Bridge Base Online Hybrid (BBOH)

Introduction and Goals


Recent high-level cheating scandals have resulted in considerable discussion about (among other things) the use of technology (among other things) to make it harder to cheat at bridge and easier to detect those who do cheat.


Bridge Base Online (BBO) has developed a device which attempts to do just that. For the purposes of this document, the device will be referred to as the Bridge Base Online Hybrid (BBOH).


BBOH can be thought of as a hybrid between playing bridge with traditional screens and playing bridge electronically. The BBOH consists of 2 basic components: a screen component and a tablet/software component.


Many leading players believe, reasonably enough, that a fully electronic solution with players sitting in separate rooms would be best for security purposes, but that something important would be lost in the form of "table presence".


BBOH aims to leverage some security benefits of a fully electronic environment while not detracting from table presence. In fact, BBOH improves over traditional screens in this area (where table presence is essentially limited to only your screenmate).


At this point in time, we have built the first prototype of the BBOH screen component and written some prototype software that allows BBOH to be tested. We eagerly await feedback and expect to improve both the screen component and software component as a result of such feedback.


Please e-mail if you have any questions or comments concerning the BBOH.


Description of BBOH


Think of the following picture as a bird's eye view of a bridge table equipped with a BBOH.



The BBOH consists of two perpendicular screens that meet in the middle of the table. Each of the two screens runs from the middle of one edge of the table to the middle of the opposite edge. The screens run vertically for about 3 feet, starting at the table surface.


Each player can see both of his opponents, but he cannot see his partner at all.


The screens consist of smaller pieces of wood attached together with hinges. The BBOH can thus be collapsed into a shape that  makes it easy to ship. It can be set up in a matter of seconds.


Cards and bidding boxes do not work with this setup so each player has a tablet computer through which he plays bridge.


Pictures of BBOH


Sorry - these are not very good pictures!


The bridge table that appears in these pictures is a couple of inches longer on each side than the tables that are used in most major tournaments.




Advantages of BBOH over traditional screens










Advantages of traditional screens over BBOH



Important unknowns






Cost estimate


We hired a carpenter to build the actual screens for the prototype of BBOH. He charged us $500, but thought he could reduce his price by upwards of 50% if he was making several BBOHs. He also said it is likely possible to reduce costs by using a different material than the high-quality wood that was used in the prototype.


It seems reasonable to expect to be able to produce the screen component of BBOH for about $200 per table.


The tablet component of the BBOH prototype uses10-inch Android devices that are more than adequate for the task. Such tablets are available for around $100 per unit. Each table needs 4 tablets - $400 per table. It is possible that the tablet costs may be lessened with a bulk order.


It costs an additional $25 or so per tablet for a screen protector and a case that protects the tablet and fits it in to the screen component. 4 of these things in total is another $100 per table. Again, costs may be lessened with a bulk order.


If our estimates regarding the costs of building the actual screens are accurate, it takes about $700 in total (or possibly less) to outfit a table with a BBOH.


Cost savings over traditional screens


-        No need to purchase cards, boards, bidding boxes, or devices like BridgeMates.


-        No need to pay for boards to be duplicated.


-        No need to recruit and pay for vugraph operators or vugraph computers.


-        We expect set up and shipping costs to be lower.


-        Perhaps fewer irregularities will result in fewer Director calls and the need for fewer Directors.


-        No need for caddies.


Unaddressed cheating exposures