A MULTI-TABLE bridge game is a "TOURNAMENT", wherein there will only be an overall tournament winner(s). However, a large TOURNAMENT may be divided into separate sections, wherein there will be sectional winners, with the best being the tournament winner(s). In this document, I will only talk about a one section tournament.

When playing in a multi-table environment, it is essential that there be a predetermined schedule of who is matched against who at what table and at what time and for how long. This is called the "SCHEDULE OF PLAY". The question of who plays against who at what table & time depends upon which "ROUND" that match-up is to occur & is specified in the "SCHEDULE OF PLAY". The "how long" is determined by specifying a fixed number of "CONTRACT SESSIONS" ("CONTESTITOS") in a "ROUND", ie,"FIXED MATCH ROUND(S)".

An essential factor in determining the "SCHEDULE OF PLAY" is the type of "MOVEMENT" selected which occurs at the end of each round. The only two choices are: "HOWELL" or "MITCHELL". The "HOWELL" movement requires that every competitor (individual or partnership) play against every competitor which results in only one winner. The "MITCHELL" movement keeps all NORTH-SOUTH competitors fixed at their same table throughout the tournament, while EAST-WEST competitors rotate around them after each round. The "MITCHELL" movement allows for there to be two winners, ie, a NS winner & an EW winner. As a general rule, with 4 & 1/2 tables (ie, 5 tables with a "SITOUT") or less, the HOWELL movement is used. But with 5 full tables or more, the MITCHELL movement is used.

Based upon the number of tables & the resulting movement, the "NUMBER OF ROUNDS" can be determined. For the HOWELL movement, the number of rounds is 2 times the number of tables, all minus 1. So for 5 tables with a sitout, Howell is used resulting in (2 X 5) - 1 = 9 ROUNDS for 5 tables. For the MITCHELL movement, the number of rounds should be equal to the number of tables.

Once the "NUMBER OF ROUNDS" is determined & based upon an average "CONTRACT-SESSION" play-time of 10 minutes, it is then possible to determine how many "CONTRACT-SESSIONS PER ROUND" should occur in order to fulfill the overall desired "TOURNAMENT DURATION".

And finally, knowing the "CONTRACT-SESSIONS PER ROUND" tells the "HOST/DIRECTOR" exactly how many "DEALT HANDS" should be played in each round.



A Multi-Table Party Tournament is generally found being hosted in someone's home with several guests being invited to make up two or more tables. It tends to be more of a social gathering than a bridge game. Regardless, it can be a great learning experience for the beginner.

1. TOOLS: In a Party Tournament, the only tools needed are:

a. "TABLE MARKER" to identify the table number, and possibly more information to help partnerships navigate from one table to the next, thereby specifying the "SCHEDULE OF PLAY".

c. "SCORE SHEET & PENCIL". Scoring may be done "RUBBER" style or 'DUPLICATE" style.
It really does not make much difference, because players are really at the mercy of the deals. For the sake of teaching Duplicate, I recommend the latter.


In a Party Tournament, there are no pre-dealt hands. So it is not necessary to schedule the deal of the cards. Furthermore, a "ROUND" is usually specified to be four "CONTRACT-SESSIONS". Each "CONTRACT-SESSION" is dealt in sequence by the NORTH, EAST, SOUTH & WEST, respectively, with "VULNERABILITY" being specified in sequence as "NO VUL", "EAST-WEST VUL", "NORTH-SOUTH VUL", "BOTH VUL", respectively. Since the hands are not to be played over again at another table, the same deck can be used repeatedly for each "CONTRACT-SESSSION",

At the end of each "CONTRACT-SESSION", two methods of scoring may be used to determine the "RAW SCORE" of a "CONTRACT-SESSION": "RUBBER SCORING" or "DUPLICATE SCORING". It really does not make much difference, because no two tables play exactly the same deals. However, for training purposes, duplicate scoring is recommended. No matter, after the score is determined, each player will record their own "CONTRACT SESSION SCORE" on a sheet of paper which they carry with them throughout the tournament.

