By Barbara Seagram
We give students names of partners they can play with. Hand out telephone numbers of like-minded individuals. Approximately eight names per person and suggest that they call. We print names and numbers off ACBL Score of master point levels, and then customize a list. You can buy databases of everyone in your area on disk (free once a year).
Be strict about Zero Tolerance. Students respect this. Educate students constantly about the niceties of the game.
We run a mentor program frequently. The mentor plays free, the students pay $10.00. This covers partly the cost of both playing and we subsidize.
Another “secret” for getting students out playing is to give them a crutch. I sell them cheat sheets for $10.00. I cannot begin to tell you how they cling to these. It becomes their security blanket but without it they are lost. We gradually ween them from using these but they are allowed to use it for the first year of playing in any game. No-one is allowed to say “that’s not fair” in any game at our club, because students are using crib sheets. If they do, it is time for that upset person to move on to a tougher game.
We have Novice games (0-20 points) then Advanced Novice (0-50), Intermediate (0-100) and Advanced Intermediate (0-200). Open games are stratified Open/0-300. These provide stepping stones for all players to keep moving up. Then they can move to open games.
Sometimes I think club owners kill a good thing. A group of 0-20 people start getting too experienced for that same game on let’s say Tuesday evenings. They want to keep playing on that night but we tell them it is time to move to the Thursday evening game. They have grown to love Tuesday evenings and it fits with their schedule (Schedules are so overtaxed in today’s society!) We tell these folk to move and we never see them again as Thursday evening is no good for them. I suggest if there are quite a few of such folk that you keep them on Tuesday night and make that game a 0-50 game and make another night your novice night. That has worked well for me in many games.
We give bridge tips (15 minutes) prior to most novice and intermediate games. This is a big hit.
After each game, they are encouraged to lay out problem hands on a table and go over them with the Director who stays them and explains patiently what should have happened or how they could have made it etc.