I am writing to you as one of our members who plays bridge online. If you play in our EBU games on BBO you may know that for some weeks now we have run two games at 2pm and two at 3.30pm, one of which allowed robot players and the other does not. Of late we have rarely had enough players for the robot games to be viable and so we are going to discontinue them with immediate effect. Our two evening games, at 7.30pm and at 9pm, will continue to allow robot players but the afternoon ones will not – except where they make up the game as substitutes.
Another issue that has been raised with me on a few occasions recently is the information you provide in your BBO profile. There are fields there for your proper name, country and standard of play as well as other things like a system summary. While there is no compulsion for you to fill out all of these things, there does seem to be a current trend for some (usually strong) players to put deliberately misleading information there. It might be amusing to a small number of people when an Expert from Milton Keynes describes himself as a Beginner from Togo, but for your opponents this may well be irritating rather than funny. In a face-to-face game you will be able to identify many of your opponents, which may affect the conversations you have with them or the way you pitch your questions and explanations; it is courteous to allow your online opponents the same ability.
Similarly, it is not only courteous but a requirement of the laws of the game that you properly disclose your agreements to your opponents. You should provide a properly completed system card or at the very least, if you play very straightforward methods, give a reasonable summary of your agreements at the start of each round. You should also explain your own bids in the Alert box before making any call that is artificial or would require an alert or announcement in face-to-face bridge. You should then be prepared to answer any further questions of your opponents about your bidding or carding methods. As long as all of this is done by private messages to your opponents without your partner being aware of it, there is no danger of providing UI by over-alerting or by the questions you ask.
I hope you continue to enjoy your online bridge and to help others do the same – it seems likely to remain a significant part of our lives for some time to come.
English Bridge Union