After four "CONTRACT-SESSIONS", the ROUND is called & the players move for the next round. It is possible for a player pair to stick together throughout all of the rounds & come out as a winning pair. But more than likely there will be no dedicated pairing of players. Instead each player will change partners after each round as specified by the host.

At the end of the tournament, each player adds up their accumulated score, and the winner(s) is decided, possibly to be rewarded with a money prize. Where it is certainly fun to win money, to win really says nothing about playing skill.

(Note: At this point it is assumed the reader knows what is a "TABLE" & "CARD DECK".)

In Duplicate Bridge the card decks are dealt in advance of the tournament start & placed into dispensers called "BOARDS". Therefore, in Duplicate Bridge it is also necessary to schedule the movement of the pre-dealt hands. The whole Duplicate Tournament becomes a dance of matched partnerships & pre-dealt hands.

1. TOOLS: In a Duplicate Tournament, more tools are needed, especially the "BOARDS":

a. "TABLE MARKERS" identify each table numerically & further identify:



b. "BOARD(S)". For each card deck, there is a numbered "BOARD" which has 4 pockets to hold the cards dealt to each playing position. Before the beginning of the tournament, each card deck is dealt out to the North, South, East, West positions with 13 cards being given to each player position. The hands are then put into thelr respective pockets of the board.

Since there are multiple card decks to be played, there are multiple boards to be played. The boards are organized into "BOARD GROUPS" with each group being in numerical sequence. Each table then receives its respective "BOARD GROUP" to be played as determined by the "SCHEDULE OF PLAY".

During the play of a "CONTRACT SESSION" each "BOARD" is aligned with the "TABLE MARKER" & identifies:


2] which player is "DEALER" &

3] which partnership(s) is "VULNERABLE".

c. A "TRAVELER" is a score sheet that is to be placed in the NORTH's pocket of each board.

Each player should have a convention card to which the opposition can refer when it comes to a question regarding the bidding agreements between the player & his partner. It is a courtesy to the opponents & considered good sportsmanship to have one ready.

e. Each table may have four "BIDDING BOXES", one for each player position.
If used, each player has a bid-box which contains flash cards of each bid & levy possible, along with other flash-cards, such as "NO TOLERANCE", "NO SMOKING" or "STOP". The idea of these flash cards is to eliminate the noise level and/or voice inflections during the bidding. They are a nice means of reviewing the bidding without disrupting the other players, but they can be cumbersome, with some of the cards being really stupid, like "DIRECTOR".


The "DIRECTOR" is responsible for setting up the environment, overseeing the match-ups & play of the tournament, adjudicating erors in play, & determining the ultimate winners at the end ofthe tournament.

After gathering all the score sheets at the end of play, the director wil "MATCH POINT" each score sheet & then accumulate the match points across all score sheets to determine who won overall.


The minimum number of players must be at least 8 people sitting at two tables. The maximum number or players in a section is suggested to be not larger than 44, meaning 11 tables. But inept directors have been know to let a section grow well beyoud that point, rather than to break the field up into multiple sections. Again, I will only focus upon the 1 section tournament.

Typically, it is desired that the overall tournament play time include anywhere from 21 to 28 total "BOARDS", ie, "CONTRACT SESSIONS. On the average, it takes a 10 minute "CONTRACT SESSION" to play a board. Therefore, overall tournament time usually runs anywhere from 210 to 280 minutes.

As mentioned before, the number of tables tends to determine the type of movement, HOWELL or MITCHELL. Five tables seems to be the deciding point, where 5 or less plays HOWELL & 5 or more plays MITCHELL. And based upon the movement type, in conjunction with the number of tables, the number of rounds can be determined. Once the number of rounds is determined, the number of contract sessions per round can be selected to fit with the overall tournament time. The number of contract sessions per round then says how many boards per round.



