Café Bridge is an increasingly popular way to have a game of bridge. More and more clubs are holding Café Bridge events – some as fundraisers, some as a way of recruiting new members, some just for fun amongst current members. If you club hasn’t yet considered holding such an event, then you may want to think about giving it a try.
The premise is fairly simple. As Simon Cochemé explained in the February issue of English Bridge…
“The way it works is as follows: a number of cafés, restaurants and bars in the same area agree to make two to six tables available, so that bridge can be played. At the start of the event, usually mid-morning, pairs are given the list of where they will be playing, their board colour, and a map. They then go to their first venue, find the table with the right coloured boards, and await their opponents.
When they have played their boards they move to their new venue (hopefully the next one up the road), spot their colour and play against a different pair. The scoring can be done, board by board, using an app on a mobile phone (or using paper travellers if you prefer). After three or four rounds, the players have lunch at the eatery where they have just played; the price of the lunch is included in the entry fee.
I played in the Richmond event last June. It was the largest in England, so far, with 77 tables spread across 14 venues. Some ate at Pizza Hut, some at Carluccio’s – the luck of the draw. The organisation was excellent, and £4,500 was raised for the React charity.”
This will usually take place in a town centre, where you can easily walk between venues, but at least one club has had success with a slightly modified format where players drove between pubs – a good alternative for rural clubs. Welwyn Garden City Bridge Club coined the term Safari Bridge for their event using this format.
Some people who consider themselves ‘social’ players will often take part in Café Bridge events in preference to club bridge. If you can attract some such players to your event, and show them how fun, welcoming, and unintimidating you all are, you may introduce some new players to the joys of duplicate bridge and hopefully to your usual club sessions. And of course, seeing people play bridge in a café or pub may pique the curiosity of other diners, who may then be interested to know more – you may recruit some beginners for your lessons. You may therefore want to think about having some leaflets available at each venue which can be picked up by those who are interested in knowing more.
Whilst a lot of planning is required to run a successful Café Bridge event, careful organisation using several willing volunteers with defined roles can pay off in spades with many happy bridge players, new members for your club and supporting a good cause to boot. For more information check out the wealth of information on how to plan a café bridge event prepared by Victor Lesk (who has developed the BriAn bridge scoring app which is particularly suited for use at multiple venue events) at https://www.brianbridge.net/cafe/howto.html or contact the EBU’s Club Liaison Officer Bev Purvis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on 01296 317206.