Matches Played Online

The essential ethos of the guidelines published in April 2020 remains. We wish to continue playing in as fair, amenable and effective a way as possible in the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

Since April however, we have been informed by our own and wider experience and have accordingly made several changes. In the main these formalise match conditions initially left flexible to encourage players online. In this way we hope to avoid controversy and bad feeling caused by lack of definition.

The following apply to all matches in London Business Houses team competitions.

Arranging Matches

Length of matches
24 boards. Played in two halves with a mandatory exchange of opponents. An option remains, with the agreement of both teams, to shorten the match to 20 boards (2 x 10). The VP scale used depends on the match length, make sure it is noted on the results submission.
Either team may set up the match, simply the person best suited. 'Homes' and 'Aways' are preserved for separation but have no real import in online arrangements. If we are able to resume playing face-to-face (F2F), matches already played online will be evenly allocated to balance the remainder to be played F2F.
League matches must be completed (min. 20 boards). We cannot prevent an early concession in a knockout match and indeed, it has always been part of the 'nature of the game'. If an online problem arises, the teams should try to sort it out themselves, if necessary, resuming – in the event of BBO collapse etc. – to play remaining boards.
Ties in knockout matches
The existing procedure for an IMP-tie in a knockout match is to rescore the match as aggregate. This was no doubt conceived to avoid the delay caused by playing extra boards resulting in missed trains etc. Whilst that is not a consideration in online play, we retain the aggregate decider, if only to avoid further administration. Of course, if aggregate is tied, three extra boards must be played (and the IMP then aggregate calculation repeated until separation.
EBU Sky-Blue Book
We do not expect captains or players to read all the EBU guide to online play – the Sky-Blue Book – even though it is only seven pages. But where matters are not covered in our guidelines, it will be our reference. Included within it are links to documents of similar standing, such as Online Matches Played Privately.

BBO match settings

Not allowed. Regrettably though kibitzing seems innocuous, and joining to watch teammates is fun, there are many incidents of improper use to for the Association to risk it causing problems.
None – in neither bidding nor play. We strongly suggest that players investigate the 'Confirm bids and plays' setting. It might not be for everyone but it merits a try.
Barometer scoring
Off. This replicates the situation in F2F play. We believe the availability of IMP scores when both sides complete the board can be unfair to less experienced teams.
Real name in profile. Please put you full name in your BBO profile. If you are concerned about exposure in other events, you can remove it afterwards. The LBH styles itself as 'Friendly and competitive' and we believe that not being anonymous is a courtesy to be observed even online – maybe especially so.

During play

Alerts and self-description of calls
Mandatory. Alert as you would F2F, describe all your own calls whether they would be announced or not. For example, annotate all no-trump ranges whether they be openings, rebids, responses or advances; if weak-two can be five cards, say so; if fourth-suit-forcing is forcing to game, say so, etc. The emphasis is on timely description to prevent questions and potential unauthorised information (UI).
System cards
Please. It need not be detailed but should specify leads and carding (not covered by self-description above).

BBO provides an easy mechanism to create a system card ('Convention Card') and this can be associated with a given partner. It is rather neat: it becomes joint property, either partner may change it, and it appears whenever the partnership sits down to play. We favour the 'simple' card (not the unfamiliar ACBL style), choose 'Modern Acol' or 'SAYC' (for 5-card majors) and edit. To find the opponents' card, check the blue menu-button during play. Lastly, if you cannot do that, captains should as a courtesy, email copies of printed EBU System Cards to opponents.
Please. Even with system cards it is polite to give a brief description of your methods before play. As above, please specify your leads and carding.
Avoid comment to table. If you do need to ask questions in the auction or play, do so by private chat. It is good practice to switch the chat target (lower left blue 'chat' button) to 'opponents' to avoid accidental chat to table and the creation of UI
The majority of matches will not have a director (the 'TD' button calls the person who set up the match) so in the event of a bridge dispute, teams are in the same position as in F2F bridge. The details of bidding and play will have been recorded but both teams should take a copy of relevant chats made. In the cases of hesitation etc. there is no access to timestamped logs. The captains should then find a real-life director with the assembled information and seek a ruling. The EBU has a page of directors which are easily discovered.

LBHCBA Committee