Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Things I wish my BBO expert partners would learn

I occasionally log on to BBO and play for a while.  I don’t plan to play that many hands and it seems simplest to just join a game with an expert partner.  I know that people of all abilities label themselves as expert and I don’t expect much but here are a few things that have happened recently that bug me.

1) People find defending difficult.  I know it is the hardest part of the game.  But here are a couple of clues for my former partners:

– take the setting trick

– if I discourage three times in a suit and you have an alternative, lead another suit.  Who knows I might have a reason for the signal. 

– If I lead a suit at notrump and you have nothing better to do than return my suit

2) I know it is hard to bid with a strange partner with no discussion but:

– if you make a non-forcing bid and I try for game, don’t decide to bid Blackwood now.  I will treat it as natural in revenge.  (Actually it was the right bid to pass as it turned out).

– If you bid your suits over and over and I finally support one of them, don’t expect me to have good trump support. 

3) Generally I don’t watch when random partners play dummy, it isn’t good for my morale but please partner if you have a reasonable play to make your game, take it.  Don’t just give up.

I noticed that when some of the above happen I have been developing a bad habit.  I hear my phone ringing, excuse myself and leave BBO only to find that the phone bell was imaginary.  I don’t give lessons.  I never say anything at all. I thank everyone for the game.  What do you think?

I am wondering about the BBO skill categories.  Right now the categories seem to be

novice – this one is quite accurate

intermediate – about what I expect.  when I play with you I will be friendly as pie

Advanced – the same as intermediate but with ego

Expert – almost everyone – from advanced to terrific.  I have now taken to looking at the conventions listed on the profile.  If they are too basic or too weird, bad sign

World Class – a very few really are, almost all the rest are advanced with ego

Since world class seems so pretentious maybe we need another category to divide up the experts.

Expert First Class


a) Reads Bridge World

b) “Just a simple double squeeze, partner – no problem”

c) Regularly counts to 13 – (he was either 5-4-2-2 or 5-4-3-1 so I….)

d) Sees spot cards

e) Thinks … well that may be going to far

On a fun note I just got my brain exercise of the day.  I liked it a lot so I pass it on.  I will post the solution later.

Title: Baby Time
Category: Rebus

Can you decipher what the man did?

Baby = Slept peacefully
Child = Slept well
Woman = Slept restlessly
Man = Slept peacefully



Paul GipsonDecember 11th, 2008 at 10:49 pm

Life is too short to worry about BBO self-ratings. However I do prefer it to OKB Lehman ratings which only seemed to generate poor behaviour.

LindaDecember 12th, 2008 at 5:22 pm

I used to think that but now I am wondering. The poor behaviour is worse on OKB but not all that much worse. There still seems to be cheating, rudeness on BBO.

The Lehman did give a better idea of the rating than the self rating system. I think published guidelines about the BBI self rating system might help a bit. I hear constant requests for “real experts” in the lobby.

Maybe everyone should take an exam … just kidding.

ShazDecember 12th, 2008 at 6:31 pm

Oh, guidelines exist ( ) but nobody seems to know about them or care and BBO help ( ) says, “Profiles Everyone lies. You can too ” =)

Fred GitelmanDecember 13th, 2008 at 12:58 pm

Hi Linda,

We do publish guidelines for self-rating in various places, but unfortunately they are mostly ignored. That may be partly a matter of most people not “reading the instructions”, but I think it has more to do with people being either delusional or dishonest when it comes to assessing their own skill levels.

Here is a copy of the guidelines that appear in the help system of web-based version of the BBO client. I am mildly surprised that they seem to be slightly different from the guidelines (which I wrote myself) that appear in the help system of our older Windows client. In particular, I did not expect to see the terms “Sectional” and “Regional” here. I thought it was important to make the original guidelines not ACBL-specific in any way since probably no more than 15% of BBO members are also ACBL members. I guess that the people responsible for creating the help system for our web client thought otherwise…

Novice – Someone who has recently learned to play bridge.

Beginner – Someone who has played bridge for less than a year.

Intermediate – Someone who is comparable in skill to most other BBO players or who has done well in club games.

Advanced – Someone who has been consistently successful in clubs, Sectional and Regional tournaments.

Expert – Someone who has had consistent success at major national tournaments

World Class – Someone who has represented his country in World Championships or other International events.

As you probably know, the BBO software allows you to define other members as “friends” or “enemies” and to make notes about them. If you make use of these facilities when you play against random strangers, it will hopefully become easier for you to find pickup games with people you rate to enjoy playing with.

But the bottom line is that playing with random strangers is kind of like going to the partnership desk at a real life tournament. Sometimes you get lucky, but more often you do not. The only way to ensure that you will like playing with your partner is to only play with partners that you already know you like 🙂

Fred Gitelman

Bridge Base Inc.

LindaDecember 14th, 2008 at 6:33 am

I love BBO and I log on on every day. I love to watch great matches, play with my friends and partners, practice in the bidding room, work with my student in the BIL room and so on. Fred, you have done something wonderful.

This article was meant to be tongue in cheek. I do like to play sometimes with random strangers. It is interesting to learn about how people bid, play and defend. There is no pressure at all and I am often doing three other things at the same time. I don’t really mind when my partner does something I think is pretty terrible. I expect it. The only thing that really bothers me is rudeness and perhaps it is unavoidable when people compete even in a friendly game.

Still I find the level of bridge among the BBO population and especially among those who categorize themselves as experts worse than I expected. I suppose that it was always there, that is, my usual partners are much better than the majority of players. I never noticed because I was too busy thinking about how we could have done better if only …

The friend, enemy and note feature are great. But I confess I only create enemies among the people who are rude or I suspect are cheating. Those are the people I really don’t want at the table. I guess I could make notes about others like … won’t lead my suit or forgot to draw the last trump.

I can’t think of a better system than self rating.Here’s a thought

Make it like ebay. Partners get to rate you. And your average rating is displayed.

No, I remember the fights I have had about ratings on ebay. Better not. I can see the complaints already.

SallyDecember 15th, 2008 at 8:29 pm

I don’t want to give it away but my guess is that the man slept like a baby?

LindaDecember 17th, 2008 at 5:53 am

You got the puzzle. Well done. I love these rebuses.

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