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PLAYING DUPLICATE
All you need to play at home

  1. Checklist of what you need
  2. Duplicate boards required
  3. Making your own Duplicate boards
  4. Pair or Individual movement ?
  5. Mitchell movements for Pairs
  6. Howell movements for Pairs
  7. Individual movements
  8. Responsibilities of the Director
  9. Responsibilities of the Players
  10. Silent Bidding
  11. Download material


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DUP 1 - Checklist of what you need

Playing duplicate bridge at home is great fun and an excellent form of entertainment. You can combine it with a morning coffee, or an afternoon tea, or you can organise an evening event with perhaps a supper halfway through or at the end of the evening.

You need at least 8 players (2 tables) to be able to play duplicate bridge.
More players can be added, preferably in multiples of 4, each filling an additional table. You can have an odd number of people but this means that one or more players are "sitting out" (not playing) for one round, which can be about half an hour.

Here is a check list of what you need for each group of 4 players.

  1. 1 card table - you can use any table which accommodates 4 people, but it is nicest to use a standard card table. These are about 72cm x 72cm (2'4"x2'4") square with fold-out legs. They are easy to store away and inexpensive to purchase.

  2. 1 table cloth - preferably plain quiet coloured, like dark green, brown or black, to cover the entire card table.

  3. 4 chairs - preferably straight backed.

  4. 2 small side tables - (or stools) for cups and glasses, placed at diagonally opposite corners of the card table. These are not essential, but solve the problem of having the card table cluttered with glasses and the accidental spilling of drinks over it.

  5. Bridge stationery :
    1. Duplicate boards - at least one for each table
    2. One pack of cards - for each duplicate board
    3. Table Movement cards - to direct players to their next table position after each round
    4. Score sheets ('travellers') - one for each board
    5. Score computers - one for each table
    6. Pencils - one for each table (or 4 when you use silent bidding slips)

  6. Director - one player (or non player) is appointed as director to be in charge of all aspects of the competition.

  7. Kitchen timer - not essential, but useful to control the time to be spend on each round of play.

  8. Rules & Laws of Duplicate Bridge - not essential, but useful for the Director to resolve irregularities during the bidding and play. Abbreviated copies available from all Bridge Supplies shops.


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DUP 2 - Duplicate boards required

The absolute minimum you require is one board for each table.

  1. In such case the play starts by each table shuffling, dealing and playing the board on their table.

  2. When each table has finished their first game all boards rotate to the next lower numbered table.
    This time the boards are not shuffled but played only.

  3. At the end of play all boards move again to the next table, and so on, until all tables have played all boards. This is the end of the round.

  4. All players now move (according to the table movement guides) to their next position and all boards are shuffled and dealt again for the second round.
dup01.gif

You can play more boards per round if you wish.
For example to play 4 boards on 3 tables : simply place two boards instead of one on one of the tables, and let them shuffle, deal and play both.   After finishing the first board they pass it on to the next lower numbered table, then start their second board.

This is by far the simplest way to conduct a duplicate session, but it has the disadvantage that one slow table can hold up the play for all the others. A good director however should not allow this to happen.
Successive rounds can be scored on the same traveller for each board. Just leave one blank space (or draw a horizontal line) between each round of scoring.
An advantage of this simple approach is that during a halfway break (for tea or supper) all players can freely chat about the deals they played, as all players have completed the same boards. (In a normal club session, with 24 or more individual boards, played at successive rounds at different tables, this is not possible.)

Alternatively you use a set of say 24 boards.
In such case 2, 3 or 4 boards are placed on each table as specified on the movement guides. At the beginning of play all boards are shuffled, dealt and played by the players at the table.
After all boards on each table have been played, all players and boards move to their specified tables for the next round.
All boards are only shuffled and dealt once (at or before the beginning of play) and remain so until the end of the competition.
This requires a bit more attention by the director as from round to round the movements of the various boards may move in and out of play.



