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 BridgeBase - Getting Started

This document details what you need to know to get started with BridgeBase so you can play Bridge Online quickly and effectively.

Document sections are:

             Overview

             BridgeBase Website

             OnLine Bridge Words

             Scoring Options

             The Lobby

             Serving a Table

             Logging on The Internet Room

             Bidding

             Playing

             Chatting

             Playing Options

             Cards/Text Toggle

             Bridge Movie Pop-Up

The target audience is players who have had a session or two with a trainer or experienced player and want to view a summary of the key BridgeBase functionality.

Experienced BridgeBase players may discover functionality they did not know existed because they did not read the online help.

Welcome to computers…


Overview

Bridge Base Online is a free service offered to bridge players everywhere. You need to download and install the program before you can play bridge online or use the engine which will automatically display Bridge Movies and BridgeBase VuGraph. To do this simply go to:
            www.bridgebase.com

BridgeBase presents frequent "VuGraph" broadcasts of live matches from around the world and they are enhanced by expert commentary. The ABF makes use of this capability to display some of its international fixtures. For instance, Australian participation in the recent 2005 Far East Championships is available on:
            www.abf.com.au/events/overseas/pabfc/2005.html

Bridge Movies are used extensively as teaching aids and will be the standard for developing interactive teaching software in the future. Check out the public PCs in the VBA which provide examples of this software which you can use at any time.

The online bridge service runs 24/7 and rarely drops below 100 concurrent tables in play in the main bridge club. The member community is large (100,000+), active and multilingual.

BBO is a business and offers ACBL-Sanctioned club games as well as the occasional advertisement. To check the games out go to:
            www.acbl.org

There is also a second major online bridge service – this is OKBridge. This is not a free service but it offers a valid service. It has a ratings system which provides the means to filter your opponents and get  the right standard of game. This service is particularly useful to experienced players who want to play against a good standard of opposition.

To find out about OKBridge just ask senior VBA members. If they are not a member of OKBridge they can point you to someone who is who can assist with information about the service.


BridgeBase Website

The BridgeBase Website offers online bridge and a lot of other interactive and support facilities. If you go to the parent site you can then navigate the various features and learn about what the software provides. Just go to:
            www.bridgebase.com

Amongst the available features and types of activity available are:

1.      Volunteers are usually online to help with questions and problems. When you are logged on to BridgeBase, you will notice that some names are highlighted in yellow – these are support volunteers who are willing to take queries from participants.

2.      Authorized members can organize duplicate IMP/MP/Totalpoint tournaments (Individuals and Pairs). They usually see well over 100 tournaments each day, each organized and run by one of these Tourney Directors. A few are authorised to run Pay Tournaments.

3.      Any member can organize a two-table team match (IMP, BAM, or Totalpoint scoring). Hundreds of team matches are run each day. When Victoria can get other states and clubs to join the online world, we can organise interstate and interclub matches.

4.      Any member can open a table for duplicate or rubber play, either with strangers or friends. Duplicate results are achieved by comparing scores to other tables. Thousands are opened each day.

5.      There are several private and public clubs on BBO. Some are organized by language, others by skill. The typical private club regularly offers free tournaments for its members.

6.      Any member can open a partnership-bidding room and have BBO generate hands for practice bidding. Members can also open teaching tables, controlling up to 4 seats, and (optionally) uploading specific deals.

7.      Any member can open a chat room -- they make it easy to present hands to the room.

8.      Discussion boards of various topics (forums.bridgebase.com). There are also methods for EMail contact – check the site for details.

 


Online Bridge Words

This is potted dictionary of some online bridge terminology so you can learn the buzzwords that online players throw around.

·        Lobby
            This is the main screen of the online service. It shows all of the computers
            currently logged on to BridgeBase. I say computers because the player
            who connected may have left the computer and gone to dinner or gone to sleep!

·        Serve a Table
            That is what they call creating a new table. The player who serves a table gets to
            select the scoring method and is in charge of who does and does not play.

·        The World
            All of the players currently logged on to BridgeBase.

·        Virtual Table
            The four players logged on to an online table and the game they are playing.

Also there is a shorthand language like the stuff children now use to send text messages endlessly to their friends. Some of important ones that will be recognised by all experienced onliners are:

            tx                     Thanks
            ty                     Thank You
            typ                   Thank You Partner
            np                    No Problem
            pls                    Please
            gl                      Good Luck
            glp                    Good Luck Partner
            brb                   Be Right Back
            lol                     Laughing Out Loud                   This one is frequently misunderstood.
            wdp                 Well Done Partner
            wdo                 Well Done Opponents

You might send a message such as “brb pitstop” – I’ll let you work that one out yourselves.
You might log on at the same time as a friend. “Shall I Serve?”


Scoring Options

The types of games and scoring methods that are on offer include:

            Duplicate Matchpoints
            Duplicate IMPS
            Rubber Bridge
            Duplicate Tournaments
            Team Matches

Most of the time you select either Duplicate Matchpoints or Duplicate IMPS depending on your preferred method for the day which you and your tablemates are happy with.

