The sanctioning process begins with an application submitted to the Unit 168 Tournament Coordinator. Once he has signed off, the application is forwarded to the District 4 Tournament Coordinator, who must also sign off. The application is then forwarded to ACBL for their approval. When the process is completed, you will get a copy of your approved sanction.
Your tournament schedule will also need ACBL approval. It can be supplied to ACBL after sanctioning at a date closer to your actual tournament date.
This is the most critical aspect of any tournament. The Unit's survival is predicated on profitable Sectional tournaments. An occasional loss may be unavoidable, but careful budgeting should protect against large loss or frequent occurrence. Your original budget should be in a condition that if table count drops to 90% of the prior year's tournament, the budget will still break even or show a small profit. A sample budget follows:
Explanations of Unit 168 Budget Items
Directors - Director session fees. Directors are paid fees ranging from the mid $60's to high $90's per session. The level of the fee depends on the rank of the director. The best way to budget this item is to use the prior year figure for your tournament and add 5% for fee increases.
Director's Hotel - The ACBL will send out a list of the directors that will be working your tournament and the nights required. For Sectional tournaments you can plan on the head director arriving the day the tournament starts with no one staying over Sunday evening. Remember to add the appropriate sales tax when budgeting room expenses.
Director's Per Diem - Directors are paid a per diem to cover meals and miscellaneous expenses. In 1997 that fee was $43 per day. The best way to budget this item is to use the prior year figure for your tournament and add 5% for annual increases.
Director's Travel - You will pay travel expenses (mileage) for all directors except your head director. ACBL pays the head director's mileage. You can budget using the prior year mileage figure (or add or subtract if you know you have a different director who will travel less or more).
Sanction - This is a flat fee, currently $90.
Table Fee - This fee is currently (1997) $2.60 per table. Check with ACBL or other tournament officials regarding potential increases. This fee doesn't increase every year, but when it does go up, it can be substantial.
Supplies - You can supply your own tournament, but you need more supplies than most clubs or areas can handle. You can have ACBL provide supplies at $0.75 per table or have District 4 send supplies with the directors for $0.60 per table. Sanity suggests that you utilize District 4 supplies and budget $0.60 per table. Bidding boxes are also required for most sessions. District four will provide bidding boxes at a cost of $0.35 per table. If you supply some of your own boxes, the rate will not be charged for the tables you cover.
Hand Records - ACBL charges for hand records used for duplicating boards. The level of fee depends on the number of sections duplicating boards. Additional charge is added by the director for producing copies of the hands that players can have after the game. Even the smallest tournament will experience an expense of about $100, if using duplicated boards Friday and Saturday. A large tournament can have that expense increase to over $150.
Caddies - Caddie fees can vary. It is suggested that you try to have one caddie for every 15-20 tables expected. It is suggested that caddies be paid $12 per session. Caddies working multiple sections or caddies working more than an average of 20 tables each in a Swiss should be paid $ 18. You will inform the Head director what your fee structure is, and he will take care of paying the caddies. Tipping a caddy that did exceptional work over multiple sessions at the tournament is permissable.
NOTE: All the above expenses will be paid by the head director directly from the tournament proceeds prior to settlement with you at the conclusion of the event.
Rent - This is the amount you pay for your facility. Remember to budget with the appropriate tax included.
Publicity - This line includes flyers, posters, mailings, Bulletin ads, District 4 Spot ads, and any other expenses you encounter promoting your tournament. This line can be broken down into separate line items, if you prefer.
Tables - Include all fees for rental and transportation of tables for your tournament.
Prizes - This line includes overall awards and section top prizes, if any prizes are expected to be given.
Hospitality - This item can include everything from free or subsidized coffee and soda, to pre/post game refreshments, to nibbles on the partnership table or passed out during the game, to a completely stocked hospitality suite. If multiple types of hospitality are being offered, using separate line items is advisable. Be aware, this line item helps keep people happy and coining back to our tournaments; but it can and will get out of hand quickly, if not monitored closely.
Committee Expenses - This line can include such items as note cards or phone calls for partnership, or rooms for the tournament chair or staff. Expenses for multiple committees should be itemized separately.
Miscellaneous - This line item should be kept small, as all items should be reported where they actually fall. However, a small amount budgeted here can provide some cushion for anywhere else in the budget.
Table Count - The actual count of tables in play for each session. If any day is entirely a two session event, it may be listed only once, but you then must double it when adding to achieve total table count. Any odd sessions (morning KO rounds, midnight Swiss), if held, should be listed separately.
