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Recommended Pairs movements | 2-3 Tables | 4-5 Tables | 6-7 Tables | 8-10 Tables |

Michael Furstner

Introduction
Most regular bridge clubs are affiliated with their National Bridge Federation (or League).
This gives them the right to take part in the Master points system where session winners and higher ranked placings are rewarded Master points. When accumulated it elevates a player's status to various Master levels.
This Master points lure has attracted large numbers of players and transformed Duplicate bridge into a highly competitive sport played at Local, Regional, National and International levels.

However the system has two notable negative aspects.

  • To qualify for Master points a single bridge session must contain a minimum of 22 boards played.   Most clubs conduct sessions of 24 to 30 boards, which usually takes 3-4 hours to complete.

  • Because of its competitive nature much of the social aspect of the game is lost, and (especially at the basic levels) attitudes at the bridge table can be tense if not inhospitable.

I personally have always been more of a social bridge player, playing bridge with my friends at High school, then University and finally in the Dutch army during my National service. We usually played for money, a great incentive to improve our skills.

During the past 40 years or so (while living in Australia and Papua New Guinea), I have started half a dozen social bridge clubs, deliberately not affiliated with any Bridge federation and therefore free of Master points.
This ensured a wonderful amicable attitude at the bridge table at all times and great enjoyment of the game by all participants.
Bridge session at the Darwin Bowls Club My experience of establishing and running these new bridge clubs have culminated in the concept of social duplicate bridge which I am now developing in our Social Bridge Club in Darwin (in Northern Australia). The concept is still evolving, but already highly successful at this stage.

Concept
Our primary target audience are hard working professionals, who enjoy mental stimulation but in a relaxed social environment with like-minded people. And they definitely don't want to play until late in the evening and get home by midnight, as they need to be at work early the next day.
Such environment also appeals to retired professionals and others with an intelligent, discerning inclination.
Our concept is defined by the above human requisites.

  1. No Master points regime
    This immediately enables a friendly social environment at the bridge tables.
    It also gives the Director complete freedom to make decisions in the spirit of the Club's objective (not according to strictly policed rules and regulations).

  2. Bridge sessions strictly limited to 2 hours
    In the evenings from 7-9pm, so that players can be home before 9.30pm, a reasonable time.   Our club runs at least 3 bridge sessions each week, so that players have ample choice on when to participate.

  3. Mental stimulation
    Besides the regular duplicate bridge sessions, we run 2 to 4 lessons or coaching sessions each week on basic, intermediate and advanced subjects.
    The Club promotes an intelligent but natural bidding system, which enables continuous and seamless progress from Beginners Basics to an Intermediate and Advanced level of bidding.   Most players follow this system, which helps to stimulate the improvement of skill levels for all.
    Online practice for all levels is also available on our Club's website.

  4. Regular social functions
    Our Club organises regular social functions once a month, usually combined with a bridge session.
    This helps to grow the mutual bonds of acquaintance and friendship, which in turn contributes enormously to the friendly atmosphere at the bridge table.
Bridge lesson at the Darwin Trailer Boat Club

Suitable movements
Running 2-hour duplicate sessions requires 12 boards to be played by Beginners or around 15 boards for more experienced players.
For this purpose the following Table Guide cards can be used :

  1. 2-Table Howell for 8 players and 12 or 15 boards
    Three sets of 4 or 5 boards are used depending on players' experience. Each set is relayed between the two tables. For the first round place Boards 1 and 2 on Table 1 and Boards 3, 4 and 5 (or just 3 and 4) on Table 2
    When both Tables have completed their boards switch them across, so that each board is played by both tables.
    Next round use the second set of boards (6-10).
    Guide Cards for Tables 1 and 2

  2. 3-Table Howell for 12 players and 12 or 15 boards
    Five sets of 3 boards are used. Place them on each table as shown on the Guide cards, then shift them each round as shown on the Guide cards.
    Only 4 of the 5 boards sets are used the first 4 rounds.
    The final (5th) round boards 13-15 are used. Place one board on each table and rotate them around after each table has played their (single) board.
    This set-up enables you to stop after 4 rounds (and 12 boards played) if time is running out.
    Guide Cards for Tables 1 and 2 - Table 3

  3. 4-Table Howell for 16 players and 14 boards
    The 4-table Howell is great fun as you still get to play against all other pairs.
    Using 2-board rounds you can complete the whole movement with just 14 boards.
    Distribute the boards as shown here.
    The movement requires "Byes" between Table 1 and 2 and between Tables 2 and 3.
    Once laid out properly you can simply rotate the board sets down the table numbers at the end of each round.
    Guide Cards for Tables 1 and 2 - Table 3 and 4

  4. 4½-Table Howell for 18 players, 14 boards and 4 tables
    With 18 players (9 pairs) you can still use the 4-Table Howell movement.
    Pair 9 sits out the first round, then permanently sits at Table 4 EW for the remaining 6 rounds.
    The pair coming from Table 2 who normally would next sit at Table 4 EW now sits out one round, then move to Table 4 NS and follow their normal route from there onwards. Use the 4-Table Howell Guide cards for Tables 1 and 3, use the alternative 4½Table Guide cards for Table 2 and Table 4 as supplied here.

