: The following events have been added to the list of cancellations and postponements for the 2019/20 season: NIBU Spring Congress (1-3 May), IBU Club Pairs (9 May and 16 May), 4Fun Teams (23 May), IBU Egan Trophy (23-24 May), Ballina Congress (10-12 July), and the European Championships in Portugal (17-27 June). The congresses and the Europeans have been cancelled, while the CBAI and IBU events MAY take place later in the year if circumstances allow – although this must be considered increasingly unlikely as time passes and the list of deferred events mounts.

Update March 24: In light of the government’s announcement concerning non-essential businesses today, the CBAI’s office and shop will be closed to the public, either in person or by telephone, with immediate effect. Both the general email account (info@cbai.ie) and Paul Porteous’s personal CBAI email account (paul@cbai.ie) will continue to be monitored regularly, so members and clubs can continue to contact us that way. In addition, in case of anything very urgent any of the three following contacts will be happy to help in any way they can: Paul Porteous (087-6996686); Dermot O’Brien (087-9075663); and Bernard Higgins (087-9880115).

Update March 18: The following events have been added to the list of cancellations for season 2019/20: Galway Congress (10-13 April), Carlow Congress (1-3 May), and South of Ireland (Killarney) Congress (9-17 May). In addition the Lady Milne (17-19 April) and Teltscher Trophy (15-17 May) home international tournaments have been postponed.

Update March 12: As you will probably have seen, the government today advised that all indoor gatherings of more than 100 people should be cancelled with immediate effect, until at least March 29. In addition, we have been advised by quite a few bridge clubs that they have decided to cancel bridge for the moment. If you are unsure about your own club’s status, you should check with the club Secretary. And if bridge in your area IS cancelled, please make a special effort to keep in touch with any members who may be missing the social outlet that bridge provides.

March 7: At meetings on Saturday 7 March, the CBAI Governing Council and the IBU Emergency Committee decided, with regret, to postpone all national competitions scheduled for the months of March and April, as a prudent measure to avoid large gatherings and to protect the bridge playing population, which by its demographic is an at-risk group, against the threat of the Covid 19 virus (“coronavirus”).

Specifically, this means the postponement of the following scheduled competitions: the IBU Burke and O’Connor Trophies (14/15 March), the CBAI National Pairs Championships (Davidson, Laird, and Civil Service Trophies, 21/22 March), the IBU Moylan Cup (4/5 April), the CBAI National Confined Championships (JJ Murphy, Lambert, and Cooper Cups, 18/19 April), the IBU Seniors Congress (21/23 April), and the CBAI National Teams Championships (Kelburne, Bankers, and Tierney Trophies, 25/26 April). The Greystones Open Cup (March 29) has also been postponed. The second scheduled weekend of the IBU Mixed Trials (28/29 March) has been deferred, but  will go ahead, as soon as an alternative date can be confirmed. The Clonmel Congress organisers have also advised that the congress (27/29 March) has been cancelled, and will not take place this season.

For the moment, our guidance is that regions and clubs can decide for themselves what policy to adopt in relation to their own events, including congresses, which typically tend to be smaller in size than the national events, although the situation is obviously developing rapidly. We are in constant touch with the health authorities, and we will communicate any changes to this guidance as soon as we are advised of them. If a congress committee decides to postpone or cancel a congress, please let us know so that we may reflect this fact on our website.

The CBAI and IBU will review the situation in relation to the national events at Easter, in light of developments on the coronavirus in the meantime, and will issue an update at that point. It is hoped to hold the postponed competitions over the summer, assuming (a) that the threat of the virus has been contained at that stage, and (b) that suitable venues can be found. Please be assured that this decision was not taken lightly; your delegates felt that, given the current guidance from the medical experts, the risk involved in holding large gatherings of card-players was simply too great.

We have also written to all clubs to advise them as to best practice to combat the threat of the coronavirus. All the essential information and guidance is set out on the HSE’s website. In particular, we would draw your attention to the advice to wash your hands properly and frequently, to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze, and to avoid making contact with your eyes, nose, or mouth if your hands are not clean. In addition, if you are concerned that you may have contracted the coronavirus, the protocol is that you should telephone your doctor, not call to them or to a hospital. In that case, you are also obviously advised not to attend gatherings such as bridge clubs.

The HSE has produced a very useful poster on this topic which is available for download, and it would be helpful to display it prominently within your club – we would suggest on an entrance door rather than on the noticeboard, if practicable. In addition, we have put together a bridge-oriented flyer which you can display, or even leave on tables, to provide guidance for your members.

Finally, a number of clubs and members have approached us in relation to the idea of running their bridge tournaments online while real-life bridge is threatened by health concerns. This is certainly possible, although it does require some facility with the relevant online bridge platforms. We have put together a short note on this topic, which may be found in a separate post.