The American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) is a non-profit organization of about 160,000 bridge players. National headquarters is in Memphis, Tennessee. ACBL’s territory includes USA, Canada, Mexico and Bermuda. ACBL sanctions duplicate bridge games and tournaments. It issues masterpoints, assigns rankings, certifies bridge directors and teachers, sponsors educational and charitable activities and publishes a monthly magazine for members, The Bridge Bulletin. The fee to join ACBL is $26 per person for first year.. One may join at any club or tournament. Thereafter annual dues are $35 except that two persons in the same household pay $58 and Life Masters pay $29. For more information go to ACBL’s home page.


All members belongs to a local Unit. A Unit receives part of its members’ dues ($3.50 per non-Life Master and $1.75 per LM) and may hold one or more weekend tournaments (called Sectionals) lasting 2-3 days. A Unit has jurisdiction over affiliated for-profit bridge clubs in its area. Clubs may hold bridge games daily, or less often, for which sanction fees are paid to ACBL. Units also may hold bridge games (Unit Games) but on a non-profit basis. All Units belong to one of 25 Districts, each of which holds one or more weeklong tournaments (Regionals). Districts also rotate as hosts for 10-day North American Bridge Championships (NABC or Nationals) held each spring, summer and fall.


This is an affiliation of four Districts covering Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico (plus El Paso, Texas), Oregon and southern Wyoming. It publishes for its 24,000 members a monthly tabloid paper called Western Conference Contract Bridge Forum featuring announcements and results of Regionals, ads for Sectionals and news from Units and Districts. It sponsors and derives income from three annual “Sectional Tournaments At Clubs” (STAC). Participating clubs award masterpoints equivalent to Sectional Tournaments. The Western Conference also receives income from Forum ads and from charges for Districts’ editorial features. Its 8-member governing board has two representatives from each District.


A pair game usually is one session of bridge lasting about three and a half hours during which 24 to 28 deals are played. East West pairs compete with each other as do North-South pairs, producing winners in each direction (except in very small games). East-West pairs move to the next table after playing 2-4 deals. Since all pairs play most or all the same deals, the term duplicate was coined. Each deal’s outcome is scored based on pre-determined vulnerability and the duplicate bridge scoring table (which differs from rubber bridge). However, winners are determined by matchpoints. On each deal a matchpoint is awarded to a given pair for each competing pair outscored. A half matchpoint is awarded for each pair tied. Winners are the pairs with the most matchpoints at the end of play.


Tournaments include several events. Some events are for pairs and require two or more sessions. Some events are for teams-of-four and may be played “swiss” style or by various elimination schemes. All games and tournament events may be “open” to all members or restricted according to rank or age or both.


In all sanctioned games and tournaments, masterpoints are awarded to the top scorers in each direction. The number of winners and the awarded masterpoints vary depending on the number of participants and the level and nature of the event. ACBL maintains a system of 14 rankings for members, based on earned masterpoints, ranging from Rookie to Grand Life Master. Most players strive to reach at least the sixth rank, Life Master which requires 300 masterpoints, including prescribed portions earned at Sectionals and Regionals or NABC’s.


“Unit 508” was founded in 1952 and is one of 20 Units in District 21 covering Central California. Marin Unit’s area of jurisdiction is Marin County. The Unit generally holds games two Sundays per month and a Sectional Tournament each spring and fall. Marin Unit includes 5 private clubs at various locations. Unit members elect a Board of Directors that meets monthly. Each unit board nominates two persons to the District Board that meets at its regional tournaments. Unit boards also elect representatives to the National Board that meets three times a year at the Nationals.