I chose, instead, to make my own. I built them out of card stock and staples. Here's a template. Print this onto card stock. Stack one such template with another piece of stock and cut them down the center line. Staple along the lines drawn and near the edges on each side at each end. Number each board. You'll need between 16 and 24 boards. They seem a bit fragile; I made two extras just in case, but none broke. The results look like this.
We didn't use Grand Tichu. I think this is a good idea; the winners of a duplicate will typically be those who were lucky enough to encounter folks who thought they were desperate and had to call Grand Tichu in the late rounds to have a chance to win. Of course, most of these will fail, and those who get the benefit of this will probably end up winning.
If one really wants to include Grand Tichu, one can print out the first eight cards in each hand and include that on a paper slip in the board pocket with the cards. I chose not to do that.
The pass is laid out normally. Players write down the pass on their hand records before the pass is completed. At the end of the hand, they retrieve the cards so passed. This got confused a few times, usually because a player either didn't write down his pass, or wrote the wrong cards. To fix this, I printed large hand records and came by to help un-mess up the hands. I think an improvement is to attach these records to the boards with a rubber band, so that the players can do this themselves.
In order to play the hands out without mucking the cards, players play cards to tricks face up in front of them instead of into the middle of the table. When a trick is won, they place the cards face down on one of the four sides of their "Tichu" card, corresponding to who won the trick. At scoring time, each player combines his piles into their score and the opponenents' score and announces who gets how many points. This takes surprisingly little time and goes very smoothly.
After the pass has been restored, each player puts his hand back in the appropriate slot in the board.
Once all the results on a board were available, I subtracted the median score obtained on the board among all the players who sat in the same direction. A standard ACBL recap sheet worked well for doing this calculation; a 4-1/2 table game was scored within two or three minutes of the last boards' being finished. A computer program would make this faster. It's not clear to me that the median is the right statistic; it is likely that it doesn't fully remove the benefit of getting good hands. It clearly does, however, to some degree.
Scoring was total points; matchpoints would, I think, put too much emphasis on taking 5s, 10s, and kings in the play.
Each board appears to take about 10 minutes. So a 20-board game will take about three and a half to four hours. Don't panic that the first few rounds will take longer than expected; the players need some time to learn the procedure. The movements I chose for various size games are
Table cards for Mitchell and Skip Mitchell movements are just paper with the table number on them and a compass.
If you are not familiar with movements, Duplicate Bridge Direction by Alex Groner is a good resource. But the movements above are pretty simple. "Boards in Play" means the total number of boards you'll need available; "Boards Played" means the number of boards each pair will playthat'll determine the length of the game.
A Howell movement pretty much requires the table cards referenced above. The table cards tell each pair where to go for the next round. The director should move the boards; the pattern is pretty simple, and the table cards list the boards which should be there. In a Howell movement, all pairs play all other pairs.
In a Mitchell movement, pairs start either East/West or North/South and stay that direction for the rest of the session. After each round, E/W pairs move up one table, and boards move down one table. In a Mitchell movement, each pair plays roughly half of the others. Players can move the boards in a Mitchell.
A Skip Mitchell is the same, except that players (not boards!) skip one table halfway through the game. So in an 8-table Skip Mitchell, E/W will skip after round 4.
In order to play with hand records, the director must generate a set in advance and make the boards. If you are going to be the person who makes them boards, have someone (or a group) sort all the decks beforehand so that you only have to set the hands. With some practice, setting the hands can be done in 15-20 minutes.
Alternatively, if one plays a Mitchell movement, one can have the players make the boards the first round. The director places the hand records for just the boards on the table, the players make the boards, the director collects the hand records, and the players skip the first round.
I wrote a set of C programs to create hand records for Tichu. One produces the hands in one long column, so to print them for the players, I have another to format them into easily printed-pages. 24 hands fit easily on two sides of one page. Another prints them into big postscript files so that they are easily made by the director. See the above link for more details.
In case anyone is interested, here's the set of hands used at the Gathering 2007:
It was handy to write the board number on the individual hand records in the upper left corner. If I ever do this again, the software will do it.
Believe it or not, in our event, at one table the West hand on Board 8 called and made Tichu.