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DUP 3 - Making your own Duplicate boards

You can buy aluminium or plastic duplicate boards or (less sturdy) plastic duplicate wallets from any Contract bridge supplies shop. But it is also very easy to make good duplicate wallets yourself out of file holders for the old fashioned filing cabinet.
This is how you do this.

1.
Cut the file holder as shown below, leaving the bottom fold intact. You can cut 2 duplicate boards out of each file holder.

dup02.gif

2.
Fold the cut-out piece open and make a fold across 7cm (or 2.5 inches) from each end. You can make a very shallow cut with a pen knife to produce a nice sharp fold.
Fold the outside flaps inwards from these two prepared fold lines.

dup03.gif

3.
Make four card pockets with staples on the sides and in the centre as shown below.
Mark with a felt pen the pockets for N, E, S, W, who is the Dealer and the Board Number.
Stick a red sticker on the appropriate pockets showing the vulnerability for the board.

dup04.gif

4.
Close the wallet and write the board number on the outside of the wallet.

These duplicate wallets are perfectly adequate, are very strong, and will last for many years of use. I suggest you make at least 8 of these wallets.


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DUP 4 - Pairs or Individual movement ?

Before the beginning of play you need to determine whether you are going to have a pairs or an individual competition.

In a pairs competition all players are divided into a number of pairs. During play each pair competes all, or a number of, other pairs. This type of competition is fine when all players are about equally skilled. But if some very strong players pair up together then the end result of the competition may become rather predictable.
Alternatively you may pair up the stronger players with the weaker ones, but this may be rather frustrating for the better players. You need to judge this against the character and temperament of the various players you have invited.

In an individual competition all players compete individually against each other. Each player plays with a different player each round. On the whole this is the preferred arrangement for a social event. all players mix regardless of their skill level. This ultimately benefits the lesser players as they have a chance to play with various better players and through these experiences gradually improve their game.


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DUP 5 - Mitchell movements for Pairs

There are two common movements for Pairs competition, Mitchell movements and Howell movements. The Mitchell movement is the simplest of the two. It is commonly used for competitions of 8 or more tables, but can be used for 5, 6 or 7 tables too.

The Mitchell movement works like this.

  1. All NS pairs remain stationary all rounds.

  2. After each round all EW pairs move up one table.

  3. After each round all boards move down one table.

  4. With an even number of tables only (6, 8, 10)
    All EW pairs skip one table at the half way point of the movement (at Round 4 with 6 tables, at Round 5 with 8 tables, etc.).

With an odd number of tables the movement flows perfectly. But with an even number of tables the EW pairs need to skip one table halfway through the movement, otherwise they would run into boards they have played already (but see alternative solution below).

If you wish to use a full set of boards aim to have between 18 and 24 boards in play.
Place therefore

  • 4 boards on each table for a 5-table Mitchell (total = 20 boards)

  • 4 boards on each table for a 6-table Mitchell (total = 24 boards, but 20 boards played due to the skip)

  • 3 boards on each table for a 7-table Mitchell (total = 21 boards)

  • 3 boards on each table for an 8-table Mitchell (total = 24 boards, but 21 boards played due to the skip)

Shown below are the movements of players and boards in a 5-table Mitchell movement at the end of the first round.

dup05.gif

In a Mitchell movement all NS pairs compete against each other, and separately all EW pairs also compete against each other. There are therefore two winning pairs, one winning NS pair and one winning EW pair.

Table Guide cards are not required for Mitchell movements, but use the Table Number cards provided below. These show the table number plus the position of the North player.
Players take their Pair number from the Table they sit at for the first round. At Table 1 are pairs 'NS1' and 'EW1'. At Table 2 are pairs 'NS2' and 'EW2', etc.

Table numbers : 1 and 2   3 and 4   5 and 6   7 and 8   blanks


Alternative Mitchell movement for an even number of tables
There is an elegant alternative to avoid the skip for EW pairs halfway through the movement when you have an even number of tables. The Diagram below shows the alternative set up for a 6-Table Mitchell.

mitchell_06.gif
  1. The first and the last table (here Tables 1 and 6) share boards each round.

