The English Bridge Union lost a legal challenge against HM Revenue and Customs aimed at reclaiming VAT on competition entry fees between June 2008 and December 2011. In 2012/13 alone the income from fees totalled £631,000, so there was more than just pride at stake! A tax tribunal has ruled that contact bridge is a game, not a sport. The judge’s view? Contract bridge would need a significant degree of “physical activity” in order to be considered a sport. The 300,000 regular, competitive bridge players in Britain will obviously disagree with the tribunal judgement. Contract bridge can be every bit as gruelling and competitive as football or cricket. Indeed the card game is recognised as a sport by the International Olympic Committee, the Charity Commission and several other European countries. National bridge organisations in France, Holland, Belgium, Ireland and Poland were not charged VAT on entry fees. A non bridge player might ask, ‘where is the athletic element in the game of bridge?’ A s a former contract bridge player I can attest to the fact the activity can be just as rigorous as soccer. You might start out seated at a table, but by the time you or your partner have play the wrong card for the fifth time, well, fists fly and blood is shed!
*Learning the basic rules of bridge is not good enough to take up a seat at a table. Unless you can remember every card played, don’t bother turning up!