E*V*I*L ([E]lectronic [V]ancouver [I]MP [L]eague: Conditions of Contest
E*V*I*L Gets A Reboot! Here are the basics:
- Matches are played online on BBO, using the team game setup, on Tuesday evenings at 7pm. Teams may arrange to play slightly earlier or later but must do so before Monday at noon, and keep me informed when this happens.
- E*V*I*L consists of up to three divisions based on the number of teams signed up. The top division is called The Big Show and is limited to eight teams, the second division is called The Big Ticket, and the third division (hoped-for but never quite gotten off the ground yet) is for newer players and is called The Big Deal.
- Seasons in the league go for seven weeks, followed by two Tuesdays of playoffs (changed from three in previous seasons). Even in seasons where the divisions don't boil down to 8 teams the season is only seven weeks and teams miss a few possible opponents. A founding principle of the league is that we re-start every few months to give as many teams as many chances as possible to get to the top division, and to minimize the time to the next season if your squad has made a bad start and has no chance to make the playoffs.
- There is a promotion/relegation system that allows teams to move up or down a division each time:
- The top three teams in The Big Show round-robin, plus the fourth-place team if it wins the playoff, and the round-robin and playoff winners in The Big Ticket, all receive an automatic qualification for the next season in The Big Show. A team not continuing may return after a single season off and claim such a qualification.
- Two to four, possibly more, places will remain in the top division octet after the automatic spots are determined. These extra places in the top division are awarded based first on results in two special Swiss Team events, held on Tuesday (opposite the final matches of the playoffs) and on Thursday of that week as well. These events are optional, and teams may play none, one or two (best VP score will be used). The special Swiss Team events will (unlike all other round-robin and playoff matches) have an entry fee of BBO$5.00 per player, and will award ACBL masterpoints for each match won and for overall leaders.
- After the second Swiss Team event, teams will be seeded based on these criteria:
The top eight teams will form The Big Show division. If there are enough teams for a third division, there will be a Big Deal division. Remaining teams will play in The Big Ticket. Some teams may be asked to move up or down to make suitable numbers of teams in divisions and avoid odd numbers.
Teams set up their own matches on BBO, without fees or masterpoints, the captains agreeing on the total number of boards and the number of segments to play them in (minimum 16, default 20, top division standard is 24). Once a match starts, the total number of boards cannot be changed from the additional agreement, although extra segments can be played to get to the agreed total if a segment has fewer boards than intended.
Matches are scored on a VP Scale from 0.00 to 20.00 which counts every IMP and is based on the number of scheduled boards in the match. When a match segment ends, I will see it in the BBO list of completed matches and copy the results: no need to report results (but check that I have interpreted the numbers correctly!).
The top four teams in each division make the playoffs and the #1 team may choose to play the #3 team rather than the default #1 vs #4 match, within one hour of the end of the last match. Since the top two teams no longer have the "1 vs 2 loser-survives" match now that playoffs are two weeks instead of three, there is instead a carryover in all playoff matches, based on round-robin VPs of 1 IMP per VP of difference, up to a maximum carryover of 0.5 IMPs per board scheduled.
Money raised by the special optional Swiss Team qualifying games will be split between the Unit and the VBC, after ACBL and BBO take their cut. If you want to thank me financially for my IMP League work, the best way to do so is to play live bridge at the VBC or at a tournament, whether I am the director or not. I’m skeptical that more online bridge is somehow the answer to getting people back to live bridge. Prove me wrong, and my Tuesday evening work will not feel like unpaid labour!
- 1) Automatic qualifiers for The Big Show will take the top seeds; followed by 2) other Big Show teams, teams in the top half of The Big Ticket, the round-robin and playoff winner of The Big Deal (if there is one), and new or changed teams with more than 2,500 average masterpoints; followed by 3) any other participating teams. These three groups of teams will be ordered based on:
- Teams that played in one or both special Swiss Team events, ordered by maximum VPs won if the team played in both.
- Teams that did not play in either special Swiss Team event, ordered by division played in and VPs earned in the previous season
- Teams requesting to play in The Big Deal, a league for newer players, will be seeded lowest, and accommodated if possible, but are welcome to play in the special Swiss Team events.
E*V*I*L Season Nine ready to begin!
