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Medieval Fonts

Anyone else have problems reading ACBL Bridge hands and tournament hand records these days?

See as an example.

Earlier this year ACBL announced new marketing guidelines,

These guidelines stipulated that all correspondence and marketing materials will use one of four fonts with Sentinel and Georgia for headlines, Gotham and Arial for the body text.

No problems so far, every organization needs standards. Georgia is a very popular headline typeface, for example I believe it used as a headline font by the majority of on-line newspapers. All are reasonable choices.

Georgia is a relatively new typeface, designed in 1993 by Nick Carter. Georgia, however, uses a medieval style typeface for digits. In plain English, this means that the digits, 0-9, have differing heights, differing top line and a differing bottom line. In typography terms, some digits have descenders and ascenders. This style is called medieval, also known as text figures. See for examples of Georgia type face. For comparison, see Compare the display of the digits between the two typefaces.

In plain English, going back to kindergarten/primary school terminology, we were taught to write letters "between the lines". All upper case letters and digits were "between the lines", parts of lower case letters, e.g. gyj, were written "below the line". In the Georgia typeface, all upper case letters are "between the lines", but the digits are not "between the lines".

In the Georgia typeface, the digits 34579 have descenders ("parts of the character fall below the line"), the digits 68 have ascenders ("parts of the character are above the line"). The digits 012 have a different overall height than 3456789. [Greg: any chance of changing the font in this paragraph so readers know what I'm writing about?? Displaying in the default BW font won't show the problem, e.g. 0123456789 in default font and 0123456789 in Georgia font [Editor note: Done!]]

Back to Bridge. A medieval font can make it very difficult to read the cards in a suit as the characters are going up and down and have different heights.

All web sites and publications that I know of, display Bridge hands using majuscule (upper case) letters and digits for the cards, AKQJ[T]1098765432 (other letters for other languages). Everyone one of them, except ACBL, uses a non medieval typeface to display a hand. Everyone one of them, except ACBL, uses the same height for the suits when displaying a hand.

ACBL started using Georgia font as the default for displaying hands and hand records sometime earlier this year. For example, see a sample hand of the week,

In this example, North has 854 of spades. The 5 and 4 in the Georgia typeface are at a different level than the 8. The South hearts (fixed a typo-original said diamonds) are J94. The 94 have descenders and the top of the '9' and '4' are lower than the top of the J. If you scroll to the bottom of this page you can see all 4 hands and a better example of the problem with medieval fonts. The west hand has Q987 of clubs. Each letter "Q987" has the same height, but the Q8 are higher than the 97. In trying to read this hand, my head is going up and down faster than, oops family web site.

To make matters worse, ACBL is using a different font height for suits with 5 or more cards. 5 or more cards are displayed 13 pixels high, 4 or less cards are 16 pixels high. [For the technical, they display 5 card suits inside a different div and use CSS to set different heights.]

ACBL have also started to use Georgia font for hand records for tournaments. For example, is the hand records from the Las Vegas National on July 27, 2014. Seeing a collection of hand records on a single page is the best example of the difficulty of reading the cards. 7 card suits do not fit well, see board 26 and East's 7 card club suit.

I cannot find any other Bridge publication that uses a medieval font for its cards or uses variable heights depending on the number of cards in a suit.

Instead of going back to the future, it seems we are going forward to the past.

Continuing this trend, and reductio ad absurdum,perhaps we should start using the Roman numeral system to show a hand. An Ace would be "A", the King would be "R" (for Rex), the Queen would be "G" (for ReGina), Jack would be "K" because Google can't find me easy translations for Ace or Jack and "J" is not a valid Roman letter. The suits would be Pala (Spades), Cor (Hearts), Diamas (Diamonds, OK having to use Late Latin because can't reuse 'A'), Fustis (can't use Clava as the C is already taken). Thank you, Google translate.

This was the hand that killed Caesar.

Caesar held P A VII C R K D A R G IX VIII VI IV II F III. What did he open?

This is an easy one. Caesar's opening bid was obviously II D.

We've all heard the story. Caesar was expounding his bidding theories to the weary senators, which included his insistence on strong twos. The discussion got out of hand, and the senators killed him. Caesar's famous last words were macaronic, "Et tu Brute!" which should have been translated as "and strong twos!". But Shakespeare and others misunderstood what Caesar was trying to say and Roman bidding theory has never been the same since.

[Greg: Any chance of showing a Bridge hand in a Roman style. It's just a small change to some CSS. How hard can it be?]

My suggestion is that ACBL follow its marketing guidelines, only use Georgia for headline text, and use Arial for the body, including hands and hand records. Just like Bridgewinners. [Yes, already made the suggestion a while ago to ACBL].

Or am I in a minority?

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