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All comments by Guy Arie
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Would be difficult to know how often they land on their feet if forms won't be filed when bidding 3 doesn't work out.
Jan. 29
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I'm sure some members would still prefer cash, but I don't think that should be relevant to whether other forms should be used. Done correctly, adding app-based and credit card payments would save time and money and increase convenience to many, as well as reduce the risk that motivated Phil's post.
Nov. 7, 2018
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Even the smallest of businesses today use app-based cardless services like Venmo, Applepay, etc. or cheap card based services like square. Costs are miniscule. That bridge tournaments cash based approach is another indication to how behind the times acbl is (as are many clubs).
Nov. 7, 2018
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Great post. In addition to Phil Clayton's comments, a variation on Max's post here echos my thoughts: http://bridgewinners.com/article/view/3-games-divided-by-a-common-name/
In a nutshell - the ACBL is now in theory serving three very different markets at once: International level pros, sectional+ tournament level amateurs (BW demographic?), and very casual club players (mostly retirees). Paraphrasing Max, these are three very different product-markets for bridge. Different values, needs, costs, etc. It is like the NBA would also responsible for organizing local basketball tournaments at all levels. It is easy to imagine the silly regulations and initiatives that would follow (dunking not GCC so not in neighborhood games?).

It maybe wouldn't have mattered much if everything was simple - high demand, no cheating, no new tech, etc. But with “external realities” challenging nearly every aspect of the game and its organization, this is a recipe for disaster. The policies that work best for one group are terrible for another and you end up with hodgepodge compromises that are mediocre for everyone. In particular, as was mentioned in other posts - ACBL does really poorly with growing and maintaining the tournament going amatuer market.
So, the first order of business for new ACBL leadership is probably simply to understand this and deal with it in an explicit way. For example, maybe create a separate initiative to re-imagine the product and strategy for the work/family age demographic (Phil's point #1) that wouldn't be bound to anything that has to do with the other markets.
Jan. 24, 2017
Guy Arie edited this comment Jan. 24, 2017
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Thanks Fred!
If anyone wants to try this with a group as a hobby (8-10 hours a week, mostly at your own time) - please PM me. We would probably do this in Java and OpenCV unless someone has a strong preference for something else. I can provide a cloud based environment if needed. Should take 6-12 months for four of us to get something that works with a mock API.

Gombo: the easiest way I thought to solve the “designated area” issues at first is to use a tablecloth/cover that identifies each area (using different shades/colors and a direction identifier).

By the way, this would also be able to determine the number of tricks made (unless a claim was made), reducing scoring related incidents…
Sept. 19, 2016
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If bbo or another vugraph software maker provides an API, it reduces the required work tremendously. They already have the “business logic”, including the hand number, hand record, archiving etc. The only thing that remains is to create a “Virtual Vugraph Operator” (VVO :) )
Should probably take less than a year to get an alpha version working.
Another potential significant advantage of all these solutions is that you can replace the tray and window in the screen with a display based on the capture from the other side of the screen.
Sept. 14, 2016
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I looked into doing this a few months ago as a hobby. I am convinced it is possible to implement a system based on image recognition quite cheaply. There is one company that does something similar for casinos blackjack tables. If I'll find them again I'll update. They have to do it without the players cooperating though, so a bit harder.
The technology exists. Cards are easy enough to recognize that there is nothing to gain from watermarking (and a bit to lose I think). The effort and challenges are in the system logic. Think of everything bbo vugraph does now…
Too much work as a hobby though and too little time. With appropriate funding for development you could have it working in a couple of years. Much less if bbo provides API to hook into their stuff and we only create a “ automatic vugraph operator”
That said, if other folks are interested in doing this together as a hobby, let's talk .
Sept. 14, 2016
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Assuming 2h by west would have been weak, I'd guess he would have bid 2h with a side singleton and was dissuaded because he is looking at qx in a pointed suit. So I'd go for the drop
Sept. 2, 2016
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Those without electronic scoring devices get a pass from my idea :)
July 11, 2016
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Peg: I only meant to use smartphones after the game to look at the scores, not during.
Agree about the input errors, but I think (1) there are better solutions and (2) the cost/benefit analysis isn't obvious as is.
July 11, 2016
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My 2 cents: Directors should stop providing score keeping cards and instead provide the information online (e.g. common game).
Players can bring a notepad or use a blank sheet of paper to write notes.

This score keeping is an old habit that provides little value to most people today but is bad for the environment and can occasionally hurt the game. Most people that ever look at their scores have a smartphone they can learn how to use for this.
For the minority who can't use a smartphone, directors should allow pre-registering to receive a printed personal score at the end of the game. Having to wait a few minutes for it should thin the field enough I hope.
July 11, 2016
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Assuming JD in W, how about: Qd. If e ruffs with 9/t, over ruff with the j and play h to the 7.
May 11, 2016
Guy Arie edited this comment May 11, 2016
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About me: A pretty good amateur player, in my 40s. Played more seriously, with screens etc. 20 years ago. Avid supporter of replacing cards with software. Play about 50% BBO 50% live.

Duplicate bridge has an upper-end challenge, cheating, and a lower-end challenge: limited accessibility to too many, especially folks with a job and kids. I am constantly amazed at the number of folks my age that know bridge but never play it outside their home.

In-Person Electronic Bridge can be the solution to this “lower end” problem. Imagine two tables playing an hour in a bar/coffee shop using BBO to create a sensible field and fun game, then reviewing the hands over beers.