After a busy weekend in Edmonton and some mystery entries on the registration form, the restart of the [E]lectronic [V]ancouver [I]MP [L]eague was delayed a week to October 11. Matches are played on BBO on Tuesday evenings starting at 7pm (captains can arrange slightly different times if they wish but we hope to avoid having matches played on other nights as much as possible). The season lasts seven Tuesdays from October 11 to December 6, skipping the weeks of the Whistler Regional and the Phoenix NABC, with two weeks of playoffs to follow. Season Nine will be a 12-team partial round-robin with all 12 teams in one division. No fees or masterpoints involved, just a lot of fun competition.
Meanwhile, the new E*V*I*L main page for results, which now has all the rosters and schedules, should be bookmarked in your browser, or you will be auto-redirected from the old 'VVBCSIL' one if you continue to try that one.
Format for Season Nine and Beyond:
If thirteen teams or more sign up, The Big Show will be exactly eight teams and will play a seven-match round-robin. The top three teams in the regular season, and the winner of The Big Show playoffs (if the fourth-place team wins the final) will automatically qualify for The Big Show in the next season.
The second division will be called The Big Ticket and will be a minimum of eight teams and, if needed, 10 or 12 or even 14 playing only 7 of the other teams over seven weeks. The division is called The Big Ticket because if you win the regular season or the playoffs you get a 'big ticket' to The Big Show for the next season! (If you win both the regular season and the playoffs you get only the one 'big ticket,' but thanks for asking....)
The third division, if there are sufficient teams, will be called The Big Deal, and will mostly consist of teams with newer players, eager to learn team strategies without having to face a bunch of teams who have lots of team game experience. The size of this division is not limited at all, but will play seven matches on Tuesday evenings. (We had only four teams in this division in Season Three and we played nine matches, three times against the others, with a single playoff final.) Teams looking only to play in The Big Deal are welcome to play in the optional Special Qualifying Swiss Team events.
Teams may choose not to play in a division they have qualified for, and play in the next lower division, or sign up to play in a specific division only. A team which has replaced or added more than one-third of their regular players in the previous season, is deemed a different team and cannot claim qualification based on prior success. A team earning qualification in more than one way cannot claim qualification for the next season AND the one following. A team earning qualification may choose to take a single season off and use that qualification in the season following.
This means at least two and more often three or four of the eight slots in The Big Show will be unclaimed, and there will be two OPTIONAL special Swiss Team games on the Tuesday concurrent with the playoff finals, and the Thursday evening two nights later, beginning at 7pm and lasting until about 9:30pm:
- Teams may play both, either, or none of these special qualifying games. Other teams of Virtual VBC players and subs may also play in the game to fill spots or to win masterpoints.
- Teams with auto-qualification to The Big Show will be seeded first; followed by teams who played in The Big Show the previous season, the top half of The Big Ticket, the winners of the round-robin and playoffs in The Big Deal, and any new or changed teams with a masterpoint average of 2500 or more; followed by all other teams. The order within these groups will be based on VPs earned in the special Swiss Team games (play both and your best score counts), then by division and position in the previous season, then by team masterpoints. The top eight teams are placed into The Big Show, teams requesting to play The Big Deal will play there if there are enough teams, and the rest will play in The Big Ticket. Some teams may be asked to move up or down to avoid odd numbers.
- Both special Swiss Team games, unlike all other E*V*I*L play, will award masterpoints and have an entry fee of BBO$5.00 (which can be paid by partner as an option). Money raised by these events will be split between the VBC and the Unit.
- For information on how BBO Swiss Teams work, go here.
Substitute players can be used whenever needed in E*V*I*L matches and even in the qualifying events. Team captains should inform the Commissioner and the opposing team captain when this is happening. If a team is significantly improved by substitute players, the Commissioner may (rarely) adjust scores (probably not as much as the aggrieved team thinks is enough....) to compensate.
"But we don't want to play unless we can play in the top division." Prove you are capable! If you don't qualify, you're talking only seven weeks to get another chance. You can win auto-qualification by winning the second division, regular season or playoffs, and failing that, you can succeed at one of the qualifying events. There will be a consistent turnover of teams on the bubble between The Big Show and The Big Ticket, and this will create interesting competition at all levels:
- Top teams will be under pressure to get one of the tickets to auto-qualify for The Big Show each season, and will create news if they have to survive a qualifying event or endure a season in The Big Ticket.