When you finish play a hand a score is immediately posted and added to your total.

Hands are added to the hand pool all of the time and are left for a reasonable time but not too long. If you are the first to play a given hand, your score will initially be zero for that hand.

However, as any table plays a hand you have played in the current session, the hand is instantly MatchPointed or Imped and your running score updated. That is why your session score is constantly being updated.

When you are playing and you lose and gain a player, it is common practice for the Table Owner to reset the running total to zero.


The Lobby

The Lobby is the main BridgeBase Screen. When you log on you are taken to the Lobby and everything happens from there. The screen shot below was taken at 9:30AM on a Friday.

Key features are:

1.      Players List. Shows all current users. The Arrow top-right scrolls pages of players.

2.      Chat Log. Basically always there. Shows who is talking. In the Lobby you see all public chat but at a table only the stuff that relates to you is shown.

3.      Toolbar. There is always a toolbar on the bottom of the screen which allows you to perform common actions. The Help Button is useful for new players. The Chat Button is used all the time to talk to people. The Back Button is very important – it sends you back to the previous screen you were on – this is how you leave a table or a function without quitting BridgeBase.
The gear wheel is for your playing options.

4.      Play Bridge Button. Provides access to the Main Bridge Club and online tournaments etc.

5.      Explore Bridge Button. Provides access to Partnership Bidding, Chat Rooms, Bridge Base Standard, Learn to Play Bridge etc. These are interactive features other than normal online bridge tables.

There are now a lot of places where there are context-sensitive menus like in a lot of other windows applications. Try the right mouse-click to see where you can get shortcut menus.


Serving a Table

This is what you have to do if you want to create a new table in the Main Bridge Club. After starting a Serve, you will get the New Table Options screen.

When this appears, you set the options as follows:

1.      Click an option button for the scoring type you want to use. Duplicate MPs and Duplicate Imps are the options most commonly selected. Preset deal options also available.

2.      Invisible Checkbox. This makes the table invisible to other BridgeBase users except those who have seats reserved. May use this during training.

3.      Kibitzers. You can specify whether you want to allow online kibitzers and whether they are allowed to chat to the players.

4.      Permission Required To Join. You can specify whether players and/or kibitzers must ask permission before they join the table.

5.      Description of the table. Allows the world to read what the table is about. This is optional.

6.      Reserve Seats. Always fill this in if you are reserving for specific players. This means you should know each others usernames when preparing a set game on BridgeBase for a four.

At any time during play, the Table Owner can press the Table Button in the toolbar to bring up this screen to reset any option. This is most commonly done to Reset Scores when a new player arrives at an existing table. Rarely, the Table Owner may remove a player from the table.


Logging on The Internet Room

These are the instructions for logging on the computers in the internet room.

1.      Turn on the 4 computers. The main ones have a compass point and the BridgeBase logons for them will be presumed to be:
            North               VBA1N           Password:        vba1n
            East                  VBA1E            Password:        vba1e
            South               VBA1S            Password:        vba1s
            West                VBA1W          Password:        vba1w
As players may log on with their real logons when using the facility, you may need to type the Username/Password rather than using the last saved values.

2.      Log On the North computer only to BridgeBase.

3.      Buttons to Serve the Table:
            Play Bridge
            Main Bridge Club
            Start New Table

4.      Configure the table as per the Serving a Table section above. The important things you have to do are:
            Permission Required to Join                  True
                        This stops random players jumping onto the training table.         
            Reserve Seats
                        Put the usernames for the 4 computers into the correct seats.
Click OK when finished. You should be in the correct seat – check before continuing.

5.      Logon the other 3 computers on to BridgeBase. As each is logged on, you will get a message saying a seat is reserved for you. Click Yes and you will be taken to the Virtual Training Table.

When all of the computers are logged on to the virtual table, start play…


Bidding

Bidding and play are fairly straightforward once you have seen it happen. If you have sound available on your computer, you will hear a beep when it is your turn to play or bid. Use the mouse to perform most bidding and play actions.

When it is your turn to bid you will be presented with the bidding tools as below with the bidding summary displayed on screen.

This screen shot is the bidding display for you as Dealer. No bids have been made yet and all levels and strains are available.

Note the Context Box in the top left hand corner of the screen. It displays a game/application title where appropriate, a Board Number, specifies the Dealer and shows who is Vulnerable by providing a colour highlight where appropriate. For this screen: E/W are Vulnerable and South is the Dealer.

As you are normally the bottom of the screen, the screen compass can change depending on which seat you are in. However, your position can be changed if you want by setting the appropriate option.

The Alert Button and Alert Box allow you to specify that you making a conventional bid and what the meaning is – fill these in before making the bid. Note in online bridge that you alert your own bids. Also note that alerts are displayed to the opponents only – your partner does not know that you have alerted.

