Monday, March 12, 2012

Bridgemates and the demise of caddies

In the last 5 years, bridgemates (and other similar machines) have taken over in pair games at tournaments.  This means less work for the directors as they don’t have to enter every score into the computer. It means fewer caddies because they are no longer needed to go around after every round to collect pick up slips. It also means no more having to decipher when someone wrote, no more having to go back to the person who wrote the score to figure out if 4H making 5 for 420 is really supposed to be making 4 for 420 or making 5 for 450, and no more searching the table for wherever the EW pair may have left the pick-up slip. On the surface, these sound like good things but there are several bad things that come from this.


One reason to discontinue use of bridgemates is that players, particularly players who have only played duplicate in the bridgemate era, will not be able to figure out their own scores. Yes, previously, we could look it up in a table or on the bidding cards but you really should be able to figure the score in your head, partly for appearing like it’s not your first time playing but partly because it sometimes should affect your bidding and play to know that a vulnerable major suit game is 620 and that 2HX making is 670 and what doubles undertricks cost. I’ve noticed more and more people lately simply clueless about what certain scores are. Whether or not players are less educated or informed or experienced than in the past, it sure feels like they are.


Secondly, fewer caddies means less exposure to teenagers and pre-teens who normally take caddying jobs, at least in the summer and on weekends. Aren’t these the people we are trying to encourage to get interested in bridge?  Simply being around the game that their parents or grandparents or neighbor love is a good way of getting more young people involved – the kids get a little money and get to see what the game is all about. Well, it didn’t do much for getting my older brother involved in bridge. He was a caddy when he was a pre-teen and learned to despise the game but that’s probably more due to other issues than just not liking bridge. Even so, some exposure is better than none, and I haven’t seen a little old lady who doesn’t enjoy seeing the teenagers in the bridge room.


At several tournaments lately I have heard directors complain about having too many score corrections after the session, threatening to penalize people for having to correct a score after the game. It seems that scores are actually more accurate when the director puts them in from pick-ups than when players enter them in machines. This is possibly more because the scores don’t get screened by the director before being entered. With pick-ups, the director may catch a lot of errors before entering them. Often times, players don’t pay much attention to the bridgemate, entering them in a rush and EW often doesn’t bother checking or just presses ok without even thinking.

1 comment:

  1. Plus, there are sometimes some really hot college-age caddies to look at when you're a bored dummy.