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The Wonder of Bridge Down Under

It’s been a week since our return from Australia and the Gold Coast Tournament. We’ve been reflecting on our experience and our desire to take that long flight for next year’s tournament. Many thanks to Therese Tully and her team who worked to make everyone's experience a pleasure.

We discovered that bridge is thriving in Australia. New clubs are opening, tournaments are growing and everyone seems to be having a blast. What is Australia doing right? Here is a summary of our observations:

Tournaments: They run the events with the precision of a Swiss clockmaker. Players have almost no down time waiting for organizational issues.

Bridgemates are used for every event. All team matches are assigned as soon as the last table is finished. No big assignment boards and waiting forever. During the next round they hand out sheets with the prior round scores, VPs and butler ratings for both pairs.

Little downtime! There are no smoking breaks. There are no play throughs. After the first weekend all events were daylight.

Easy to navigate - One thing I really loved is that you keep the same home table for the entire event. Just the crossovers change.

Room for experimentation and fun – “play what you like this is Australia” is the answer I received when I asked if we could play Multi (which virtually everyone plays). Did this slow the game down? No because there are no defenses to read.

Streamlined – no stop cards or mandatory pauses. Alert procedures are fairly straightforward. No passes, doubles, cue bids or natural bids are alertable. If you want to know – ask.

Duplicated boards across the field for all events including swisses.

Swiss Pairs with Barometer scoring. Play as pairs but run like a team game playing a long match against one other pair. It is imped against the field but converted to VPs minimizing the randomness found in IMP pairs.

Fewer Events and they are huge. It’s nice to play in a really large event.

Pleasant environment – Yep everyone wants to win but that doesn’t mean they can’t be nice. Everyone introduced themselves and welcomed us.

Accommodations for players: There was a list of approximately a dozen options on the tournament web site. Some had discounts and there was a wide range of pricing options.

Hospitality – As Internationals we were treated to special hospitality which was lovely. They also had theme days, trivia night with dinner and a kick ass dinner dance. Boy those Aussies can party.

Zero Tolerance – They may not call it that but they mean it. I heard about a particularly cranky complainer who was booted from a prior tournament and told never to return.

Masterpoints – Yep, they have them but they don’t emphasize them. You won’t find a list of the masterpoints won in the daily bulletin. They emphasize the fun of the game.



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