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Bridge Down Under - What a Difference!

Danny and I are traveling around Australia prior to playing in the Gold Coast Congress (one of my bucket list events).

We found a bridge club in Adelaide and thought it would be fun to play. Boy were we right. We emailed the club owner, Phil Gue and asked a few questions

about system limitations at the club. His response was "play (almost) anything you like - this is Australia"


Arriving at the bustling club (the game was 22 tables plus some supervised play) we were warmly greeted and interested to find that the club had a restaurant style lunch menu with sandwiches, fancy coffees and alcohol. Once your order is prepared they deliver it to the table. After the Friday game they serve appetizers and have a cash bar. Boy those Aussies know how to party!


We discovered a few interesting differences. Many players played multi and other "out there" stuff.  It was very relaxed and we were given a heads up that unusual bids/carding may not be alerted.  We were also informed that a multi bid may have two or three meanings. There are no strats. The masterpoint awards are low by US standards.


Evidently bridge is thriving in Australia with new clubs opening. So perhaps it time for the US to question why bridge is declining here and thriving elsewhere.


Some differences -

Style of play/game - more relaxed but still fairly serious. Players are not separated into strats and everyone competes in an "open" event. We used bidding boxes and bridge mates. The event was split into several sections with 4 boards per round.

Systems - Pretty much anything goes.

Atmosphere - Fun! People socialize before and after the game.


Our experience really got me thinking about the ACBL approach to bridge. It seems that our "playthrough" mentality and shortened lunch/dinner breaks have cut down on the social aspects of the game. Clearly the flighted/strat approach to the game with the ACBL pushing masterpoints as the goal isn't working. Severely restricting systems and experimentation do not seem to have the desired effect.

Perhaps it's time for the ACBL to revisit it's approach to the game. Paul Marston wrote a wonderful article about a rethink:


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