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All comments by Jeff Bayone
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I simply wanted you to pick two numbers.
Jan. 28, 2018
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Tom, Georgiana,
Honors starts beginner classes every two months. Year in, year out, we teach close to 150 new players a year. Over the years we found that only a tiny fraction took to duplicate. But we have always been a duplicate club so all our efforts have always been focused on getting players into our games, starting first with our novice games. Even with what I would consider a really excellent program in place, few took to the game. NO MORE. Starting in April of last year we totally switched the focus to creating bridge players. Just social players. No trying to get them into “relaxed” duplicate, which is just duplicate. No novice duplicate, which is just duplicate. Just bridge. We also offered them EASY PASS, our very discounted monthly playing program that makes them feel as if they belong to their own private social club. The results have been more than encouraging. In eight months our social sessions have gone from 2 - 3 tables to 5 - 8 tables. And we have ten of them a week. Equally important is that several of our social players have “graduated” to duplicate on their own. A few are playing today in a District 3 Regional in Rye, NY. We are about to make one more huge change. Social bridge will become rubber bridge very soon. That means scores will be kept over the session, prizes will be awarded for the best results over some yet to be determined amount of time. I totally agree with both of your assessments. Duplicate is not for everyone. At its height, 32,000,000 Americans played bridge. At duplicate's height, 200,000 did. That's 160 to 1. Less than 1%. Why do we keep chasing that 1%? No more, Honors has been going after the bigger piece of the pie and it is paying off big time. Will enough of these players ever switch to duplicate? Who knows. Maybe it will be their kids, who will once again be exposed to our wonderful game, that will ultimately take up the banner.
Jan. 28, 2018
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Where I'm headed, with my emphasis on the Open game, is to clue BW bloggers into exactly what kind of effort it will take to produce a whole new generation of tournament players. There is a great deal of conversation now about whether REACH will hurt or help Regional and National bridge tournaments. While this may be an interesting question, some have noted that unless we create a whole lot of new tournament players quickly, Regionals and Nationals will be contracting no matter how we rearrange the deck chairs.
Jan. 28, 2018
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I meant, “In the last five years where did all the new players learn to play?”
Jan. 28, 2018
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Only 150 clubs in the entire country offer one or more novice games a week. That's a lot less than three per state because, and I'm guessing, Florida alone probably has a disproportionate share of these games. If only the top 10% of ACBL clubs held these games, that 150 would amount to one in two top 10% of clubs holding novice games. Maybe that doesn't sound so bad. But the fact that in the entire country only 150 clubs have even one game should shake the organization to its core. In the next decade we are going to see a ton of our long time players either stop playing, stop traveling to tournaments, or cut back on their play. If we lose just 5% a year, to stay even we would need these novice type games to help produce 9,000 players. That's 60 NEW players a year from each of these games. How many novice games in the entire country even have regular 15 table (60 player) games?
Jan. 27, 2018
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Dan what do you think of the experiment Honors will be trying?
I've laid it out a few comments below.
Jan. 27, 2018
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Clubs across the country have been running some form of supervised play for as long as I can remember. All of mine did. First of all, it always sounded like some form of adult day care. That aside, where's the fun? If the fun is in the learning, I get it. But we (I) may have been blind to the bigger picture. Just plain FUN. Honors is planning a huge experiment. We are going to start calling all of our ten social supervised play sessions rubber bridge. Yes, we'll still have instructors there to answer questions and fill in where needed, but soon everyone will be keeping score over the course of the session. At each table they will play four hands using Chicago-style vulnerability. Each hand will be unto itself. Part scores will not be contested. As Jacqui Mitchell, one of our supervised play (sorry, rubber bridge) instructors points out, “we want our students to learn to bid games.” Not only that, this form of scoring is very much like duplicate scoring with part scores earning 50 extra points and sacrifice bidding being based on vulnerability. Jay Whipple has volunteered to track everyone's rubber bridge results and come up with handicaps so that different level players will be welcome into any level game. We see prizes in the form of free plays, playing lessons with some of our pro players, and maybe down the road, for the top players of the year, a trip to a National rubber bridge event held in conjunction with an ACBL Nationals. All this to start, weather permitting, within the next month or so.
Jan. 27, 2018
Jeff Bayone edited this comment Jan. 27, 2018
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Let's take it further. Why not poll everyone? Where did they learn to play in the last five years?
Jan. 27, 2018
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Because I have some confidence that I know the answer.
Jan. 27, 2018
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Don't know that stat. But I do know that of the 2853 sanctioned clubs exactly half average 7 tables a week or less. So my guess is you are correct.
Jan. 27, 2018
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From forty years experience watching and running teaching programs, and from talks with many other club managers and owners from most parts of the country, I'd put the percent about where Steve Moese just did.John's comment is also correct. The question was flawed, but had to be.
That will bring me to my next question. See next post.
Steven's response was most interesting. It turned out to be spot on. Of the 300 views there were 31 responses. 9 of those responding, chose to abstain. My takeaway from the remaining 23 votes was the 16 who voted for 10% or less. 69% of you already know, or guessed correctly, what a huge uphill battle the League and the entire bridge community will be facing in the years to come.
Jan. 27, 2018
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A married couple at my club: KQtight
Jan. 24, 2018
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Kyle, a 45 year old empty nester has a life expectancy of 90 plus. If we capture her today ACBL will have her for the next 45 years. While she is playing, a large percentage of the 20 year old bridge players you were able to create will probably play for a couple of years, disappear to career and to raising a family, and 25 - 30 years later come back to bridge.
Point is we need to concentrate on both. They are equally important. 45 year olds sustain bridge clubs. Strong clubs will be able to offer programs for high school and college kids. Right now clubs are mostly break even propositions without the where-with-all to develop and sustain non profitable programs for children. Strong clubs, strong children's programs. Go seniors!!
Jan. 4, 2018
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Points inflation? I believe Hall of Fame Center,George Mikan,who recently passed away, made less money in his career then most star basketball players today make in a game.
Jan. 4, 2018
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Novice player, 20 points, 50 points, 100 points, Life Master. 1,000 points, 2,500 points. 5,000, 10,000, 25,000, etc. Expert.
These are goals people set for themselves. Is that so bad?

