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CV19 - Bridge Clubs

#1 User is offline   euclidz 

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Posted 2020-May-12, 01:51

Here in the UK, as we move towards relaxing restrictions towards 'normal' it is generally accepted that we are going to have a new 'normal' and that new normal will include social distancing of 2 metres. My golf club re-opens tomorrow with new 'distancing' rules taken from guidelines on Golf England. There is talk of restaurants opening in July and I am in no doubt that they will drawing up the rules on how they must operate in the new normal.

As we move forward I am sure that Bridge Clubs will be looking to the EBU/ACBL for guidance. I hope they thinking about the answers before the questions are asked? I run our Bridge Club and I can't see how it would be possible to play Bridge and maintain 2 metres distance not just at the table but also moving round the room and I can't see how we can safely handle and pass on cards and boards. Consequently I can't see a resumption to f2f Bridge until after the CV19 has run its course and I can't see us getting to that stage until the end of next year.
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#2 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2020-May-12, 02:22

I can just about see that you might be able to play rubber bridge or a teams match (2 sets of boards, put thru the dealing machine 3 days before) but normal club bridge would be impossible. 2m for distancing was pulled out of the air, 1.5 was apparently what the science said, and I suspect they said 2 to try to actually get 1.5, but even that is hard to achieve.
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#3 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2020-May-12, 06:22

It's nice to see a club owner with a sane / responsible take on things

I sincerely wish you good luck
Alderaan delenda est
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#4 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2020-May-12, 09:41

I will add my own best wishes here.

Here in Maryland I decided to stop playing at the club about a week or ten days before they were forced to close. I decided to just step back and see how this was going. The golf clubs in Maryland just re-oped a few days ago, but the golf problems are much more solvable.

I was grocery shopping today wearing a mask and disposable gloves. The gloves could work for handling cards, but the mask would not make me safe at a table, I don't think so. The grocery store has one way aisles and strict rules, so that's manageable.

But the critical point is that I need groceries, I don't need to play bridge at the club. I'm 81, so I really do not want this disease. People sometimes bring us groceries, but sometimes things must be done by ourselves.

I hope for a solution.

My wife teaches yoga, but really it's for fun rather than for profit, we are both retired. She now does that on zoom through the local library and, since zoom can accommodate more people than a meeting room, attendance has gone up!. But I don't see zoom working for bridge.

Various family members have been adversely affected by this in various ways, I'll skip the details. I'm open to trying to make it all work, I also plan to protect myself. Many are thinking the same.

Again, I wish you the best. I know that's not all that helpful.
Ken
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#5 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2020-May-12, 09:55

I've moved this thread to the Offline Bridge forum. The Water Cooler is not for bridge-related topics.

#6 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2020-May-12, 11:12

View PostCyberyeti, on 2020-May-12, 02:22, said:

I can just about see that you might be able to play rubber bridge or a teams match (2 sets of boards, put thru the dealing machine 3 days before) but normal club bridge would be impossible. 2m for distancing was pulled out of the air, 1.5 was apparently what the science said


I would say that a teams match played with screens is about the only imaginable event and ironically the one that benefits least from being f2f in the first place - it's arguably just as alienating as the same event online, plus the hassles of preparing boards, difficult decisions for TD, semi-manual scoring etc. In any case, if a club opens only for teams then it has lost most of its members, around here at any rate.
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#7 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2020-May-12, 11:22

View Posthrothgar, on 2020-May-12, 06:22, said:

It's nice to see a club owner with a sane / responsible take on things
I sincerely wish you good luck


Not sure about the OP, but in much of Europe clubs are not usually businesses and the people running them often do it for free. Of course that doesn't mean they are not passionate about keeping going.
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#8 User is offline   tobi92 

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Posted 2020-May-13, 02:36

View Postkenberg, on 2020-May-12, 09:41, said:

I will add my own best wishes here.

Here in Maryland I decided to stop playing at the club about a week or ten days before they were forced to close. I decided to just step back and see how this was going. The golf clubs in Maryland just re-oped a few days ago, but the golf problems are much more solvable.

I was grocery shopping today wearing a mask and disposable gloves. The gloves could work for handling cards, but the mask would not make me safe at a table, I don't think so. The grocery store has one way aisles and strict rules, so that's manageable.