- Contenders will be trying to stay in The Big Show as often as possible and will be looking to rebound quickly if bumped down.
- Bubble teams will manage to get into The Big Show in some seasons and will have to play in The Big Ticket in others and will be looking to improve to contender status.
- Second division teams will not have to face the top Big Show teams but will have a chance to qualify each year if they finish in the top half or better of The Big Ticket. This should make The Big Ticket pennant race and playoffs as competitive as The Big Show!
- Teams that just want to play without too much of the competitive aspect will find their level and enjoy decent competition.
- The Big Deal division will be fun for all and should graduate teams to The Big Ticket fairly often, and just possibly even The Big Show on rare occasions. These graduating teams will have the support of everyone in the third division as they try their luck up a level! For the players playing teams for the first time it will definitely be a Big Deal!
- Teams that sign up and then refuse to play following the qualifying events will be penalized with a minimum two-season ban for all players on the team. I will not accept sudden excuses that only apply after you fail to qualify for the division you wanted to play in. You must earn your way into the top division and not spoil things for everyone by quitting and forcing me to reorganize. Don't do it.
The format seems to have worked well in Seasons Two thru Eight and only small tweaks have been made for Season Nine. Get your teams together and sign up today!
How To Set Up An IMP League Team Game On BBO
These instructions come from this May 1 BBO blog post. They assume that you are using "v3" of BBO and not one of the old Flash versions. (If you are, it is time to upgrade your app or browser.) Before you set the game up, you will need to communicate with the other team captain, preferably a few days in advance, to decide all of the following:
ALERT: Both teams setting up a game at the same time can be unrecoverable. BE SURE you agree beforehand who will set up the game. Be sure that person has read this guide.
- Starting date and time: this should be Tuesday at 7pm but captains can agree to play at a different time. If you do so, be sure to send a message to McBruce on BBO to let me know this is your intention. We’re OK with playing matches up to 72 hours late (last possible start time, Friday @ 7pm). After that, or if a match is played off the normal time without letting me know, VP penalties will apply to both teams: penalties that you don’t want. If there is no communication between captains by Monday noon, let me know. You may assume Tuesday at 7pm is agreed, and the other team will be in for large penalties if they do not show up, but letting me know will allow me to send messages as well. Sometimes the problem is that the captain is out of town or has no internet for some reason, so try another member of the team and perhaps you'll set something into motion.
- Number of boards: Default is 20 if both sides are OK with playing the whole match without a break and with the same opponents at each table. If it is agreed to switch, you can play 10 and then 10 more in a different configuration. You may also agree to play more total boards in a match, or slightly fewer. We will accept matches of 16 boards as a minimum, of which 12 boards have to actually count. If fewer than 12 boards are played, another segment to complete the minimum of 12 boards will need to be played as soon as convenient.
- Options: There are four options to be pre-decided by the team captains, each with a default:
- Allow kibitzers: (default: yes). This allows people to watch the match and make comments to other kibitzers, but not to the table.
- Allow kibitzers to chat with players: (default: no). This allows kibitzers to communicate with players in the match. The security implications are obvious. I strongly suggest that you not agree to this. If you do agree, do not come to me with allegations of impropriety...
- Allow Undos (default: no). This allows a player to click a button which says he has made a mistake, and lets you back up the auction or cardplay to the mistake. Trouble is, if there are bids or plays after the undo point, it creates a mess of unauthorized information with the potential of no reasonable solution. If you do agree to this, I suggest that you also agree to not count any board where the resolution is not agreed to by everyone, whether undos are allowed or not. You would play that board but remove any swing from it in the reported results. Another possible solution is to allow only one undo per player, to stop players from overusing them. But the safest solution is to not allow them at all.
- Barometer Scoring: (default: no). This one tells both tables what the overall IMP score in the current segment is up to that point, and can be agreed to by both teams without much potential of trouble. But some players have a tendency to distort matches by overconsidering what the score is and making wild bids to catch up if behind. Some will realize that playing faster than the other table means they will not have all of the scoring information they feel they need, and slow play will result, especially if you have a state-of-the-match player at both tables! Another consideration: there is a considerable skill difference between the top teams in each league and the bottom ones, and having to play eight more boards when the screen tells you you are losing 93-5 is not a lot of fun.