I agree, LM used to mean more than it does today. So did a dollar. Times change. But the meaning of Expert hasn't changed. An expert knows when they are playing against another expert. Points, schmoints, LM, non-LM. Why does this continue to be so important?

OK. it was harder for us back then. So what? Expert versus expert and let the games begin. EHAA. That's still what gets my juices flowing. Everything else is window dressing.
Jan. 2, 2018
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Saturday a woman called asking about getting back to bridge. She said she hadn't played since she got married and supposed the game had changed some since. I asked the usual first two questions, where did she learn to play and how often did she play? “College, once or twice a week.” I suggested she try social bridge to see what came back, since bridge is pretty much like riding a bike. Then I asked the third question, how long has it been since she last played? Ready? 1949. I keep track. She broke the previous mark by almost a decade. She's coming today to Jess' 9:45 session. Can't wait.
What's that do to the model?
Steve, you were away all of 20 years? Pretty wimpy.

I'm all for efforts to try to build a strong base starting with children. I think Kyle hit it on the nose. Times are different now. Kids are different. The culture is different. It will be a serious uphill struggle.

Honors is trying to start a parent and child (10 - 14) program this month. Not much interest yet. But it is a business model that might work. Even if we don't wind up drawing the child into the club, we may get the parent. It's a good one-two combination.

Yes, getting them at 10 is best. But getting them at 45 is not so bad either. That still leaves us with about 45 good years. All I'm saying is that from a club owner's perspective (bottom line) teaching adults makes a lot more immediate business sense than teaching kids. Immediate, as in the next 45 years. No matter what conclusions will be drawn from studies, individual businesses will continue to spend their limited resources on what's best for them short term.

Like I said, it will be an uphill struggle. The League still has close to 3,000 potential places to reach children. It's our member clubs. If going after this population is deemed critical, a business model that works, that makes good short term sense, needs to be developed.
Jan. 2, 2018
Jeff Bayone edited this comment Jan. 2, 2018
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When I ran a one section club, the director was responsible for making up the hands ahead of time. On the last round of the previous session our club players knew to put the finished boards into suits. This made it a whole lot easier to duplicate a set. The whole process took less than 45 minutes. An uninterrupted person could do it in under a half hour.
Dec. 16, 2017
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Len that's the average. Some members are 12 years old. That brings the average down quite a bit. The more useful number is the median age. Half above, half below. That's more accurate. And a whole lot scarier.
Nov. 28, 2017
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