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Jumping the Gun (WBF World Electronic Bridge Championship)

From the looks of things the WBF is considering the creation of a World Electronic Bridge Championship. Seems like this might be a good time to kick of some discussion around what such a thing might / should look like and spitball some ideas and guiding principles.

I’m going to throw out a few things that I believe are “important” considerations. (Obviously) I welcome thoughts and comments from other folks. Here’s my prioritized list:

  1. While I am a strong supporter of the concept of using an Electronic Playing Environment I do not consider this to be time critical. It doesn’t matter too much if the first occurrence of this event happens in 2023 versus 2022 or 2024. What is vital is that folks don’t screw this up because a bad launch could set back efforts in this area for a very long time. To me, this means that hardware and software needs to be finished before folks start scheduling events. And the system needs to be soft launched before it can be trusted with a world championship. Look at the work that Lovebridge is doing rolling out their own solution and learn from their approach.
  2. I think that the software being used for this project needs to be provided to interested parties well in advance of the event. If custom hardware is being used it needs to be inexpensive enough that folks can comfortably afford to buy their own systems. I think that it is vital that teams that are competing in these events be able to practice with the actual systems being used. Ideally, Zonal organizations that are providing teams should be able to use the same conditions of contest as the actual event.
  3. I think that the initial “version” of this event should be contested in a single physical location just like the traditional WBF events. Primary consideration wrt site selection needs to be assigned to the quality and reliability of the local network connectivity as well as the quality/reliability of the feed to the internet. Long term, it MIGHT be reasonable to consider splitting the event across multiple playing sites, but for the short term keep things simple. Event organizers need to have a failover scenario in case that local network connectivity fails and some way to continue to play with (shudder) cards and the like.
  4. Use this as an opportunity to try to improve the security of the event. Put all the Easts in one room, the Wests in another, … Time delay the broadcast of individual boards. (If a board is being played “live”, spectators should not be able to see the hand)
  5. Long term storage of electronic records. Record keeping is a second significant benefit to transitioning to an electronic playing format. I’d like to make sure that an effort is made to provide long term access to / storage of hand records and the like. Here, once again, having standards based approach seems critical.
  6. Open access to data feeds. One of big benefits of an electronic format is the ability to broadcast events to interested spectators. I would like to see a standards based approach used by which the Vugraphs are provided using a standardized interface and any interested third party can access these feeds. I explicitly DON’T want to see system in which any one vendor is able to restrict access to the VuGraph to their platform.
  7. Better convention cards / systems of disclosure. The nature of the disclosure systems needs to be made consistent with the capabilities of the playing environment. I personally would like to see a system in which disclosure for the early rounds of uncontested auctions was provided by some kind of “convention file” similar to the full disclosure system that BBO used. I also believe that players should provide Dealer scripts that can be used to generate hands that are consistent with their opening bids. (If this varies significantly by seat, so should the dealer scripts)

I’m sure that other folks have thoughts of their own…

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