The Beach Bridge Pub Crawl draws keen crowd of players to Queen Street East

Participants in the Beach Bridge Pub Crawl play at the Beaches Brewing Company during the event that was held on Saturday, April 20. Other pubs that were part of the "crawl" were The Gull and Firkin and Breakwall BBQ and Smokehouse. Photo: Submitted.

By ADA SPANJAARD

It was a Saturday morning on Queen Street East in the Beach. The was some sun, even some wet snow, but mostly dry. Shoppers were slowly filling the street, but inside the Beaches Brewing Company 48 bridge players were crowding to pick up their registration package for the Beach Bridge Pub Crawl, the second one held in the Beach and possibly all of Canada.

Name-tagged and colour-coded, the players dispersed among the three local pubs involved in the pub crawl – Beaches Brewing Co., Breakwall BBQ and Smokehouse and The Gull and Firkin. The players were keen, very keen, for the event that took place on April 20.

“A bridge pub crawl??” you might ask.

Well, yes! Duplicate bridge for the fun of it and for the joy of playing in a pub with fellow bridge lovers.

“How does this work?” you may ask next.

The 48 players were divided over the three participating pubs – 16 players per pub. They played three rounds of two boards, six in all, before lunch.

Lunch was then served in the same pubs, which meant that all three pubs had the benefit of 16 customers. After lunch the personalized route map directed all 16 players in each of the three pubs to rotate. Yes, they met their friends on the street, because the pubs are within easy walking distance.

In the second pub they all played another three rounds of two boards and then they all moved on to the third pub where they played the final six boards. It was all clearly described in their itinerary.

After finishing play in the final pub all participants gathered in the home pub for the results and the prizes. The results were calculated by the accredited director, Laurie Miller.

As she could not be present in three pubs at once there were three assistants, who were playing participants as well. The players were encouraged to settle disputes amicably among themselves. There were no masterpoints to be earned; play was just for the fun of it and of being together on a spring day.

The entire event took about five hours. “You’ll be tired by the end of the day,” the organizer warned.

“Where does this all come from?” you may wonder. From the Netherlands, where there have been Bridge “Kroegentochten” – pub crawl, sometimes called café bridge – for many years in many towns. There are even bicycle bridge pub crawls.

Ada Spanjaard, the organizer of the Beaches Bridge Pub Crawl and the author of this article, brought the idea over from a bridge kroegentocht in her home town of Delft.

She anticipated that this concept could be duplicated in Toronto and went to work on how to organize it. Gradually, she got some interest from a few pubs.  The result was an organized bridge pub crawl in 2018 for 36 players. The Crawl became a big success; players requested another one. Soon. Then came some obstacles and COVID.

This year, however – encouraged by members of the Toronto East Bridge Club – the time was ripe for a second one, this time with 48 players.

“But I don’t drink!” some would say. No problem. Drinking alcohol is optional; non-alcoholic drinks are included in the registration fee, as is lunch and lootbags and prizes. Easy peasy.

“It was challenging to explain the concept to the pub owners”, Ada will tell you. In the Netherlands pubs may compete for participation, but here in Toronto the whole idea was totally foreign and it took a lot of explaining.

In the end, both pubs and bridge players benefit from the event in business and entertainment. It’s a win-win situation for all. Left-over proceeds, if any, go to a local charity as this is a not-for-profit event. For now.

For more information check out: https://beachbridgepubcrawl.wixsite.com/bbpc

And if you are an aspiring bridge player, check out https://www.bridgewebs.com/cgi-bin/bwoq/bw.cgi?club=torontoeast&pid=display_home

The Toronto East Bridge Club offers in-person play on Monday nights and Wednesday afternoons.


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