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I kept on pondering about thoughts I wished to share about helping our game in todays world. But – my organization and direction went all over the place.  So – here are my personal ideas about what would help – in random order.  Big or little, I think at least some of this would be positive!

  • Acknowledge that there are at least two groups of bridge players (potential and active) out there.  Let’s name them “serious” and “social.”  While they clearly have some commonality, they also have strong differences in a multitude of ways.  So, rather than continuing to battle about the laws, systems, UI, etc., etc., let’s instead concentrate on figuring out how to best craft policies for these two groups.  Let those who are happy to figure out how many bridge angels dance on the head of a pin for hours, or have 327 pages of bridge notes, etc., etc. have their own games and rules while the social players can have vastly “relaxed” rules and habits. I do think that “waving the white flag” about these (at least) two segments would allow more people to enjoy the game as fits their preferences.

 

  • Market bridge, the game, rather than masterpoints.  Yes, like many of the rest of you, I like to earn masterpoints and see how far ahead I might be of others. Yet, at the end of the day, most of us recognize that “masterpoints” are not the goal. They really are only a rough approximation of how we are growing and accomplishing at the table. Thus rather than essentially promote masterpoint accumulation all over the place, promote the game itself.  How fascinating it is.  How you can enjoy it at any level. How (unlike physical sports) you can continue to play until your brain gives out.  How you can meet fascinating people, keep on learning no matter how expert you may be – and so forth.  I fell in love with the game for all these reasons; not because I wanted to have a pile of masterpoints. I think most others would be similar to my history – IF we teach them why this is so!

 

  • Everyone try to “give a little.”  What do I mean by this?  All of us who do play and enjoy bridge should do something to aid the game – and those who play – a bit.  Each of us has their own unique set of abilities at the game and responsibilities in life.  Thus some can “give” far more than others. But whether it is mentoring a new player, sharing with people who don’t even know what “bridge” is and encouraging them to learn, supporting someone learning but struggling – or – just being pleasant to others at the table …. It all helps. Each of us can be our own “ambassador of the game” if we try.
  • Recognize that change is always occurring and adapt.  I LOVE that when I started playing that essentially, if you wanted to play, you had to face “the big boys” at least some of the time. I know I improved more because of this.  I know that when I had an achievement, it was a “real” one – as in most circumstances, you had to play against fine opponents.  Yet I realize that today, not everyone has such goals nor wants to put in great effort to improve; they want to relax and have fun. Try to give everyone what they want.
  • And recognize that technology can have a large impact on our game. I think that computer bridge revolutionized our game – and mostly in a positive way. In today’s world, I can play at any hour of the day or night, against players of any level from anywhere in the world.  I can play IMPS, matchpoints, teams, etc. I can play for 30 minutes or 4 hours.  I can play at a table with friends – or in an online tournament. Thus, the game is far more accessible to all and offers huge advantages not possible in a pre-online bridge world.  
  • Yet I think computer bridge has also impacted some “live bridge” in ways that negative for some of us.  I think that the ability to compete online has made turnout for both club games and tournaments more of a challenge. And I myself think that there is only so much that can be done (at least now) to alter this trajectory.Thus, rather than continue to moan about the situation – focus on what can be done to change it for the better for all.  It may mean fewer tournaments, different hours, different events and so forth.  But better to have tournaments that people enjoy and wish to attend than staying stuck in the past.

 

These are only a few ideas. Far more, I believe, can be done to encourage more to learn, to make the game “fun again” for those who have soured – and – as Samantha Punch puts it:  to “Keep bridge alive!”

Bridge has been an integral part of my life for scores of years now.  If I were to describe how much I’ve enjoyed it and all the incredible people I’ve met and all the wonderful friendships that have developed due to bridge – days of writing would be needed!

Long after I am gone, I hope that others have their own unique and positive experiences with bridge. So, I hope all of us can put forth a little more effort toward that goal.  Thank you!

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