The E-open : A New Online Bridge event

The E-open : A New Online Bridge event

© Alex J. Coyne For Great Bridge Links

Our long-term goal is to allow people to watch bridge like they would watch a football game on TV.”

Set your reminders and mark your calendars for an upcoming bridge event that’s sure to trump anything else you might have going on that week. The E-Open promises to be a fun, engaging tournament set for 31 August to 20 September that’s sure to bring some great plays to the table – and a mixture of expert and new players.

Great Bridge Links and Alex caught up with Christophe Grosset via e-mail to find out more.

Essential Links

Essential Info

  • Event: The E-Open Online Bridge Tournament
  • Date: 31 August – 20 September 2020
  • Organizers: Luc Bellicard, Stefan Skorchev & Christophe Grosset
  • Where: BBO
  • Fees: €30 per player
  • Time: 2.45pm (ET) / 7.45pm (UK) / 8.45pm (CET)

The E-Open tournament includes a daily video bulletin, Vugraph broadcasting, match commentary and bridge experts playing the same hands.

Divisions of 16 teams (into 2 groups of 8), and then 7 days of round robins (then KOs).

Interview With Christophe Grosset

Great Bridge Links: What made specifically these 3 bridge players start the E-Open?

Christophe Grosset: Before starting the E-Open, Christophe and Luc actually ran two editions of a similar event targeting the French market. It was called “L’E-open de France”. It turned into quite a success and we decided to expand.

Stefan Skorchev joined us to help with the “front-end” and Stefan Thorpe, who doesn’t appear on the poster, is helping us a lot behind the scenes.

When Covid-19 forced everyone to stay at home, Luc started organizing a few tournaments for the French youth community and I (Christophe) played in them whilst live commentating his play.

People loved this combo and we consequently decided to organize a full event: Vugraph, butler, daily bulletin, hand records – the whole package!

Great Bridge Links: How does the unique “division system” work – and what made you decide to do this?

Christophe Grosset: It is pretty simple: the first time a team enters our event, we take a look at the national results of each of its players and, based on these, we assign the team to a division. At the end of each edition, some teams will be promoted and others will be demoted.

We decided this after the first French edition, which attracted mainly top French teams but also a few others.

Whilst these other teams loved the event, they didn’t necessarily love their score at the end of each match! Everyone thoroughly enjoyed being able to watch the VOD of the Vugraph with commentary from experts such as Zia who were playing the same boards.

A division system made it more interesting for everyone: people could play against opponents with similar skill levels while still enjoying all the benefits of the event.

Great Bridge Links: Hands are also played by leading experts commenting: Tell us more.

Christophe Grosset: Each day of play, the most exciting match will be commentated on Vugraph by a duo which includes a world-leading expert. They will be equipped with a microphone and webcam.

As everyone is playing the same boards, players can then review the match and see what some of the best players did and hear the thoughts of the commentators.

Teammates who are not playing on a specific day can also watch it so they can discuss the boards during the Zoom call that most teams seem to have after the game!

Great Bridge Links: Matches are broadcast with commentary. Do you think bridge needs to see more commentary in general?

Christophe Grosset: We do think that bridge needs to be made more entertaining and having more commentators is one way of doing this. We realized that the role of the “non-expert” commentator (which we try to fill) is also really important in making it enjoyable for the audience.

We are striving to find the right balance between serious bridge, light-hearted jokes and purely commentating the game. We are far from perfect but we try to improve every time. We are also working on generating statistics that would be interesting to show during the Vugraph.

Our long-term goal is to allow people to watch bridge like they would watch a football game on TV.

Great Bridge Links: Let’s talk about the Twitch (and YouTube) match broadcasting. How has support been so far?

Christophe Grosset: We ran a poll after the second edition of the French event, and 55% of the people involved in the first two editions answered “I love it, it really is a difference maker for this event”.

It was a clear message to us that people loved it. We also ran an exhibition match between France and Canada recently with commentary also in English, by Joe Grue and Geoff Hampson, and the feedback was really positive.

Great Bridge Links: As we’re moving online, cheating is a challenge. How will you protect against self-kibitzing and collusive cheating?

Christophe Grosset: Regarding self-kibitzing, we do believe that we make it close to impossible for our event:

– Kibitzers are not allowed at the table

– The vugraph broadcast is delayed by 45 minutes

Collusive cheating is a much harder issue to deal with, but hopefully, also much less common. As we are working on statistics to make the Vugraph more interesting, we are also working on statistics to detect anomalies.

In the meantime, we have a recorder and we invite anyone to send us suspicious boards. We look at all of them. We are also in contact with some of Boye’s team who are working on catching the cheaters for the other great online events: ALT & OCBL

We also ran a poll on this subject and the results were as follows:

· 75% said that cheating was well handled with the delayed broadcast and the recorder system
· 18% said that we were being paranoid and that we should allow kibitzers
· 3% said that we need to do more (camera for all players etc)
· 3% said it was an issue during the event.

It is worth noting that the 3% saying it was an issue actually played in the first edition, during which the broadcast did not have the delay.