Christmas is a time of year when most bridge clubs hold a special event to celebrate and perhaps enjoy a more light-hearted game of bridge than usual. This may mean no more than just savouring some mince pies and a glass of wine with the usual evening's duplicate, or it could involve some more serious fun. Even if your club is not yet meeting in person, you may still choose to hold and online video party.
If you are looking for some ways to liven up your Christmas party, here are a few ideas, some of which can be combined.
Of course if your Christmas party includes some unusual rules then it should not be submitted for Master Points or NGS ranking.
Most Christmas parties work best with aggregate scoring. Whether you are changing the rules, swapping partners, just want to do something a bit different, or want to relieve the burden on the scorer, aggregate usually works best. Everyone can keep their own running scoring, but with prizes, for example, to the top scorers on aggregate, those who score nearest to zero, and/or those who achieve the second worst aggregate score (not the worst, or people may play to lose).
This is a fun way to mix things up a little. Play 3-board rounds. On board 1 of each round pairs play with their own partners; on board 2 East and South change places; on board 3 the original East and West change places. At the end of the round pairs revert to their normal partnerships and move to the next table according to whatever movement is being played. The partner swapping process is then repeated.
It may be helpful to provide a basic system card for use by all pairs during the second and third boards of each round to avoid long discussions about systems – one which has been used in an EBU individual competition at the Summer Meeting is available here.
The event could be scored as an individual duplicate, but in a party context it may be easier for each player to tally up their own aggregate score at the end.
Stock up with a selection of small low-value prizes. On each round the TD announces a task or target for that round, and the first player to fulfil the task wins the round prize. No player may win more than one round prize. Possible tasks:
Making 3NT on the nose.
Making exactly 90.
Making or beating a doubled contract
Making or beating a redoubled contract
Going off two in an undoubled small slam.
Winning a trick with a specified card.
Find or make a soft ball. Each time someone wins a trick with a two, they should shout "Deuce Ball!" and whoever is in possession of the ball at the time has to throw it across the room to them. The player holding the ball at the end of the evening, and/or at a particular time designated by the TD (on the hour and the half-hour, for example) wins a prize.
Everyone is given a sheet marked up like a bingo card with squares to be crossed off as they accomplish particular tasks, e.g. bid and make 3NT, go off in a doubled contract, make a contract with three overtricks, etc., etc. As people complete a row of tasks, the corners, or a full house, they can claim a prize.
Change the Rules
For one board on each round the TD announces a new rule for that board only, e.g. Aces are low, not high.
Dealer must open 1 No Trump.
Twos are wild.
No-one is allowed to bid spades.
Dummy plays own cards, though still placed face up.
The lead is made by the partner of the player who wins the trick.
Bid the hand then pass two cards to your left
Pass three cards to your right, then bid and play as normal Etc., etc.
Alternatively, an instruction card could be added to every even numbered board, so the same ‘twist’ is used each time the board is played.
‘Changing the rules’ is often best done playing aggregate scoring rather than duplicate as the luck of draw in what rule is in play on which board can make duplicate scoring unfair. Also, if cards are swapped then the board is not the same each time, so duplicate scoring is not appropriate.
Teach everyone to play mini-bridge by playing every other hand under mini-bridge rules. Start the evening by putting a summary of the basic rules on each table and explaining them to everyone. They might then later like to teach some of their friends and relatives mini-bridge at home over the Christmas period.