Steps to Planning and Running a Sectional
- Months Prior to the Sectional
- Find a weekend that is available on the local tournament calendar and is available at either the Soledad Club or elsewhere, e.g. Adventure in Bridge. The board may have done date selection before you became Tournament Chairman.
- Get the sanction from ACBL. This is the Tournament Chairman’s responsibility. A year ahead is ideal—the schedule can be sent in later. Memorial weekend has been “our” sectional weekend for decades, so there is some leeway here. Any other date should be reserved at least six months in advance. ACBL headquarters (tournamentsacbl.org) is the ultimate authority but it is also helpful to discuss scheduling with the head District 22 (D22) director, currently Betty Bratcher.
Weigh in on directing staff selection. This can be done while requesting the sanction. After approving the sanction, the ACBL will assign a director-in-charge (DIC) fairly quickly. The ACBL has the final word but can be helpful to request a local director because lodging and travel expenses for out of town directors is significant. Similar considerations apply for extra directing staff which is usually arranged by discussion between the DIC and the Tournament Chairman. Some directing help can be done by Tournament Assistants (TAs); they are cheaper than an ACBL tournament director.
NLM sectionals are different. An ACBL tournament director is not required run these. A director like Paul Darin can do it. The ACBL probably still has the final word on the DIC but it usually easy to get the director you want. Check for availability with local directors and request the one you want when requesting the sanction.
- If the sectional is in another unit, for example, at Adventure in Bridge, formally request permission from the other unit’s board to hold the sectional there by contacting their president.
- Secure rental of the facility.
- Check that the tournament appears on the ACBL’s online tournament schedule.
- Check that the tournament is listed on the Western Conference Sectional Tournaments list in the Contract Bridge Forum. The listing is usually on the second page. There is no advertising fee for this listing and it should happen automatically.
- Three to six months ahead, send the tournament schedule in for approval (tournamentsacbl.org). The DIC can help with masterpoint cutoffs for the strats. The schedule needs to be approved before printing and distributing flyers. It is best to submit a draft flyer to the ACBL but you can also just submit a proposed schedule of events.
- Fill in the tournament information and schedule on TourneyTRAX. This online interface is new in 2012 and there are some quirks. You may have to create an account that is separate from your regular myACBL account even though use your player number as your user id (this is a dumb shortcoming that the ACBL should fix).
- Arrange partnership people. You need their name(s) for the flyers.
Flyers should be prepared four to six months in advance so they can be distributed at other tournaments to reach more distant players. Some flyers should be distributed to local clubs up to six months in advance but major distribution can wait until about three months before because the local tournament calendar is now very crowded and most locals players aren’t planning more than three months in advance. Mail flyers to more distant clubs. The ACBL Club Finder is helpful for finding clubs, ranked by distance. Send more flyers to clubs which list more games. Expect to distribute at least 500 flyers.
Flyers must include our unit name, the tournament address, the tournament dates, and the tournament schedule. Flyers should also mention the tournament chair(s), partnership chair(s), card fees, director-in-charge, and sanction number. Flyers should include a map and a link to the unit website. The ACBL may require conditions of contest to be listed, for example, “All events stratified by average. 20 VP Team scoring. Knock out events with only one bracket may be handicapped.” It is good to mention that results will be posted online daily. Also mention air conditioning if the section is being held at Adventures in Bridge.
- Have the unit webmaster announce the tournament online and link to the flyer.
Submit an ad to the Contract Bridge Forum to run for two or three months (“insertions”). The ad is submitted to the D22 editor, currently Joel Hoersch (joelcontractbridgeforum.com) but payment is sent to the D22 treasurer or as otherwise indicated in the Contract Bridge Forum, usually on the lower left region of the front page of each edition. The Forum usually arrives during the third week of each month and carries the date of the following month. So for a Memorial weekend sectional, have the ad run in the May and June issues and optionally also in the April issue. A quarter page ad (8" high × 5" wide), works well. Currently, this size costs $100 / insertion plus a $25 setup fee.