Free Plays - There are three principle kinds of free plays; 1) those you give for the
tournament, 2) those given by someone else that you must honor, and 3) those given by the director for movement convenience. Type one. The tournament chair plays for free. The tournament chair may grant a limited number of free plays to volunteers who provide substantial service to the tournament. Type two. The Unit Recorder gets one two session free play during the tournament. The Unit sometimes gives a free play to Mini McKinney and Ace of Clubs winners. The Unit sometimes gives one year free plays to an individual as a charity game raffle prize. The District does not currently give sectional free plays for any reason, but if they do, these should also be honored. Type three. The head director gives free play to persons needed to fill in games to make the movements work. Occasionally, the director will feel a need to move a pair or team from one event to another, for movement convenience. Here again he/she may wish to give a free play to facilitate the move.
Depending on the number of sessions the chair intends to play, and the number of tournament volunteer free plays he/she intends to provide; this budget item should fall somewhere between $50 and $200.
Other Income - This line is for any other source of income the tournament receives. Each source of income should have a separate line. Examples include soda, coffee or refreshment sales, lunch sales on Sunday playthroughs, director overage or underage, etc.
Profit/(Loss) - Your total income minus your total expenses. Note that the budget should reflect a profit even if only 90% of the expected table count materialize.
Due to the Unit - The Unit is owed all profits plus a repayment of any advance that
may have been received. If a tournament loses money, any advance received is repaid to the Unit, less the loss. If a loss is experienced and no advance was taken, the Unit will pay the chair, or any vendor owed, the amount of the loss.
Unit 168 Sectional Budget
Director's Per Diem
Saturday Afternoon Saturday Evening
TOTAL TABLE COUNT less free plays
Due to the Unit
$ Profit + Advance
Hotel Site Negotiations and Contract
Any facility you seek to use will want a contract with you regarding what is to be provided and at what expense. You must be careful in any such negotiations to cover all the items you will be needing during the tournament. Additions or corrections to your contract during the tournament can be expensive.
Playing space must be adequate to handle comfortably the expected table count. Calculate your space needs using the prior years table count. Be certain that you have adequate space to handle up to a 25% increase from the prior year's table count. If you have substantial growth, a tighter spacing of tables than planned is permissible, but space must be available. Planning for 8 or 9 foot centers on table arrangement is preferable, if only the anticipated table count is in play. If a large increase in tables is experienced, 7.5 foot centers can work, even 7 foot centers on diamonded tables for a Swiss Teams.
Lighting is critical for playing cards. If in doubt, check out the facility during the evening with its maximum lighting on. If lighting is borderline, ask the contract to specify that all burned out lights will be replaced prior to the tournament, or during the tournament, as needed. If lighting is inadequate, insist that the contract call for specific auxiliary lighting; or be certain that auxiliary lighting is available to you and that your site will permit its use.
If the playing area has any mirrors, the contract must call for them to be covered.
Bridge tournaments produce a large amount of paper trash. Make the hotel aware that if a large number of trash receptacles are not provided, bussing the room will be a major chore. If adequate trash receptacles are provided, it is easy to have the caddies bus the room pre or post session. If adequate trash receptacles can not be provided, request the contract include hotel staff bussing the room between and post session. They will find a way to provide adequate trash receptacles.
Water is extremely important during play. Be certain that your site has adequate water available. Your site should be made aware that water use during a bridge tournament is far greater than any other group of the same size that they will host. If a constant source of water is not available (a water fountain), have the contract call for refreshing the water supply, as needed, during the tournament.
Temperature is another critical issue. You should let you site know that you do not want the playing area overheated prior to gametime. The temperature in your playing area will always increase once filled with bodies, even in the depth of winter. In many facilities, once the temperature has gotten out-of-hand it is hard to return to acceptable levels. Keep your playing areas cool prior to the start of play. It is far easier to bring the temperature up after play commences, than it is to try to bring it back down.
Soda and coffee are nice to have available during sessions, but this can be very expensive. Soda or coffee from a hotel generally run $1 or more, plus tax, plus gratuity, when purchased from the hotel. Ask the hotel to give you a lower price due to multiple day usage. Ask for a lower price by taking all anticipated soda needs on Friday afternoon and control its dispersal yourself. Ask to provide your own coffee cups. Ask to be able to bring in your own stock from outside sources. Do not ask the site to provide coffee or soda, with automatic refills when needed. This will break your budget faster than anything else I know. If only a modest reduction in price is negotiable, consider offering a subsidized price to participants. Be certain you budget can handle the subsidy. If an acceptable price can not be negotiated, consider sticking with water as the only tournament provided beverage.
