Frequently Asked Questions — FAQ

Comments Back to Top

Questions are asked in chats when people are playing online, by e-mail messages sent to Fred Gitelman and other Bridge Base Online (BBO) administrators, and in posts to the Bridge Base Forums. If there are enough e-mail messages or sufficient discussion generated, a topic may qualify as a “frequently asked question”.

Some answers are simply links to the available Online Help — RTFM (“Read The Funny Manual”).

If you are reading the FAQ because you had trouble finding the information you wanted in the online help, please send us an e-mail message:

Suit Symbols Back to Top


How do I make those nifty suit symbols in chat & alerts?


This is explained in the Online Help under The Format of Chat Messages in the topic, All About Chatting.

Chat Bubbles Back to Top


Isn’t there a way to get rid of chat bubbles?


This is explained in the Online Help under Eliminating Chat Bubbles in the topic, All About Chatting.

Reviewing Chat Back to Top


Is there a way to view chat after logging off?


If you turn on Log chat messages in your User Profile (see Modify User Profile) you can review your chat messages offline. The location and format of the file, etc., are explained in the Online Help in the topic, The Chat Log.

Player Directions Back to Top


When I’m directing and go to a table, I sometimes have difficulty telling who is sitting North (or West, etc.). How can I be sure who is North?



West is always leftmost in the bidding box; either in the center during the auction, or in the top right during the play. In the sample illustration at the left, "BridgeF" is West, "qwak" is North, and so on.

A better way is to use the NSEW option of the Interface Options (click the cogwheel option in the bottom tool bar). When this option is set, a direction symbol appears to the left of each player’s name.

Champions Back to Top


How do people get a star beside their names?


The star symbol is set by BBO administrators and indicates the player is a “Champion”. Approval of Fred Gitelman, founder and president of Bridge Base, Inc., is required before a person gets a star rating. Fred himself is an International player and has played in World Championships.

In general, a player must have represented his or her country in World Championship competition before being awarded a star.

Computing Scores Back to Top


How are scores on a hand computed?


This is explained in the Online Help in the topic, Scoring a Bridge Deal.

Automatic Redealing of Hands Back to Top


When is a hand redealt?


This is explained in the Online Help in the topic, Redeals.

Deal Logs Back to Top


Where are the hand records stored?


This is explained in the Online Help for the Login screen. It is in the information associated with the Open Bridge Movie from your computer button.

My Hands Facility Back to Top


I played some hands yesterday. How do I see the hand records?


There are two major ways of reviewing deals played in prior Bridge Base Online sessions. You can review log files stored on your personal computer or you can visit the My Hands facility on Bridge Base using your browser.

There are pros and cons to each.

Reviewing log files on your personal computer means you do not have to be online to review deals and how far back you can go is under your own control (versus the one month for the My Hands facility); however, you can only review deals you played or kibitzed and for which you had logging turned on (a User Profile setting).

Using the My Hands facility means you have to be online; however, you can review hands for which you were not present (provided you know the names of one or more of the players). It takes a while for deals to show up on the My Hands facility, because they are not made available until they have been played the requisite number of times. There is a bonus, though, for tournament players as, in addition to deals, the recent leaderboards are also posted ere as well.

The answer to the previous question provided a link to help about deals you have logged.

Click here, on My Hands Facility to view information about that facility.

Chat Logs Back to Top


Where are the chat records stored?


This is explained in the Online Help in the topic, The Chat Log.

Converting LIN Files to Text Back to Top


How can I convert a .lin file to a text file?


Lin files can be converted to text files using functionality built into the BBO client. Follow these steps:

  1. Run the BBO program.
  2. Do not login, but instead click the Open Bridge Movie from your computer button.
  3. Open the file in question.
  4. Click the Print button in the bottom tool bar (it is the button with an icon of a printer on it).
  5. You will be asked “Export to text file?”. Click the Yes button.
  6. A file named match.txt will appear in the folder in which the Bridge Base client was installed. By default this is: If an old match.txt file is there it will be overwritten.

Note that you cannot convert Lin files from educational software, including Deal of the Week hands, in this manner.

Here is a sample deal which has been converted from a Lin file to a text file.

Bd: 1
Dlr: North
Vul: None
				S T
				H AT862
				D AKQ4
				C KJT

		West				East
		S AK974         		S QJ86
		H KJ            		H 943
		D T5            		D 987632
		C A762          		C

				S 532
				H Q75
				D J
				C Q98543

Open Room:

West	North	East	South
hrothga	jst_200	Cascade	ioga3

       	 1S    	 DBL   	 4S

Trick 1:  	DA	D2	DJ	D5	
Trick 2:  	D4	D3	S2	DT	
Trick 3:  	H5	HJ	HA	H3	
Trick 4:  	H2	H4	HQ	HK	
Trick 5:  	S4	ST	SQ	S3	
Trick 6:  	D6	S5	S7	DQ	
Trick 7:  	C2	CT	S6	C3	
Trick 8:  	D9	C4	SA	DK	
Trick 9:  	SK	H6	S8	H7	
Trick 10:  	CA	CJ	H9	C5	
Trick 11:  	S9	H8	SJ	C8	
Trick 12:  	D8	C9	C6	CK	
Trick 13:  	D7	CQ	C7	HT	

10 Tricks Claimed +590.
Updating Friends From a File Back to Top


I have a list in text format of my BBO friends’ login names. Is there a way to get this list into my BBO Friends list without having to type it out member by member?


You can update your friends list by merging in a list from a file on your computer. This is not officially supported but is a workaround described by Uday Ivatury.

