The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

The future of Bridge

I have a vague hope that Bridge will take off in the next decade, that some fervent media savvy multi-millionaire will form a big stakes cash game, sell the media rights to ESPN. This isn’t a new thought. I doubt the future of bridge is with the ACBL.

But what inspired my renewed thinking about this? Being asked not to play a non-mainstream system at the “Pro-Am” game.  I totally agree with restricting things at newcomer/novice games, but:

  • The Pro-Am game is open to everyone (just that the winning pair that includes an “amateur” gets a bonus prize). Amateur is defined (here) as having less than 200 master points. (A Life Master rating requires at least 300 points). I barely don’t qualify as an amateur, but I don’t play many tournaments. Averaged over my bridge lifetime, I’ve barely played any.
  • The main points of Polish Club are legal in ACBL events that are limited to 20 masterpoints!

While clubs are free to ban (or allow) whatever systems they want in general, the ‘fraidy-cat, mincing attitude bodes poorly for the game’s future. Hell, even the PBA cultivates a bad boy image.

“Bridge — We’re not as cool as bowling.”

[To be clear, the club wasn’t banning the system or us, just asked us to not play in that one game. And one local pro mentioned that our system was banned in South Africa. So, good for the ACBL … at least one organizing body has more bizarre restrictions.]

Bridge — a complicated game whose governing body actively discourages people from exploring parts of it’s complexity.


Written by taogaming

August 31, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Posted in Bridge, Rant

3 Responses

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  1. And what’s up with the Silver Points?

    The ACBL is clearly focused on trying to support their many stakeholders, not simply on creating a forum to support expert play. It’s a lot like the Irish Step Dancing establishment, which exists to support the teachers.

    Eric Brosius

    August 31, 2010 at 7:00 pm

  2. I guess I can see clubs trying to protect more mainstream players from having to face bizarre conventions every other board. But if you cover everything on your card and are required to alert anything weird, I don’t really see the problem.

    Larry Levy

    August 31, 2010 at 8:18 pm

  3. You’re young. You’re interested in bridge as a game, not a social club. Wait until you’re 107 years old and see if you still think players ought to be allowed to play all that weirdo stuff 🙂

    On the other hand, I think it’s reasonable to have very tight restrictions on methods in pro-am games. Most of the contestants will not be regular partnerships. Forcing non-partnerships to figure out how to defend against methods they don’t see a lot seems unfair. Especially since the pairs’ bridge knowledge isn’t very even. The idea of the game is to try to get the “am”s to play in more events, and keeping them comfortable is a good thing. So if I were in charge, I’d do the same thing.

    Years ago, Larry King tried to start a moderate-stakes money bridge tournament circuit. For reasons which escape me, it was not very popular. The stakes were gradually reduced as attendance waned, and when it got down to $1000 or less for first, it wasn’t even worth traveling to get to the events.


    September 1, 2010 at 9:02 pm

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