What Makes a Great Bridge Tournament?

What Makes a Great Bridge Tournament?

by Katie Coopersmith © 2017 Great Bridge Links

For many bridge players, across the spectrum from amateur to elite, competing at tournaments is the absolute best part of the game. Whether you attend one tournament a year or you deliberately schedule your calendar around the events (making sure to hit the most exciting destinations, of course!), there are certain attributes that undeniably make some tournaments more enjoyable than others. Of course, these attributes can absolutely differ from person, just like any preferences…but here are a few commonly-cited factors that can take any old bridge tournament from good to great.

Partner Up!

When asked what makes a bridge tournament enjoyable for her, Vancouver bridge player Julie Smith was quick to reply: “Most important [is] a partner or partners whom you like and who play well”. This is a super important factor in most people’s overall success at and enjoyment of bridge tournaments. It could mean practicing a lot at home with your partner of choice, or even saying no to playing with someone whose personality grinds your gears.

However, this is a factor that goes both ways. As bridge guru Eddie Kantar once said, “Never, but never, forget you are playing with a partner. It pays to imagine what things might look like from partner’s point of view, particularly when you are privy to information that partner isn’t”. Be kind to and honest with your partner…you never know where you’ll be able to go together!

Location, Location, Location

“Location is big,” says Smith. “Not just nice surroundings, but a convenient and comfortable place to stay [that is] not too expensive and close to where you will play”. She’s absolutely right! Just like professional athletes, both professional and amateur bridge players need to be serious about self-care if they want to perform well when the pressure is on. Research on sleep deprivation in card players has shown that sleep deprivation can reduce our ability to use smart risk-taking strategies – and a comfortable hotel can certainly increase the likelihood of getting a good night’s sleep!

“The playing site should be pleasant,” Smith continues, “…well lit, good temperature, clean, enough space, good bathrooms”. Amen to that!

Brain Food

Smith also cites “a way to easily access good food…nice restaurants close by, for a reasonable price, and/or a way to shop and cook your own”. How many times have you struggled through a tournament weekend eating nothing but fast food and free hotel breakfasts that make you feel sluggish and unable to think clearly? Food is definitely a factor in bridge tournament quality, in our opinion!

Time On Your Side

A reasonable tournament schedule is another important factor for many people. Since many tournaments attract a lot of out-of-town visitors, leaving enough time before and/or after the actual games for people to explore their new surroundings and relax if necessary is imperative. However, like all good things, there’s a limit to the ideal amount of free time. People come to bridge tournaments, above all, to play bridge, so too much free time can make players antsy and agitated.

The Last Word

“The tournament must be well run,” says Smith, adding that this recommendation extends both to locals who arrange the tournament and to the tournament’s directing staff.

Finally, she concludes, “the competition must be challenging, otherwise it’s just not fun”. Of course, different levels may prove challenging for different people, so it’s ultimately up to you to identify and seek out the level of challenge that you desire.

Visit Great Bridge Links’ Tournament Page to see a listing of tournaments from around the world or check with your local bridge club to learn about smaller tournaments in your area.