Overnight room guarantees are to be avoided. Having a ballroom rental fee that reduces depending on specific numbers of overnight rooms is acceptable, but be certain that your budget can survive, if your targets are not met.
Any charge for ballroom space is acceptable, if it fits within the tournament budget. Remember that your ballroom rental will likely carry a tax that is in excess of your contract quote. Also, be aware that the more you spend for space, the less will be available in the budget for prizes, hospitality and other budget items. Ballroom rental of $2.50 per expected table is excellent, ballroom rental in excess of $6.00 per expected table is hard to profitably survive.
Hospitality from the hotel can be expensive. If not in your contract, it will be expensive. Plan ahead what you expect to offer as hospitality and check whether the hotel can offer it to you at a reasonable price. Be willing to pay what you would expect to pay from an outside caterer, plus gratuity. If the hotel refuses to negotiate a reasonable price, request permission to secure your hospitality from an outside source and bring it in yourself. Given that the hotel is receiving adequate compensation for their space through the space rental, some accommodation should be able to be reached.
You will likely be renting, or securing bridge tables from an outside source. Be certain that your site contract permits you to deliver the tables as early as you will need to (usually Thursday) and remove the tables as late as you may have to (usually Monday). If the hotel is providing tables, be certain that the contract reflects all charges you will be expected to pay. Definitely compare prices, if the hotel is providing tables for a fee.
Finally, remember that the hotel is in the business to make a profit. We run bridge tournaments attempting to break even, at worst. Both sides can meet their goal, if willing to recognize the other sides needs. Negotiate a fair price, but remember, if you don't rent the space, it will frequently go unused. It is not a one way street, both parties need the other.
Schedule of Events
We try to accommodate as many of our own Unit players, as possible, while still being attractive to outside players. Separate Novice/Intermediate events limited to 300 or 200 or 100 master points are recommended. Single session stratified or flighted events for Friday and Saturday games with a Sunday Swiss teams currently appears to be the most popular schedule of events. Stratification can occur at any of the following levels, 300, 500, 750, 1000 or 1500. Your separate Novice/Intermediate event should also be stratified. When stratifying an event, it is wise to have a high and low cut (i.e. three strata).
Other events such as two session qualifying and final, knockout teams, IMP pairs, women's pairs, mixed pairs, board-a-match teams are all permissible, but be careful that you know your constituency. If you want to run such an event, and you have not run it previously, Tournament Committee approval is required.
Also remember that your schedule must be provided to ACBL for approval. This should be done at least 6 months prior to your tournament, so that any changes required may be adequately reflected in your advertising.
ACBL will print a very nice brochure for you for about $60 per thousand. Xerox flyers, or locally printed programs are also acceptable. You should try to have some sort of flyer available in every club in the Unit at least two months before your tournament.
Mailing flyers can also be beneficial, but be careful about the source of your list. ACBL lists are all inclusive within Units or point parameters. They end up including too many names and therefore have limited value. Mailing to Unit 168 members just duplicates the distribution you achieve at the clubs. Maintaining a list of persons who have previously played in your tournament can be an excellent resource. Your head director can print out a list of names and addresses of everyone who played in your sectional after all names are entered on Sunday. Obtaining and maintaining such lists is advisable. If you have no such list, other members of the tournament committee may be able to provide you their tournament's list.
Advertising in either the District 4 Spot or the ACBL Bulletin can be useful. Be aware of who you are attempting to reach when you choose your publication. The District 4 Spot currently costs $125 for a half page and $200 for a full page. ACBL Bulletin ads will run closer to $700 for a full page, however, they will sell you smaller space, even down to l/8th of a page.
Providing your local media with the tournament information for free inclusion in their community bulletin board type sections is also advisable.
The most critical item that most hotels and other sites won't have is tables. Some hotels will offer to handle the acquisition of tables for you, but watch the price closely. They will likely be renting the tables from an outside source that would be cheaper if you rented them yourself.
Currently Unit 168 is storing 80 of the District 4 old card tables in Harrisburg. They are slightly damaged from age, but are still useful. If you have a hotel that will provide linens, they work quite well. While these tables remain in our unit, they are available for your use at just the cost of transport. Contact Bob Priest for more information.