First note that the list from the file is merged with the list of friends maintained for you on the BBO server. It does not replace that list.

  1. Logoff BBO and close the BBO program completely.
  2. Create a file named USERNAME_friends.txt in the folder where you installed the BBO software (often something like, C:\Bridge Base Online\). “USERNAME” is your BBO User Name. Each line of the file should contain a single User Name.
  3. Login to BBO. The file will be sent to the server, merged into your existing friends list, and deleted.
Player Ratings Back to Top


Could we have some form of automatic player rating that is more objective than the self-assessed “skill level”? It would be nice to be able to see how I am improving. It would help in getting players of comparable skill levels at a table. Perhaps some of that could be automated; for example, setting the range of acceptable ratings for the table would preclude players with ratings outside the range from sitting.


The “rating system” issue continues to be the most controversial issue we face. Fred gets a lot of e-mail messages on this subject and they are close to evenly divided between those who want a rating system and those who ask that one never be implemented.

The vast majority of messages that are received from people who favor a rating system are based on very different motivations. Most people who desire a rating system want this because they want to know how other members play. In addition, we get the impression that a significant minority want a rating system in order to “prove” to other members how well they play.

Our main priority continues to be to make sure that the mostly pleasant social atmosphere on BBO is not destroyed. Fred believes strongly that any kind of rating system would have negative consequences in terms of the friendliness of our site. In particular, using a rating system for these purposes will lead to rampant “social problems” and cheating on our site. This is not just a guess — Fred has seen this happen on every other bridge site that has tried to implement some kind of rating system.

Fred would have no qualms at all about implementing such a system immediately if it were to be used solely for knowing how well you play and knowing your own rate of improvement. Unfortunately, there is more to the rating system issue than just that.

Of course, we could create a rating system and make it so that players could see only their own ratings (i.e. not those of other members). That would be helpful for true students of the game, but this solution would not address the main benefit of having a rating system — so that members would have an easy way of selecting partners and opponents that have roughly the same level of skill that they themselves have.

This is really a deep problem and we are not going to make any changes in this area until we are confident that we will be doing the right thing for the vast majority of BBO members.

One option being considered is creating a public club where player ratings will be maintained. In that way, people who want ratings for themselves or to know the rating of their partners and opponents can play in that club; others in the Main Bridge Club (or other clubs). Even if we do this one day, we will still have to find a good way to compute player ratings. This is far from trivial.

There is one kind of rating, though. If you play in tournaments that award ACBL Master Points, there will be an indication beside your name that is a form of ranking. Details can be found in the topic, Color-coding and Symbols.

Convention Cards Back to Top


Can you make the convention card look like the ACBL Convention Card? Can you make it look like the WBF Convention card? What about a completely different approach using a web page and hyperlinks?


This question was a hot topic for quite a while; however, we have introduced a sophisticated alternative to using our “Old Style” convention cards. It is called Full Disclosure and provides for automated alerting of calls (bids, doubles, etc.) in the auction.

It does not provide an ACBL or WBF convention card look-alike, but we think you will like it. If you found the old style convention cards perfectly adequate for your needs, then you can continue to use them.

Who can play Money Bridge? Back to Top


Who can play Money Bridge?


You must be:

  1. An adult in your country of residence.
  2. Legally able to play skills games for money in your locality.
  3. Be in good standing with BBO. In general everyone who has not tried to circumvent a ban placed on him is a member of good standing.
  4. Some members will not be able to see the “Play Bridge for Money” section in BBO. This means you are probably residing in a place where it is not legal for you to play for Money.
Charges at Money Bridge Back to Top


What charges are there when playing Money Bridge?


  1. BBO charges a card fee for every board played. This card fee may change. You need to read the rules each time you play to figure out what the card fees are. Currently, our fee is the higher of 5 points or $0.02 per board per person playing.
  2. If you are depositing or withdrawing money via Paypal, please note that paypal may charge a fee. This fee is usually a few %. So if you deposit $100, you may get $97 to play with.
How to Play Money Bridge Back to Top


How do I play Money Bridge?


Before you purchase real money to play with, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with everything in the Fun Money area first.

  1. Click on Play Bridge -> Play Bridge for Money -> READ THE RULES
  2. Once you’ve read the rules and agree with them, select the stakes you’re comfortable with. 0.1 cents/point, or 0.25 cents/point, or whatever.
  3. If you choose to create the table, you will also be able to select Robot speed. The slower the speed, the higher the playing skill level of the GIB robots.
  4. Both you and your opponent will partner a GIB robot.
  5. Scoring is Total Points format.
  6. Vulnerability, sitting direction, cards, are all randomly dealt.
  7. You can click on GIB’s bid to find out what GIB means by his bids.
  8. No undo is allowed. No alerting by human players is necessary.
  9. If one person leaves and doesn’t return in the middle of a game, we’ll adjust the scores and money accounts according to either GIB or human analysis. No appeals.
  10. The maximum score attainable on any hand is 2,500 points.
Mac OS X Back to Top


Can I Access BBO from My Mac?


The answer is a qualified “Yes”. The qualification is that the BBO Client (the application that allows you to watch and play bridge on BBO) and the Full Disclosure editor are Windows applications.

If you want to run BBO on your Apple Mac and it is a non-Intel processor model, you need to use software that will emulate an Intel-based PC computer. There are two software packages that people have told us work fine:

If you have one of the newer, Intel-based Macs you can run Windows natively.

There are also emulators, such as Wine that run under the Linux operating system.

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