Bridge is a sociable card game where pairs of players compete against one another, two pairs to a table.
Masterpoints are awarded to the higher finishing pairs when the club is sanctioned by the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL), as is the local Bridge-at-the-Village club. Players at Bridge-at-the-Village who are ACBL members, however, in addition to competing against one another also compete nationally, as the club participates in The Common Game.
The Common Game is sponsored by the Florida ACBL District, which runs a series of bridge games where performance and attendance are rewarded. Clubs all over North America play the same set of hands from a common library for morning, afternoon, and evening games. The deals are computer generated, three different sets of 36 games for every day of the year, using the same algorithms required for World Bridge Federation and European Bridge League events.
These Common Game hands are made available to be offered through local clubs and thereby provide bridge players the opportunity to compare their results with players at other clubs by playing the same hands across the country. All that is required for inclusion is that eighteen or more hands be played. Bridge-at-the-Village used Common Game hands for all its Longest Day games at Belk store in support of The Alzheimer’s Association this past June, for instance, and has used them in its regular game every Monday evening for several years.
Participation in the Common Game does not affect a player’s local score or masterpoint awards, however, as they continue to be scored and reported as usual. If the game has fewer than four players with more than 500 masterpoints, it is considered a “299er game.” As Bridge-at-the-Village members are all novice players who only began to earn masterpoints with the formation of the club in 2011, their results are posted with the Common Game 299ers.
One of the benefits of playing Common Game hands most appreciated by Bridge-at-the-Village players is the opportunity with the computer to compare results with players beyond those in the local club. It helps explain the attraction of ACBL membership. The players both enjoy and find frustrating the statistical vagaries whereby their scores change between the smaller local game and the more populated Common Game, sometimes for the better but more often in the other direction.
The Monday evening Common Games are played by a number of clubs in California, Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Local players feel especially rewarded when they score well against such broad-based competition. Particularly rewarding for all is the knowledge that, on several evenings, one of the Bridge-at-the-Village pairs has placed first, and often local players place in the top ten 299ers.
In addition, after play at Bridge-at-the-Village every Monday evening a hard copy hand record of each deal is made available to players, while the Common Game offers expert post-mortem computer analysis of some of the more interesting hands played. Furthermore, individual play analysis is also provided to players in the local club, many of whom think that these benefits are helping improve their calibre of play as they are able to review what they did or failed to do with each hand.
Bridge-at-the-Village is the only ACBL-sanctioned club on the US 74 between Charlotte and Wilmington. It plays every Monday evening in the Scotia Village Café, beginning at 6 p.m, and visitors, even those coming singly, are welcomed, as there is always a partner available.
Cost of play is $5 for the evening, and light refreshments are served.
Mac Doubles helped organize the bridge games at Scotia Village. He lives in Laurinburg.