Please accept my sincere thanks for volunteering your time and bridge
expertise to be a vugraph commentator on BBO. I know I can speak on
behalf of many thousands of bridge players from every corner of the
world in telling you how much your service to our game is appreciated.
Over the years BBO vugraph has greatly increased the awareness and
interest level in top-level bridge among average players. The efforts
of commentators such as yourself has helped to enhance the enjoyment
and level of understanding that average players have toward our game.
These are obviously good things for bridge. In order to ensure that
your contributions to future broadcasts help further these goals, I
would ask you to read this document carefully and to always adhere to
the guidelines it contains.
I would like to add a few requests of my own:
It is very important that we do everything we can to paint
high-level bridge in a positive light. Please do not use the platform
we provide for publicly attacking players or tournament sponsors that
you do not like. Please do not try make the players look stupid even
when, like all of us sometimes do, they make stupid mistakes.
Please always keep in mind that you are a much, much
bridge player than the vast majority of audience members could ever
hope to be. The primary purpose of your comments should be to educate,
enlighten and entertain the masses, not to impress your peers.
Try to help make our vugraph broadcasts fun for the
Adding a little humor to your comments or offering interesting stories
about the players when the play is going slowly will be appreciated by
Our worldwide audiences consist of people representing
imaginable country, culture, and age. It is not difficult to
unintentionally offend people. Please be extremely careful about not
making comments that might be perceived as being racist, sexist,
vulgar, or in any other way offensive to some people.
Thanks again for your support of our vugraph program. I hope you enjoy
the time you spend as a BBO vugraph commentator.
Bridge Base Online, Ltd.
Tips by Eric Kokish and Roland Wald
Say: "I would lead a club" without explaining your
Say: "GIB says that the contract can't be defeated". You
state that declarer has a counter to any defense, but only as long as
you are prepared to go into detail once a defender has made a play. GIB
is a reference to check an analysis, not the star of the broadcast.
Remember that GIB is also looking at all four hands.
State definitively what a bid means unless you know that to
be the case.
Forget to explain the spectators how they can see the
the other table (remember they may be using the Windows version, the
web version or the BBO mobile app).
Make the session a showpiece for your ability with
like: "I pointed that out before GIB confirmed it" and don't ignore your
colleagues' chat to repeat what they have just said. It is OK to cancel
your own chat if it's redundant although often the comments will be
typed simultaneously and come up one under the other.
Criticize a bid or play without trying to understand why
player made it. Blunders will occur and may be explained as blunders,
but no one wants to see commentators put down the players who make them.
Sign up for a session of an important event without doing
least a bit of research on the players, methods, format, and current
Expect the spectators to know who you are unless you are a
well-known world class player or writer; be prepared to introduce
yourself with genuine humility.
Treat your personal profile as a joke. Spectators want to
they're listening to an authority or at least a strong, experienced
player. "Novice" or "Intermediate" for skill level may be OK for your
everyday activities (if you must) but not when you do a broadcast that
thousands of bridge enthusiasts will be watching. Reveal yourself and
insert your proper skill level in your profile.
Engage in gratuitous banter with colleagues just for the
filling the chat box, especially when the nature of the banter is
meaningful only to the commentators.
State the obvious, or (worse) repeat it.
Forget to explain how the software works, access to
"My Results" and
how to review the play at the other table, how to use Vugraph Archives
for other events, and so on.
Be afraid to explain how a convention or treatment works
the reasons why you believe the method is good or bad (or both). If you
suggest a different treatment, it should not be prefaced simply with "I
play...", especially if that treatment would work better on the current
deal. Rather, if you are discussing alternative methods, treatments,
conventions, do so from an unbiased perspective, stating the pros and
Forget that these shows are supposed to be both informative
entertaining and that there will often be vast numbers of spectators
whose first language is not English.
Be afraid to say that Mr X is going to bid 5D because it's
style to be aggressive in the slam zone, especially if you know that to
be true. Don't send a chat, "5D", without explanation or with the
comment "I would bid 5D".
Say that a spectator points out that the hand can be made
blah. If that seems sensible you can say it yourself and sometime
during the broadcast thank the spectators for their often valuable
ideas, suggestions and analyses. The audience expects expert analysis
and commentary from the panel, not from the audience. It is not
plagiarism or improper to use a spectator's comments yourself; in
theory, the spectator is speaking to you privately to help you do your
Point out that fireworks are coming later in the session;
spectators may be looking at the other room simultaneously or checking
upcoming results in the movie mode, but others look forward to seeing
the deal come up fresh with a current review of what happened at the
other table, but without the crystal ball technique.
Dominate the "microphone" -- let the audience think you're a
group dedicated to what you're doing. Make your comments count.
Comment at more than one table at a time. It is confusing for the spectators and commentators if you are at two tables during the same segment. Enthusiasm and dedication are appreciated, but don't over do it!
Forget to provide interesting anecdotal and informatory
commentary. If you're working on a Zonal Trials speak of the event
they're qualifying for, how many teams will be at the WC, defending
champions, teams already qualified, upcoming other zonal events, any
thoughts on dark horse contenders, favourites, etc.
Treat your voluntary sessions as if you were getting paid
Look out for other potentially excellent commentators and
recommend them to sign up on the vugraph schedule page.
Treat the players and other commentators and the game
respect. Put yourself in that player's seat and try to figure out why
s/he did what s/he did even if it may turn out to be unsuccessful.
Recognize achievements of merit past and present.
Look at the operator's explanation of alerted calls, but be
skeptical when they appear unlikely; operators have a difficult job and
do make errors. The same can be said for inconceivable results. Try to
confirm with the operator in private chat. The best operators are
invaluable resources for the commentators.
Project possible competitive actions rather than say
like"An easy 4S here"; uncontested auctions are increasingly rare these
days. Always look for traps and obstacles that could affect the normal
result. When more than one bid/contract/competitive action exists,
discuss the possibilities without prejudice or the advantage of seeing
all four hands. When discussing the play, discuss the percentage line,
alternative lines, safety plays, and only then the successful line if
it is different.
Refrain from stating what you would "lead", especially if
it is a
difficult lead or blind lead, and your lead is the best (or only) one
to defeat the contract. Similarly, when discussing the defence, do try
to understand and explain the meaning behind the cards the defenders
play. If you know their methods, this can be very enlightening for the
audience, especially where the plays relate to spot cards early in the
defense. You may say "East has played a middle card to ask for the
continuation of his suit. He has essentially denied interest in a
switch to either side suit." Or "Some pairs play suit preference in
this situation, but this pair employs obvious switch". Explain how that
In situations where you do not know the meaning of a
allow someone else to comment. Don't say "heart now" because that is
the winning play. You may say "We can see that a heart now would defeat
the contract, but East has only the xxxx information, and he may play a
spade instead." Or "West gave an attitude signal on East's club ace
that involved the diamond suit as well. West would have encouraged a
club with the king if he did not want to ruff a diamond." In other
words, explain the bridge plays, not your choice for a play.
Realize that good defense requires a complicated blend of
partnership carding agreements, common sense, card reading, and the
ability of the defender to "read" declarer's intentions. If you make a
statement about the defender's next play while he is thinking, explain
why you think he will arrive at a particular position.