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Unfairness of ACBL sanctioned online robot gamesDate: 10/14/2015David Kopper, Unit 132 / D15 member

ACBL robot bridge, as played on BBO, is a bridge-like game and is not true duplicate bridge. It should not be treated as such by the ACBL for point awarding and rank advancement.

On BBO, one may play in a $1 BBO ACBL robot game (1 human, 3 robots), 12 hands, 58 minute time limit (at your own speed; some players average 20 minutes or less).
Depending on the number of participants, the ACBL pays .9 unpigmented points for first. The best online players can win 12 or 13 points a day playing against only robots.
I picked up 315 points in 2.5 months playing exclusively BBO robot games. Many online robot players do considerably better.

The ways in which BBO robot bridge is not true duplicate bridge
1. The human player always get the best hand (most high card points).
2. If robot partner declares, the human always play the hand.
3. One may open 1NT with an unbalanced hand, including singleton or void, as manytimes as one likes.
4. ACBL rules say "no memory aids". On BBO robot bridge, you may always "look at your convention card" (you may click on any bid of partner's to see what it means; you may click on any potential bid of your own to see what it means). Also, the auction is displayed during the entire duration of play.
5. Signaling of any kind is nonexistent: robot partner does not signal and yours always ignored 
6. The level of play of GIB robots is, arguably, very weak. In "real" duplicate bridge,there is often several pairs who play rather decently.

My understanding is that all online points are unpigmented. Robot points (points from individual games played against robots) are not distinguished from online pair game points. One-third of one's point requirement for rank advancement may be from online (unpigmented) points.

Unfairness of current ACBL BBO robot policy:
1. Online robot bridge is not "real" bridge 
2. Robot points are far too easy to obtain.
3. The dollar per point ratio is much smaller in robot games than in other games.
4. Robot points make rank advancement less meaningful.
5. Ease of obtaining robot points could discourage brick-n-mortar club play, thus hurtinglocal game owners.I understand that online bridge could very well be the future of ACBL bridge. Online human speedball and other human pair games are valid, as long as cheating is prevented. Robot games are fun for participants and immensely profitable for the ACBL. However, in it's current state, BBO robot bridge is only a bridge-like game and should not be given the same weight as face-to-face or non-robot online games.

Possible solutions:1. Fix some of the flaws of BBO robot bridge 
 a. don't allow player to "peek" at the meaning of his partner's (or his own) bids
 b. record / limit opening bids of 1NT on a singleton / void or less that 15 or greaterthan 17 HCP
 c. improve the strength of BBO robot bidding and play (including signaling andline-of-play inferences)
 d. don't give human best hand or allow human declaration when dummy

2. Fix some of the ACBL award / rank achievement policies
 a. Consider separating online pair game points from online robot points (instead ofunpigmented, one could give each a separate color)
 b. Consider adding new ranks (e.g. Online Master, Robot Master) with appropriaterequirements
 c. Consider restricting the number of online robot points used for rank promotion(currently, one-third may be online points of any kind)
 d. Consider reducing the ACBL MP award in robot games

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