BBO chief looks forward

Originally published in the Fall NABC Daily Bulletin, 30 November 2021

“I’m happy that face-to-face bridge is coming back,” says Olivier Comte, the CEO of 52 Entertainment, the parent company of Bridge Base Online, FunBridge, Bridge Baron and Master Point Press, among others. Comte, who is attending the Fall NABC in Austin, met with ACBL officials to discuss the role online platforms will play in the future of the game, as well as new concepts that 52 Entertainment is planning.

Although the ACBL Board and management are grateful that online bridge provided an outlet for safe, sanctioned duplicate bridge throughout 2020 and 2021, there is tremendous concern that brick-and-mortar clubs will continue to experience low attendance for the near future, not only from COVID-related issues, but also from players who have grown accustomed to the convenience of online play compared to face-to-face contests, thereby curtailing their live play.

Comte is sensitive to these concerns. “Face-to-face is key, because bridge is a social game. The more live bridge, the better. I strongly believe that live club play is critical to the health of bridge. The future of the game, however, is a combination of face-to-face and online play, and each community must decide how they want to balance the two. For me, there is no fight between them; both can exist together.”

Comte is enjoying some live bridge himself while in Austin. Playing with Jose Damiani, former president of the World Bridge Federation, he won the Saturday afternoon side game.

But other issues besides online play are focusing Comte’s attention.

“Bridge education is key to the development of the next generation of players, and 52 Entertainment treats education as an opportunity for investment. Content acquisition is paramount for us, as players are hungry for fresh information,” he says.

To that end, 52 Entertainment has been the driving force behind BRIDGERAMA+, their online magazine.

“Our goal is to produce a quality magazine with excellent content. We’re not concerned about the publication making money at the present, so BRIDGERAMA+ is currently free. But the passion that players have about our game demands that a nice magazine exists as a vehicle to express it.”

Players can check out the latest issue for themselves online at kiosque.lebridgeur.com

Comte’s plan is to create slightly different versions of the magazine for various audiences around the world.

“We want to understand the needs of various communities, so our goal is to attract the best writers from different locations. There will likely be more North American–based content, as the ACBL is the largest member organization in the world. And for now, it’s free. My plan is find a way to give it to BBO customers for free going forward.”

Perhaps the most ambitious goal for Comte is the plan to launch a global learning platform that his company has dubbed “Aristotle.”

“We are expending significant energy and resources to create an educational platform for teachers and students. One of its chief features will be video options for online classes,” Comte says. The aim is for the project to be operational by the summer of 2022.

Yet another goal for 52 Entertainment is to revamp the existing vugraph presentations.

“Vugraph is an important BBO tool, but we’re aiming for a more modern look. But in addition to more video and other features, we’re aiming at a new business model for vugraph, too. We want to keep an existing, free vugraph, but also offer a premium vugraph show via a fee. Our plan is to pay organizers for running the vugraph presentations, but to also pay a fee to players featured on those presentations. This idea is to provide a motivation for everyone involved to use vugraph.”

And if those weren’t enough projects to keep him busy, Comte wants to see an expanded use of video in online games.

“We want to make video available not only for virtual club games, but also for private tables. This is a feature everyone should be able to enjoy on BBO.”

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12 comments on “BBO chief looks forward”

  1. The directors have presented long lists of features they need for proper enforcement of the Laws. One important one is the Procedural Penalty, which applies to a pair's bottom line but does not affect the field on a particular board. This was requested nearly two years ago.

  2. What about a feature enabling LIN export of any deal attended to? I already enjoy the LIN imports for my classes... What about a feature scientifically evaluating your partnership bidding (against a reasonable fee)? I am offering this in my classes and there seems to be much market demand for this. Feel free to contact me for details.

  3. It's great to be forward looking, but a look back is also helpful. There are any number of features that were lost in the necessarily hasty rewrite of the Flash version. Is there at least a list of these dropped features in the hands of BBO developers?

  4. yes as a Canadian I missed the Black Friday bonus sale. Canadians pay a $1.25 for $1.00 U.S. sure like to see at christmas a BBO bonuse this year

  5. Enjoy video on BBO? The games where it has been available, only one person took advantage. The entire round I could hear the tapping of her keyboard...tap.tap tap. The whole thing is obnoxious. It is an invasion of my privacy. The video takes up 25% of my screen even if I am able to opt out. Find a better way to catch the cheaters please!

  6. http://ebooksbridge.com/, seller of Master Point Press, accepts credit cards only via PayPal which is prohibited in my home country and would be great if a regular credit card purchase is available as in other sites such as bridgeworld.com.
    Thanks,

  7. We play online Bridge at least 4 times per week.

    Two points I would like to make -:
    1. Why are BBO points awarded to and wasted on two Robots playng together. Surely it must be possible to adjust the system and have the Robots excluded and the points awarded to the next best real life players.

    2. It was rather disappointing to note that loyal BBO customers were not rewarded with a Black Friday bonus as in 2020

  8. During the Pandemic under lockdown measures, many of us have been playing with a Robot in the pairs tournaments. Although the Robot has its own convention card I think it'd be much better to configure the Robot in a way most bridge software do in order to comply with the system and conventions of the human player such as Jack 6 or Bridge Baron. I believe the BBO administration and the management have enough funds to support such a project and I personally don't mind paying one-time fee to own a Robot per bidding system e.g. a robot for 2/1 and another for 1C strong

  9. I think instead of worrying about bells and whistles features {which are not useful to a load of players without stable broadband internet} bridge base should do the day job and make bridgebase more tolerant to 4g and other less than perfect internet connections! Netflix have manage it! From my iown programming experience I know it is possible

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