When you make a bid you specify the level and then the strain. You cannot make an insufficient bid online – if the bid is not possible, is not available for selection.

If you make a mistake when bidding, such as clicking Hearts instead of Spades, you can ask for an undo by clicking the Undo Button – do this as quickly as possible when you realise your mistake. Your opponents are asked whether they accept an Undo – they can accept or refuse.


Playing

Playing the hand is just a matter of double-clicking a card when it is your turn to play.

You know it is your turn to play when the application beeps. Also, the player whose turn it is to play has the title bar of his hand (which displays his/her username) highlighted. Check this when are unsure whose lead it is.

During the course of a trick that has started, you can tell whose turn it is because the played cards are displayed in the middle of the screen. The screen above is a double dummy display for a teaching hand. The first trick has been completed and North is on lead.

If you make a mistake when playing, selecting the wrong card, you can ask for an undo by clicking the Undo Button – do this as quickly as possible when you realise your mistake. Your opponents are asked whether they accept an Undo – they can accept or refuse.

During the play, the number of tricks for each side is displayed on screen. The total is updated after each trick is completed. Also, the contract is always displayed.

If you move the mouse over the contract or the played cards display, a window of the last completed trick will appear on screen. Kibitzers can review the play to any trick by pointing at the appropriate turned over card. This capability is not always available.

Finally, when the hand is completed, you will see the Bridge Movie Pop-Up. The shows you the complete hand, your result as if you had filled in a travelling scoresheet and the other results for the hand. You can do a few things with the form – try them out when you are playing a practice hand in the Internet Room.


Chatting

Chatting is an integral part of the online game. The Chat Log is always visible during play so you can communicate with the table and with kibitzers when allowed.

You will spend a fair bit of time online entering text into the Chat Window.

With normal settings, just typing text automatically brings up the window and accepts what you are typing.

At any time you can click on the name of a person in the Chat Log to open a Chat Window to enter what you want to say to him/her.

There is a drop down list available during play which will allow you to select the message recipient as Kibitzers, The Table or The Opponents.

On the toolbar during play there are 4 icons available to open a Chat Window which will be preset to the four logical recipients you will want to (and are allowed to) use:
            Chat                             Chat to Table
            Left Arrow                   Chat to Left-Hand Opponent
            Right Arrow                 Chat to Right-Hand Opponent
            Two-Way Arrow         Chat to Both Opponents

Note that you are forbidden by the software to have a private chat to your partner – this should not be a surprise…

Basically just type your text and press Enter or click the Chat Button or Cancel as appropriate.

The Button to talk to both opponents (excluding partner) assists with explaining conventional bids or plays to the opponents. Especially, use this button when you forget to alert a bid while entering it.

Always maintain a courteous attitude when chatting online. It is very difficult to correct perceptions of what you say when people cannot see you.

When leaving a table it is good manners to tell the opponents and partner you are leaving. You should try to inform the table before you start the last hand you intend to play.

Finally, writing in all capitals is considered to be shouting.


Playing Options

When you click the Options Button on the toolbar you will be presented with the Playing Options Window. This will allow you to configure the playing arena to suit your preferences.

The main options available are:

·        Pictures of Cards
            Picture or text display toggle – see next section for details.

·        Confirm End of Trick
            Turn the confirmation window on or off. Try it.

·        Show Played Cards
            When logically available, allows you to see all of the cards which were
            originally dealt. Played cards are dimmed.

·        Font
            You can select from the available fonts.

·        Language
            Change the language used to display text.

·        Player at Bottom
            Change the compass orientation of the players.

·        Colour
            There are a number of display colours that you can set. These are available in a group
            of settable items. You can reset any colour or restore the defaults if you think
            your settings have got out of hand.

Not all of the options are available in all game types and some change slightly in their implementation.


Cards/Text Toggle

A very important option is the ability to choose how the cards themselves are displayed.

Firstly you can choose to have the hands displayed as pictures of playing cards. This display will look like:

Secondly you can choose the cards to be displayed as large text characters within hand windows. This display will look like:

To toggle the card display you can click the appropriate checkbox in the Player Options Window or click the Display Toggle Button on the toolbar.

Also, there is a Toggle Button on the toolbar for the Deal Size. When in playing mode, this makes the Chat Log larger or smaller, thus leaving more or less screen room for the display of the hand.

The text display tends to be better if your eyesight is not 100%, if you have sit a fair distance from the monitor you are using or if it is a sunny day and the screen points to a window.


Bridge Movie Pop-Up

This screen shows the results of the hand that has just been played. It usually pops up after each hand is completed.

You see all of the scores that have been posted for the hand and the Matchpoints or Imps you have scored based on the current scoring method.

You score line will be highlighted. You can save the current hand to disk for printing or viewing later. If a printer is not available, you will need to use a memory stick or floppy disk to save the output to so you can take it away.

In some circumstances you can see previous hands in a session by using movie scroll arrow – top left.

Basically you get to see equivalent of a travelling scoresheet after each hand.