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Keeping the social aspect of online bridge

I run a small club (RSVP Bridge Club in Gainesville VA), and it will probably be awhile before BBO grants me director status. Some of our other local clubs are banding together to create one online group. I will encourage my players to participate in those and the other official games on BBO that can award masterpoints.

But what I miss the most is the social aspect. Sitting down at a table, saying hi, the chit chat after the hands are played waiting for the next round.

So we have improvised by using an online communications platform oriented towards gamers called Discord. (www.discordapp.com). I have created a "server" there, and within that server I can create voice channels. I have one called "Waiting Room" and then one for each table. My players have created Discord accounts and start the evening by joining the Waiting Room channel and wait for the game to begin.

Here's where it gets complicated, since I can't run tournaments on BBO. I have a BBO account for each table (RSVP 1, RSVP 2, RSVP 3...). On each account I upload the LIN file for that night's boards, and create a practice table.

We use RSVP Bridge to keep score and track the movement, just as we do at out club.

At the beginning of each round, on BBO, I issue invitations for each table per the movement, and on Discord the players can move themselves into the appropriate voice channel for that table. As the director, I can pop into each voice channel as needed. As each score is recorded in RSVP, I advance the board at that table.

So far this has worked well, with about 5 or 6 tables. I felt like an air traffic controller keeping everything moving on BBO and Discord! My players have really appreciated having some semblance of the social aspect of the game, even though we aren't earning masterpoints.

Not for everyone, for sure. But at least it's something!

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