But the critical point is that I need groceries, I don't need to play bridge at the club. I'm 81, so I really do not want this disease. People sometimes bring us groceries, but sometimes things must be done by ourselves.

I hope for a solution.

My wife teaches yoga, but really it's for fun rather than for profit, we are both retired. She now does that on zoom through the local library and, since zoom can accommodate more people than a meeting room, attendance has gone up!. But I don't see zoom working for bridge.

Various family members have been adversely affected by this in various ways, I'll skip the details. I'm open to trying to make it all work, I also plan to protect myself. Many are thinking the same.

Again, I wish you the best. I know that's not all that helpful.

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#9 User is offline   wachusett 

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Posted 2020-May-13, 14:02

Among all of the stakeholders within our game of bridge it would seem that ACBL is the one entity most in need of finding a “new normal.” We might talk of bidding screens, social distancing at tables and at clubs, and all the rest of the physical aspects involved in duplicate, but it’s going to be the psychological aspect of the game that is going to weigh heaviest. How many players actually are willing to return to anything resembling bridge clubs as we knew them at the close of 2019? And even if they are, how long will it be before that happens?

I am a club manager from Massachusetts who is in no hurry to resume operations of a F2F club. Admittedly, I have the advantage of my club being “half hobby – half business,” since I look for only enough income to repay my investments in Bridgemates, dealing machine, bidding boxes, and boards, with maybe only a slight return for my time spent. But I am well aware that it is not possible to expand my limited club space or to find new space. For that reason I could not promise my players an increased factor of safety at my club until the happy day when Covid-19 is certified as being removed from the face of the Earth. Even then – what’s next based on the lessons we have currently learned?

So all of this has me wondering if Virtual Clubs will and should stay in place as the mainstay of duplicate bridge, with perhaps a resurgence of home games in order to satisfy the need for the social aspects of the game? Certainly from the perspective of a club manager, the idea of what is essentially a “zero cost” club is appealing. And BBO’s profit has no doubt skyrocketed during the last couple of months as Virtual Clubs send 20 percent of their card fees in that direction.

But ACBL is currently receiving only its normal $1 per table from regular Virtual Club games. What’s more, there currently is no way for clubs to run charity games or participate in STaC’s. Perhaps that will change. But even beyond that is the question of sectional and regional tournaments. Even as a formerly-eager participant in both, I do not see myself returning to either during 2020 and, at least in my area, tournaments are already being cancelled all the way out to August in some cases.

For ACBL to maintain its relevance, it must decide soon whether to support online play forever, or try to force play back into physical space at some specific point in time. Secondly, it must work with BBO in order to offer the entire hierarchy of games; charity, sectional, and regional. But before any of that happens, BBO must be encouraged to come up with foolproof algorithms to prevent any unethical behavior which is almost impossible for online Directors to supervise. I, myself, have been reluctant to play in national and international online events when I see exceedingly high percentage games, or when I see players whom I know to be both expert AND ethical (many of whose names sit on my bookshelf), consistently finishing well down in standings.
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#10 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2020-May-13, 14:41

View Postwachusett, on 2020-May-13, 14:02, said:

For ACBL to maintain its relevance, it must decide soon whether to support online play forever, or try to force play back into physical space at some specific point in time. Secondly, it must work with BBO in order to offer the entire hierarchy of games; charity, sectional, and regional.

This is true for ACBL as it is true for any other RA: some seem to realise, some alas clearly do not.

View Postwachusett, on 2020-May-13, 14:02, said:

But before any of that happens, BBO must be encouraged to come up with foolproof algorithms to prevent any unethical behavior which is almost impossible for online Directors to supervise.