Similar arrangements can be made for use of the new District 4 tables. The cost of these tables plus transport from Cherry Hill, NJ and back can be expensive. Washington DC tables can also be rented. The are stored in Silver Spring MD and have been rented in the past for $1 per table for the weekend, if you pick them up and return them. If you have inexpensive transportation available, either of these resources may prove useful
DON'T TRY TO HANDLE EVERYTHING YOURSELF - IT WON"T WORK.
Volunteers are necessary to make a tournament work. Have a volunteer responsible to secure caddies and coordinate them when they are on site. Have a volunteer to coordinate the pre/post game hospitality. Have a volunteer to handle partnership. Keep close tabs on the volunteers to insure that things aren't slipping through the cracks, but let others do some of the work necessary to make the tournament a success.
Compensation of volunteers is at your discretion. A volunteer that does a lot of work may warrant a one or two session free play. A volunteer with a job that requires their presence from pre first session to post last session may warrant additional free plays, or a room. Be judicious in this area. Being a volunteer comes with no expectation or promise of compensation, but retaining your best workers from Sectional to Sectional is critical to their successful operation.
Finally, any compensation planned for volunteers must fit within a budget that expects to produce a profit.
Your tournament will be remembered more for its hospitality than any other non bridge area. The whole idea is to keep people happy and comfortable throughout the tournament. The trade off may be not awarding prizes. Most tournament budgets can afford up to $1.00 per person per session in these areas and still produce a positive outcome. Prizes produce recognition for some, hospitality produces something smaller for all.
The traditional hospitality areas are drinks during the tournament and post second session snacks. Budget these closely and negotiate hard for quality at a price. At some sites, you may be able to provide smacks throughout the game. To keep a budget in balance, a modest charge for drinks may be necessary.
Sunday morning pastry or donuts can be an inexpensive treat, if permitted to be brought in from off site. Some hotels will even give you an inexpensive rate of their own. You would be amazed how much appreciation can be received for under $50.00. Coffee is also nice, but watch your price. The expense of coffee has caught more than one tournament chair off guard.
A hospitality suite can be a nice touch to a tournament, but has limited use. This requires a tournament with substantial out-of-towners staying on site (15-20 rooms). It is also wise to piggy-back a hospitality suite with the chair's room, if staying on site. Keep the room to nibbles and drinks, so that not ALL locals attempt to join in. Be aware that most hotels will require that all alcoholic beverages be bought through them. During negotiations, this price should be able to be reduced from what it would be, if you wait to tournament time to decide what you want. Remember that Unit 168 policy is that any hospitality suite provided by the tournament must be open to all.
Watch your hospitality budget closely. If you are not careful, this line can break a successful tournament quicker than any other. Also, if your table count is down, mid tournament modifications to this line can save a tournament budget just as quickly.
When the tournament schedule was Friday - Men's/Women's,
Master's/Nonmaster's; Saturday - Open qualifying with open consolation; Sunday - Open Swiss Teams there were only seven events to have to choose prizes for. Those events also lent themselves to large sections (15-18 tables) in the pair events. With the plethora of strata and single session games now in vogue, a three day tournament can now have the equivalent of 32 events with section sizes as small as 3 tables. Be aware of what your schedule actually means as far as number of events.
With that said, prizes may be awarded for overall or section top performance. However, be aware that, if you are running multiple strata, it is unwise to only reward the top strata and expensive to reward them all. Choosing to not award prizes and providing extra hospitality is an option. A tournament with a limited number of events and strata may find that prizes are still well received and not overly expensive. If you choose to limit hospitality to provide a large number of prizes, please monitor your feedback closely.
Advance from the Unit
Preparation for a sectional, especially the publicity, can be expensive. You may receive an advance from the Unit to cover actual costs. To receive the advance you should submit a written request to the Unit Treasurer. Repayment of the advance should take place with the tournament reconciliation.
During the Tournament
Monitor the Facilities
About two hours before the first session is to begin, check to make sure the tables have been setup. Recheck the lighting. Check to be sure space and tables are appropriately set for directors, partnership, water, refershments, etc. as per your prior instructions to site staff. Determine location for hanging section results, overall results and point awards. Check the microphone, if one is to be used. Check that all mirrors are covered. If you are providing supplies for hospitality or drinks, check to be sure that you have everything you need.
About one hour before the first session meet your director in charge and review all facilities and setup with him/her. Make any changes requested. Check with your volunteers to be sure everything is being taken care of.
