Unusual (but useful) Movements for Clubs
by John Pain

I can always tell when Christmas Party time has come around because I get an increasing number of requests for Individual Movements – up from zero the rest of the year.

Individual events are rather like Marmite – you either love them or loathe them – but they can be fun. It’s important that everyone plays the same simple system; else you spend too much time discussing things that will never come up and then rush to play the two boards.

The ideal Individual movement should satisfy four criteria:

  1. Each player partners every other player once.
  2. Each player meets every other player twice as an opponent.
  3. When a player is met as an opponent it is once as a left-hand opponent and once as a right-hand opponent.
  4. When any two given players play the same boards at different tables, the second player should play half of those boards in the same direction as the first player and half in the opposite direction.

Very few movements come anywhere near satisfying all the criteria, and even the simplest Individual movement of all (that of 8 players at two tables – see below) does not satisfy criterion 3.

‘Prime Number’ movements for the club party

For the Christmas Bridge party the easiest movement to run is a ‘Prime Number’ movement, sometimes also known as a Rainbow Movement. So 5, 7, 11, or 13 tables are what you look for. In a Prime Number movement you have 4 lines of players – the North line, the South line, etc., plus you have the boards.

Let’s take 11 tables as an illustration. We are going to play 11 2-board rounds, so 22 boards altogether. Put out two boards per table.

Number the players as follows:

(Some scoring software adds different numbers – you need to check what yours will do.)

At the end of each round comes the move. It looks worse than it is:

If we use Table 4 as an example, the North player stays in place, the boards move to table 3, South goes to table 5, East goes to table 6 and West goes to table 2.

At the end of 11 rounds you will have completed the movement. Table guide cards are not necessary providing everyone remembers what they have to do. You will have a 4-winner movement, one for each line.

Of course, this movement does not go very far in satisfying our first criterion of having each player playing once with every other player, but you can improve on it by rotating the players at each table after each board. If playing 3-board rounds, North remains stationary while the other players move clockwise around him, i.e. East to South, South to West and West to East. If playing 2-board rounds, South and East can swap places for the second board. At the end of the round players continue by moving to their original positions on the next table of the movement.

This movement will not work if you have a non-prime number of tables, since the players would meet the same boards at some point. Other movements for different numbers of players are available either from your scoring program or from the EBU Movement Manual (edited by the late John Manning) available from the EBU Bridge Shop 01296 397851. It is best to use movement guide cards placed on each table with these.

Movement for 8 players

The simplest movement for 8 players at two tables is a Howell-type movement, with one player stationary at North 1 and all the other players moving around. The two tables share boards, so boards are played and completed on each round. Seven rounds are played, so 21 or 28 boards are the norm.

Here’s the movement for eight players:

Table 1Table 2
N stays put
S moves to W1
E moves to E2
W moves to S2
N moves to S1
S moves to E1
E moves to W2
W moves to N2

This won’t necessarily be a great deal of use at the club’s Christmas party but can be good for a private bridge party at home.

John Pain
Education Manager