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A 'Bridge Center' Organization

By year's end there will be just over 2,700 ACBL sanctioned bridge clubs.

That's down 100 from last year.

From 1991, the first year club table count records appear on the ACBL website, through 1999 the organization lost a total of 63 clubs...that's 7 per year.

From 2000 through 2009 it lost 300 clubs....that's 30 a year.

From 2010 through 2019 it will have lost 500 clubs, but 300 were lost in just the last five years....that's 60 a year. (100 this year alone.)

See a trend? Let's look a little deeper.

The 500th largest club in 1991 had 978 tables for the year. Last year it took 1,065 tables  to make that list. Larger clubs seem to be staying healthy, maybe even thriving. Smaller clubs are where the loses have been coming from. I'm not sure of all the dynamics in play here, but I bet a lot has to do with the resources larger clubs have to bring new players into the fold through teaching and player development programs. 

Clubs that teach beginners, offer supervised, social, practice sessions that allow them to mature, then follow up with entry level duplicate games, are clubs I wish to designate as 'Bridge Centers'.

If this is a description of your club, I'd like to invite you to join me and other Bridge Centers in trying to establish the first ever bridge club organization.

I've chosen to limit this organization, at least for now, to Centers for two reasons. There are only a couple of hundred of us scattered across the ACBL. It is a manageable number. And, even though we may be very different in how we are incorporated, we all have one important thing in common. We are full service clubs. We run duplicates and we try to create the next generation of players. In essence, we are the ones the ACBL euphemistically refers to as "the life blood of the organization."

I've just started reaching out to bridge centers. I started with ones that offer more than one entry level duplicate game a week. There are less than fifty of us. Even though it's Nationals, half have already responded. All favorably. But there are still about 200 more clubs out there that fit the description of a bridge center. If your club is one, and you would like to hear more of what a bridge center organization might look like, and might hope to accomplish, please send me an email:  honorsbridge@gmail.com.

Most important, understand that this organization's mission statement will include the fact that we will be working both to strengthen and improve relations between our parent organization, the ACBL, and its member clubs, and to work to improve the organization itself.  As the BoG's 1st Alternate from my District, as a member of the BoG Club and Teacher Committee, as an ACBL member since the early 70's and a club owner since 1976, I am firmly committed to the ACBL. I just think it can be so much better than it is. 

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