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Covid-19, Online Bridge and Masterpoints

 14 October 2021

 

 

Undeniably Covid-19 and the Delta variant has impacted our lives more than we thought possible. Lockdowns and restrictions have curtailed club and tournament bridge. We are hopeful the current outbreak is peaking, and some form of normality will resume. How quickly this will happen is however anyone’s guess. The disruption to our passion has given cause to think more deeply about online bridge and whether we should be allowing masterpoints. Presently the regulations specifically exclude issuance of masterpoints.

Each year the Hamilton Bridge Club on behalf on the Waikato Bays region run a congress over Labour Weekend. Participation of Auckland players has ensured the success of the event. With Auckland in lockdown the club started to explore ways they could continue without Aucklanders or with limited Auckland involvement under Alert level 2. All the options they were toying with fell by the wayside when the Waikato entered Alert level 3 lockdown. The region and the club were faced with the stark option, like so many regions and clubs around the country, to cancel the event.

The club then had a light bulb moment and approached NZB to see whether a modified version of the event could be played online. The reason we have not allowed masterpoints, as mentioned above, are varied, and require careful consideration. The primary reason being playing without video and audio provided too much scope for inappropriate behaviour and we did not have the tools to provide the required oversight.

If we are going to move forward and foster playing of the game, we need to acknowledge that online bridge will be part of the mix, particularly when we are restricted from playing face to face. Three options were available- play online without masterpoints; take our time to work through the issues and draft new regulations; undertake a trial. The first is not really an option as tournament players would refrain from playing. The second will take time and undermine the call for more bridge. The third on balance is a good opportunity to test matters.

The Board decided and resolved to run a trial subject to a set of supplementary regulations which will shortly be posted. The regulation of most significance is the event will be played on Realbridge. To participate you must have video and audio, no exceptions. Video and audio permits transparency. Above all the success of this event is dependent on players personal integrity. We are hopeful that the findings will allow us to move forward quickly and have in place a new set of online regulations.

For those who may think Hamilton is getting special treatment, which is not the case. It is only a one-off trial. Without Realbridge the event would not be proceeding. We will not be sanctioning any further online events with masterpoints until we evaluate the trial and have promulgated regulations.

Since we cancelled the North Island teams there has been a call from players to run this event online. We have been very consistent with clubs and regions that once an event is cancelled, we will not reinstate. That is the case with the North Island teams.

 

Allan Morris

Chair

NZ Bridge Inc

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