- Players and seats: The person arranging the match needs to know the BBO names of the eight players in the match, and which pairs are the N-S pairs, and which are the E-W pairs. Some captains will demand "seating rights" and these captains have the right to seat their players last, after the first team chooses their seats, for half of the match. If this is an issue, the first team listed in the schedule gets seating rights for the first segment and the other team gets second segment seating rights. But in most cases, the whole match will be able to be played without a switch.
- Making up lost boards: A board scrubbed because of a problem with setup or lost players or undos or a ruling without an easy resolution can be scrapped if all players agree. The system will require that you play it out to a result, but you can let me know that board has been scrubbed (best is to have one player from each side send me a BBO message confirming this). If your match is going to be in two segments, and boards are scrubbed in the first segment, the second segment can be lengthened to make up the boards if both captains agree. In matches of one segment, scrubbed boards are not made up unless fewer than 12 boards are actually played to a result. One common mistake is to not change the number of boards from the default of 8 when setting up; if that happens, and you can catch players from the other table before they leave, you can play a quickie of four more and have a three-segment match.
- Who sets up the match? Team captains need to agree on this as well. The default is that the first team listed in the schedule sets up the first segment, and the other team captain sets up the second segment if there is to be one. However, BBO has a policy that brand new members (less than 100 logins or less than two weeks since signup) cannot create team matches: if this applies to you, you alone will be able to see the word newbie in your BBO profile. Some matches will need to be created by players other than the captain. Contact McBruce if all of your players on both teams are unable.
Here are the steps to set up a team game:
- Log on to BBO, and click on Competitive, then Team Matches to get to the Team Matches area where all pending and running team matches are listed.
- Click on the blue Create Team Game button. This will bring up the Create Team Match dialog box, which has three tabs: Identification, Options, and Reserve Seats.
- Start on the Identification tab. In the Title box, type E*V*I*L (this should get people to take notice when these matches appear in the list!). In the Description area, type something descriptive like MatchDay x (x being the week number) but add this string: +private+ +nokill+ +slow+ , making sure that each directive is surrounded by a space outside the plus signs (inside the plus signs, no spaces and all lower case). These three directives keep other players from joining, keep the match in the list until all seats are filled, and prevent BBO from deleting the match if there is a delay. Next, in the Team 1 and Team 2 boxes, type the captains of the teams involved: Team 1 should be the team setting up the segment. Don’t create the match yet, there are two more tabs to fill.
- Switch next to the Options tab, and enter the number of boards (ALERT: default is 8, which you will almost certainly want to change). Do not change the defaults of IMPs in Form of Scoring nor Use random deals under Deal Source. In the Options tab at the bottom, the default is to check the first box, Allow Kibitzers, and uncheck the other three, but captains can agree on a different arrangement (see the details above). Again, don’t stop here, there is one more tab to complete.
- Switch next to the Reserve Seats tab. On this screen, players are placed as they would be before the match begins, all teammates at the same table before the crossover. You need to know which players on both teams are partners and the other team captain may even provide a preferred seat for each player. Be sure the spelling is correct for all players. BBO names are not case-sensitive but spaces are allowed: McBruce is the same as mcbruce but different from Mc Bruce.
Alert: one difficulty I have been having as I grab scores off of the listed results is in getting things backwards because the person setting up the match enters the other team at table one. Please avoid this if you can; put your team at table one and the other guys at table two.
- With all this done, click the button at the bottom to Create Team Match. You’re ready to go! You and the other players should be able to join by clicking on their reserved seats. Others looking to join will not bother you.
- BBO will give this team match a number from 1-99999 (it resets every few weeks). Write down this number for later, you will need it when you report the results.
- If I am online and see your match, I will update the results page to indicate that the match is in progress. Play well!
- Remember that once all of your players are seated, you can’t be contacted via chat. If you wait for a while it might be a good idea to have one person leave and see if they can figure out what is happening...