However, I am very skeptical that it can be a solution to cheating any time soon. Top players devote their life to the game and being the best at every aspect, including the interaction with the physical cards. They chose this game in part because they enjoy spending their time like this. Switching to tablets requires they achieve the same performance level using two completely different settings. They didn’t sign up for this. I saw at least three world class players say here in effect they will do everything they can to prevent this change from happening and I sympathize.

As the topic here is solving cheating, how about this as a BBOH solution:
Using the standard screens setup, add two large displays - one on each side of the screen. Place a camera (or two) on each side. Using (existing, 99.999% reliable) image recognition software, create a BBO like display of the virtual table – bids, dummy, cards played. The point is, *nothing moves between the sides of the screens*. Only the bridge-relevant information is transferred between sides, and it is done in a standard way the players cannot effect. You don’t see your partner’s card, just its digital representation on the screen.
All the cheating related advantages proposed by the solution here are obtained. The cost is lower, the implementation simpler, etc.

Again, I’m 100% for replacing cards with software but I believe that, right now, it is an excellent solution to another, equally important challenge.

Guy
Dec. 6, 2015
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All the networking aspects including limiting access etc. have off-the-shelf solutions using wireless. Assume that you get secured, limited, monitored connectivity for free.

I'd start with the setup we have today replacing cards and bidding boxes with a laptop / tablet running something like BBO. Wherever screens are used, keep them down for the whole time. That has to be an improvement on all fronts, especially cheating. Note that both F/S and F/N would have had to find other signals.

As for tempo, I think that just adding functionality that records time-stamps for bids/plays out of tempo will allow folks to write scripts and detect signals in no-time.

I hope the solution for electronic equipment to communicate, coughing etc. will come without changing the physical layout. I think most of us don't want competitors to sit in isolated rooms. Chess had two recent scandals on this and they seem to have handled the matter quite cleanly. One advantage is that anyone using electronic equipment can be caught redhanded.

Just replace cards and bidding with software. Change nothing else.
Sept. 15, 2015
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I think that for statistical validity you should do the same for a few pairs and compare the “guilt” score. Otherwise, how can anyone know how “guilty” honest pairs would look?
Aug. 27, 2015
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Hi Alvin.
This and the like should be a top concern and I expect better ideas will come with time and talented attention.
Underlying my claim above is the realization that the only private information you have in a hand can be described in 17 characters (4 suit markers and 13 card ranks). I think there's enough room for showing these on a 7“ tablet at least at the same quality of playing cards.

How about this? You get use two tablets. One that has your private information (cards and alert explanations from opponents) and one (potentially larger if needed) that has the public information (bids, dummy, cards being played). The second one can be located anywhere on the table so no inconvenience to you or anyone else. The additional cost ($50 for 7” tablets, $150 for the 10") can be easily justified.
Smaller clubs where this could be more prevalent can simply add one large tablet on each table.

As I write this I recall that one of my partners recently had sight issues leading to cataract surgery. He often missed spot cards, took a while to verify his cards, etc. I think this would have improved his experience compared to card play at the time.
In fact, I think that these technologies will quickly create opportunities to significantly improve the experience for many with disabilities, especially related to physically handling the cards.

Guy
Aug. 22, 2015
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Thanks for the comments.
A lot of important questions raised. I think most can be figured out. My goal is to raise this as an objective for the ACBL.
I don't think I have all the solutions. Here are some clarifications and my take on the comments:
1. Most importantly, I am NOT advocating for the ACBL to replace clubs/regionals/nationals with online bridge. I am advocating for using similar tools to those used in online bridge to improve regular bridge.
2. BBO hosts every day several ACBL sanctioned tournaments with over 100 pairs. The technology has matured. Server malfunctions, size limits, electricity outages all have either been effectively solved or have standard solutions. Same goes for end user equipment malfunctions.

3. I'd start with physically tying low end (<$50) tablets to each seat/table and programming it to know who's sitting there the same way we program scoring machines. This will limit concerns for theft etc. That's it, no other change at all. People will still move around, just grab a tablet at the table instead of 13 cards.

4. I'd start experimenting with clubs that see the value for this (e.g. small and remote) and larger districts that see the advantage for their regionals or even sectionals. 250 tablets (60 tables) should be enough for the top brackets of pairs and/or KO events in a regional and those can be shared with the local clubs. That's less than $15k, up to maybe $20k with some additional electrical and server work for the regional.

A single charge should be enough for a club game or until the noon/evening break, with the help of a few extra tablets when unexpected charging is needed. Mass charging (250 tablets at once) will require some logistics.

Other specific comments:

Initial investment funds? – Most of the cost is on software development. The ACBL already invests in this and has a relationship with Bridgebase that can be used to spread the cost over time.

Seniors who have never used a computer? – I'd quantify this at the district level before really believing it. I see more seniors checking game scores on their smartphones. Again, if you start rolling out at top brackets and interested clubs, the “masses” will become relevant in ~5 years.

Disabled and vision impaired? - The solution should be designed so that if someone can use cards, their situation will only improve. Some flexibility (like today) will go a long way. For example, allow them to bring a special large tablet and tablet holder.

Apple vs. Microsoft? Probably Android at first. Cheaper hardware and easy to “dumb down” the software to limit cheating and such.

Server malfunctions? Electricity outages? BBO space limitations? All solved already.

Precise positioning so those at table can't see the screen(s) of other computer(s) at the same table?
Actually better than cards. We tried it.

Verification of the identities for those signed on?
People are still moving around tables. Can only improve on today (e.g. show the names and pictures of your opponents at the start of the round).

My goal is to promote in-person bridge. I don't think people that play in-person bridge are looking for a VR solution. If anything, that's where online bridge may be heading.
Aug. 20, 2015
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