Become a Tournament Director
How can you better understand our great game and earn some extra income too? Consider part-time employment as an ACBL Tournament Director.
An applicant should be a certified club director with at least one year of experience. While a tournament is, in some cases, simply a larger club game, it differs in many key aspects. Apart from the size, the players and the sponsoring organization take a tournament much more seriously than a club game. All the skills practiced while working alone in a club will be important—but not as important as being a good team member and sharing common goals.
Job Requirements: The Essentials
- Technical skills needed to run bridge games of all types and sizes.
- Thorough knowledge and understanding of the Laws of Duplicate Bridge and ACBL regulations.
- Thorough knowledge of ACBLscore and ability to work with required software and hardware.
- Ability to be a sales person and accountant, able to sell entries and balance large sums of money.
- Public relations skills to balance the roles of referee and judge, schoolteacher, psychologist and entertainment director.
- Ability to work in a busy and noisy atmosphere while maintaining an even and friendly disposition.
Rulings and Bridge Ability
A thorough understanding of the Convention Charts and Alert procedures is crucial. Keeping up to date on bidding conventions and current trends is strongly encouraged as well as reading the NABC+ casebooks and articles dealing with rulings. Discuss potential rulings with other TDs and ask questions so that you know and understand what others think. Ask the leading players at your tournament for bridge judgment opinions per the instruction of the director-in-charge. Know your responsibilities if called upon to present a case to an Appeals Committee. While it is not crucial to be an expert player, it is important to understand as much as possible the game situations being discussed and the reasoning behind the rulings.
Knowledge of Movements
It is essential to have a complete knowledge of all movements one might encounter at a tournament (Mitchell, Howell, Board-a-Match, etc.), with and without hand record duplication. In addition, a TD must know all movements dealing with half tables and have the ability to add tables after a game has started regardless of the movement being used. It is important to know how to repair movements that have gone off track (such as pairs or boards going to the wrong table) with a minimum of delay. In addition, TDs must know to conduct Swiss and Knockout Team events of all sizes.
A complete knowledge of ACBLscore is essential for a tournament director. Directors must be thoroughly aware of how to set up and score all types of games. In addition you should be aware of all secondary aspects of the program such as bulletin, summary, Edmov, all Set commands, etc. TDs should be comfortable entering names and scores for up to four two-board sections. In addition, they should have a working knowledge of computers, software, hardware and printers in use and be able to resolve minor problems.
The ACBL is also involved in online bridge. Eventually, work may be available directing online bridge, so a working knowledge of how this form of the game works will also come in handy.
While the items mentioned above are important in developing the skills necessary to be a Tournament Director, none is as important as the ability to deal with people. Obviously, players are drawn to a bridge tournament by the competitive side of the contest. The desire to win is very important to them. Never forget that the social side of the game is also very important.
A TD must be aware of the personal needs of our customers; this is an even more important aspect of directing than running the contests in a technically correct manner. Equally crucial is maintaining order, discipline and assuring all contestants that they will be spending their time in a pleasant and comfortable atmosphere. While it is vital that we deal with rulings and penalties in a manner consistent with our laws and regulations, it is even more important to do so in a manner that shows that we realize that these players are our customers and have many other options for spending their leisure time. Presentation is everything.
Contests must be run smoothly, on time and with little or no disturbance to the customers from the staff or other contestants. You must be consistent and impartial. When you do make a mistake, admit it, apologize and fix it as best you can. It is crucial that the players consider you someone they can rely on to be competent, fair and objective. Try very hard to treat all contestants equally, be they expert or newcomer.
Even when you are unable to satisfy a player’s immediate needs, let him or her know that you will pass the message along to the right parties. Also tell them to advise you if the problem has not been rectified in a reasonable amount of time so that you can look once again into resolving it. Remember that people making complaints will usually be in an agitated state. It is therefore crucial for TDs to maintain their cool and to be as sensitive as possible to the players’ concerns.
It also is important for TDs to recognize they are a member of a team. They will be judged, invariably, by the performance of the group—not an individual action. You should make every effort to perform the tasks assigned in a competent and professional manner. It is just as important for a TD to always be on the lookout for how to help fellow staff members perform to their best.
It is reasonable to expect it to take a couple of years to become established. Your workload will increase over time as your skills develop. Some areas have a greater need for directors than others.
No ACBL employee (full time or part time) may stand for election or serve as an elected member of any ACBL unit, district or conference body, ACBL Board of Governors or ACBL Board of Directors. Further, no employee may serve as an appointed voting member of any of these bodies.
This is a job where technical ability and classroom study account for a small percentage of the necessary prerequisites for success. It is a profession that is constantly evolving. A TD must understand that the education process never ends. We are always on the lookout for the right people. If you think that you qualify, please contact the Regional Field Supervisor of TDs in your area or the ACBL Tournament Division in Memphis, at 662-253-3167.