Just duplicate?

When we ran a Festival of Bridge in Oxford last September we promoted it as open to all bridge players and offered the opportunity to play rubber or duplicate. There were relatively few who opted for the rubber bridge element but those who did enjoyed the experience. Some said that they will try to be braver next time and try duplicate. I hope they will also tell their friends.
I suggest that we need events which mix such players with our duplicate players for them to discover that we can have fun too.
I would welcome news of other counties' experience of attracting rubber bridge players to duplicate and particularly ideas of events that can be run that will appeal to both types of bridge player.
Activities like this can change the image that we are only there to serve the upper echelons of competitive duplicate players. Do you agree?


  • There are two questions puzzling me around this topic at the moment, and your thoughts would be welcome

    (a) will players who regularly play duplicate have an interest in playing non-duplicate bridge? The upside is that it is much easier to arrnge, but the downside is that they won't have comparisons and the same basis for analysing hands after the event. I am so fond of the analysis I suspect my interest is low, but in many ways I am atypical. Any thoughts on how most would react?

    (b) two differences between the two forms of bridge are the formaility and the analysis, but it is a third difference I need your thoughts on. That difference is that (almost) every face-to-face duplicate bridge event commits you to a 3+ hour window of time, whereas non-duplicate can be squeezed into a half hour (or less) here or there. How much does the length of today's typical duplicate bridge session discourage people from getting involved in duplicate?

    Patrick Shields

  • Hi Robert. I have been trying to find out more about the "charity" type bridge events, usually Chicago or Rubber. The main info I am getting is that the numbers involved have dropped off and the "event" needs something extra like a fish and chip supper or similar. I have never attended anything like this as a bridge experience (have done the quiz night type of thing) and to be honest I don't think I would enjoy the experience. However, having said that I accept that we (being part of the EBU) need to understand and get involved with this type of thing at the begining. One aspect that worries me is that we don't know how many people are involved in the "non-duplicate" playing or how many that do are already members of the EBU. I am aware that near me there is a winter teams league that plays at peoples homes and someone keeps details of the results but no one seems to know who is involved (but most people seem to know about it!). I have also noted that most of the people that play at non EBU affliated clubs in our County are also members of the EBU. As you are probably aware we also don't know all the non EBU affliated clubs or their teachers (U3A, and various other social clubs). I think we need to try and "find" these people and ask what they think. Perhaps they do the "rubber" bridge for leisurely experience and play one duplicate session a week to see if they have improved. My humble opinion is that we need to think about this outside the box, that is to stop trying to work out which box people are in and see if we can encourage them into another box or find out why they don't want to be in our box. We should then try to change/amend what we do. Perhaps we need to continue teaching bridge and hope that the majority play duplicate right away or come back in years to come when their circumstances allow.

    Patrick, as far as (a) above is concerned I have no real interest in non duplicate bridge except in my own social circle for laughs. With regard to (b) I think you might have the basis of a good idea. Not sure how to deal with but there must be some way of playing 24 boards over say two sessions ( 1-12 first session and 13-24 second session) over two days. A bit like the St Albans and Nottingham cafe/restaurant bridge sessions. It will of course require some input on how to score the darn thing but we have the brains and the people willling to try. We need to know what will stop us and then work out ways to get over those blocks.


  • Well, in terms of teaching bridge, this is my approach:

    Promote bridge first
    Then promote duplicate bridge
    Then promote duplicate bridge at our club for particular sessions
    Then promote the more serious nights at our club

    This has worked well so far, where people have come and gone as they play rubber bridge with friends and wanted to get better, then later return to the club for duplicate.

    Others play at other clubs, but I don't see that as a problem as it increases bridge participation in the area which can only be a good thing.

    Many have come straight into the club and are now regular players - on some nights new players (less than 5 years) make up more than half of the room.

    I think that we need not push duplicate and be snobby about it, yes duplicate is better that Chicago (for me anyway), but rubber is ok over a bottle of wine with friends.

    I have noticed that many of our members would be perfectly happy with 2 or 2.5 hour sessions and find that they have certainly had enough after 3 hours. So, shorter sessions would be popular, but then we lose the value of duplicate, so perhaps there is a 1/2 way house. Running over 2 sessions is possible, but if you can only make 1 of them, its a bit of a problem. It also would not promote visitors or people that travel a good way to play bridge.

    It certainly seems that the more social bridge clubs that do not take things seriously and are generally low standard, are very popular. So perhaps the serious clubs need to take a leaf out of their books and become more friendly. Maybe tea breaks and biscuits are the way to go?

    We have recently been considering starting a regular Chicago afternoon session, perhaps with lunch or afternoon tea. It is always difficult to get these things off the ground and needs a core group of keen players to begin with.

  • Hi Martin

    The issue is not simply the length of the session, but also the speed of play required to complete 24 boards in a three hour session - which for many social or inexperienced players can represent a major challenge....as well as limiting the time left over for chatting with opponents and the social side of the game. The stamina needed for a three hour session is even greater for evening sessions.

    Most big clubs are acutely aware of why people come to play bridge and do their utmost to provide an attractive environment to that end....and big clubs, often with their own facilities, have the opportunity to arrange sessions with 20/22 boards and or tea/cake breaks. Commonly such sessions are now run during the day and are often very popular.

    If clubs are going to consider splitting events over two days, then I would suggest they consider playing 18 boards in each session. This is for two reasons. (1) Masterpoints are awarded at a higher rate for events with 36 boards. (2) 36 boards should allow more all-play-all movements which can be seen as fairer etc.

    I direct a number of club swiss pairs events run in an evening with 5 rounds, each of 5 boards (or 6x6bds if in an afternoon). Obviously these are only practical for clubs which have access to a duplimating machine & enough sets of boards, but I do find that the format can be promoted as a more social form of the game than traditional duplicate. The longer rounds provide more opportunity for getting to know your opponents and are less stressful for those who would normally find themselves playing catch up all the time when the director calls the move in a duplicate. The "swiss" scoring also means that players will be paired more closely with opponents of a similar standard - and allows everyone to feel they can win their "match". The loss of that sense of beating your opponents (as in rubber) is certainly a drawback of duplicate scoring.

    If any clubs want to discuss any aspects of the above, then they are welcome to contact me at EBED, English Bridge Education & Development : richard@ebedcio.org.uk


  • It appears that we have to be a bit careful with our terminology here (although I agree with most of what is said above)! If you check out the definitions in the November 2017 EBU bye-laws, you'll find: -

    "Duplicate Contract Bridge" means the game known by such name on the date of adoption of these Bye Laws and any other form of competition contract bridge and such other game or games closely akin thereto as may from time to time hereafter be devised or invented.

    There is no doubt that rubber bridge competitions exist, so rubber is a form of competition contract bridge and is now included in the term "Duplicate Contract Bridge". I don't know how we should refer to the specific form of bridge used in most of our competitions - is there a term that describes that specific form or do we have to invent one? Perhaps "Duplicate" might do the job?

  • What if we could provide a drop-in, drop-out face-to-face version of the DIDO competition on Bridge Club Live?
    You turn up at your club and play as many four board sets as you have time for against whichever unplayed pair becomes free once your current set finishes.
    The technology must almost be there......

    Peter Bushby Suffolk

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