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At the BBO table

A first look at the playing screen

Here's a screenshot of a recent game I played in (enlarge it if it's too small to read). As a way of getting familiar with it, try these questions.

  1. What's my BBO username?
  2. What round and board are we on and who's the dealer?
  3. Who's vulnerable? How do you know (2 answers)?
  4. What do you think the two zeroes represent (left)?
  5. Why is 'TofferJ' highlighted in yellow?
  6. Say I want to lead the ♠10. How do you think I'd do it?
  7. If I wanted to chat to the other players, how would I do that?
  8. What's my partner's and my basic system?
  9. How are we doing so far? What's our %? (It didn't last!)
  10. What was my partner's point count on board 2?

The red block below is actually text – highlight it to see the answers (on a PC or laptop a triple-click does the trick).

1 TofferJ (you're always at the bottom of the screen) 2 Round 2, board 3, me (S) 3 EW (red around the board no and above the auction) 4 Tricks taken by us (vertical) and them (horizontal) 5 It's me to play 6 Click or tap on it 7 Write a message in the bottom box 8 4-card majors, weak NT, weak major 2s (it's in the white 'chat' area) 9 An amazing 87% after 2 boards. We ended up with 52%. 10 Seven

What's the left hand side of the screen all about?

It's a kind of dashboard.

Click on the box with the horizontal lines if you want to call the director: a pop-up box allows you to type the reason for the call. You can also use this to see your own or your opponents' convention card and (if allowed) to ask for an 'undo'.

The rest of it is information, with a couple of useful twists:

   You're playing round 1 of 6 and you're on board 4

   Both sides are vulnerable (red = vulnerable) and the dealer is your left-hand opponent. (You're always sitting at the bottom of your screen).

   The contract's 3NT by North – a useful box, this, because on BBO you can see the auction again at any time - even during play. Just click on the contract and the auction will pop up. Click on it again to make it disappear.

   Neither you nor your opponents have won any tricks as yet on this hand. Another useful pair of boxes once the play has started: you can click on them to remind yourself of the cards played in the previous trick.


What about the right hand side?

If you click on the  History  tab at the right hand edge of your screen, this area becomes the equivalent of your travellers or Bridgemate – it's a record of your results so far, and the percentages they earned you.

It's worth noting that these are your final percentages for the hands you've played. Unlike in face-to-face bridge, every pair plays the same boards at the same time, so after round one, everyone's played boards 1 and 2. That 17.9% that I scored on board 1 is, sadly, set in stone.

How's it going in this game?

Bit of a rollercoaster. Lots of tops and bottoms, but after 8 boards it's settled down a bit and I'm on a rather dull 50.5%. All to play for!

Can I see what happened at other tables?

Yes. Click on a board and then on the 'Other tables'. It'll list all the results, including your own – just like a traveller.

  IMPORTANT   As we'll see in a later section, time is of the essence when playing pairs online, so do not waste playing time poring over past hands. This is something you can do while dummy or if there's time left over at the end of a round.

Can I look at the travellers later on?

Yes, you can. An advantage of online play is that you get much more information than from face-to-face play: BBO retains not only the full auction for each hand (including any alerts), but also the card-play as it happened at your table, trick by trick.

Every now and again, BBO will clear out past records to create space for new ones, but your results will certainly remain available for a few days.

Excellent for an exhaustive post-mortem with your partner!