Each year, when we start back at the Club, we each receive a rather formal looking document telling us of our grade within the world of bridge. The document will inform us of how well we have performed in the past twelve months. The number of 'local' points or, indeed, 'National' points will have determined whether we have been raised in status to a new grade.
How does the grading structure work?
When you start playing bridge as a member of a Club affiliated to the Contract Bridge Association of Ireland (CBAI) you will be placed on the lowest rung of the grading step-ladder. You will be classified as a novice 'N2'. You will remain there for the first two years of your bridge-playing career.
After the period of two years you automatically progress to the next level of Novice 'N1'. After another three years you will then be put up one step of the ladder to Intermediate 'B2', from wich only you can determine your progress by the earning of 'local' or 'National' points. Length of service as a bridge-player will no longer play a part in your progress.
If, however, at any time during your first five years as a Novice you acquire a minimum of 1,000 'local' points you will be automatically elevated to the height of Intermediate 'B2' status.
How do I get a 'Local' point?
Each competition in the club carries a number of local points for finishing in the leading positions. The number of points allocated are determined by a number of factors including the nature of the competition, the number of participants and the 'strength' of the Club as determined by the CBAI. Within an average size club of average status for a normal pairs competition, first place may carry about 60 or more points for finishing first. This clearly presents a daunting task to acquire 1,000 points as a Novice in a relatively short time. However, The CBAI organises National and Regional competitions for all categories of players, including Novice. In these competitions you will only be competing against players of your own standard. Finishing in the top half of one of these competitions can seriously improve your status or, at least, improve your position dramatically within your grade. Congresses also offer major opportunities to gain a significant number of local points.
What is a National point?
Local points are converted to National points on a scale of 5,000 Local points = 1 National point.
When and how do I progress from Intermediate 'B2'?
Your progress is now determined by your ability. Each grade is now defined in terms of your points acquisition as follows:-
A player holding <2,500 Local points.
A player holding 2,500 to 4,999 Local points.
A player with at least 5,000 local points (1 National point) but less than 4 National points.
A player with at least 4 National points but less than 10 National points.
A player with at least 10 National points but less than 30 National points.
A player with at least 30 National points but less than 100 National points.
A player with between 100 and 500 National points.
A player with between 500 and 1,000 National points.
A player with 1,000 or more National points..........or, put another way, at least 5 million Local points!
Each year, around September, the CBAI issues a fifteen-month diary which is available from Club Secretaries for a 'nominal' price to all CBAI members. The information given above, together with considerably more detail, is included in a diary that any serious bridge-player should have at hand. It also includes all CBAI and Irish Bridge Union (IBU) competitions, dates and venues, for the forthcoming season together with a wealth of valuable information.