Online Congress

Obviously this isn't a topic that people necessarily want repeated as the hope remains to get EBU events back to face-to-face whenever possible, but in the interim with more players getting involved in online clubs and the EBU seeing a 100-table 12-board session earlier this week it may be worth thinking about what events the EBU can run (or endorse at county-level) that are closer in format to the normal EBU congresses.

BBO now offers howell options for TDs who ask, but more importantly you can set a break between rounds if you want so that you could run 2-session events. The possibility of running swiss pairs events with 6 rounds or similar, with a break in the middle, is therefore distinctly more possible than it was and would I'm sure have the demand. We are very aware of the need to protect the EBU given its lower revenue, so offering this sort of event may at least keep players involved in EBU events during this time. Zoom seminars (only for those enrolled in the event) would potentially add to the face-to-face element that so many players are missing, and could be preceded by an open pairs or succeeded by a Speedball as you might have in a congress. The BBO server issues now seem to have been ironed out and the BBO costs would hopefully be lower, or at least not dissimilar, to a normal congress (understandably, the EBU would have to charge a lower fee to normal congresses to attract demand though).

Swiss teams will take longer to work out the logistics as BBO does not offer that as a feature in itself, but the teams league seems to still be gaining interest following the fee introduction.

If longer-round events are feasible, integrating Zoom to introduce a face-to-face aspect becomes more achievable. But having to set up a new meeting every round is still a bit of a barrier there.

I'm sure these suggestions are being made behind the scenes, with more counties running their own fortnightly pairs events and more virtual clubs appearing, but I'm yet to see any longer-format events (excluding perhaps the YC which has longer Howells than most on a Saturday) which might be of interest to some, if not many. I suppose the benefit of online games is that less notice is needed before starting up an event like this, so something perhaps to introduce on a rainy day. :)


  • I have been in touch with the Irish Bridge Association with a view to possilby running some sort of congress in the Autumn.
    I received details from them of the forthcoming Sligo Congress which I thought was very impressive. They have already run one congress, and are planning several more.

    Entry Fee BB$5 per session per person.

    Friday 5th June:
    Friday Night (7.30 to 10.30) – Mixed Pairs
    Friday Night (7.30 to 10.30) – Gala Open Pairs
    Saturday 6th June:
    Saturday Afternoon (2.15 to 5.15) – Congress Pairs (Session 1)
    Saturday Afternoon (2.15 to 5.15) – Intermediate ‘A’ Pairs (Session 1)
    Saturday Afternoon (2.15 to 5.15) – Intermediate ‘B’ Pairs (Session 1)
    Saturday Afternoon (2.15 to 5.15) – Novice Pairs (Session 1)
    Saturday Afternoon (2.15 to 5.15) – Open Pairs
    Saturday Night (7.15 to 10.15) – Congress Pairs (Session 2)
    Saturday Night (7.15 to 10.15) – Intermediate ‘A’ Pairs (Session 2)
    Saturday Night (7.15 to 10.15) – Intermediate ‘B’ Pairs (Session 2)
    Saturday Night (7.15 to 10.15) – Novice Pairs (Session 2)
    Saturday Night (7.15 to 10.15) – Open Pairs
    Sunday 7th June:
    Sunday (11am to 2pm and 3pm to 5pm) – Congress Teams
    Sunday (11am to 2pm and 3pm to 5pm) – Intermediate Teams
    Sunday Afternoon (2.15 to 5.15) – Open Pairs

    495670 - I don't know if this was the sort of thing you had in mind?

  • Having some sort of multi-day programme would certainly be good. For me, just playing in an event with a formally laid-out programme is nice (a bit weird perhaps!), as opposed to ad hoc unconnected events which work well as club alternatives but not necessarily as a national event in itself. I do like the idea of NGS-stratified events (and hopefully the 9-high events are successful), which I suppose the Saturday events are alluding to.