- If it all goes horribly wrong and you need to restart, you must delete the team game via the Director tab, found near History and Account. Click on Running Tournaments and click on the team game and select Cancel Tournament. BBO will not let you join another team game if you have one already in progress, so this has to be done! ALERT: If I find out that someone has killed a VVBC team game in progress with these instructions, that person’s team will be hit with a penalty they are not expecting. This is for emergencies only; do not misuse.
E*V*I*L (Electronic Vancouver IMP League) Rules
- The League consists of at most three divisions: The Big Show (exactly eight teams unless there is only one division), The Big Ticket (8, 10, 12, or 14 teams depending on registration), and The Big Deal (all the rest in a more relaxed setting for newer players). Each division will play seven matches over seven weeks during a season, following which there will be playoffs for the top four in each division over two weeks, and a signup period for the next season, with the second playoff week consisting of the finals on the Tuesday and the optional special Swiss Team qualifying games for the next season on the Tuesday and Thursday at 7pm.
(Exceptions: In a four-team division, teams will play a triple round-robin over nine weeks with one playoff match. In a six-team division, teams will play a full round robin over five weeks and repeat two opponents in the final two weeks.
Matches will be played online on BBO and the two captains will organize the setting up of the match and the reporting of the results. Except for the optional qualifying Swiss Teams, the event will be entirely free and will not award any ACBL masterpoints, played for fun and good competition. Proceeds from the qualifying events will go to the VBC and Unit 430.
- Promotion to a new division in the next season: A team which has not changed more than one-third of its regular players from the previous season, in the opinion of the Commissioner, is eligible to promote to a higher division, or compete in a play-in tournament, as follows:
- The top three in The Big Show regular season and the fourth place team, if they win The Big Show playoff, are eligible for automatic qualification to The Big Show.
- The Big Ticket regular season winner and playoff winner are also eligible for automatic promotion into The Big Show.
- Other Big Show teams, top-half Big Ticket teams, The Big Deal regular season and playoff winner, and new or changed teams with more than 2500 average masterpoints will form the second group of teams seeded for the new season, with a third group consisting of all other signed up teams.
- Within the three groups, the order of seeding will be based on 1) VPs earned (as a percentage of the total possible) in the qualifying games (play both, use your team's best score), 2) standings position in the previous season, 3) average team masterpoints.
- The top eight teams will be placed into The Big Show division, and if there are enough teams requesting a third Big Deal division or more than twenty registered teams, we will set that up, with remaining teams going into The Big Ticket division. Some teams may be asked to move up or down to avoid odd numbers.
- It has the clear consensus of most registered players so far that matches be played on Tuesday Evening wherever possible, and that when not possible, they be played without significant delay. Team captains are expected to communicate with the other captain and with the Commissioner when they need to reschedule a match, and using a substitute player should always be the first option. Penalties in VPs will be applied to teams at fault for matches that are unable to be played. This is a weekly event, not a schedule-when-you-feel-like-it event. Teams bending the rules repeatedly will lose significant VPs.
- Communication between the Comissioner and between the team captains for match arranging will be done using the messaging service on BBO itself. No lists of e-mails will appear online, only BBO names and the real names of the players.
- Match arranging:
Without prior agreement, matches are pre-set as follows:
Teams may agree, before Monday at noon, to vary some of these as follows:
- the captain of the first team mentioned in the pairing sets up the table and invites players
- start time: Tuesday at 7pm
- number of boards: 20, in one segment
- kibitzers allowed, but not allowed to chat with players
- Undos not allowed
- No barometer scoring
All matches need to be set up on BBO with the following parameters:
- If the designated captain is unable to, or unfamiliar with setting up a team game, or not playing that night, he can have one of his team members do it instead, or ask the other captain to set the game up.
- If both captains agree by Monday at noon, the match can be played up to 72 hours late, starting before Friday at 7pm. The commissioner must be informed of the rescheduled start time. A captain who agrees to a schedule change may change his mind and insist on Tuesday evening if he contacts the commissioner and the other team captain by Monday at noon.
- Teams may agree to play more or fewer boards before the match begins, but must plan to play a minimum of 16 boards, of which at least 12 must be completed to constitute a legal match. (If a match breaks up before 12 boards are complete and cannot be continued at that time, another segment can be played later, preferably as soon as convenient, to complete the match.) Matches can be held in two segments of equal numbers of boards, in order to switch players at halftime. By prior agreement, any scrubbed boards in the first segment may be made up by extra boards in the second segment, if there is one. Matches are scored on the (discrete VP scale) where every IMP counts for something, VP totals are given to two decimals, and there is a separate scale for any number of boards. However, the number of total boards to play cannot be changed once a match starts, except to recover for scrubbed boards in a second segment.