  5. 5+Table Mitchell movements for 20 players or more
    Table numbers : Tables 1 & 2 | 3 & 4 | 5 & 6 |
    In a Mitchell movement NS players stay stationary all rounds.
    After each round EW players move up one table, Boards move down one table.
    NS pairs take their number from the Table number, EW pairs Table number plus 10.
    • 5 tables : use five sets of 3 boards, total 15 boards
      Use a 5-table Mitchell, no special requirements.

    • 5½ tables : use five sets of 3 boards, total 15 boards and 5 tables
      Use a 5-table Mitchell with NS Rover pair. Pair 6 NS is the Rover pair. It sits out the first round, then plays following rounds at Table 2, 4, 1 and 3 (each time bumping out for one round only the resident NS pair on that table).
      Rover Pair Guide cards (Print out in "Landscape" format)

    • 6 tables : 6 sets of 2 boards, 12 boards total
      Use a 6-table Mitchell with a Bye between Table 3 and Table 4 with one set of boards.
      Tables 1 and 6 share the boards each round (Boards layout).
      This way all players get to play all 12 boards.

    • 6½ tables : 7 sets of 2 boards, 14 boards total and 7 tables
      Use a 7-table Mitchell.   EW Pair 17 starts at Table 7, which is the sit-out table

    • 7 tables : 7 sets of 2 boards, 14 boards total
      Normal 7-table Mitchell, no special requirements

    • 7½ tables : use seven sets of 2 boards, 14 boards total and 7 tables
      7-table Mitchell with NS Rover pair. Pair 8 NS is the Rover pair. It sits out the first round, then plays following rounds at Table 2, 4, 6, 1, 3 and 5 (each time bumping out for one round only the resident NS pair on that table).
      Rover Pair Guide cards (Print out in "Landscape" format)

    • 8 tables : use 8 sets of 2 boards, total 16 boards
      Table numbers : Tables 1 & 2 | 3 & 4 | 5 & 6 | 7 & 8 | 9 & 10 |
      Use a 8-table Mitchell. EW pairs skip one table after 4 rounds played (so that they do not run into boards they have played already).
      This ensures that all EW pairs play 14 boards when playing 7 rounds.
      All players can play 16 boards in a final 8th round. But in such case the EW pairs will play their boards against the same NS pair they played against in the first round.

      Alternatively you can do a Mitchell Share and Relay movement   Boards layout
      Place one set of boards (Boards 9 and 10) on a Bye between Tables 4 and 5, while Tables 1 and 8 share one set of boards each round. This way you can play 8 rounds without a skip for EW pairs and all EW pairs can play all 16 boards against all NS opponents.

    • 8½ tables : 9 sets of 2 boards, 18 boards total and 9 tables
      Use a 9-table Mitchell.   EW Pair 19 starts at Table 9, which is the sit-out table

    • 9 tables : 9 sets of 2 boards, 18 boards total
      Normal 9-table Mitchell, no special requirements

    • 9½ tables : use 9 sets of 2 boards, 18 boards total and 9 tables
      Use a 9-table Mitchell with NS Rover pair. Pair 10 NS is the Rover pair. It sits out the first round, then plays following rounds at Table 2, 4, 6, 8, 1, 3 and 5 (each time bumping out for one round only the resident NS pair on that table).
      Rover Pair Guide cards (Print out in "Landscape" format)

    • 10 tables : use 10 sets of 2 boards, total 20 boards
      10-table Mitchell. EW pairs skip one table after 5 rounds played (so that they do not run into boards they have played already).
      This ensures that all EW pairs play 14 boards when playing 7 rounds.

The Arrow switch
With 5 or more tables in play you have two winning pairs (an NS winning pair and an EW winning pair).
But if you prefer to have just one winning pair you can do an "Arrow switch" during one round. Movements of boards and players remain the same, but for one round NS players play the EW hands and EW pairs play the NS hands.
With 5 to 8 tables you need to do an Arrow switch for only one round. But you can do two if you prefer. (In such case do the Arrow switch over the final two rounds to be played. This avoids players confusion.)

Bridge Club Social in Ubud, Bali

What else do you need ?
You need a competent Director who is familiar with the Howell and Mitchell movements you use. He also should have a working knowledge to solve the most common irregularities during play. You find various Directors materials (including the most common rules on irregularities) here.

You also need a competent Scoremaster (this can be the Director or someone else), who can do manual Match point scoring if required, or can use a computer scoring program (like ScoreBridge). Instructions on how to score manually are here.

Finally it is essential for the continuation and growth of a bridge club to have a competent Bridge teacher. Without it a Bridge club membership gradually ages and diminishes. The addition of fresh new blood is vital.
Any reasonably experienced player with a taste for teaching and presentation can fulfill such role.   There are suffcient teaching materials online here and here to assist you in such task.   And when really desperate, you can always ask me.

©2016 Michael Furstner