The Club Management Handbook
Christmas is, of course, the 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. If you are looking for some ways to liven up your Christmas or some other party, here are a few ideas, some of which can be combined. You may want to set aside a budget for buying small prizes and charge an appropriately higher table fee on the evening.
Aggregate scoring with prizes
Play as many rounds of a normal club duplicate as you can fit in alongside your breaks for refreshments, but ask everyone to add up the aggregate of their own scores at the end of the evening. Give prizes, for example, to the top scoring pair on aggregate, the pair who score nearest to zero, and/or the pair who achieve the second worst aggregate score (not the worst, or people may play to lose).
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:
Defeating a contract by at least two tricks.
Making 3NT on the nose.
Making exactly 90.
Making a doubled contract
Making a redoubled contract
Going off two in an undoubled small slam.
Winning a trick with a specified card.
Find or make a soft ball out of sponge, preferably covered in fabric. 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 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, they can claim a prize.
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.
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.
North lays his hand down before bidding starts and the other players bid to play with the North hand as their dummy.
Bidding must not die below the four level.
Bidding to proceed anti-clockwise.
Play to proceed anti-clockwise.
Twos are wild.
No-one is allowed to bid spades.
Dummy plays own cards, though still placed face up.
(Best done playing aggregate scoring rather than duplicate.)
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. The event could be scored as an individual duplicate (see also the section on Individual Movements for other possible movements), but in a party context it may be easier for each player to tally up their own aggregate score at the end.