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Manx Bridge Congress 9 May 2005

Players from the UK and Ireland will be travelling to the Isle of Man in September for the annual Bridge Congress based at the Empress Hotel in Douglas. The Congress - the 39th to be held in the Island - marks the end of one era and the beginning of another.

The previous 38 have been organised jointly by the Manx Bridge Union and either the English Bridge Union or its predecessor, the British Bridge League. However, from next year the Isle of Man organisation goes it alone.

Explained competitions secretary, Paul de Weerd:

"It was quite an amicable parting of the ways. The EBU felt it wanted to concentrate on helping organise bigger, and possibly more competitive events but the selling point for the Isle of Man Congress has always been the fact that it is a really friendly event in a relaxed atmosphere.

"Many of the players look forward to combining the competitive element with a holiday in the Island and this is the concept we will be developing in the years ahead. We have been assured our dates will be protected so that no other similar event will be staged in the north of England at that time."

Around 100 players will be taking part in the Congress to try and win monetary prizes and also collect green points to improve their ratings. While some English internationals are regular visitors, the format is such that competitors play with, and against, those of a similar standard.

John Large, chair of the Manx Bridge Union, said:

"Some events are aimed purely at one class of player but ours is of the comprehensive across-the-board variety which enables social players to enjoy it without being terrified they will be up against national standard players.

"We try not to be dictatorial but listen to the comments and adjust the events accordingly. When you travel round the different congresses in the UK it is gratifying to hear people say they have fond memories of the event in the Isle of Man. We like to think the friendliness and relaxed attitude makes our congress unique."

In September, visitors will come from Lancashire, Yorkshire and Coventry as well as Ireland. Team competitions (four to a team) take place in the afternoons with the Swiss Pairs events in the evenings, leaving mornings free for sightseeing. Playing partners will be found for individual entrants.

The Manx Bridge Union is encouraging more locals to ?dip their toes in the water.? The MBU has a membership of over 100 and, while some do join their UK counterparts, the organisers say there is scope for many more to compete.

Tourism Minister David Cretney said that by listening to what competitors wanted and adapting accordingly the event had stood the test of time.

He added:

"The fact that almost three-quarters of the players return year after year is testimony to the popularity of the Isle of Man Bridge Congress and I know the organisers are looking to develop it even further when it comes under their direct control."

The Bridge Congress takes place at the Empress Hotel, Douglas, from September 9-11 with a warm up event also available on the previous day, before the event proper begins.

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