  2. There is a Bye table at the midway point (here between Tables 3 and 4) with one set of boards.

As usual in a Mitchell after each round EW pairs move up one table, while the boards move down one table. (From Table 4 boards move to the Bye table. Boards from the Bye move to Table 3.)
Now the EW pairs do not have to skip after round 3, but move up one table as normal, while not running into boards they have played already. So with this movement all EW pairs play against all NS pairs, and all pairs play all boards.
A similar setup can be used for an 8-table Mitchell.


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DUP 6 - Howell movements for Pairs

In a Howell movement each pair competes against all (or most) other pairs. At the end there is therefore only one winning pair. Howell movements are most suitable for a small number of tables, up to 7 tables. I have included Howell movement Guide cards for 2, 3, 4, and 5 tables.

After each round most pairs move, sometimes switching from a NS position to an EW position or vise versa. Boards too move in a more complex way and their placement for each round should therefore be left to the Director.
The South player however is responsible for checking that the board on his table are the correct ones for that round (as shown on the Guide Card).

  • 2-Table Howell guide cards : T1   T2

  • 3-Table Howell guide cards : T1   T2   T3

  • 4-Table Howell guide cards : T1   T2   T3   T4

  • 5-Table Howell guide cards : T1   T2   T3   T4   T5

  • 6-Table Howell guide cards : T1   T2   T3   T4   T5   T6

You may also choose to use and reuse the same minimum number of boards for each rounds as explained in Section 2 above. In this case you follow the Howell movement directions for the players only, and ignore the distribution of boards.
For a 5-table Howell for example place 1 board on each table to be shuffled, dealt and played. After all boards have been played on one table they move to the next lower numbered table to be played there too. Repeat this process once more. Then (after each board has been played on three separate tables) all players move for the next round (as indicated on the Howell guide cards) and all boards are shovelled and dealt again.
This manner of play has the advantage that you can stop the session after any round if you wish. With a full set of boards it is always best to complete the entire Howell movement as only then all boards have been played the same number of times.

Odd number of Pairs
With an odd number of pairs each pair sits out one round of play. This happens when they move to the "sit out table".
Always make the table with the stationary NS pair (usually Table 1) the sit out table. This way the sit out is always at the same table and does not change from round to round.

With 5 pairs run a 3-table Howell. Place the odd pair on Table 1 EW but leave the NS positions empty. This will be the "sit out table". Place the remaining 4 pairs on Tables 2 and 3.

With 7 pairs run a 4-table Howell. Place the odd pair on Table 1 EW but leave the NS positions empty. This will be the "sit out table". Place the remaining 6 pairs on Tables 2, 3 and 4.

With 9 pairs run a 5-table Howell. Place the odd pair on Table 1 EW but leave the NS positions empty. This will be the "sit out table". Place the remaining 8 pairs on Tables 2, 3, 4 and 5.


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DUP 7 - Individual movements

In an individual movement each player competes against all (or most) other players. There is always only one winner in this type of competition.
Players move from round to round in a Howell movement fashion. Boards either move in Howell movement fashion or are shared ('relayed' = R) between 2 or more tables.
I have included Individual movement guide cards for 8, 12 and 16 players.

  • 2-Table Individual guide cards for   8 players : T1   T2

  • 3-Table Individual guide cards for 12 players : T1   T2   T3

  • 4-Table Individual guide cards for 16 players : T1   T2   T3   T4

With 9 players use a 2-Table Individual movement. Place the last player as number 9 on Table 2 East at the beginning of Round 2. He stays there for all remaining rounds.
Players who move to this position sit out for one round, then continue their movement (next to Table 1 West).

With 13 players use a 3-Table Individual movement. Place the last player as number 13 on Table 2 East at the beginning of Round 2. He stays there for all remaining rounds.
Players who move to this position sit out for one round, then continue their movement (next to Table 2 North).