    My suggestion involved utilising the Swiss Pairs feature, including the option of a break, to more closely mimic one of the weekend events of most congresses, which could be coupled with Open Pairs events either side or similar. So something along the lines of
    Friday (19:00 to 22:00) - Open Pairs (24/26 boards)
    Friday (22:30 to 23:45) - Serious Fast Bridge (as proposed for this year's Eastbourne, 15 boards??)
    Saturday (14:00 to 22:00, with break for dinner) - Swiss Pairs (could convert to VPs afterwards if desired)
    Saturday (22:30 to 23:45) - Serious Fast Bridge
    Sunday (am)? - Seminar to go over Swiss Pairs hands of interest, open only to those who played in the event.
    Sunday (13:00 to 18:00) - Swiss Teams (would probably need a short break for results to be inputted and to work out the next movement, or otherwise do assignments one round in arrears)
    Sunday (19:00 to 22:00) - X-IMPed Open Pairs

    Players are getting a lot of MP Pairs tournaments at the moment, which is great. Having something like this might just be more appealing to those who play more competitive bridge (and I know, that's definitely not the focus at the moment); Having a Jack-High Swiss Pairs simultaneously is an extra option.

    Especially for the Swiss Teams, if teams have to send their results to a specific email or via My EBU, EBUScore standings could then be available for teams to view during the event. It's something about that scrolling results sheet at the end of each round waiting for your name to come up...

    With that in mind then, it's trying to include as many of the extra things that come with a normal congress. You won't have the wandering around, seeing yourself at a higher/lower table than your target, dare I say the almost inevitable speaker problems in the pre-congress address :) But you would have some sort of schedule and feeling of being part of a large event, which you miss out on with unconnected events. That might just be me.

    Hopefully the EBU will survive the lockdown; If it does, it will then hopefully benefit from a surge in interest in county and national events, driven by what it offers during this online phase.

  • Could I please use this forum to ask Gordon if any of the events in the type of Congress I mentioned in my earlier post could attract green points? I am being asked about running a similar style tournament (though with not quite so many events) to replace our normal weekend GP event.

  • @stayman said:
    Could I please use this forum to ask Gordon if any of the events in the type of Congress I mentioned in my earlier post could attract green points? I am being asked about running a similar style tournament (though with not quite so many events) to replace our normal weekend GP event.

    We sent a communication to all counties after the county chairs' meeting a couple of weeks ago saying that the could issue green points for online events that are replacing existing ones, which would have been able to issue them.

  • edited June 2020

    We've already announced that we're running our Felixstowe Congress online the first weekend in October
    but starting at 10AM in case BBO starts getting overloaded again in the evenings

    The Saturday has always been a Quali-final Pairs and repeating this format is fairly straightforward.
    10AM: Clocked two-winner Qualifier. Early Afternoon: A & B finals (both 6-table full Howells) plus Consolation Event.

    The Sunday has always been Swiss Teams and will be this year. Current round assignments using IMPs Match-Scoring with a break between rounds should work. We can fill in the board scores later.

    We are a couple of months after 'Eastbourne' so will learn everything we can from that event.
    We won't be starting our detailed planning until late July/Early August but it will be vital to imagine everything that could go wrong before it does and have prevention and recovery plans in place.

    Some of my early thinking (which is now mothballed until we can learn from EBU & 'Eastbourne') is:
    * Do at least one dummy run and at least one practice event
    * Avoid Triples (as they're almost impossible on BBO?)
    * Close Entries in advance but have standby team available on day
    * Brief Captains fully in advance
    * Send Captains First Round Assignments well in advance
    * Show Current Assignments on website with Seating Line-Up (BBO usernames) and who is to do setup
    * Send Captains full teams lists in advance so we can use private chat for assignments if website fails
    * Get Captains to allow (silent) Kibitzers so we can check set-up of matches before too much harm is done
    * Kib matches on a rolling basis to check they are running to time
    * Get Captains to Private Message match score in IMPS as they finish (this will stagger results inflow)
    * Get phone numbers of each captain and use them if something has obviously gone astray with a match
    * Don't delay the next round whilst deciding on a ruling in the current one

    It would be nice if we could get something akin to 'chat to tournament' on BBO for mass broadcast to captains

    Peter Bushby Suffolk

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