"Promoting Real Bridge in a Virtual World" - Developed by Mark and Anna Newton (married 20th March 2024)

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How it all began ... a Sims History

In the days of the British Bridge League, which as many of you remember was the National Bridge Organisation for England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland, one of the great administrators of Bridge, Charlie Bowman, from Scotland, used to run Simultaneous Pairs events.

When Anna took over as Secretary to the BBL in 1984, there were two of these run each year - one on the second Wednesday in April (the Spring Simultaneous), the other in October (the Autumn Simultaneous). These were painstakingly scored by Charlie Bowman and (we think) his son-in-law using the mainframe computer at the insurance company where he worked. The BBL was always short of funds, and in 1990 a new event was introduced on the last Monday of July - the first Summer Simultaneous. This was followed by another Wednesday event, in January 1992. In 1994, the Spring Simultaneous Pairs was extended to the Thursday evening as well, and this worked so well that in 1995 the other three followed suit and all became two-day events, with different hands being played each evening.

In addition to these BBL, and later Bridge Great Britain (BGB) events, the World Bridge Federation ran an international event, the World Wide Bridge Contest, each June, using a different scoring method, as did the European Bridge League in November each year. Both these events were scored using pre-determined frequencies, where the scores on each board were allocated in advance.

In 1998, the World Bridge Federation event had lost a great deal of popularity, partly because it took a long time for the final results to be available and sent out to the clubs. The President of the WBF felt that it should be possible to score it using Internet in some way, and Mark happened to be in the vicinity at the time. Mark said that in his opinion it would be possible to score across the whole field, not by using pre-determined frequencies, which were not popular with the players, and agreed to sit down and write something. The rest, as they say, is history.

The first event to be scored using the ECats OnLine Scoring System was the 1999 Portland Pairs ... it scored across the field and across multiple sections using Internet for the first time. The program was only just ready (literally only just) for this first event, and it was pretty scary stuff, necessitating us being up most of the night to "baby sit" the servers and make sure all was OK.

The next event that year was a BBL Simultaneous Pairs run in June - we had said that the program would not be ready for a world event in 1999, but that the World Wide Bridge Contest should be re-launched in 2000, so the BBL decided that it would run its own event instead. It was very different then - much less information and not so easy to use. The client program for scoring locally and sending in the results was still being developed and wasn't as easy to use as it is today, and there were no other programs that would link to the system at that time.

ECatsBridge continued to develop the software, both the scoring program itself but, more importantly, the website, and in June 2000 the first World Wide Bridge Contest was held. It was another scary experience, and we learned an enormous amount, again by staying up most of the first night to look after the servers. But, the main thing was that it worked and people enjoyed the experience.

The 2001 WWBC was positively easy by comparison, and the BGB Simultaneous Pairs just developed calmly and we continued to add enhancements, like the hand diagrams to the frequencies, and the personal score cards and all the details contained there. ECatsBridge is constantly developing the system and looking at new and exciting enhancements!

Other organisations expressed an interest in the system. We scored the European Simultaneous Pairs for some years until it declined through lack of support from the othe rNBOs, and we have scored Swedish Trials, Nordic Simultaneous Pairs, Icelandic Simultaneous Pairs. In 2001 were delighted to be asked to score the Shell World Wide event and, of course, the English Bridge Union Simultaneous Pairs. We scored the PABF Pairs, the CBAI Pairs, the Irish Simultaneous, the NIBU Duplicate Pairs, the WBU Simultaneous and various inter-county events.

In 2001 there was the major Tsunami in Indonesia and we ran a very big world pairs in conjunction with the WBF and raised over £70,000 to provide aid. Since then this charity pairs has run every January in aid of a disaster fund that needs funds.

In 2003 Anna achieved a long-held ambition by organising a special event for Children in Need, and this is now a "calendar fixture". Also In 2003 we were asked to score the Bill Hughes event run by David Stephenson and the Kidney Research Simultaneous and in 2004 we were asked to run the Charity Challenge Simultaneous Pairs.

The EBU took their own events and the BGB events "in house" so we stopped scoring those, but there are still plenty of ECatsBridge Simultaneous Pairs to enjoy.

In accordance with our own commitment to the development of bridge, and particularly the development of Junior bridge, we organise the WBF Pairs for Youth Bridge and a number of other events.

Details of most of the events we organise are in the Calendar

So - can we help you score your event - click here for more information about how we might help you!