During the game, monitor that water remains available. Occasionally check with the directing staff regarding any complaints about temperature. If refreshments or soda is being sold on an honor system, empty the excess cash frequently.
Monitor the Table Count
Compare your budgeted table counts with the actual table counts. If there is a pattern of shortfall that continues through Saturday afternoon, take steps to trim budgeted items for the remainder of the tournament. Any staffing changes that need to be made will be at the discretion of the head director. If the shortfall is substantial, discuss it with him/her.
The quickest solution to a short table count is trimming hospitality. Cut back quantities or delete items, where possible and appropriate. With hotel guarantees some cuts may be impossible, but most hotels will work with you if the modifications are reasonable and within limits.
If section top or overall prizes are being awarded, don't announce your budgeted amounts or give any awards prior to getting your Saturday afternoon table count. This will permit modification, if table count warrants.
Be certain that you have adequate supply for the table count you have. Be aware that not everyone will partake, but some will glut out. Talk with other tournament chairs about their experience. Most facilities will permit modest adjustments, up or down, if you inform them early enough in the day. What ever you are contracted to receive, count to be sure it has all arrived. Hotels won't attempt to short you, but finding an extra tray of hospitality that someone forgot where they placed it, is not an uncommon occurrence. Keeping track that you are receiving what you expect is the easiest way to catch these mistakes, while people are still wanting to partake.
If you are providing supplies for any of the pre, during or post game hospitality, keep track of your supplies. It is better to have a little left over rather than run out early.
Your hospitality suite should always have someone present representing the tournament. Don't open it until after the evening session, and definitely not before post session site hospitality has commenced. You may keep it open as long as you, or the person on site chooses. Having a set closing time is advisable, but flexibility is always appreciated. Finally, if the person in charge doesn't know how to tell the hangers on that it is time to go, some hospitality suites may never close.
After the Tournament
Settling with the Director
During or immediately after the final session, the director in charge will settle accounts with you. You will receive a tournament invoice detailing all tournament expenses. You will also receive an income statement showing income session by session and game by game. The difference, the director will pay you in cash and checks. Unless previously noted, the director will have accepted checks from ACBL members in the amount of entry fees only. (If you wish a different check cashing policy, discuss it with the director in charge during your pre tournament meeting.)
Be aware, you will likely be receiving $2000 to $4000 in cash. If in a hotel, request a safety deposit box to hold the cash until Monday morning. If elsewhere, take whatever precautions you deem necessary.
Reports from the Director
The director in charge can produce a great deal of reports, if you need. At a minimum, you should request two copies of all event press sheets. These sheets will contain the overall winners and points won by each. One copy should be retained by you for at least six months; the other should be given to the editor of Bridge Bits.
The director can also print a list of all players who won master points at the tournament; this list can be in the order of points won, or in alphabetical order. This report can also be run just for a given district or unit.
Finally, the director can run a list of names and addresses of everyone who played in the tournament. This list is useful in starting or maintaining a mailing list for future tournaments.
All these lists can be given to you in either hard copy, or on a computer diskette. Obviously there is a great deal of information available. Be reasonable, don't request lists you have no intention of using.
Settling with your Facility
In the days following the tournament you should receive a bill from your site. Review the bill closely. Even the best hotels and largest chains make errors. After double checking all figures, and discussing error corrections with your site, pay your bill promptly. Do not pay any disputed amounts until resolution has been reached.
Settling other bills
All other outstanding bills should be paid as quickly as possible.
Final budget figures, report to unit
Standard practice is to deposit the cash in your checking account and paying all outstanding bills by check. The balance due the unit can then be remitted by writing a check for the balance due. If this method is to be used, be sure to get the checks you received from the tournament to the unit treasurer quickly, even if your final check may be slightly delayed. If you are more comfortable setting up a tournament account, it is permissible, provided there are no fees, or the fees are minimal.
All tournament payments, including the tournament invoice and tournament income statement should be plugged into the tournament budget. All other payments need to be put into the budget on the appropriate lines. When all bills are paid and all entries made in the budget, you have your reconciliation statement ready for the unit.
The reconciliation statement is merely your original budget form with all actual figures entered. That cover sheet, along with copies of all tournament invoice and income statements, and copies of all receipts for other expenditures make up your tournament report. With whatever additional narrative you desire, that report should be forwarded with the appropriate remittance check to the unit treasurer.
The final report should be in the unit treasurer's hands no later than 30 days after conclusion of the tournament.