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Directors' capabilities and limitations regarding BBO games

Updated: Sep 10, 2020

Directing on BBO is much different than a live game, while we have more capability in some areas, we are very limited in others. ACBL and BBO are trying to allow us to adhere to the normal Laws of Bridge as much as possible, but it isn't perfect yet.

We cannot change a bid or a play. In a live game, we can cancel an inadvertent call and back up the auction if your partner has not yet made the next call, but this is not yet possible in BBO. If you tend to slip your cursor to the wrong spot, or your cat likes to walk over your keyboard, the best suggestion is to turn on the "Confirm bids and Play" options in your settings. That will at least require you to make two clicks. Once the call or play is made, it cannot be recalled. If you do misclick, many of you like to tell your opponents that you have done so, but this is not required, and in fact can create bigger hassles than it fixes. The opponents are entitled to know what your agreements are, but not when you have erred. You can tell them after the hand. One of the main problems is the limitation in space and time of the chat window. Often explanations are short and can be interpreted many ways. If it can be interpreted wrongly by the opponents, it will be. We have seen enough of these now to know.

When you do have an issue that requires potential ruling from the director, get your director call in right away. The director will listen and almost always tell you to play it out. Please play it out when asked. We cannot skip to the next hand. We can adjust the result, but we have to have one in to adjust.

For adjustments, we can take two tacks, one is that we assign an adjusted score, which means we input a contract and result based on likely outcomes favorable to the non-offending side. The other is and artificial adjusted score, which is an AVE or AVE+/-. We cannot assess procedural penalties to offending parties, and we cannot split scores or assign protected ave+ or limited ave- like we can in live games. This is just a limitation of BBO for now. Improvements are coming all the time.

By the way, we have the ability to look at exact time bids and plays took place, and we can tell who is delaying, if anyone. So if you are calling about a delay, it can be verified by the system. There are really some big-brotherish aspects to this that can be creepy or convenient depending on your point of view.

A special word for those playing in the same house as partners, or who think it is ok to be on the phone with your partner if you are playing. The BBO software at the system level is very good at spotting highly unusual bids and plays. Check out this month's bulletin for some examples. It is expressly forbidden by ACBL to be on the phone with your partner in competition games. I know that none of you are communicating about the hands, but ACBL laws only allow communication through means that are shared by everyone at the table. There are some adaptations in progress that may allow everyone at the table to be on camera and in conversation, but that is not publicly available yet, and it would require everyone to have camera and voice capability at each table where it is used.

Hope you are all doing well. See you at the tables - Jim

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