Interest in tournament bridge

Started by gwynndavis, Jun 10, 2023, 11:36 AM

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I want to present a few facts. These do not perhaps need any comment from me, although - generous to a fault - I will offer a few observations.

The next few weeks will see three WBU face to face tournaments - the first for quite some time. I list them below, along with what I understand to be the current entry.

18 June in Tumble (West Wales) Inter-club Teams of Eight. This is now Direct Entry, and that entry is: 6 teams from 5 clubs (4 clubs based in the East; one in the West)

25 June in Porthcawl Champion of Champions (permitted entry: up to 2 pairs per club). This is likewise Direct Entry, and that entry is: 19 pairs from 12 clubs

8/9 July in Cardiff, in conjunction with the AGM, the following inter-Area Events:
Perry Shield (Open) - I believe the 4 Areas are each contributing teams
Spickett Bowl (Ladies) - 2 Areas (only) are contributing teams (East and West)
President's Cup ('club' players) - one area (East) is contributing a team, hence this event will not be held as things stand.

I have been critical of the WBU on this Forum, but now they are staging three events over four weekends and I appreciate their efforts (particularly those of the NTO, Simon Gottschalk, and the various ATOs) and recognise the not inconsiderable amount of work involved.

But what does this entry tell us? It tells me that in Wales the pool of players interested in playing bridge beyond the confines of their own club, at weekends, against unfamiliar opponents, has shrunk to a point where those who accept responsibility for running the WBU must wonder whether it is all worth it. The loss of the President's Cup, and the likely demise of the Spickett Bowl, are particularly concerning - and depressing.

Do we have to accept - again specifically in Wales - that whilst some clubs retain healthy playing numbers, the appeal of tournament play is simply not there?

I don't think we've reached that stage, but we are certainly approaching a tipping point. I don't advocate yet another working party - please no, they're always useless - but we do need a plan, a strategy designed to increase participation. This plan would have a number of components. It would encompass much better advertising/promotion, and a fundamental re-think of 'tournaments' to make them more appealing to novices and the older age group (which is largely what we have playing in our clubs). At the moment I don't see any sign that we have that plan.


Entry for the Teams of Eight has now (11/6) risen to EIGHT teams - which is excellent news.


Credit where it's due. The Welsh Bridge Union staged a tournament yesterday and it went well. Eight teams contested the inter-club Teams of 8. It was a splendid contest, ably directed by Sarah Amos, and in the end Penarth retained their trophy ahead of the two Cardiff teams. Congratulations to them.

Please can we have more of this - a sensible programme, sensible venue, publicised well in advance. No more cancellations.

Next Sunday: Champion of Champions.

Keith Davison

Well said Gwynne - Thought not selected for teams of 8 and through partly through my own fault not entered for the champion of champions I look forward to returning to face to face tournaments ( Family problems have largely confined me to 1 day competitions for the past few years ).


We've now had the Champion of Champions (20 pairs from thirteen clubs) and I'm confident the event was enjoyed by the players despite a few organisational blips (insufficient time to play all the boards being the main one). The director, David Nicklin, coped admirably in the circumstances. We have the inter-area events to come in two weeks time, although it's not clear how many teams will play the Spickett, or if the President's Cup is viable at all.

I hope it's not too much to ask that for next year we have a programme of WBU events published en bloc in the autumn (there aren't many of them!), followed by some effective promotion. There is still an appetite for tournament bridge, but we need to be much better at reaching the clubs, and the players.

Tony Haworth

I fully agree that the WBU should pre-publish a list of next years events, and develop already successful events.
I recently played in the Champion of Champions, admirably run by Dave Nicklin (his first taste of Directing a National event) - but please can we have an earlier start time (the event started at 12.00, rather than the customary 11.00am., necessitating the non-play of the last round).
The event has already been booked for next year - same weekend - Porthcawl.

Simon Richards

My wife and I have just returned from a three week holiday in Canada that included playing in an ACBL Regional in Penticton for a week. Where is Penticton, you may ask? It is in a wine producing area on the British Columbia / Alberta border and is a 7 hour drive from Vancouver and a 10 hour drive from Calgary, so not the easiest place to get to although that did not deter the "locals" driving from far and wide! However, we did win a spot "prize" for traveling the furthest to play in the event beating Thomas MacCormac who had travelled there from Dublin.

It was great to see almost 100 tables in play for many of the sessions, with three sessions of bridge being available for those bridge players that were really keen (not us), with sessions starting at 09.00, 13.00 and 19.00. The event was not trouble free and certainly numbers were down from pre-COVID levels but there was no pre-registration required and you just paid the table money on the day. Nice to see the organisers having faith that people would come. 

Simon Richards

Following on my my earlier post, one thing we did notice (and it was not a problem as we are both right-handed) was that cards in North America are not ambidextrous and only have their designation on two of the four corners. I am not sure how any southpaws amongst us would manage!