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Using Zoom to add the social back into BBO

Had a few questions about our Zoom approach, so detailing it here rather than responding to individuals.

For team matches, club games, etc we've been using Zoom to add a social aspect to the bridge. While one solution is to just have each table or screenmate join a hangout or skype session, Zoom has a feature called "breakout rooms" that lets you adjust this more organically. You can split everyone into separate rooms when appropriate, then bring them back together during breaks. Then split back out differently if lineup is changing.

In order to do this, you need a host that has a paid zoom account ($15/month). You then need to enable breakout rooms in the account section (this is free). After that, any meeting created by the host can break people into different breakout rooms and the host can easily move people around between breakout rooms as desired.

For club games, this means everyone can join the zoom session and then once pairings/tables are assigned the organized can move everyone into a breakout room that matches their table. Then, adjust the assignments after each round. It'll usually take a minute or two when the event first starts to get everyone moved correctly, but it runs pretty smoothly after that.

I think this is a pretty cool thing to do for team matches and stuff in general. I play bridge in large part for the social aspect. One of the things I didn't like about BBO is how disconnected it felt. By having everyone join a zoom session, now we see and hear the people we are playing against. It just doesn't feel the same if my partner doesn't raise her eyebrow at least once when I lay down dummy :)

I also think this social aspect is incredibly important to some people who may be feeling isolated during these crazy times. Also, with these really cool team matches that Tom is organizing, after sharing a video chat with opponents maybe I'll recognize them when we get back to F2F and new connections can form.

Final note: I didn't think of this breakout room approach with Zoom. That was put together by Aaron Mohrman and the group of directors at the Tuesday night game in our club in Seattle. It's a club that's run by volunteers, all the directors are serious players in their own right, and they volunteer their time to keep a pretty awesome (and uniquely strong) club game going in Seattle. If people visit Seattle some time once things calm down, I recommend visiting our local clubs: Tuesday night, SBC, and EBC in particular :)

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