With 16 or more players :

  1. Give each player a number before the start of play.
    (Number and corresponding name to be recorded on one score sheet.)

  2. Place 1 board on each table and play in the simple style as explained in Section 2 (above).
    Boards are shuffled and dealt after each round.

  3. At the end of each round players may move to whichever table and position they wish, provided they play with any other player only once.

  4. With an odd number of players, players must take their turn to sit out.
    With 17 payers for example Player 1 sits out the first round, Player 2 the second, Player 3 the third, etc.

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DUP 8 - Responsibilities of the Director

The director is in charge of all aspects of the competition. His main tasks are :

  1. to select the appropriate movement (Howell, Mitchell, Individual) for the session and lay out the Movement guide cards, score sheets, and correct boards for the first round before the game starts.

  2. to call for play to begin and to announce the amount of time which will be allowed for each round.
    In Club competition 7.5 minutes is usually allowed for each board to be bid and played. For social events, especially with a number of relative beginners, allow for about 10 minutes per board, or 30 minutes for each round of 3 boards.
    Be very firm with this and stop players having lengthy post mortems after each board played. It greatly diminishes the enjoyment of the other players if they have to wait endlessly before they can play their next deal.
    Use a kitchen timer and set it at the beginning of each round at 3 minutes less than the specified duration for the round (at 27 minutes for a 3-board 30 minutes round). When the timer rings no more boards are to be started. Any boards left unplayed as a result are allocated an average score. Simply record player numbers on the score sheet and write "Average" in the 'Results' column (Match pointing boards with and 'Average Score').


  3. to call for the players to "Move for the next round please.". He himself moves the boards to their table for the next round.

  4. to arbitrate disputes or mistakes during play, such as a lead out of turn, not followed suit when you could ('renege'), holding an incorrect number of cards in your hand, etc.
    Use common sense and fairness in your arbitration. Alternatively a copy of 'Rules and Laws of Duplicate Bridge' may be useful to follow the standard rulings for some of the most common irregularities.
    Laws for the most frequently occuring offences

  5. to calculate the results at the end of the session, or alternatively to appoint a score master to do this task on his behalf.

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DUP 9 - Responsibilities of the Players

In the heat of the battle mistakes are unavoidable and frustration can flare up easily. The hall mark of a good player is that he keeps smiling and is supportive of his partner no matter what. Don't point out partner's mistakes (you never make them of course) and hand out a quick bridge lesson (you never need one of course) at the end of each deal, it will only have the reverse effect you intended.

The first responsibility of all players is therefore to be courteous at the table at all times. Be humble in your victories and graceful in your defeats. Above all keep your partner smiling and happy, it will greatly improve his game as well as yours.

All players must check on the Movement guide card that they are sitting at the right spot at the right table for each round.

All players are responsible for counting their cards (face down) immediately after taking them out of the duplicate board. If you do have an incorrect number (12 or 14 cards) call the Director.

All players must not waste time.
Do not sit agonising endlessly over every bid you make or every card you play. Doing so wastes time allocated for each board and penalises all players at your table. This is bad selfish behaviour and most unsportsmanlike.
Bridge is not just about making the right decisions. It is about making decisions within a short span of time. With the benefit of hindsight we all would be perfect players. Also making mistakes will help you to become a better player. Agonising over every move will keep you bogged down forever.

N players are responsible for writing the results on the travelling score sheet after each deal.
If you notice (what you believe is) an incorrect entry by another table on the score sheet do not correct it, but write a question mark (?) behind it. If you believe it important call the Director.

S players are responsible for checking that the right boards for that round are on the table. If this is not the case call the Director.


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DUP 10 - Silent Bidding

To avoid the problem of players hearing the bidding from other tables most bridge clubs use a method of silent bidding.
The larger clubs commonly use for this purpose boxes of bidding cards (one box for each player). These are available from all bridge supply shops, but can add up to a considerable expense.
Smaller clubs therefore generally use bidding slips on which each player writes (with a pen or pencil) his bid each time his turn comes around.

