Crowded calendar, limited events and seniors competitions

The EBU competitions calendar is crowded, but unless any events stop contributing to the overall budget, there seems no basis for discontinuing them. They might however be changed in format to try to make them more popular. Suggestions that have been received aside from those made at the meeting include:

  • A mixed pairs/teams congress
  • An expansion of the Jack High concept to have higher or lower limits, such as King High or Seven High

When it comes to Seniors congresses, we have three that are close to each other in the summer and a further one in the autumn.

Summer Seniors at the start of July in Eastbourne.
Seniors Congress in the Summer Meeting at the start of August in Eastbourne.
Seniors events at the Scarborough Congress at the end of July.
Summer Seniors at the start of November in Daventry.

Clearly we should reschedule the summer ones in some way. We could:

  • Amalgamate the two Eastbourne Seniors congresses so that we just have the one that is part of the Summer Meeting. This would have obvious cost benefits as well as revitalising the mid-week schedule. I intend to consult the players from those events to see whether they think this is a good idea.
  • Alternatively we could reschedule the standalone Eastbourne Seniors to a different time of year.
  • We could try to move the Scarborough Seniors to a different time of year, though it was introduced fairly recently in response to specific requests for seniors events in the North.

Comments

  • Seniors are deserting the open competitions, which become less viable as a result. This can't be self-sustaining; the open competitons will eventually disappear then there will be no feed into the Seniors which will disappear too.

    Green Points should only be awarded for Open Events; Seniors should be downgraded to Blue Points. This might see a change in attendance.

  • @BCLgrumpy said:
    Seniors are deserting the open competitions, which become less viable as a result.

    Do you have evidence for this? I see numbers in seniors events declining and no lowering of average age in open events.

  • edited December 2019

    To be honest I don't think Seniors are all that bothered about master points especially when the gap from Life Master to Premier Life is so great. I think NGS is much more relevant to most players nowadays - I like ** [Name & original comment removed at contributor's request]** idea of having more competitions that are open to everyone.
    Can I just say also that I think the idea of these forums is excellent - I'm glad the members are getting a chance to comment. As a director, the directors forum has been extremely useful during the past year, and I trust that this forum will also help the EBU formulate congresses in the future without having to use the congress review forms which take quite a bit of manual work to collate.

  • edited August 2019

    I think a mixed pairs/teams congress would be an excellent idea. The trials for European Mixed teams last year got an entry of 16 teams in its first year, I'm sure when the selectors advertised the trials they were not expecting anywhere near that size entry. Womens, Senior, Junior, Jack High and Ranked Master events all have restricted entries, whereas Mixed events are open to everyone (as long as one enters with a partner of the right gender!) so in theory at least there is no reason why a mixed event could not attract an entry close in size to an open event, and if the trials are anything to go by, they probably would.

    I also support the expansion of the Jack High concept. If you go to National or Regional congress in the USA, they always offer a range of events running concurrently, Open events for the top players, and restricted events (in USA they use master points, but we should use NGS) for intermediate and novice players who prefer not to play against the big guns. If we have Jack High or whatever event running alongside the open events it would make venue hire more cost effective.

  • edited December 2019

    @** [Name & original comment removed at contributor's request]** said:

    Re the Jack High events - are they restricted to pairs with a combined partnership grade of <=Jack, or to pairs where both players are <=Jack each? If the latter, perhaps switch to the former (which might give opportunities for mentor/improver pairs to participate)?

    I think a congress where the average grade of the two players has to be lower than 60% would be popular. It's not a good idea to use partnership grades - even assuming the two players have played together before, a grade acquired from 150-300 boards of play is pretty random.

  • Disagree strongly with the idea of making all events Open. There needs to be more difference between Congress A and Congress B, not less. A mixed congress would be of interest to a lot of players. Some wouldn't consider playing it, of course, but so what? There will be a non-mixed congress they can play in a week or two later!

  • @mickyb said:

    I think a congress where the average grade of the two players has to be lower than 60% would be popular. It's not a good idea to use partnership grades - even assuming the two players have played together before, a grade acquired from 150-300 boards of play is pretty random.

    I agree with this, though not having any Aces (roughly) may make the congress appear to be unpopular, which could then lead to a future decline in entries (alternatively people performing better than they might otherwise expect in a congress may encourage them to return!).

    I wouldn't encourage having events with a higher level lower than around a Ten though at congress level because the uptake probably wouldn't be high enough (at least not yet anyway) to be sustainable; Trying to encourage counties to host these events (with their corresponding reduced transport costs and entry fees) could be a way for less experienced players to nonetheless move up into county and national bridge. One disadvantage though (of county e.g. "Ten high" events) would be the lack of time in which to put in lessons, which are a successful way in Really Easy events to simultaneously provide an enjoyable environment and increase their bridge ability!

