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Bridge vs Magic
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I played in an 18 table sectional Swiss in Portland, Maine yesterday.  My son played in a 72 player Magic The Gathering State Championship in Scarborough, Maine yesterday.  Same number of players.  Events 10 miles or so from each other, so same general area.

I am 49.  I would guess that there were fewer than 5 players younger than I am at the bridge tournament; most of the players were of my parents' generation (I played with my father).  My son is 18.  I would guess there were a few players younger than he is playing in the Magic tournament; most of the players are of his generation; I would likely have been the oldest person in the room.

The Magic tournament was run as a 7 round Swiss followed by a Top 8 (KO stage).  One match during each of the KO rounds was streamed live on FB (and maybe Twitch).  The bridge tournament was run as an 8 round Swiss, no internet coverage.  The events took about the same amount of time.

One significant difference in the events is that players who are doing poorly in a Magic event frequently drop out of the event when they know that they may no longer qualify for "overalls" (in Magic that means prizes).

The Magic event had two "Judges", the equivalent of bridge directors, to run the game and make rulings.  Our bridge event got by comfortably with a single director.

I paid $20 to enter the Swiss.  My team placed 2nd and won 5.78 silver points.

My son paid $25 to enter the Magic event.  He placed 1st and won $180 in store credit, "gift points" from a sponsor (worth $40 at their store), and a champion's play mat (worth about $35, but really a trophy of sorts).  He also won some mastepoint equivalents, but very few Magic players keep track of them.

The sponsor of the State Championship also sponsored State Championships in 49 other states (maybe minus a few) yesterday.  Someone "interviewed" my son and sometime over the next few weeks his answers and deck specifics will be published on their website along with Magic articles and other tournament reports.

Magic and bridge function under very different conditions. This Magic event was held at a game store, the store likely did not expect to make much money off the event, they benefit from having the players in their store. Magic cards are collectible cards, the company that makes them profits from the sale of cards (and the event sponsors, like the stores, profit from the sale and re-sale of cards). The company that produces the cards and profits from their sale invests in regulating and organizing events (without the need to answer to a Board of Directors). Anyone who plays in a Magic event automatically becomes a "member", no fee. There is a point system like masterpoints that anyone can access online. Magic Judges do not cost an event organizer as much as a bridge director costs (they should be paid more). I am not suggesting that bridge should (or could) follow the Magic model, there are too many differences in the games and structures of the organizations to ever think bridge tournaments could be run the same as Magic tournament (or the other way around).

But, I do think there are things bridge organizers could learn from Magic events.

Aside from the NABCs, there really isn't any bridge to follow in the US. There is no "pro tour", no series of events, no special nationwide events. Yes, there are a bajillion club, sectional, and regional events, but those are not really much more than glorified club games. I just went to go look at the results for the most recent New England regional and found 51 entries for "specific events". 51 events at a single tournament. The Saturday Open Pair game had 30 tables. It's a bunch of little games all at one site instead of scattered around the region. We had a sectional in tiny Camden, Maine last year that had 30 tables in play on Saturday (2 events...). "Coverage" of these events consists of list after list of player names and masterpoints. (There were some pictures of winners from the New England regional I chose to look at.) But, essentially no reporting that can't be spit out by a computer. And, no live coverage, not even live results. Some big Magic events I can see round by round results with not much delay on the internet. One company who organizes and sponsors Magic events provides streaming coverage with professional commentary! (Contrast this to the pictures of printed recaps posted to BW during the NABCs because ACBL does not immediately post results.)

Yes, there are ACBL-wide events, but those are just club games that are all reported together, there is nothing special about the events. They do come with more lists of player results and masterpoints. Endless lists.

Are there any bridge players who haven't been asked "what do you win" when you tell someone new that you play tournament bridge? "Nothing, not even a trophy?" they'll ask. "Well, I get some masterpoints." I can show them lists and lists of masterpoint winners.

A decade or two ago when the New England Regional Individual was floundering, I suggested we pay a high profile bridge author (there are a few of those) to come play in the event and to write a few articles about the experience. If people see names in actual stories about what happened at the table, that means a lot more than those endless lists. My idea was not well received.

Sorry, this got quite long and became more of a rant than I intended.

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