Join Bridge Winners
Image, the business of bridge, the ACBL, and pride.

Forget the fact that Honors charges $33. That's just a number. Everything's relative. We actually come in a distant third or fourth as far as cost per session goes. There are at least that many private clubs where, adding in yearly membership fees, it probably bumps their cost per session way above what we charge. Put in perspective, the least expensive of the other Manhattan open duplicate clubs has card fees only a little over 20% less than ours. That's like having the most expensive club in your area charging $10 and the least $8.

In Manhattan, a movie with popcorn and a medium soda sets you back about what we charge for three hours of bridge, coffee, cake, fruit, frozen yogurt, and, oh I almost forgot, a full meal.  A Starbucks coffee and a piece of cake will run you $12. We should be at $50 minimum. Your $10 club game should be $15 - $20. You know why? So that it makes sense to be in the bridge business.

There is only one chess club left in NYC and it's somewhere on the outskirts. There are no backgammon clubs left. We have the only scrabble night in town. Want to play Magic the card game, you go to a coffee shop or a games' store to play, not a club.

Are games really so unpopular? Just the opposite. Then why no game clubs? Oh there are. They are called casinos and they all look like palaces.

We dump on ourselves. Shouldn't we be as proud of our clubs as teenagers and 20 somethings are of their bar/clubs? Why are we expected to look for churches and Foreign Legion Halls to hold games?

Talk about image. We can spend all the advertising bucks we want and we'll go no where. There is hardy any infrastructure in place once you get someone interested. 

Instead of throwing money away on advertising, the ACBL should build palaces for bridge in every large metropolitan area, hire the youngest pros to teach, and offer prize money. Hold cruises to nowhere for players and beginners under 30. Show the world that you can make real money at a card game other than poker. One with no risk either. A win/win bet. One that could actually lead to the career of your dreams. Travel, competing, and being paid big bucks on top of it.

Bridge was once THE game. Bridge once was sexy.  When did that stop and why? It's got less to do with TV and more to do with image. 

Build that back and they will come. It's still the best game of all time. People are playing games more and more now. Just not bridge. To the public, especially the young public, and especially throughout middle America, bridge 's image has become equated with grandmothers and dingy places to play. Talk about a dying game. Another 150 clubs in middle America will be gone by year's end. Dead. How many new ones will have taken their place?

We all know how wonderful bridge is. But THEY don't. Stop hiding. Start being proud. How about every bridge player in the country start wearing a button that says, "Ask me about the best game I ever played when I was your age"? 

There's no money in running bridge clubs. None. Not in NYC or anywhere else. Maybe a living, maybe not. But that's it. Bridge has no real future unless we recognize that fact and start to champion building successful, very profitable bridge businesses. Stop celebrating the volunteers who run the Units and Districts. Stop throwing money at them. ACBL has been doing that for years. That's insanity. From my perspective, Units and Districts run tournaments and run bridge clubs into the ground. I've witnessed it for forty years in NYC. When I started my club in 1976 there where six other clubs within a five block radius of mine. I'm not saying the Unit killed them, but they certainly didn't lend a helping hand either. They still don't today. The mentality seems to be that whatever is good for the clubs is bad for the Unit and vice verse. Is it the nature of volunteers in general to feel this way about business? Does it have something to do with some power trip? As far as I'm concerned, there can be no  more dysfunctional system in place than the one created years ago by the League.  America is in the business of business. The ACBL structure, along with the fact that there are virtually zero bridge businesses represented on its 25 member board, seems to be in the business of killing business. My Unit is sitting on $180,000 in reserves and still tries to squeeze every dime from its clubs. It does nothing, nothing at all with all that cash. Sorry, they do do one thing. They spring for a pizza once every other week for the kids and volunteers who run a tiny, and the only, junior program in the city.

In a nutshell that's got a lot to do with the state bridge is in today and why the clubs themselves need to find their own way out. 

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