- Allowing kibitzers to chat with players, or allowing undos is a sure-fire method for generating complicated rulings. By allowing either of these, you have to accept any ruling that may result. Disallowing kibitzers entirely is an option that should be accepted without rancor if either captain wishes: by far the most common method of online cheating involves setting up a second account with which you kibitz yourself in real time. Disallowing kibitzers forces cheaters into other methods.
- If you allow barometer scoring, the slower table will have more information about the state of the match than the faster table. It is easier to play 20 boards without knowing the exact score than to complete the last four or five when you know you are 75 IMPs down. This is why it is suggested not to click this option.
- the Title line should include "E*V*I*L" (to make the match easy to find in the list)
- the Description line must include " +private+ +nokill+ +slow+ " with spaces around the plus signs. This ensures that outside players may not fill the seats without being invited, the team match stays in the BBO list until all seats are filled, and the team game is not abandoned by the system if there is a delay.
- Form of scoring must be IMPs.
- Deal source must be "Use random deals."
- Seating rights: captains should discuss this when arranging the match. The first issue is whether one or both teams have more than four players in the match, or whether either team wishes to switch opponents at halftime. The person who sets up the match should be given a list of players on the other team to invite, including which players are playing as partners, and those players are seated first. If there is a second segment with different players, the same player sets up the match and seats his own team’s players first, then confirms in chat where to seat the other team’s players. If the players have not discussed this, the match is played in one segment but players can be substituted in and out when the match is half done.
- Conventions and regulations: The top division of the event will be run under the ACBL Open+ Convention Chart (Multi 2♦ is allowed), the second and third divisions will be run under the ACBL Open Convention Chart (no Multi). ACBL Alerting and Announcing rules apply, except that players must be aware that in online bridge we alert and pre-explain our own conventional calls and do not alert or explain partner’s. In fact, partner’s alerts and explanations are unseen until the end of the auction.
- Substitutes, team rosters: A substitute cannot obviously stengthen a team, but if one is needed in an emergency, the commissioner will allow it and adjust the score of the match to reflect the fact that one team used a substitute that clearly made them much better. Do not expect huge handicaps based on this rule: if the lowest-ranked team in the league needs a Grand Life Master for a match, the handicap will probably be about .75 IMPs per board. We’re going to need subs to keep us going and most of them will not require an adjustment. Teams may add new players or delete an unused player who wishes to play on another team. Substitutes should not play in matches where the result will directly affect their regular team.
- Commissioner, Director calls: McBruce will be the E*V*I*L commissioner, using his own BBO account "McBruce" (NOT the Virtual Club ID "VABC154971": that will only be used to run the qualifying Swiss Team games and BBO messages sent there may be missed during the season). If needed, he may play as a substitute in a match.
- Director calls: The player chosen to host the segment can contact me through BBO chat, but other cannot; once you are in a team game you are in a message bubble. You can send an e-mail or a BBO message to me but I may not see it until several minutes later. Best is for both sides to come to some agreement about an adjusted score BEFORE the match ends and have one player from each side send me a BBO mail; example: "On Board 6 in the Smith-Jones match at the table with 'johnqp' we agreed to adjust 2SN-1 to 2HE+1." At the end of the match you will need to let your teammates know and rescore the board with the adjusted result, and ensure that I have the corrected result.
Another option is to message me with what has happened; example: "On Board 6 in the Smith-Jones match at the table with 'johnqp' there was a long hesitation before the pass of 2H, and the partner then continued on to 2S." I'll take a look, perhaps poll some players if needed, and try to get you a decision.
- Reporting results: The Google Form set up to allow teams to report the results has been discontinued. If your team match is correctly labelled as part of E*V*I*L I will have no trouble finding in on the list of team matches web page BBO creates automatically, and usually the standings will be updated by me shortly after a match ends. (I do occasionally goof this up and switch a segment so that the wrong team wins, so check the website for results and let me know if it is not what you expect.)