While this is undoubtedly a real problem I do not think it is at the top of the list either in importance or real possibility of success. BBO has a visionary (for its time) but primitive software which has been catapulted into a new reality by Covid, they are currently doing a great job to adapt but there is still a huge gulf between the expectations of face to face players and directors and the capabilities of the system.
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#11 User is offline   patcanuck 

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Posted 2020-May-13, 18:50

Is it time to set up a 'real' bridge club where every member needs an iPad type device so hands can appear on it while they sit widely spaced at tables? So many are doing it on BBO so why not adapt it to a bricks and mortar club?
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#12 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2020-May-13, 18:56

I do not think that BBO can develop “foolproof algorithms” to detect whether partners are on the phone with each other or on Zoom etc. And the cleverest cheats will not do ridiculous things, but will get a lot of decisions in bidding and defence right. So it is unreasonable to expect BBO to function as more than It was intended to, ie a site for practice and for fun. Sure it will keep bridge clubs going; clubs have no running expenses at present but they may have a lease. And anyway it is nice to play against people you know, and be able to rely on people’s goodwill to serve as directors and hosts (it is a bit annoying to need 3 hosts; why do BBO not allow half tables?).
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones -- Albert Einstein
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#13 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2020-May-13, 20:21

The cleverest cheats we've caught were very careful, and it took years to get caught - but still, the suspicion was there for years as well. Every club I've played in, there have been one or two people (well, at one club, a fair bit more than one or two) who "people" have suspicions of. But we still play, and we deal with it.

As several BW posts complain, there's a lot of "action" at clubs. And the response there is "let them. you'll still beat them." I really don't think it's different online, and I bet BBO researches complaints better than the average club owner does.
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#14 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2020-May-14, 05:21

View Postmycroft, on 2020-May-13, 20:21, said:

As several BW posts complain, there's a lot of "action" at clubs. And the response there is "let them. you'll still beat them."


Well, it is best to say something really. These people probably played kitchen table bridge for decades before duplicate bridge, and really don’t know that behaviour in a social game with relatives does not conform to the standards expected at duplicate.
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones -- Albert Einstein
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#15 User is offline   661_Pete 

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Posted 2020-May-14, 07:40

We had an elderly chap at our U3A club, name of Frank, in his mid 90s and rather frail. When he wasn't playing bridge, he'd be sitting in a cafe in town and waiting for his friends to pass by and stop to have a chat. I used to stop for a chat whenever I saw him. He told me that his eyesight was failing and if things didn't improve he'd have to give up bridge, which for him would amount to "giving up his life".

Once I came upon him in tears. I didn't stop by on that occasion, because he was with someone else and I didn't want to cause embarrassment.

In due course he stopped turning up at the U3A sessions and at the cafe - and some time later I learnt that he'd passed away. At least he never lived to see the present chaos.

In the present situation, I fear there will be many more 'Frank's..... :(

I feel minded to chuck it in myself. I'm somewhat younger and fitter than Frank was, but I don't know whether I'll live to see the resumption of normal F2F bridge... I'm not getting very far with online, BBO notwithstanding.
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#16 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2020-May-14, 10:08

Vampyr: I absolutely agree with what you wrote there. 100%. And those people I will ensure get noticed and educated. If I can stop them turning into "those players" by catching them early, I absolutely will. They're likely also the people I will try to get to self-select out of the X99er game, for the same reason.

But you know, and I know, that that is by no means the totality of the problem. And the ones that absolutely are the problem don't "don't know".

I also truly wonder how many of our duplicate players actually have "played kitchen table bridge for decades". I think that story, like the "playing for higher stakes than you can afford", is more a memory of those of us who have been playing duplicate since the 19s than currently accurate. Most of the ones coming into our clubs and tournaments (to my very unscientific "hearing") may have learned 30 years ago, may just have had parents who played, but saw a lessons flyer somewhere and learned to play that way. Whether they now "play mostly at home" or are just duplicate players, they learned in the lessons. Which I think need to spend more time discussing ethical behaviour than they do.
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#17 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2020-May-14, 14:21

View Postmycroft, on 2020-May-14, 10:08, said:

Vampyr: I absolutely agree with what you wrote there. 100%. And those people I will ensure get noticed and educated. If I can stop them turning into "those players" by catching them early, I absolutely will. They're likely also the people I will try to get to self-select out of the X99er game, for the same reason.

But you know, and I know, that that is by no means the totality of the problem. And the ones that absolutely are the problem don't "don't know".

I also truly wonder how many of our duplicate players actually have "played kitchen table bridge for decades". I think that story, like the "playing for higher stakes than you can afford", is more a memory of those of us who have been playing duplicate since the 19s than currently accurate. Most of the ones coming into our clubs and tournaments (to my very unscientific "hearing") may have learned 30 years ago, may just have had parents who played, but saw a lessons flyer somewhere and learned to play that way. Whether they now "play mostly at home" or are just duplicate players, they learned in the lessons. Which I think need to spend more time discussing ethical behaviour than they do.


