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.
EBU Lockdown League
The Lockdown League has been running since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, with a new season every month, and is about to start Season 8.
Bid72, the EBU Bidding Contest from Monday 30th August 2021. Every week each participant receives in-app (tablet or mobile phone) 5 hands to bid with their favourite partner in accordance with their own bidding system. One week later hand records, results and rankings will be mailed to all participants and they will be placed in divisions according to how well they do, moving up and down divisions according to their results. This service is completely free for EBU members and made available by bid72, the premium app on bridge bidding.
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.
In addition to our Social Bridge games described below, RealBridge is used widely by teachers, EBU clubs, and EBU events, from small club games, to our flagship events, for example, the Easter Festival.
EBU Social Bridge on the RealBridge platform allows you to play online within your own social circle – you arrange who your partner and opponents will be, swapping around if you like.
- Three sessions daily
- You can play up to 20 boards at any time during your chosen session.
- You can have more than four players if you cut in and cut out.
- £5 for the whole table.
- The boards now show the results from other tables in the same session, but they do not calculate an IMP or matchpoint score against them.
- Book and pay by logging in to My EBU -> Utilities -> Book Events (you no longer need to send us an email as well). The person making the booking and paying needs to be an EBU member, but your are welcome to have guests playing - you do not need to tell us who they are when you make your booking.
- We will set up a table for you with your name on and send you a link to give to your players, usually the day before your session starts. If you are not familiar with RealBridge and would like assistance the first time you play, let us know when you notify us which session you want to play.
- If possible, please try to book 24 hours in advance, although we will try to fit in late bookings where possible. If you do book late, send us an email and wait for confirmation.
This should suit those who like to play casual bridge online and those who are used to playing Chicago or rubber bridge.
So, all you need to do is find some friends to play with, book and pay in My EBU, and use the link that we will send you back. This service is available now!
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 $2.00.
EBU members do not need to register your EBU number anywhere with BBO. When you register for an EBU tournament it should prompt for your EBU number only if we do not already have it stored on BBO. If you have played in an EBU tournament and it has not appeared on your record in My EBU then please contact us via email@example.com and we will sort it out.
Since BBO is an American company payment is in dollars and the most common bidding systems are Standard American type (sayc or 2/1), although it does have an Acol Bridge Club, which can be found under Play or Watch Bridge -> Casual -> All Private and Public Clubs. Members who need to buy BB$ 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
Bridge Club Live (BCL) is a UK based online bridge provider that has been operational for over 25 years. It runs a wide variety of individual and partnership games. Audio and Video Chat at the table adds even more to the social element of playing bridge online.
F2F Virtual Sessions can be used by clubs with as little as 3 tables and upwards. Results are automatically posted to BridgeWebs or Pianola club sites - just as they would be usually. What is particularly beneficial to UK clubs AND the EBU, is that these results are fully valid for UMS upload. There is NO COST for Clubs to have their own F2F Session, other than the requirement that all their participants are full members of BCL. For further information email: firstname.lastname@example.org
With Covid19 reducing to a level where some clubs are partially returning to their real face to face clubs, a NEW HYBRID facility was launched on July 5th, 2021, whereby clubs can upload their hands ready for play both in their real club and in their virtual session - thus allowing merging of results. Alternatively, a separate online club “BridgeCLUBUK” using the BridgeClubLive platform, now provides EBU master pointed tournaments daily based on the same format and is available for any EBU member. Full details here.
BCL has a half-price 'Social Membership' for unlimited play in social rooms that have Audio & Video at the table, 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.
An independent and dedicated online Teaching Area allows bridge teachers to upload their specific card deals and themes and run two hour teaching slots at no cost to them and their students can apply for free or highly discounted membership rates for the duration on their course.
A free trial membership is available: email@example.com
No Fear Bridge
For students who would like to practice their bridge, please register for a free trial with No Fear Bridge via this link.
Pianola Play is another new way to run your club's games online. Currently, it's online-only but (by the time lockdown rules end) you will be able to arrange "hybrid" games that can include a mix of face-to-face and online players in the same game. The hybrid version is being developed in collaboration with Bridgemate and will be available to any club that uses Bridgemates - whether or not they use Pianola.
The main benefits of Pianola Play are:
- A simple, easy-to-use interface for both players and directors
- No additional fees for either the club or players. Like all Pianola's club features, Pianola Play is included as part of the standard club subscription. There’s no need to buy “BBO$” or make any other payment to use the service
- Easy access: players login using their existing Pianola credentials. No need to remember yet another username and password
- See partner and opponents’ real names during the game - instead of obscure usernames
- Publish results to Pianola with one click, or download results as XML to publish elsewhere (e.g. BridgeWebs)
All affiliated clubs can use Pianola free of charge for twelve months. Thereafter, rates based on table-count if the club chooses to take a paid subscription.
Visit www.pianola.net for more information about Pianola's other features and to sign up for a free 12 month trial.
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.
Other Online Bridge Options
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.