Below an example of such a bidding slip.

  • Bids are written as 1H or 2S or 1NT (or 1N)

  • A Pass is shown as a diagonal line across the box, from bottom left to top right (from the writer's perspective)

  • A Double is shown as a cross from corner to corner

dup06.gif

Here is an example of the use of a bidding slip, with North being the Dealer.

dup07.gif

The bidding ends after three successive passes (diagonal lines). The final pass is commonly (but not necessarily) shown as a double parallel diagonal line.

The great advantage of this method of silent bidding is that each player can see the entire bidding sequence as it evolves, without having to remember or ask. At the end of the auction the bidding slip is removed before the Dummy goes down on the table. For each deal a new bidding slip is used.
When using bidding slips make sure to have 4 pencils on each table. (Alternatively, like in many clubs, players have to bring their own.)

A printout sheet with bidding slips is provided in the Download section below.
Bidding slips in handy tear-off blocks are commonly available from bridge supply shops.


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DUP 11 - Download material

Score calculations   Score sheets   Score Computer

One Table Bridge - Score sheets - Calculator

Laws for the most frequently occuring offences

Silent Bidding slips
Pads of 500 double sided Silent Bidding Slips, wallets, boards, Travelers and much more are also available online in Australia from Paul Lavings Bridge books & Supplies

Table numbers : 1 and 2   3 and 4   5 and 6   7 and 8   blanks

If you find scoring by hand too difficult or (more likely) too boring I can recommend a great (very easy to use) computer application which can do that for you : ScoreBridge. I use it myself. You can download it at www.scorebridge.com and use it for free for a trial period before you decide to purchase it.

Alternative Mitchell movement for an even number of tables : 4 tables   6 tables   8 tables   10 tables

2-Table Howell guide cards for   4 pairs (15 boards) : T1 & 2
2-Table Howell guide cards for   4 pairs (18 boards) : T1   T2
2-Table Howell guide cards for   4 pairs (24 boards) : T1 & 2

3-Table Howell guide cards for   6 pairs (15 boards) : T1 & 2   T3
3-Table Howell guide cards for   6 pairs (20 boards) : T1   T2   T3
3-Table Howell guide cards for   6 pairs (25 boards) : T1 & 2   T3

4-Table Howell guide cards for   8 pairs (21 boards) : T1   T2   T3   T4   Setup Diagram
4-Table Howell guide cards for   8 pairs (24 boards) : T1 & 2   T3 & 4   Setup Diagram

5-Table Howell guide cards for 10 pairs (21 boards) : T1   T2   T3   T4   T5   Setup Diagram
5-Table Reduced Howell guide cards for 10 pairs (24 boards) : T1   T2   T3   T4   T5   Setup Diagram

6-Table Howell guide cards for 12 pairs (22 boards) : T1   T2   T3   T4   T5   T6   Setup Diagram
6-Table Howell guide cards for 12 pairs (33 boards) : T1   T2   T3   T4   T5   T6   Setup Diagram

7-Table 3/4 Howell guide cards for 14 pairs (24 boards) : T1   T2   T3   T4   T5   T6   T7   Setup Diagram
7-Table Howell guide cards for 14 pairs (26 boards) : T1   T2   T3   T4   T5   T6   T7   Setup Diagram

2-Table Individual guide cards for   8 players : T1   T2 (21 boards)
2-Table Individual guide cards for 10 players : T1   T2   Sit Outs (20 boards)
2-Table Individual guide cards for 10 players : T1   T2   Sit Outs (30 boards)

3-Table Individual guide cards for 12 players : T1   T2   T3 (21 brds, 3 brd rounds)
3-Table Individual guide cards for 12 players : T1   T2   T3 (22 brds, 2 brd rounds)

4-Table Individual guide cards for 16 players : T1   T2   T3   T4 (24 boards)

5-Table Individual guide cards for 20 players : T1   T2   T3   T4   T5 (30 boards Rainbow)



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