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To BBO: Please eliminate UI from insta-actions

This article is not about what I define as “cheating” which, for me, requires collusion or illicit knowledge of a deal. This article is purely about what I see as a large UI issue in online bridge: 'bullet' actions or 'insta actions'.

Long ago, it used to be, in live play, that people took advantage of partner’s tempo a lot, and nobody did much of anything about it. Then Edgar Kaplan came along and started a change with “That Old Black Magic”. There were still many bad breaks in tempo – but not as often and not as blatant. A few actually tried to “do the right thing”.

At this time, there were ‘bad’ actions, both fast and slow. The focus was almost entirely on the “slow”. Very little was ever done about ‘bullet’ actions.

Then came screens and things changed dramatically. Now, for those that understood how to handle things, you could basically prevent ‘information’ being ‘exchanged’ in the 0-5 second range – maybe even 0-10 seconds. The change was so stark that I took to calling bridge with screens ‘real bridge’. Of course, most didn’t handle things properly, so players still got to ‘grade’ their actions via tempo – often obliviously (the majority ‘refuses’ to think about this sort of stuff).

Now, in 2020, we’re playing exclusively online bridge. For ‘slow’ actions, this is not always so bad, because a player might be a) Playing a video game b) Getting themselves food c) Going to the bathroom d) Getting food for a child/pet e) Talking to somebody f) Dealing with something g) Having internet problems etc., etc.

But the problem with ‘bullet’ actions still remains – in fact it is highlighted by online bridge and is the most prevalent UI problem.. We know that action was ‘clear’ for the player. Again, this cannot be ‘real bridge’.

I suggest that BBO incorporate a ‘Delay Option’ for those that want to play seriously. I’m thinking 3 seconds before every bid and play. The Program might have a longer automatic delay in certain situations (preempts, high-level competitive auctions, slam auctions etc.)

I definitely feel the need for those on the first two rounds of bidding. Eliminating 'bullet' opening lead seems important also. Maybe there could be some adjustments. Perhaps after both you and your partner passed at your last turn the delay could be switched off (or lowered to one second). In card play, maybe we can make things more lax after (say) trick 7.

All this will slow us down a little – maybe about 2 minutes per board, maybe less. But I think that’s a small price to pay to solve this problem.

Until something is done about ‘bullet’ actions, there will be a continued exchange of illegal information.

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