  • I disagree with the idea of having congresses for players below certain grades - for example Jack high. Whilst this may be attractive to some players it limits such players entering the main congress. This reduces the range of standards within the main congress making them more elitist and, therefore, even less attractive to lower grade players.
    I agree there should be an entry level congress for those of limited experience (NGS to 8) but dislike the branding Really Easy.
    The logical consequence of introducing several grade limited congresses is that everyone would enter such a competition which would effectively take away the ability of lower grade players to compete against all levels.
    Other strategies are required to reverse the fall in numbers of the main congresses.

  • edited December 2019

    @** [Name & original comment removed at contributor's request]** said:
    Re the Jack High events - are they restricted to pairs with a combined partnership grade of <=Jack, or to pairs where both players are <=Jack each? If the latter, perhaps switch to the former (which might give opportunities for mentor/improver pairs to participate)?

    At the moment, it is individual grades of Jack or lower at the time of entry.

    Nick Doe
    EBU Competitions Administrator / Laws & Ethics Secretary

  • I thought that it might be helpful to repeat something that I said at the meeting in Eastbourne.

    This is that the congestion of the calendar is primarily between the beginning of May and the Summer Meeting in August (which has been brought earlier in the month following the move to Eastbourne in order to avoid a clash with the Eastbourne Air Show). During this period there is no "spare" weekend where there is no EBU event and no Green-pointed County event.

    By contrast we have lost a few events that were formerly played in the winter months (Men's and Women's Pairs and Teams come to mind). Some suggestions were made that we should move events to those months from the congested summer months, although we would need to be aware of the impact on County programmes.

    Nick Doe
    EBU Competitions Administrator / Laws & Ethics Secretary

  • The midweek Seniors Events should be cancelled.
    Combine this with bold and creative re-engineering of the open midweek events as suggested by others here and the midweek could rise phoenix-like from the ashes
    As a radical thought how many people attend both Eastbourne and Scarborough?
    If the answer is not many why not make them the same dates and combine the fields across both venues?

    Peter Bushby Suffolk

  • With regard to the Seniors events, in which I do not play at the moment, my own preference would be to move the stand alone Eastbourne Seniors event to the Spring. I would only favour merging it with the Summer Meeting event if this were part of a much bigger attempt to revitalise the midweek. Even then we might lose a significant number who only want to play at the weekend as some seniors do work and others look after grandchildren.

    As for the 'conflict' with Scarborough. No one is suggesting that is a conflict with the open events so why should there be with the seniors.

  • There does not seem to be a coordinated plan that everyone can see and understand, that exists between the EBU, the County CBAs and leading Clubs to build an increasingly successful event path for players from Club > County > Regional > National.

    Whilst improving the current EBU calendar (juggling, combining, etc) is valuable, should that not be part of a larger (superset), ambitious program?

    What is the EBU learning from other NBOs that are building successfully transitioning bridge communities? e.g. Australia, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Sweden, France.

    I'm sure we'd all love to have more growth at all levels of bridge in this country: more club players at county events, more county players and regional events and so on. But these paths need to be easy for the thousands of players we want to traverse it: findable, coherent, convenient, affordable. We need great paths that are well lit.

  • I 100% agree with Kiat, which reminds me of two great initiatives by Oxford Bridge Club (https://www.bridgewebs.com/cgi-bin/bwon/bw.cgi?club=obc&pid=display_page21&sessid=316797215867831) and Wallingford Bridge Club (https://www.bridgewebs.com/wallingford/Which Session.pdf) which clearly outline the standard of player which each session is suited to in a friendly format.

    There is definitely potential to extend one or both of these formats on a larger scale. Starting at county level, although each county has the freedom to run the events it deems most suitable to its members, a simple option to select the standard of event and then forwarding a simple poster to its member clubs could be very effective. It might be possible for counties to reduce their entry fees to regular club players (who pay the county anyway through P2P) that don't play at county events, and county emails can be colour-coded according to a player's NGS.

    The same principle also applies when moving upwards from county events, although my personal opinion is that the main draw to events at county-level tends to be the swiss format and the chance of winning a prize (whether the main event or a non-expert prize). If national events are to be attractive for anyone who doesn't want to stay for more than a couple of days, the EBU needs to offer something that counties don't (again, this is just my view). A long swiss pairs event is fine for the top players competing to be national champions, but isn't necessarily what a pair of less experienced players want from playing in a national event, which is why the Really Easy innovation has been successful. Moving onto the Eastbourne mid-week, perhaps the Really Easy and main mid-week congresses need to be merged in some way using a division-style system, with a few pairs promoted/relegated between divisions so that they play in a division suitable to them. Unfortunately, this sort of event requires a good turnout to get going, so marketing would be crucial.

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