The lessons not only need to spend time discussing ethical behaviour, they need to explain the rules which are neither simple nor intuitive.
Please could you explain "self-select out of the X99er game" for those on the wrong side of the globe? :)
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#18 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2020-May-14, 16:23

We have Flighted events, based on masterpoints. At the low end, there's a novice game (<99, <199, <299, whatever fits the level of "not ready (or willing) to play with the real players" in the area).

For people who will, eventually, be able to play at A level, they learn everything they need to learn in that game very quickly. Then they learn how to beat the novices, who don't overcall, don't double, 2 (or 1NT) means it's our hand, all the novice things. Some of those strategies are winning strategies. Some only work in a novice field. But if you spend a couple of years sharking the novice game, those "good ideas" become habits that are very hard to break, when you've aged out into the open (or even the B) game and suddenly, those -100s are -200 Matchpoint death scores, or -300; letting them play 1-2 (because it's frequently +2, and half the field is bidding game, including your opponents if you balance) is now the near-zero it should be; it goes 2-2-p-4 and they don't know what to do with AKQJTxxxx and a card; and all the rest.

One of my "side hobbies" is looking to find the players and pairs for whom the novice game is doing nothing more than teaching them bad habits any more, and suggesting they move up, even though they're still matchpoint eligible. The ones that are happy where they are, and probably will never get any better (or, frankly, get enough points to age out) - as long as they follow Wil Wheaton's Rule, more power to them. I don't want to play that game, but it's not for me.

Thus, "self-select out of the [novice] game".
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#19 User is online   johnu 

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Posted 2020-May-14, 21:49

View Postpatcanuck, on 2020-May-13, 18:50, said:

Is it time to set up a 'real' bridge club where every member needs an iPad type device so hands can appear on it while they sit widely spaced at tables? So many are doing it on BBO so why not adapt it to a bricks and mortar club?

A couple of things. One is physical space. Separating everybody by 6 feet/2 meters takes a lot more space than most clubs have. Most would have to reduce the size of at least some of their games to properly space people. Two is the amount of time people would have to spend in an enclosed space. You might be in a bridge club about 3 1/2 hours give or take a 1/2 hour or so. Infectious diseases experts think that physical closeness to an infected person is one factor, but a second factor is how long you are in an environment that is contaminated. It's one thing if you are taking a brisk walk through a bridge club, it's orders of magnitude more risky to be sitting (or standing) in a bridge room with dozens of other people for hours.
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#20 User is offline   661_Pete 

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Posted 2020-May-15, 04:51

I don't know what is meant by "kitchen table bridge", or "those players", alluded to above. Could someone explain?

Certainly, those who join a 'serious' bridge club for the first time, whether online or f2f, soon become aware that there are Laws and matters of etiquette which must be adhered to. And if you're in any doubt, anyone can access the Laws of Bridge in the public domain. Worth a skim through, though I don't think even TDs can memorise the entire code word-for-word! (Which is why our club TDs, despite having passed the qualification test, carry a copy of the Laws around in their pocket!)

Speaking for myself, I played social rubber bridge with fellow-students and friends up until the 1970s, then I let it lapse until joining the U3A group, and subsequently a club, in the late 2010s. The U3A was still fairly informal (mostly playing Chicago scoring) but not so at the club, playing duplicate.

It did not take me long to learn that certain rules must be observed when playing more formally. Maybe I was one of "those players" at first, certainly I was pulled up in the first few sessions for involuntary breaches of rules or etiquette (e.g. failing to alert certain bids) but I think I now know the 'system'.

Certainly I know perfectly well, thank you, about not making any movement or gesture that might convey UI to partner. Surely that goes without saying! I only wish other players adhered to the rules - but those that I know, do so.

So .... I just hope the expressions "kitchen table bridge" and "those players" weren't meant to be derogatory!

As regards f2f bridge - I have my doubts as to whether it'll ever resume in its pre-covid format. I'm still thinking of chucking the whole thing in...
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