Bridge: Promoting it as a game not a duplicate game

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February 1, 2016

My Google Alert for “play bridge” has brought several recent newspaper articles, any one of which a visionary marketing person at ACBL could run with to promote the game of bridge. Not duplicate bridge but the game of bridge. Which is what’s needed.

I’ll be writing about each one of them in separate blogs.

First is an article at Bridge Winners blog, “A tale of two bridge clubs” and comments thereto. It is somewhat over my head because I don’t “get” esoteric stuff about duplicate competition, but it SOUNDS like there’s conflict in that world that needs resolution. Resentment about Master Points awarded equally to “pure” duplicate and to lesser sloppier versions.

Sounds as if there needs to be one Master Points system for new entrants to duplicate bridge, who play too slowly and want to take a break for lunch, and another for those willing and eager to live by the stricter rules enforcement of pure duplicate. If that were in place, the ACBL probably could market relaxed duplicate to potential newcomers in the general public.

Second is the story of a bridge player who got to worrying she wouldn’t have anybody to play with when she got old, and started a bridge-teaching program at the local library. Now that’s a scenario that could be replicated without impinging on the ACBL’s duplicate teaching programs. An Each One Teach One promotion for learning to play bridge.

Third is a lovely, nostalgia article about a church-sponsored hang out, in a college of the 60s in northwest America, where playing bridge was a “draw” to bring in students. It has never ceased to confound me WHY the ACBL has never (far as I know) done any Retro 50s or 60s promotion when in that era the college campus was THE place where bridge was learned. It was where the young people they yearn to engage took up bridge, if they hadn’t already learned at home. It was a combination of social bridge in dorms and sororities, and serious bridge in the formal bridge clubs for competitive bridge where future bridge champions began.

Discouraged as I get about the ACBL’s efforts, I’m beginning to think bridge – social bridge – WILL survive after all, after I’m gone. Because there’s a steady level in Google Alerts of 60 and 70 year olds taking it up, and while that doesn’t excite the ACBL and those looking for competitive players, it’s fine with us players of classic rubber bridge.

Given today’s life expectancies a 60 year old can play 20 years, maybe 30 if they’re like me. I’m beginning to think social bridge will survive despite the ACBL’s insistence that only duplicate is worth playing.

History is on my side—ancestors of bridge/whist existed since the 1600s, long before Hoyle’s rules in 1742 started an “establishment” to control the game. Bridge is too great a populist card game to be left to the experts.

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