Summary of Online Regulations

With the increased usage of various Online Bridge platforms, players need to be aware of some of the regulations regarding their participation in online tournaments.

The WBU has adopted the EBU’s regulations which can be found at Blue Book. Previously there was a separate Sky Blue Book for online bridge, but most of these provisions have now been incorporated into the Blue Book)

A summary of these, identifying the main points of interest, is:

  1. Players should complete a full system card, available to opponents. In addition it is courteous to provide a ‘one-line’ summary at the start of a new round.
  2. Online software is designed such that it is impossible for players to make illegal bids, or penalty plays (simplifying the Director’s role).
  3. All conventional bids (ones that you would announce or alert in FtoF bridge) are self-alerted. When a player self-alerts, the alert together with an explanation is communicated only to the opponents – not to partner. Whilst it is not mandatory to alert conventional calls above 3NT, it is recommended as a matter of courtesy that all bids (up to 7NT) are alerted.
  4. Any further explanation of a convention must be made via private messaging (ideally to both opponents).
  5. If a players realises that he has made an incorrect explanation he should immediately message both opponents (e.g ‘Wrong explanation -…..’
  6. It is forbidden to comunicate privately with partner during a board (most platforms prevent this).
  7. Players can request an ‘undo’, but this should only be as a result of a mis-click, not a change of mind. Directors will usually be sympathic to requests during the auction, but it will rarely be granted during the play.
  8. Claims are handled in line with FtoF bridge, recognising that the ability to discuss with players is more restricted (so unless under time constraints, it is advisable not to claim).
  9. Non-tempo actions can result in a Director adjusting a score for possible Un-Authorised Information.
  10. Boards not completed within the scheduled time can be aborted. Most online software has the ability to apportion blame for any slow play, and an artificial score awarded accordingly (e.g. 60%/40% to the faster/slower pair).
  11. Some platforms use the ‘stop’ card concept, preventing a player from bidding until a time expiry following opponent’s jump bid. Even if this is facility is not provided, players can still pause following a jump bid, without implying a hesitation.
  12. It is perfectly permissible for players to consult their own system cards and notes (the opposite of FtoF bridge).

Tony Haworth