In the current circumstances with bridge clubs closed and events cancelled, many of our members are thinking of playing online bridge. Some will already be familiar with what is available but here is some information to help those who do not already play online, pointing them in the right direction to investigate the various options. This replaces the pre-COVID-19 information about online bridge.
EBU Lockdown League
The Lockdown League has been running since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, with a new season every month, and is about to start Season 8.
The unique feature of RealBridge is that it uses your computer’s audio and video to simulate live play at a table, so you can see your partner and opponents. If you don’t have video or audio you can still play in the more usual online manner, communicating by text.
Bridge Base Online
Bridge Base Online (BBO) is the largest international online bridge provider. Signing up and playing in many of the games is free, though they also have tournaments that are paid for. This is the platform on which our EBU tournaments are run five times a day and where our Virtual Clubs' games are held. EBU members do not need to register your EBU number anywhere with BBO. When you register for an EBU tournament it should prompt for your EBU number only if we do not already have it stored on BBO. If you have played in an EBU tournament and it has not appeared on your record in My EBU then please contact us via email@example.com and we will sort it out. Since BBO is an American company payment is in dollars and the most common bidding systems are Standard American type (sayc or 2/1), although it does have an Acol Bridge Club, which can be found under Play or Watch Bridge -> Casual -> All Private and Public Clubs. Members who need to buy BB$ to play in paid games should buy them through the BBO website and not through the app, which will add on a significant surcharge. Our advice to players who are interested in playing in paid games is first to sign up for a free login to BBO and play in some free games to familiarise themselves with how the game works, so that they can take part as soon as they are ready. Help with doing this is available in this document.
Funbridge hosts our regular daily online robot games, which give EBU master points. Information about them is available on our webpage. They have also provided a document explaining how a club can create its own (robot) games exclusively for its own members.
No Fear Bridge
For students who would like to practice their bridge, please register for a free trial with No Fear Bridge via this link.
StepBridge is the online bridge provider of the Netherlands Bridge Federation, which runs games for the Welsh Bridge Union and is currently free for users and clubs. They have a guide for clubs wishing to run games and it is possible for players to set up teams matches suitable for playing local teams leagues. Individuals should sign up for free membership and are advised to start by playing a short informal match, to familiarise themselves with the interface before arranging any important league matches. Instructions for setting up teams matches are now available.
Bridge Club Live
Bridge Club Live is a UK based online bridge provider, which runs a wide variety of individual, partnership games, tournaments and Special Competitions. They now also offer a "F2F Clubs" scheme allowing EBU-affiliated clubs to run games that provide master points. For more information and a generous free 50 day Trial, specifically for VALID EBU members, click here. BCL also offers a social room for casual play, for which a half price “Social Membership” is available. Whilst around 60% of its members are British and Acol is prevalent, all systems are catered for and members from all over the world are playing 24/7. Ethical behaviour is very important in BCL and all reports submitted regarding quitting, rudeness or serious ethics are fully investigated. A separate dedicated online Teaching Club, where teachers can upload their specific card deals and themes and run specific 2 hour teaching slots for their students, had been available since June. Another facility allows F2F members to associate themselves with their F2F club that is listed on the BCL Website when playing bridge online. This allows them to find each other within the main club and to play with their regular partners as if they were at the club. For further information email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Online Bridge Options
A few other options have been suggested by members: https://www.bridge-at-home.com/en is a site where four people log in independently and select a seat, then they are given their hands from a previously played event on a screen, so they can then play among the four of them and be told what they would have scored (the basic app is free, but you may have to pay to play hands from e.g. Bermuda Bowl finals). It's really designed for four people in the same room, but with a decent Skype connection can probably be used remotely.
http://www.correctcontract.com/login is not a site for playing bridge, but for practising unopposed bidding - players can tailor the sets of hands to practice their slam bidding, or try out some tweaks to their 1NT system etc.
http://rpbridge.net/cgi-bin/xwd1.pl is a similar resource but might be found to be more flexible. It is also worth noting that bidding tables on BBO can easily be set up, with silent opponents and a specified number of HCP between the two hands.
Something for family members who don't currently play bridge is to learn Mini-bridge and there is a free progam available for this from Blue Chip Minibridge, as well as information about playing bridge itself while self isolating using Blue Chip Bridge.