The SABF (Online) Interprovincial Tournament – Here’s How It Went

The SABF (Online) Interprovincial Tournament – Here’s How It Went

© Alex J. Coyne for Great Bridge Links

August, 2020 – The South African Bridge Federation (SABF) is the national representative body for bridge in South Africa – and they’ve come up with an interesting solution to broadcasting the game for their 2nd Interprovincial Tournament. Great Bridge Links spoke to Malcolm Siegel from the SABF about why this was a pretty big deal for continuing serious bridge during lockdown.

Tournament Features

  • No Live Kibitzing
  • Delayed YouTube Broadcasting (The Feature Table)
  • Expert Commentary (Tim Cope & Hennie Fick)
  • TD Control Over Streaming Laptop
  • Remote-Based TD
  • Visit the the official SABF website here.

Playing Bridge

The first SABF Interprovincial Tournament saw bridge players take part in the game using laptops set up in a physical location with a TD present in the room. “We went to the major venue locations in the provinces, then played with the TD in the room using screens,”

The moment National Lockdown hit South Africa, this playing format presented the obstacle of social distancing. No golf, no bars, no face-to-face bridge.

Malcolm says that steps were taken immediately following lockdown to create sessions for players to enjoy.

“Bridge is a wonderful game, and probably one of the best non-contact sports around,” he says, hoping to encourage more local youth to get involved with the game – and take it well into the future.

For continuing bridge in South Africa, the second Interprovincial required some changes.

“This was all done from home,” says Malcolm. “We turned kibitzing off, and had to have a level of trust that there were no funny WhatsApps or other shenanigans going on in the background.”

Initially, they thought of cameras used to keep an electronic eye on screen mates through a live video call. “This was dismissed as being too cumbersome,” At the same time, he says that the SABF realized players value their integrity – and for that, there would be careful examination of the BBO hand records.

Streaming was found to be a more practical solution – and Malcolm says that allowing the feature table into the game was his solution to a fair game during lockdown. A Google account with streaming permissions broadcast the game to viewers with a 20-30 minute delay, and commentary to this was added via Skype.

“We discussed this at length, and decided kibitzing off is a must,” says Malcolm. “We then made sure the TD for the event had control of the broadcast computer, as well as being able to manage the time delays.”

This cut down on the possibility of self-kibitzing as recent games have seen. “If people want to cheat, they will find ways – instant messaging or the like. But we trust people want to maintain their integrity and not be outed as a cheat.”

Reception has been great. “Most have been very thankful of our efforts, and are welcoming of the distraction from being isolated.”

Photo by Rohan Reddy on Unsplash