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Pay to play

edited January 2013 in Anything Else
I've played Bridge for many years but only for the past 5 years in the UK where I play at a well run non profit making Bridge Club a few miles from home. A couple of weeks back I went to play with a group that recently moved location to play at my golf club and I was shocked to discover that this group is not a Bridge club as such but an individuals business (I use the word business loosely). The person in question collects £3.50 each from 28 people (average) each Monday for which he provides cards, does the scoring and pays for the room hire (£22.50). That's more than a clear £3,500 a year in his pocket.

Based upon my experience of Bridge clubs I was shocked but talking to a couple at my club who knew of this group I discovered that I was the only one shocked and that it is quite common in this area (Liverpool) to have groups who are organised / led / directed by an individual for payment. Of course it goes without saying that nobody is forced to go to this group or that and if a person sets something up and people are happy to pay him/her for doing it that's all there is to it. For me it just seems wrong but I have to accept that maybe I have been raised in a different (Bridge) world.

My question is - am I the only one shocked; how common is this?

Comments

  • edited 8:41PM
    We have about three in the Sevenoak's area.
    One is run by an individual and provides an excellent service - a non playing director or host if required.

    Another appears to be run as a club but is in fact a business run by a partnership of three.

    I don't have an issue with either, as long as everyone is aware of the facts.
    I guess it all comes down to value, are you getting your money's worth?
    If it is being run as a business, then I expect something extra, like a non-playing
    director, prompt posting of the results etc.
  • edited 8:41PM
    I suppose to some extent what is shocking and what is not is what you are accustomed to. I do accept that someone supplying and charging for a service is fair enough as long as everyone know and understand what they are paying for. In this case, in my opinion, what is being charged and what is being supplied is not good value for money. There are no bidding boxes, no web site, not score posted on-line, even the movement is bizarre in so far as not all NS and all EW play all hands so any score isn't a true reflection of play. But of course, at the end of the day, nobody is forced to pay and play; perhaps I'm a little idealistic.
  • edited 8:41PM
    I'm always suspicious about the lack of a web site. It may indicate a desire to avoid the attentions of HMRC.
    If you are running a club as a business, having a web site with all the results and the table money fees visible, makes it simple to determine how much money they are making in a year. From that you can easily identify which clubs are in it for the money. HMRC can also do this.
  • edited 8:41PM
    I run three 'bridge clubs' as a promoter in different parts of London and also host a number of supervised play games and give lessons. I offer bridge at all levels from absolute beginner to club standard and encourage to progress as fast as they are able. Bridge is my full time job and nobody pays me a salary so I survive through the bridge fees that the players pay. I earn about the average wage and of course I enjoy what I do and it beats 'real' work. I account for my income above board and pay tax and national insurance.

    At all my sessions you get the playing space provided, the tables, bidding boxes, stationery, etc. You get pre-dealt hands with hand records at the end; you get electronic scoring, either with up-to-date Bridgemates or with the new BriAn [Bridge on iPhone and Android] scoring app that turns your mobile phone into a scoring device; you get a knowledgable and experienced Tournament Director; and you get results posted promptly to the web. If the venue doesn't provide its own refreshments you get free tea/coffee and biscuits. All sessions are hosted so players can come without a pre-arranged partner and know they will get a game. You get email news and updates of special events and interesting outside events as well. All you have to do is turn up and play.

    Professionally supplied bridge of this quality is quite usual in London - several of the major 'clubs' are businesses even if they charge a membership fee. But the service level is also expected by the players.

    There are many mutually owned clubs around the country, especially in the major conurbations, that provide similar services; but these tend to have an employed manager who is again being paid out of the bridge income. Some mutual clubs are fortunate to have an all volunteer management, but the effort is then provided by people who can afford not to be paid. In the true not-for-profit sector there are many mutuallly-owned clubs that do not provide bridge at this level: a lack of pre-dealt hands or electronic equipment; a poor web service; and particularly a lack of a host service. Also a small club may not be able to offer newer players who are progressing the chance to play duplicates of the right standard.

    In the end it comes down to the market. If someone provides a congenial and readily available place to play an enjoyable game of bridge and organises it to everyone's satisfaction, why shouldn't they be rewarded?
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