BRINGING BACK THE NUMBERS TO HELP RESCUE BRIDGE TOURNAMENTS FROM THE ABYSS
In a world of spiralling prices , travel and accommodation costs put a considerable financial burden on players , who have already shelled out on ever-rising, inflation topping entry fees. Although the experience for many can be very rewarding in terms of ranking points , taking on some big names, and making new friends , everyone will no doubt do a personal cost-benefit analysis , hoping to see a value-for-money outcome.
For organisers , selecting posh overly-expensive venues might well suit the rich , the wealthy and the snobs , but for the majority a big room is all that they ask for. May be a school assembly hall located in a quiet inexpensive district. Accommodation thankfully is usually left to the participants to sort out according to their budget. Needless to say, whenever the cost of hiring out an expensive venue is recovered in the price set for the entry fees, then an economic truth comes home to roost : the higher the price the lower the demand.
To stimulate demand certain initiatives need to be considered and acted upon :
1. Venues with large rooms need to be in places with good road/rail links , with plenty of nearby low cost , value-for-money accommodation options. Group bookings need to be encouraged where several clubs could work as one in setting up such an arrangement.
2. Shared travel costs , especially when several participants all come from the same area.
3. Committees using surplus funds to help pay for members' entry fees , perhaps being the prize for winning a recent club competition. Either entry fees are either paid in full or are heavily subsidised.
4. Organisers by looking to save money on less expensive venues , can now afford to offer a more generous range of prizes. A large proportion of the prize fund should always be set aside for the outright winners , but other lower placed competitors could also qualify for prizes based on a handicap system of scoring.
5. If organisers are able to make a surplus on one event , then that surplus should then go directly to subsidise the next one by simply reducing the entry fees accordingly. This should hopefully stimulate demand even more , turning that next event into another surplus generating one. The need here is to establish a virtuous circle and not a vicious one.
6. Even in a bridge tournament , as with any other sport , the need to create a level playing field is of paramount importance. In my view competitors can either enter a field where everyone plays to a standard system , all playing off the same card , or those who revel in unorthodox , obscure , complex bidding systems have the option to play in an anything-goes competition , happy to spend priceless minutes explaining bids to their opponents or have bids explained to them.