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Cafes! Duplicate Bridge! What could be wrong with the idea of melding the two?
I've now attended three such events, and I'm coming to believe the concept is already past its sell-by date unless future organisers improve the offering substantially. Which would be a shame, as it's all for charity -- well almost all -- see further on.
The first major problem is that may of the pubs, restaurants and cafes are very poor places to play bridge. Often the tables aren't the right shape, and very few have tablecloths. Given that the event organisers never provide baizes in my experience, picking up the cards from dummy can be a slippery and tedious. Often the locations are extraordinarily noisy: a combination of restaurant staff getting ready for lunch, the lack of soft furnishings in the room, and the players chatting. Tables sometimes get crammed together to squeeze in all the players; some rooms have proved windowless and claustrophobic -- the last places you would want to play enjoyable bridge.
Another problem is the wide range in skills and motivations of the players. One pair I played against recently took an enormous time to decide which card to play at every turn, and seemed to have no idea that this is supposed to be a social event.
I think also the marketing of these events needs to be cleaned up. I assume that the organizers of these events are unpaid volunteers who deserve our admiration and gratitude. What I find galling is that in the same breath, that gratitude is extended to the providers of the scoring software. Every organiser of Cafe Bridge I have spoken to admits that "Oh yes, they make money out of every player who attends the event."
The heroes of Cafe Bridge are the unpaid organisers, and to a lesser extent, the players who donate around £30 each for a fair lunch but a very poor bridge environment.