The Forum editor can work directly from a Microsoft Word or PDF copy of the ad, resizing as necessary. If you want to avoid the slight distortion from an aspect ratio change, rework the flyer in your word processor to fit the exact dimensions of the ad. See the bottom half of this page of the Contract Bridge Forum for example an example of a vertically stretched U539 sectional ad next to a carefully rearranged U526 sectional ad. Colors print darker in the newspaper than on paper. Consider adjusting your flyer/ad accordingly.
- Order an e-mail BLAST to District 22 (and maybe District 23) players announcing the sectional. The ACBL will only do one e-mail BLAST per tournament. The best time seems to be about four weeks before the tournament.
- Figure out any play-through lunches. Usually the Sunday team games are play-through. Since players have no time to leave the tournament site, a lunch must be provided. Pizza from Costco is an easy option. If catering or a food truck is involved, advanced planning is required.
- Weeks or days prior to the Sectional
- Arrange caddies. Since 2010, ACBL directors supply Bridgemates which means caddies are not needed to pick up slips for pair games. However, caddies can help with setup, hospitality, and clean up. Arrange for at least one caddy on a pairs day but two is better for a big tournament.
- Coordinate hospitality. Or delegate the coordination of hospitality and regularly check delegatee’s progress.
- Have someone get sodas and snacks. Costco is usually the cheapest options. Hospitality person may take on this task.
- Arrange for extra tables and chairs if necessary.
- Encourage the DIC to not hesitate to enforce Zero Tolerance and slow play penalties and to communicate this policy to the entire directing staff. Bridge is a timed event and should be an enjoyable experience. Laying down the law earns the respect of non-offenders and promotes growth. Most bridge offenders only change their behavior upon realization that penalties are being accessed. Typical offenders are bridge addicts who will be back anyhow but any players who choose not to return are likely players that the future tournaments will be better off without.
- Remind the treasurer to turn in any accumulated ACBL script to the DIC thereby converting it to a cash credit.
- Shortly before the Sectional
- Make sure you have access to the facility each day at the time the DIC wants to begin setup.
- Make sure there are enough bridge supplies: Set up bridge supplies: pickup slips, bidding boxes, convention cards, pencils. The Club Manager for the unit is responsible for keep these supplied stocked.
- Buy ice and leave it at the facility.
- Have a backup plan if hospitality falls through. The nearest grocery store to the Soledad Club is the Vons at 1702 Garnet Avenue. There is an Einstein Brothers bagel store at the intersection of Lamont and Grant.
- Tasks each day of the tournament
- Get coffee and tea going and set out cups, creamer, sugar, and stir sticks. At the Soledad Club, use the 100 and 60 cup pots for caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee respectively. There is a small pot for hot water for tea. Coffee takes about 20 minutes to brew. At Adventures in Bridge, there are many small coffee pots which brew coffee quickly. Have coffee ready at least 40 minutes before game time. Earlier is better.
- Set out hospitality. Caddies can help but their first priority is to do whatever setup the director needs them to do.
- Place table-markers, bidding boxes, pick-up slips and pencils per instructions from Director.
- Pick up score-cards.
- Tidy-up tables at conclusion of each session.
- At conclusion of tournament, collect and store able-markers, bidding boxes, pick-up slips and pencils.
- Get all ACBLscore game file to the unit webmaster to post results online.
- Clean up.
- End of Tournament
- Caddies collect and store able-markers, bidding boxes, pick-up slips and pencils.
- Soledad Club (or alternate) cleans up.
- Cash from tournament, less certain expenses collected by the directors, is given to the treasurer.
- Tournament manager collects ACBL Tournament statement, makes a copy for the treasurer, and prepares a financial statement (example). Tournament Worksheets are not very readable. The financial statement should repack the information in a clearer manner.
- Webmaster posts overall masterpoint list.
Original document by David Oakley, 2008. Revised by Matthew Kidd, 2013.