In the current circumstances with bridge clubs closed and events cancelled, many of our members are thinking of playing online bridge. Some will already be familiar with what is available but here is some information to help those who do not already play online, pointing them in the right direction to investigate the various options. This replaces the pre-COVID-19 information about online bridge.
The unique feature of RealBridge is that it uses your computer’s audio and video to simulate live play at a table, so you can see your partner and opponents. If you don’t have video or audio you can still play in the more usual online manner, communicating by text.
Bridge Base Online
Bridge Base Online (BBO) is the largest international online bridge provider. Signing up and playing in many of the games is free, though they also have tournaments that are paid for. This is the platform on which our EBU tournaments are run and where our Virtual Clubs' games are held. Clubs that are interested in this can find more information online. BBO is also the place where our popular Lockdown League takes place.
Our EBU games run every day at 11am (Relaxed 9-high game), 12 noon (fast game) and at 2pm, 3:30pm, 7:30pm, 7:30pm (Relaxed 9-high game) and 9pm. They are all 12 boards long and cost $1.50.
EBU members do not need to register your EBU number anywhere with BBO. When you register for an EBU tournament it should prompt for your EBU number only if we do not already have it stored on BBO. If you have played in an EBU tournament and it has not appeared on your record in My EBU then please contact us via email@example.com and we will sort it out.
Since BBO is an American company payment is in dollars and the most common bidding systems are Standard American type (sayc or 2/1), although it does have an Acol Bridge Club, which can be found under Play or Watch Bridge -> Casual -> All Private and Public Clubs. Members who need to buy BB$ to play in paid games should buy them through the BBO website and not through the app, which will add on a significant surcharge.
Our advice to players who are interested in playing in paid games is first to sign up for a free login to BBO and play in some free games to familiarise themselves with how the game works, so that they can take part as soon as they are ready. Help with doing this is available in this document.
NB In tournaments, BBO records all table history including chat between individual players at a table. This can be accessed by our EBU TDs but will only be used for the purposes of disciplinary and ethics cases or resolving disputes about timing or disclosure.
Funbridge hosts our regular daily online robot games, which give EBU master points. Information about them is available on our webpage. They have also provided a document explaining how a club can create its own (robot) games exclusively for its own members.
Bridge Club Live (BCL) is the only UK based online bridge provider that has been operational for over 25 years. It runs a wide variety of individual and partnership games as well as tournaments and special competitions for which EBU Master Points are awarded. These are uploaded monthly to the EBU and payment for the licence fee for these is included in any of the monthly, quarterly or annual membership subscriptions offered by BCL. For more information and a generous free 50-day Trial, specifically for VALID EBU members, click here.
BCL now provide F2F Virtual Sessions for online clubs. Using a dedicated server for each club, BCL offer a choice of start time and the number of boards for each clubs’ session. BCL can cater for small clubs from as little as 3 tables and for larger clubs up to 400 tables. You can register as a club to be listed in BCL at no charge and this provides a dedicated club page from which the extra F2F Sessions can be activated within 48 hours following application.
BCL also offers a half-price 'Social Membership' for those who prefer not to be rated. This includes unlimited play in social rooms, with chosen partners and friends. Whilst around 60% of its members are British and Acol is prevalent, all systems are catered for with members from all over the world playing 24/7. BCL operate a strict 'no cheating' policy with ethical behaviour embedded in the philosophy of the club. All reports of bad behaviour including rudeness, quitting and any unacceptable play, are fully investigated by our CTD and Ethics Consultant.
Recent developments include a dedicated online Teaching Area for beginners and improving players. Bridge teachers can upload their specific card deals and themes and run two hour teaching slots at no cost to them and their students can apply for highly discounted membership rates for the duration on their course. Full details here.
From September 1st, any F2F Club, in any country, can have dedicated Sessions on their own, dedicated BCL server. With over 300 Sessions currently available per week, and an unlimited capacity to expand, clubs can re-create the atmosphere and timings of their usual club online. Results are generated in the USEBIO XML format within five minutes of the Session end time and are available to post on their BridgeWebs or Pianola club site - just as they would be usually. What is particularly beneficial to UK clubs AND the EBU, is that these results are also valid for UMS upload. There is NO COST for Clubs to have this facility other than a once only admin setup fee per session and the requirement that all their participants are full members of BCL. For further information email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To summarise a single BCL membership subscription now provides three major bridge services:
- 1. The original BCL club server where a wide range of tournaments as well as social bridge takes place with members from all over the world.
2. A dedicated 'Teaching' server for teachers and their students with uploadable lesson deals.
3. A dedicated 'F2F Session' server for replacing currently suspended F2f Club Sessions to become F2f Online Sessions, complete with full results in a universal file output format.
For further information email: email@example.com
StepBridge is the online bridge provider of the Netherlands Bridge Federation, which runs games for the Welsh Bridge Union and is currently free for users and clubs. They have a guide for clubs wishing to run games and it is possible for players to set up teams matches suitable for playing local teams leagues. Individuals should sign up for free membership and are advised to start by playing a short informal match, to familiarise themselves with the interface before arranging any important league matches. Instructions for setting up teams matches are now available.
A few other options have been suggested by members:
https://www.bridge-at-home.com/en is a site where four people log in independently and select a seat, then they are given their hands from a previously played event on a screen, so they can then play among the four of them and be told what they would have scored (the basic app is free, but you may have to pay to play hands from e.g. Bermuda Bowl finals). It's really designed for four people in the same room, but with a decent Skype connection can probably be used remotely.
http://www.correctcontract.com/login is not a site for playing bridge, but for practising unopposed bidding - players can tailor the sets of hands to practice their slam bidding, or try out some tweaks to their 1NT system etc.
http://rpbridge.net/cgi-bin/xwd1.pl is a similar resource but might be found to be more flexible. It is also worth noting that bidding tables on BBO can easily be set up, with silent opponents and a specified number of HCP between the two hands.
Something for family members who don't currently play bridge is to learn Mini-bridge and there is a free progam available for this from Blue Chip Minibridge, as well as information about playing bridge itself while self isolating using Blue Chip Bridge.