Online Bridge News

Online Bridge
With the start of the new season, some clubs in the region, which have not already done so, may be considering setting up Virtual Bridge. Clubs can, of course, apply to the CBAI to establish their own, stand alone virtual club. However, there is an alternative available to any club in DNR; which is to make use of the spare capacity available on the now well established GRVBC, CAVBC and FoxBay Virtual Clubs. We would be happy to train your Tournament Directors and assist you while you were becoming familiar with running BBO Tournaments. You would have your own space on whichever host you decided to use. There is no cost involved and your share of table money would go to your club. If you want to enquire about this option, contact Aidan Synnott.

The Glasnevin Regional, Clontarf Area and FoxBay Virtual Clubs are now up and running.

We received confirmation yesterday that BBO have set up several virtual clubs under the auspices of the CBAI. We are aware of three of these in Dublin North Region but there could be more.

Clontarf Area Virtual BC is designed to cater for the needs of Clontarf, Raheny, St. Anthony's, St. Gabriel's and Vernon Bridge Clubs.
FoxBay Virtual BC is designed to cover Bayside and Foxhall Bridge Clubs.
Glasnevin Region Virtual BC will offer services to Botanic, Glasnevin, Iona, Sportslink and Whitehall Regional Bridge Clubs.

We hope to run some test tournaments this week, with a view to starting a limited service the following and building up from there. Most of the clubs in question are already busy collecting the BBO User Names of their members who are interested in playing. If you are a member of one of these clubs and want to play, here is what you need to do.

1. Join BBO.
2. Get your BBO name to Aidan Synnott, preferably via your own club's link person but if that's not possible, then
3. Buy some BBO dollars from the BBO website. Click the BB$ button on the top right of the BBO website.
4. VERY IMPORTANT - Get some practice playing ordinary games on BBO against people, so you know how the site works, before you play in a Virtual Club. Playing solitaire doesn't really hack it!

The following are the link people:
Clontarf - Irene Foley
St. Anthony's - Gladys Green
St. Gabriel's - Colm McDonald
Foxhall and Bayside - Dick Kiernan
Raheny - Mary Connell
Glasnevin - Aidan Synnott
Iona - Carmel Seery
Sportslink - John Kehoe
Whitehall Regional - Maureen O'Neill

In these exceptional times, more and more people are turning to BridgeBase Online (BBO) to at least partly satisfy their desire to play bridge. If you and partner arrange a game with another pair, you can play online and it's immensely satisfying. It's also free! It's also possible to run free tournaments on BBO and you will probably be aware that Eamon Galligan has been doing sterling work along these lines. To run a tournament, you must have "Hosting Privileges" on BBO.

Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, traffic on BBO has increased to the extent that during peak hours (approx. 18:30-21:00), the system overloads and can become unstable. As part of their response to this, BBO stopped granting new host privileges around the time of our lock down and have been curtailing the privileges of pre-existing hosts. That's why these tournaments tend to be available now only outside peak hours.

There is a bit of good news. BBO have set up a facility to run tournaments within a "Virtual Bridge Club". They charge a fee for this but the quid pro quo is that you can play in your own virtual bridge club during peak hours. Quite naturally, they started offering this service to the American Contract Bridge League. On 17th April, they made it available to the English Bridge Union and now our turn has come here in Contract Bridge Association of Ireland land.

Aidan Synnott and Dan O'Mahony are in the process of setting up two such virtual clubs, one to cater for the Bridge Clubs in the Clontarf Area and the other aimed at clubs in the Glasnevin area. Members of the clubs concerned are being contacted directly. We hope to have these up and running very soon.

We are still not 100% clear of all the details, as this is a work in process, but at this point, our understanding is that we will be able to run a virtual club night, presumably on your club's evening, starting at your usual times. To play in this tournament, you will need to be a member of the Contract Bridge Association of Ireland and of the relevant club. Clubs may decide to allow CBAI members of other clubs in the area to play as guests. Players will have to be members of BBO which is free and will have to inform us of their BBO usernames. The table money will be of the order of $BBO 3-4. This goes to BBO who, in round terms, retain half and return the other half to the CBAI. The CBAI in turn will refund that to the club. Hopefully, we will be able to assign master points in the usual way, subject to approval from the CBAI.

You will have to register (along with your partner, who must be online) between 2 hours and about 10 minutes prior to the start of the Club Game. Once registered, you can log out, but you both need to be online when the game starts and as it can be difficult to get onto the BBO site, give yourself plenty of time to log back in.

In the initial phases, either Aidan or Dan will act as Tournament Directors but in due course, it would be great if others would learn how to do that too.

A BBO dollar has the same monetary value as a $US (currently €0.90). You buy them on the BBO website using a credit card or PayPal. If you access BBO using their app (as opposed to the web version), you can purchase them “in app” but that method, though convenient, is very expensive, presumably because Apple or Google are getting a cut. The $BBOs you buy are credited to your BBO account. When you sit at the virtual table to play, the table money is automatically deducted.

This may sound a bit complicated but it’s not half as difficult as it sounds. However, it would be VERY important that club members who newly join BBO to avail of this virtual club, or indeed existing BBO members who hardly ever play; would have played a few times in ordinary BBO games, so they become familiar with the basic working of the system. It can be a little daunting at first but with a little practice, it’s easy.

Please keep an eye on this page which will be updated as developments take place.

If anyone has questions or wants assistance in setting up a virtual bridge club to cater for other areas in the region, please don't hesitate to
contact me. By the way, I don't claim to be an expert on virtual clubs. This is totally new and I am on a steep learning curve, but this is the sort of thing that engages my enthusiasm!

Aidan Synnott