Each player will take a beginning seating position at one of the tables. The person sitting opposite him will be his partner throughout the tournament, thus forming a PAIR.
NORTH-SOUTH are always partners & EAST-WEST are always pariners. The pair will be assigned an identifying number which in most cases will be their beginning table #, unless playing "HOWELL" or "TEAMS". Thus, the pair sitting NS at table #1 are NS1, the NS pair at table #2 are NS2. etc.. The same holds true for all EW pairs.


The board groups are distributed equally among the tables, & all boards in each board group are played at a table concurrently with the other tables, thereby completing a round. After a round of play, the board groups are passed on for another table to play. Also after around, the players will move (as a pair or individually) & rotate in such a manner as to play a different board group against a different partnership pair. This process continues until all of the board groups have been played by all of the players (participating as an individual, paired partners, or teams), after which a winning individual, a winning pair, or a winning team is determined.


The Schedule OF Play is determined by the number of tables, but the director has some choices depending upon havving 6,8 or 10 tables, or if there is a half table of players, ie, a "SITOUT". From here on, I present a graphic of each schedule of play for a progessing number of tables, starting with two tables.

1] "HOWELL MOVEMENT". With less than five full tables, "HOWELL MOVEMENT" is used. In "HOWELL MOVEMENT" every pair plays every pair & they
play every board group.
There will be only one winning pair. The number of configurations depends upon the number of tables.

a] 1-Table-Individual Howel. We have already covered this for individual player movement.
b] 2-Table Individual Howell

c] 2-Table Howell is a relatively simple movement. There are only four pairs, call them A, B, C, & D. The 1st
round, pair A plays against pair B. The 2nd round, pair A plays pair C.
The 3rd & last round pair A plays pair D. Three rounds in total comprise the match. And while pair A is
playing their opponents, the other two pairs are playing against each other at the 2nd table. Normally, a set of 8
boards are played during a given round. During the 1st round they are split 4 & 4 between the two
tables where they are played.
After playing a group of 4 boards, they are then exchanged (ie, relayed) with the other table. The remaining 4 boards
are played, & then the overall results are tallied, to determine the winners of the round. The 2nd
round begins with a new set of 8 boards, & the pattern repeats itself. The 3rd & final round occurs
in the same fashion. Thus a total of 3 times 8, or 24 boards are played in all.

d] 3-Table Howell is more complex than 2 table Howell. There being 3 tables, there are 6 pairs. Each pair is identified
by a number 1 through 6. The north-south pair at table #1 are pair #6, & they never move between sets-sessions. All
other pairs move about them in a figure-8 like fashion from one round to the next. Pair #6 plays their opponents
in ascending pair # sequence. Thus, pair #1 is the first at table #1 east-west, pair #2 is the second pair to play at
table #1 east-west, & so on until the fifth round which ends with pair #5 at table #1 east-west. Pair #6 also
play their boards in ascending order, usually 1 to 25, since there are usually 5 boards played in a given round.
Thus, on the 1st round, pair #6 would play boards #1 thru #5. The 2nd round, they would play boards #6 thru
#10, & so on, for five total sets-sessions. Although life is easy for pair #6 throughout the game, it is not so
easy for the other tables. The table marker at any given table should indicate what group of 5 boards are to be played
by which pair numbers on each round at the table. Also, the table marker should indicate where the players are to
sit on the next round.

e] 4-Table Howell is the most complex movement. There being 4 tables means there are 8 competing pairs. Again, each
pair has a number 1 thru 8 to uniquely identify them. Again, the pair at table #1 north-south is stationary, but is now
pair #8. Again pair #8 play their opponents in ascending pair number order. And again, they play their boards in board
number sequence. Because 7 sets-sessions are required for everyone to play everyone, there are usually either 3 or 4
boards per board group to be played on a given round. Depending on this, either 3 time 7 (21) or 4 times 7 (28)
boards will be played in the entire match. And again the table markers are very essential in conveying the order of

f] 5-Table Howell.

g] 6-Table Howell.

