Welcome to brianbridge.net's café bridge pages. Here you can find information about café bridge, as well as a schedule of of café bridge drives and bridge rallies happening around London, the south-east of England, and neighbouring countries.
This page addresses how to organise a duplicate pairs event over multiple cafés and restaurants. Pairs move to a new venue after each round, guided by a movement card or roadbook, while board sets do not move. The registration fee typically covers bridge, plus refreshments at the venues, for instance lunch, or for a drink at each stop.
Once the date has been set, and the approximate event size established, the tasks can be divided into five categories:
Café bridge can be run with as few as three venues providing two tables each. The venues do not all need to provide the same number of tables. The closer the venues are to each other, the more venues you can have each player visit. If the venues are all on the same stretch of road, you can have them play eight rounds, all in different venues. Further away, and you may wish to limit the number of moves to seven, six or five.
Bridge organizers and restaurant staff each subject to misconceptions about the other's area.
Here are some of the more common ones. Bridge organizers:
You can offer lunch, or a drink in each venue, as part of the registration fee. Prices vary regionally but are typically
|Included||Payment to café||Event price|
|Lunch (main only)||£8-11||£17-25|
|Lunch (starter & main)||£10-13||£20-30|
It is not usual for restaurants to expect any advance payment or deposit; they are typically paid on the evening of the event. Some venues will try to offer a two-course menu where players can choose either a starter or a dessert to go with their main. You should not allow players to be offered this choice, since it makes lunch take longer. Starter and main is preferred over main and dessert, as players can buy their own dessert later.
The circuit is the basic unit of the café bridge movement. Circuit sizes are given in tables. Café bridge events are based on single circuits or multiple identical circuits of one of the types given below, distributed over the available restaurants in a regular or irregular fashion. Each circuit should have its own board colour.
One consequence of this is that certain numbers of tables work for café bridge, and certain numbers do not. For example, with 42 tables signed up, and entries slowing down, it will be necessary to run a waiting list until six more pairs register, since 45 tables works (9 circuits of length 5), but 44 and 43 tables do not. When planning event size it can be worth aiming for clusters of numbers which work such as 48,49,50 or 54,55,56.
The following numbers of tables can be accommodated, based on a five-, seven-, twelve- or eighteen-table circuit:
It is possible in theory to add an even number of rover pairs to one or more circuits, to cope with an inexact number like 43 or 44 tables. This has to be done in such a way that neither the rovers nor the roved-out pairs spend too much of their time in one venue, will require at least two more sets of boards, and vastly increases the complexity of the stationery. It is not recommended.
The general rule in café bridge is that the more distant the venues, the fewer walks can fit into the schedule.
|7||6 or 7||4||24 or 28||7 or 8||(Medium walks)|
|9||8 or 9||3||24 or 27||9 or 10||(Short walks)|
|6||6||4 or 5||24 or 30||4|
|9||8 or 9||3||24 or 27||4|
|10||8, 9, 10||3||24, 27, 30||5|
|15||12, 13, 14, 15||2||24, 26, 28, 30||5|
In the simplest case, all venues provide the event with the same number of tables, and the number of venues is the same as, or a multiple of, the circuit size. This allows the same roadbook to be given to corresponding pairs in different sections.
At larger events, different venues may not all provide the same number of tables. This increases the complexity of the movement cards as well as any other stationery. I provide a resource on this website for generating movement cards for arbitrary distributions of the circuits over venues.
Occasionally a pair will show interest, but for medical reasons they will be completely unable to move during the event. The solution is to give them their own table, separate from those used in any of the circuits. At registration or before, identify the pairs who will be playing against them at some point during the event, and modify those pairs' movement cards to redirect each of them to the stationary table during the appropriate round.
The stationary pair will need their own full set of boards. Two or more such pairs can be set up so that they share a set of boards.
In the simplest case, pair number assignment may be done randomly, or in order of booking. However
Each venue needs its boards, and for each table, four bidding boxes, four scorecards. Optional are pencils, any publicity flyers, table cards with the schedule of the pair numbers playing at that table, and cloths (which are discouraged due to their weight).
This can all go in a bag, e.g. a Sainsbury's ‘bag for life’ can fit equipment for five tables.
Board colours should be used to distinguish multiple copies of the same board set and thereby prevent people playing the wrong opposition.
Minimising equipment bulk and weight makes delivery and deployment easier in large events, and increases players' willingness to return the equipment at the end. Here are some approximate weights:
|24 soft boards|
|24 hard boards|
The most essential pieces of stationery are:
It only takes a couple of minutes to physically set out the equipment at a venue. However, it is normal for café managers to have a strong preference over where the bridge takes place, so there is no point in setting anything up until they have had a chance to indicate which tables should be used.
If multiple identical board sets from different circuits are in play in the same venue, consider putting them on non-neighbouring tables.
Since every table in the event is uniquely identified by the board set on it and the circuit which is is part of, there is no need for table numbers in café bridge.
Publicity - the right sort of publicity - is really important. Nothing beats word of mouth, but we usually design a bunch of A6 flyers using Vistaprint, about £23 for 1,000 including postage and VAT.
It is natural to want to publicise café bridge events through bridge clubs. However, bridge clubs lose table money on café bridge days, so there should be reciprocity - they should be offered reciprocal publicity at the Café Bridge, and where possible, the opportunity to hire equipment to the Café Bridge.
Counties are often happy to allow flyers to be left at blue- or green-pointed events provided there is no date conflict, but don't expect too many takers from these events.
Worthwhile places to advertise include
Almost all the Café Bridge events in the UK have a component of raising money for a good cause, broadly construed. This fact helps the venues to justify reserving their tables and offering more economical deals to the event, and even contributing bridge and raffle prizes in the form of vouchers.
Often the beneficiary organisation will be chosen because of a personal relationship with one of the event organisers. Whatever the rationale, it is highly desirable for the feel-good factor of the event that the beneficiary charity should be an active, rather than a passive, role. It is reasonable to ask them to