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'Play it again'

Have you yet tried the 'Play it Again' feature available on this website via the Results Pages?  Click on your name in the Rankings List to view your Scorecard. Then in the board list on the right of the screen, select the board of interest and click on 'Play it Again'.  From the comfort of your own home, you can see how you could / should have made that slam!

Lockdown reprieve?
On-line Social Bridge

What is this facility?

The comment that many people make about on-line Duplicate Bridge is that they feel that one of the key reasons for going to the Bridge Club is to meet and chat with other players. - and that element is missing when participating in a Duplicate event hosted by, for example, BBO.

 

The Unique Selling Points of this brand new approach is that firstly, it requires video links – so you can see, hear, and chat to the three other people at your table, and secondly, you will be holding real physical cards in your hands! It is completely free – providing that you already have all the necessary hardware at home. The system is reliant on a large degree of trust and honesty – but, hey, it’s fun social Bridge! Open the bottle of wine and set out a bowl of nibbles! For these reasons, there are no Local Points or NGS grading points to play for – but for those who want to, there is an optional streak of competition.

 

System Requirements

In order to play on-line Social Bridge, each of the four players involved in the session will need:

 

Hardware:

  1. A home broadband service, supporting Wifi connections.

  2. Any laptop, desktop PC, or Tablet Computer that will support Video Conferencing services, such as Skype or Zoom.

    1. All modern laptops and Tablet computers will have necessary hardware capability built-in.

    2. If you use a desktop computer you will either need a monitor that incorporates a web camera / microphone / speakers OR a headset and a camera. There are now very few options for USB-connected PC webcams available. Logitech offer several models, and a viable option is the C270 that can be purchased from https://www.logitech.com/en-gb, for £36.05, including delivery

  3. An Android smartphone or Tablet Computer. The dealing software that lies at the heart of this scheme will only run on Android devices. If necessary, second-hand unlocked Android phones can be purchased on EBay for around £40; you do NOT need a Sim Card, but it must support wifi.

  4. At least one deck of 52 playing cards in reasonable condition; more would be better. Even better if you have your own complete board set, e.g., for home matches.

 

Software:

 

  1. The Laptop/PC/Tablet needs to have a basic teleconferencing system installed; all four players in the session must be running the same system. Skype is the best choice for this application, though it needs to be an up-to-date version that includes the ‘Meet Now’ video chat feature.

  2. The BridgeDealer application needs to be downloaded and installed onto the Android device (Hardware point 3). The current version of it can be downloaded from https://mirgo2.co.uk/bridgepal/index.php?section=25 . This application, which is an extension to the ‘BridgePals’ scoring system as used at Mountnessing Bridge Club, has been made available for free by its author, John Goacher, and it provides the vital ‘missing link’ that makes this Social Bridge scheme viable. We are extremely indebted to John Goacher.

 

Preliminaries

 

  1. Clearly, you need two pairs / four players, who need to agree on a date and time for the session. It is entirely your choice when you play and for how long. It would be advisable to agree the number of boards you plan to play, which can be anything from 1 to 24 (or beyond), and, indeed, agree which boards you plan to play – you don’t have to start at board 1. You will probably play about six or seven boards an hour in practice. If you want to, you can split the session and reconvene later.

  2. If Alice & Bob are to play against Mary & John, then Alice, Bob, Mary & John can chat to each other throughout the session and refer to each other by name. However, each player will need to be assigned a compass point - agree in advance who will be North, etc. You will retain your compass point for the whole session .

  3. Alice, Bob, Mary and John all need to check that they are able to communicate with each other via Skype (or Zoom, or whatever facility you agree to use). Nominate any one of the four players as the Session Convenor, who should then initiate a test connect with the other three players.

  4. Prior to the agreed start time, all four players need to download the deal file onto the Android dealing device. To do this step, open the BridgeDealer app on the Android phone, and choose the ‘Browse Web’ option. From the list of options, choose ‘BridgeWebs Club Index’, then ‘England’, then ‘Essex’, then swipe up to choose ‘Mountnessing BC’. The club’s website’s homepage will open; swipe down to reveal the usual menu list and choose menu item ‘Lockdown Reprieve?’ Swipe up to reveal a table headed ‘Deal Files and Answer Sheets’. You can choose any of the listed deal files – all four players choosing the same one of course! [Note that all the Deal Files will be real files that have been played at a Bridge Session in the past, though not necessarily at Mountnessing Bridge Club.] When you select a specific deal file, some gobbledegook will appear; select the red underlined message – that will cause the selected deal file to be loaded into the BridgeDealer App, and you will be returned to the App. Do check that the name of the file in the title bar corresponds to the deal file that you thought you were going to choose! Do not close the App or reboot your Android device until after you have finished the session.

  5. All four players need to deal their own copy of the board(s) using the BridgeDealer app. Ideally, several / all the boards will be dealt in advance if all four players can ‘rustle up’ sufficient serviceable decks, but if not, they can be dealt one at a time during play, though that will slow down proceedings.

  6. By default, the top line will be showing board 1 as the next board to deal. Use the < > keys as necessary to revolve around the available hands. With the correct board number showing, choose ‘Deal’.

  7. There is a very good demonstration as to how to use BridgeDealer to deal the cards on YouTube here. It is very easy to use, but there is a bit of a ‘knack’. My own tip: don’t pass the cards over too close to the Android device’s front camera aperture: I found a height of about 20 cm / 8 inches to be best.

  8. The system relies on a lot of trust; the only two hands from each deal that you should look at are your own, and once the bidding has subsided and the opening lead had been made, Dummy. Once you have all dealt at least one hand, the session can be started.

  9. Don’t forget the glass of wine! Or beer. Plus a bowl of nibbles!

 

Start the session!

  1. The Convenor initiates the session at the appointed time, by starting the Skype “Meet Now” session (or whatever other means you have agreed on). If you have a personal scorecard it will tell you about the dealer and vulnerability on the Board you are due to play. If not, you can access a mock scorecard from the Lockdown Reprieve? menu on the website.

  2. Bid and play the first board. OK, it’s a bit surreal until you get used to it! There are, of course, no bidding boxes, so you’ll have to speak the bids. You will also have to speak the cards that you play. All four players will need to play their own copy of Dummy, in accordance with the spoken instructions from Declarer. Note there is no ‘Tournament Director’; this facility is intended to be a friendly, social game – so if a mishap happens, sort yourselves out, please!

  3. At the conclusion of the first board, you need to agree the score, of course. Though this is all intended for fun, if you can’t resist a slightly competitive streak, then keep a record of your scores. Approximately a week after the Deal File is made available on the website, an associated ‘Answer Sheet’ will appear, showing the results when these hands were played in a real Club Session, so you can retrospectively check how you did against the rest of the “field”.

  4. If one or more of the players is constrained to a “deal as you go” approach, there will be a short delay until all four players have the next board available. Repeat steps 11 and 12 until the wine runs out!

 

If needed - a Scorecard

 

Please do share your experiences, ideally through the Mountnessing BC WhatsApp group, but by email otherwise.

 

Deal Files and Answer Sheets [Answer sheets are published approximately one week after Deal files are posted.]
Deal File Name No of Boards "Answer Sheets"
Lockdown01 32  
     
Last updated : 11th May 2020 10:45 BST