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Is something "rotten" in the state of . . . North American bridge? Is it perhaps a systemic problem? Brainstorming? Constructive ideas?

Other games -- both online and face-to-face -- are thriving in North America.

Many folks say that bridge is doing better, overall, in Europe than here.

There seems to be a very uneasy alliance between the ACBL and BBO.  Sometimes it seems as if "we" collectively,  are acting as if we're starving and we're fighting over one small pie, and don't see the possibility of their ever being more pies coming along.

Here's an example -- just as food for thought.  Disclaimer:  I understand that bridge and Magic the Gathering have significant differences.

MTG is a relatively new game, so both the face-to-face and online versions "grew up" together, in a way.  Both are thriving.

My son has played MTG seriously for years, yet I never knew until a couple of days ago whether a player's online results are melded with the face-to-face results.  They are not; they're completely separate.  Face-to-face:  You have to buy cards at least 3 times a year (when new sets come out); pay fairly high entry fees but have the chance of winning some decent prize money.  Online:  the online "cards" cost less than physical cards; entry fees are lower; prize money is less.  People pay and play because they love the game. 

The #1 company involved in Magic is Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro (based in Washington State).  However, other companies, such as Star City Games based in Roanoke, Virginia, have a significant regional presence (at least, I know about this one, because it's in the east).  A tournament sponsored by them was featured in yesterday's Washington Post.  Both are in the private sector.

I hesitate to print even the most rudimentary, hypothetical dialogue here, because this topic can elicit some extremely strong emotions.  Also (in the interest of full disclosure), I have already stated on BW, that if it had been up to me from the beginning, I think I would have wanted to keep face-to-face points and online points completely separate.  

However -- here goes.  A hypothetical dialogue:

Online players:  We feel like we are being treated like second-class citizens.  

ACBL:  Hey -- we already agreed that online points should be counted in different ways.  Are you saying that you want us to count the "best hand", three robot game points, as well?

Online fans:  People love it!  And, they can learn so much about declarer play!

ACBL:  Yes but it's different enough from "regular" bridge that we don't think that all of the points should be combined.

BBO:  We really feel like we're being treated like we're second-class citizens.  We're not even allowed to hold a sectional-in-clubs!  We are not only the biggest club in the ACBL, we are bigger than the next 100 clubs combined.  One hundred thousand people are playing one million hands of bridge every day on  BBO.  How about those sanction fees that we contribute?

 

ACBL:  Hellooo -- that's exactly why we're not going to add you to our list of clubs that have Sectionals-in-clubs!  We started those to help clubs -- are you saying that your club needs help?

BBO:  You are trying to protect face-to-face bridge.  It has its own virtues, and it will probably be fine.  But, let the market decide.

ACBL:  You are talking to us as if we are a private, for-profit corporation.  We are not.  We . . .

 

And around, and around -- and, around again.

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