2] "MITCHELL MOVEMENT". With five full tables or more, "MITCHELL MOVEMENT" is used. Using this movement, all players sitting at NS remain
fixed. They do not move at all from one round to the next. But after each round, the EW players will move from their
table to the next higher numbered table. Meanwhile, the boards that they played move in the opposite direction. It is
like one big square dance dosie doe. In "MITCHELL MOVEMENT" there are two winning pairs. The winning pair over all NS
players & the winning pair over all EW players.

Mitchell movement works perfectly with an odd number of tables. the rotation is such that at the midpoint of the match,
the set of boards flowing in one direction automatically miss the flow of players in the other direction. There is no
crashing of players with the same boards they played previously. However, there are some adjustments to be made when
there are an even number of tables. It then becomes necessary to have a RELAY point where two adjacent tables share a
set of boards, or it is necessary to have SKIP where the east-west players move ahead 2 tables at the crash point, or
it is necessary to have SLIDE where the board groups go down two tables at the crash point. The best choice is to
SLIDE, because it enables the possibility of splitting the first & last rounds so everyone plays everyone.

3] SITOUTS. Playing with a half-table involves a sit-out (ie, playing against a missing pair). The boards for a sit-out round
are averaged in the scoring. When playing four or more boards per board group, a sitout is too long to have to wait. We
present a solution to this problem in our link on SPECIAL MOVEMENTS.

4] SCORESHEET(S): In either case, "HOWELL" or "MITCHELL", "TRAVELING SCORESHEETS" as shown in FIGURE 6 are used for pair-only play.
Generally, for each board there is a "TRAVELER SCORE SHEET" which stays with the board throughout the match. For each
session that the board is played, an entree is made showing who played who, who got the contract, what was the
contract, how many tricks were taken or how many under-tricks were lost, & the resulting score including Extended
Bid Level score plus bonus points. The traveler also has the board number written on it in case it becomes separated
from its board. The score sheet is folded so the scores cannot be seen & then tucked into the north pocket of the
board itself. At the end of the match, the boards are "GRADED" to determine the winner or winners. The details of
scoring & grading will be covered in a latter class on scoring. Sufficient to say, a win, place, show, etc,
approach is used to determine the north-south winner of the board, & the same is done to determine the best
east-west pair. One will typically hear, "That's a TOP or in the middle or BOTTOM board".

b. TEAM COMPETITION. This form of duplicate entails the joining of two player pairs together to form a TEAM which will compete against other
teams. Each team will have one pair designated as NS & the other pair as EW. For the two teams to compete, two
tables are required. At both tables The N/S pair of one team will play the E/W pair of the other team. The round will
usually require any even number of pre-dealt boards split evenly between the two tables. The boards at each table will
be played & then given to the other table to be played there. All the players from both teams will record the hand
scores on their own "PERSONAL SCORE SHEET" ( FIGURE 5) which is on the reverse side of the "CONVENTION CARD". After all
of the boards are played twice, the members of each team return to their home table to compare the NS score on each
board to see which NS team did the best.

At this point, we identify two different types of TEAM PLAY because there are two different ways of determining a

1] KNOCK-OUTS. This is the simplest to understand, because there is no accumulation of scoring from one round to the next. If a TEAM
loses in any given round, they are KNOCKED OUT of the competition, just as in tennis. The winners of the round go on to
play against the winners from another team in a subsequent round. This continues until there is only one winning team.
thus, the schedule of play for TEAM KNOCK OUTS is fairly simple & straight forward.

2] SWISS TEAMS. This method of play entails the accumulation of scores from one round to the next. After any round, no team is knocked
out of the play.
All teams play to the bitter end. At the end of each round, On any given board a comparison of the raw scores attained
by the NS players at both tables to see which NS pair did the best. Based upon the difference in raw score, the winning
pair will receive "INTERNATIONAL MATCH POINTS" (IMPs) which is recorded along side the associated raw score. After
determining all of the IMPs awarded for each board, the IMPS are added up & reported to the director who
accumulates those IMPs for each team. At the end after all the pre-determined rounds have been played, the team having
the most IMPS will be the grand winner of the tournament.