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Fines in BBO

I've asked questions about full disclosure before on these forums, and how we've had difficulty persuading certain pairs in our county pairs game to comply with the regulations. Pair A complained specifically about the experienced, established partnership of pair B not alerting or explaining their calls, and not having a convention card. (Pair A used to have a poor record too, but have made efforts to improve.) I spoke to pair B and made them create and use a convention card, and told them about the need to explain their calls according to the Sky Blue book.

On Wednesday they played against each other and had the auction (pair A dealing):

P - 1NT - X - P*
P - XX - AP

1NT was 10-12 in that position, X was for penalties, P* forced a redouble, to play or to scramble, XX was forced.

Pair A complained that no range was given for 1NT, explanations had to be asked for, and P* was explained on request only as "forcing". (There are red boxes around 1NT and P*, which pair A insist show belated rather than immediate self-alerts, after they clicked to get an explanation. Does that ring true? )

1NTXX made plus one for 100% of the matchpoints. Had the auction been properly explained I don't think pair A's actions would have been any different, but I said if I'd been directing in a face-to-face game I would definitely have fined pair B for non-disclosure after plenty of warnings. (I have told pair A before in this situation they have to call the TD and ask for a ruling, but they prefer to write letters of complaint to the committee.)

Fines are not possible on BBO, as far as I'm aware, but one is badly needed here. Can anything be done, even if they do call the TD? An adjustment to Av+/Av- (either way) doesn't seem right, and the only sanction I can think of is something like a month's ban for pair B. This all seems rather extreme, when small fines would probably bring them into line.

How do you deal with this sort of thing? Is there any prospect for fines in future software updates, or could fines be applied after converting the scoring files for uploading to bridgewebs?


  • To be fair, the standard of alerts in this weekly session is terrible. I have had a couple of issues along these lines myself, where information is slow at coming forth, if at all. NT ranges are not being announced, alerts are not made and when asked, the information is either not given or takes a dogs age and even then is very generic.

    I have had players thank my partner and I for our alerts/descriptions as we go out of our way to provide as much information as possible and in a timely fashion.

    How much of it is down to laziness or technical problems or gamesmanship I do not know - but it can spoil the game for others.

    Specifically relating to fines, I have never considered a fine for anything while I have been directing... However, if after multiple warnings over the same thing it happened again, then a bridge penalty seems fair. If they are gaming the system for unfair advantage it takes away that advantage. If it is due to laziness it might give them a kick up the bum. Perhaps a penalty of 100% of a top would be appropriate?

    I am not saying that this should apply in this case and perhaps a 'final warning' with details of any penalties should the issue recur? However, for future issues, as we play 20 boards, each board is worth a total of 5%, so I would give a penalty of 5% off their end result. In the case of a further complaint, offer to look through all of their hands and penalise 5% for every failure to alert/announce NT ranges etc: maybe a final result of -28% will do the trick?

    A ban is probably not worthwhile - there are too many avenues to play (EBU ran sessions, other clubs etc).

  • To address the red lines round bids shown after the event, it does ring true. You can see whether a bid was alerted or not and the explanation but not the timing. It's worth noting you can also only see a final definition, an earlier explanation that is amended is also lost. During the event you can see the timeline using the 'table history' director tab I think.

    I would, personally, go down the route of applying fines when uploading the scores to bridgewebs, for much the reasons Martin refers to, it seems the simplest approach.

  • Martin, there is certainly perceived gamesmanship going on. The vocal member of pair A is aggrieved that they've been forced to disclose their calls properly but pair B don't seem to be taking any notice when they are told. He does have a tendency to think the worst of people, and ascribes what I think is probably laziness or thoughtlessness to gamesmanship.

    You say you've never considered fining anyone, but suggest 100% of a top! The standard fine is 25%.

    James, I've only heard one side of the story about explanations, and I don't know how much was typed into explanation boxes and how much went on in the chat.

    I've never converted the scoring files for uploading onto bridgewebs, but I assume they are converted into something that could be imported into EBUScore and the fines applied there before uploading. Is that possible? Would I be able to get the TD to send me the converted file? Is it a lot of hassle?

  • Yes, I do have a tendency to be very lenient, but once someone goes too far...

    When using the BBO to XML converter: https://dds.bridgewebs.com/bbotoxml/bbotoxml.htm?p=1

    There is an option ton: Import/Edit/Merge CSV/XML

    Here you can adjust a score for a given board, or you can apply an adjustment to their overall MP - So with 12 tables, a top is 22 matchpoints, so 25% of a top is 5.5 matchpoints.

    That is probably a good starting point as this will reduce their score but is not quite enough to change their position - but it is a warning that if they keep doing it, they will eventually lose out on a top at some point.

    I can create a guide with screenshots for you if you think it might be helpful?

  • Oh, it is very easy to ascribe nefarious intent on the side of other people... Personally I tend to assume laziness/stupidity before I think that someone is actually trying to cheat.

  • Oh yeh, you can easily access and download the file, as long as you know the EBU number for the club...

    However, you do need to have a Chrome Extension installed... I can help you set that up, or if you email me with the county club number, I can send download and send you over the updated file? Martin from Newcastle BC (Paul has my email if you don't have it)

  • To answer a question from earlier in the thread: the red box around a bid in the hand records reflects whether or not the bidder pressed the "alert" button on the BBO interface when making the bid, regardless of the timing of the explanation. If a player alerts but doesn't explain, you'll get the box even if the player explains later. If the player alerts and does explain, you'll still get the box. If the player self-alerts a bid but doesn't press the "alert" button as well, you'll get the explanation but no red box.

    I personally press the button whenever the call would be alertable face-to-face, and explain whenever I think my opponents might need to know what it means (i.e. bids that are unalertable, when there are several reasonable natural possibilities, and also announceable bids). So if you look at my hand records, then you'll see red boxes around, say, my strong artificial forcing 2!c opening, and my Michaels cue bids, but not around my 12-14 notrump or my weak jump overcalls. This is despite the fact that I give each of these an explanation at the time I make them.

    Most people I play against seem to either always click the alert button, or never click the alert button, when making an explainable bid, so you can't really draw any conclusions from it about whether a bid was explained at the time of making it or not.

  • To my surprise, I learned from our TD tonight that it's child's play to issue procedural penalties in BBO games at the point when files are converted to some other format after the game. I wonder how widely that is known. He did say that he's never known one to be given, but I can't believe that no one's been fined in about a year of almost exclusive online bridge in Britain,

    Thanks to everyone for your contributions.

  • I've known them to be awarded and, when scoring, have implemented them by deducting a number of matchpoints. Similarly I have implemented weighted scores by adjusting matchpoints, but that's harder to do with accuracy since it affects everyone else too.

  • @VixTD said:
    To my surprise, I learned from our TD tonight that it's child's play to issue procedural penalties in BBO games at the point when files are converted to some other format after the game. I wonder how widely that is known. He did say that he's never known one to be given, but I can't believe that no one's been fined in about a year of almost exclusive online bridge in Britain,

    Thanks to everyone for your contributions.

    Does anyone know whether this is also possible in Realbridge?

  • If you use BBOtoXML as mentioned above, import an XML file from the event, make adjustments and save it as CSV, then convert the CSV to an XML file, you can do it quite easily.

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