Sunday, 14 December 2014

Blog #66 -2015 fast approaching - Interesting times?

As we are fast approaching the festive season I would like to send the best wishes of all EBU staff for a happy festive season and a healthy New Year.

2015 has the promise of being interesting for the EBU; in July (yes, it takes ages) our appeal against VAT on competition bridge goes before the "Second Tier" Tribunal.  While we have no guarantee of success, we are confident that we have a good case to put in front of this tribunal.   The benefit to us, and thus our members, should we win, would be substantial.

At the same time we are pursuing an appeal with UK Sport, regarding the definition of Sport that they choose to use which is very different to other parts of officialdom.  Once again, should we eventually meet with success in this area it could be of serious benefit to us.

We will keep you informed during 2015!

Barry Capal

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Blog 65 - NGS (again) plus a couple of other things

We have now reached the point where the changes to NGS to allow team games to be graded have settled down.  Users of the scoring software, Scorebridge, can now submit multiple teams events using the latest version, and it will be graded by NGS.  However, it remains the case that if a club desires to grade Swiss Teams, it will be necessary to use SwissTeamScorer, currently available from here.

We are receiving a large number of queries regarding perceived anomalies with a particular day's result.  In almost every case these questions are resolved by referring people to my previous blog 63. However, another thing that people miss is that if sessions are graded out of date sequence, which happens reasonably often, the grade people end up with sometimes looks wrong, but it actually isn't! It is always right.

If you want to check the sequence of sessions as graded, go to your "Sessions" list and click on the "*" character at the top right of that frame, and your sessions will then be shown in order of grading date, rather than playing date.

We will be improving the enquiry facilities for NGS during the next 6 months or so, which should improve member's abilities to solve their own problems.

Some of this work will be included in some important changes we need to make in our core computer systems over the next year or so, forced upon us by the need to keep up with constant changes in information technology.  We are in the process of deciding what system we will use going forward and hope to have it live within a year from making that decision.  We are also introducing changes to the "Member's Area" of the EBU website, to provide more and better information.

In other news, our associated charity, English Bridge Education and Development, has its own website, and it should be your first stop for anything about bridge education.

Finally, we have begun running a Really Easy Pairs event alongside some of our regular tournaments, and participation is growing nicely.  At a recent event we had two clubs running the event alongside the one at the main tournament and everyone seemed to enjoy it.  We will be running a Really Easy event at the "Year End" event in London. Why not try it?

Friday, 13 June 2014

Blog #64 - More NGS news..

In the very near future we are going to be able to grade some team games for NGS.   Swiss Teams and Multiple Teams will be graded and will be done by looking at the cross-imps (or butler imps) that the scoring program produces for the individual pairs. There will be some discipline necessary in  Swiss Teams, such that if the orientation of a pair changes the TD will have to make some changes before the round is scored.   The first team game graded will be the Scarborough teams event.

In order to accommodate the grading of teams we have had to specify an upgrade to the XML file format, which we call USEBIO XML - which stands for "Universal Standard for Exchange of Bridge Information Over XML", but we use USEBIO for ease.  In any organisation technical advancement usually means that some existing standards need to change.  In this case the XML file we need requires extra information from scoring programs.  If your club does not wish to make team games acceptable to NGS then nothing has to be done as your existing scoring program will continue to have their files accepted by the EBU in what has become "the usual" way.  However, it is worth reminding you that if you remain on what we now call version 1.0 you will be excluded from this advance and other technical advances as time goes by.

If you wish to move forward you will need to ensure that your scoring software provider produces files to the USEBIO 1.1 specification.  They can contact our office for more detail as required (

At the time of writing only the JS suite of programs from Jeff Smith comply with USEBIO 1.1.  If you wish to have team games graded or use other software that complies with USEBIO 1.1 you may need to switch to JS Software or ask your current supplier to upgrade their offering.   Details of Jeff's software are available at this link -

I hope this helps - please call or write to us if it is not clear enough for you.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Blog 63 - How to avoid some common NGS problems

Judging by the number of queries we are getting and the number of times the NGS page on the website is accessed, the grading system is very popular.    We are finding that there are a lot of problems arising that could be reduced if clubs and members take a little extra care.

The most general query we received is along the lines of “ I played at XYZ club three days ago, got a good score but it hasn't been graded”.

Invariably the answer is for one of these reasons:-

1.            Your partner was not an EBU member, or their EBU number was not supplied;  both members of  a partnership must be EBU members for a session to count for them in the NGS.
2.            The session was not available for grading (perhaps a teams game). See below though for  information about teams games.
3.            There were insufficient EBU members playing in that session.

                                            ..and the latest fairly regular problem…

4.            A player visits a club and is already an EBU member, but the club submits the session with them down as a  “Visitor”, which they are to the club, but not to us!  The session, as in 1 above, is not graded.

Members; please remember to quote your EBU number every time you play, wherever that may be.  Check your results have been graded fairly soon after the event.  The results are processed for grading as soon as we get them now, so often that is the day after the session was played. If there is an error it can be corrected only by the club submitting a revised result file. If you wait too long to get the corrections made it may be too late to get the session correctly graded.

Clubs; when you have a visitor to your club, please make sure to ask if they are an EBU member and obtain and use that number in your results submission if they are a member of the EBU, even if not a member of your club.   Also, if you use electronic scoring devices, use the EBU number for registration, rather than an "In house" number; this will make it easier for visiting EBU members to register correctly. Please submit your file as soon as possible after the session, preferably at the same time as you update your website.

Mentors and Hosts; please remember that only one person is allowed to be omitted from grading per session and then, only if that is agreed before the session is played; please remember that both players in the partnership will have results will be excluded.

We are awaiting some changes in Bridgemate software before we are able to implement the inclusion of team events into NGS; this will hopefully happen in the next couple of months  and will include multiple teams events and Swiss Teams.