Improving your partnership
with BBO's Partnership Bidding

David Babcock


Bridge Base Online's Partnership Bidding facility provides a way for partners to work on their bidding at little or no cost (little cost if the partnership wants to rent robots, no cost otherwise). A partnership can do a great deal with the capabilities provided — but it can do considerably more if the program DealMaster Pro is in the partnership toolkit. The two programs are not designed to work together, but DealMaster Pro's ability to create files in BBO's native format allows the two to cooperate well enough for almost any serious partnership to be able to benefit.

In this discussion:

Text in boldface is text that you will see on your screen. (Occasionally, such text will appear in capitals on your screen though it is not so written here; this is not a problem.)

The '/' character represents a window hierarchy: for example, "A / B / C" means you have clicked on A, then clicked on B, and are looking now at C.

We assume here a basic working knowledge of Microsoft Windows and of BBO, and we assume that the BBO user is running the Windows client version of BBO rather than the browser-based version. The reason for this is that what we are doing relies on BBO having easy access to the local computer's file system in order to read and write Bridge Movies. A browser-based application has too many difficulties with this (because of security issues) to be useful to us.

Any PB session run as instructed here will create a Bridge Movie of the hands and your auctions. This Bridge Movie is distinct from any Bridge Movie that is the input to a BBO session (as when DMPro-generated hand are used). All Bridge Movies have the same format and can be read via Open Bridge Movie from your computer on BBO's log-in screen.

Bidding hands generated on the spot by PB

We look at the proceedings from the point of view of the partner who will open the PB table.

  1. Log on to BBO — perhaps having turned on Log in as invisible.
  2. Under / At a table, in the Log deals panel, be sure When playing is turned on.
  3. Under Other Bridge Activities, choose Partnership Bidding.
  4. Click on Start New Table.
  5. Click on Opponents' Bidding… in the box that pops up, under East-West Bidding, unless GIB is grayed out (because you have not rented robots), you can select GIB if you want robots to bid the opposing hands; otherwise, select Pass throughout. Then click OK.
  6. In the Type panel, select Constrained, and if you want the North and South hands to be interchanged randomly when you constrain the deals, turn on Switcheroo. You probably want to turn on Invisible as well.
  7. In the North panel, enter the BBO name of your partner in the Reserve text box, and below that, select Any hand, or select whatever constraints you like on the North hands that will be presented.
  8. In the South panel, select Any hand, or select whatever constraints you like on the South hands that will be presented.
    (Probably the simplest practical set-up here, and recommended for a first try, is to have turned on Switcheroo, have selected Any 11+ HCP for North, and now to select Any hand — with this arrangement, one or the other partner, or both, will get some 11+ HCP hand each deal.) Click OK.
  9. Click on South – Click to sit and await your partner's arrival in the North seat.
  10. When your partner sits down, PB will deal the first board. Bid it. (If the robots are bidding the East-West hands, you may inquire about the meaning of any of their bids by clicking on it.) When you have finished the board, a Bridge Movie window may pop up; close it.
  11. For as many more boards as you want to bid, click on Redeal.

Using DMPro to create deals for BBO Partnership Bidding

We assume here that DMPro is running and that the reader knows how use the program to deal some number of boards according to a prepared specification and has selected a specification, with the result that the Dealmaster Pro: Simulator Control Center window is displayed with the selected specification loaded and visible in the two left panels. We further assume it is the North hand that has been specified to open the bidding.

  1. In the # of deals to create: spinner, choose 12, then click OK.
  2. In the Dealing complete! dialog box, click Click here.
  3. In the Preview with Reject Option window, click Next to accept Board 1. Board 2 will appear. Type 'N' (or click on Flip N/S) to exchange the North and South hands — you are doing this not just with an eye to giving both players chances with each side of the bidding agreements, but because East is dealer on this board and you do not want the responding hand, which is South before the "flip", to have the first chance to bid for our side. Click Next to accept Board 2.
  4. Continue in like manner for the remaining boards, typing 'N' (or clicking on Flip N/S) to exchange the North and South hands on Boards 2, 3, 6, 7, 10, and 11 and no others and clicking Next to accept each board.
  5. Click Continue.
  6. In the Output Options for Created Deals window, turn on F (Create files for…). Click OK.
  7. In the Output Files Options window, turn on BridgeBase (.LIN format). This is the Bridge Movie format. If appropriate for your environment, also turn on Remember and recall these settings. Click OK.
  8. In the Save As dialog box, set the path to C:\BRIDGE BASE ONLINE\hands\{your BBO name}. Name the file-to-be as you wish in the Name of LIN text box. Click Save.
  9. If you will want to bid the North-South hands uncontested: in the Select Hands window, de-select East and West, leaving only North and South selected.
  10. In the Include auction dialog box, click No.

Using DMPro-created deals in BBO Partnership Bidding

  1. Follow the steps given above through setting constraints on the South hand. Some of the choices here won't matter when you use DMPro-created hands; but it can be relaxing, after a set of hands dealt to tightly-defined DMPro specifications, to switch to less-narrowly-defined PB-dealt hands with most of the settings in place.
  2. If you omitted the East-West hands when you prepared the deals, be sure, under Opponents' Bidding, to select Pass throughout.
  3. Click on Movie.
  4. Click on Open.
  5. In the Open Bridge Movie window, locate the file you created earlier and click on Open.
  6. Click on whichever board you want to send — this would usually be Board 1 but it doesn't have to be — then click Send. The board will appear on the table.
  7. Click on South – Click to sit and await your partner's arrival in the North seat.
  8. After bidding any board, if you want to bid another board, click on Movie and then select and send the board as above. Repeat as often as desired.
  9. When you are done with the DMPro-created boards, you may switch to PB-dealt boards by clicking on Table and making any appropriate changes: for example: Click OK. You will get a mini-cascade of messages. Click Cancel in the Table window and then click OK in the foreground message. PB will have picked up the deal creation with the next number deal; now continue as though PB had been creating the boards all along (see above). By your doing things this way, the Bridge Movie that was opened to record the auctions of the DMPro-based bidding has stayed open: auctions on deals created now by PB will appear in the same Bridge Movie as those from the DMPro-created boards. Remember that now you get a new board by clicking on Redeal.

Using other deals in BBO Partnership Bidding

It is perfectly practical to use deal files that were created elsewhere, as long as they are in .PBN or .LIN format.

Hans van Staveren's Dealer program1, now maintained by Henk Uijterwaal, is an excellent, if more than somewhat forbidding, tool for the generation of sets of deals in .PBN format according to a specification.

Creating a .TXT document of the hands and auctions after the session

  1. If you are in BridgeBase, exit;
  2. Start BridgeBase;
  3. Click on Open Bridge Movie from your computer on the BridgeBase start-up screen and open the desired file;
  4. Click on the printer icon on the bottom of the screen;
  5. When you see Export to text file?, click Yes .

Your hand records and auctions will appear in whatever application is associated with .TXT files on your computer. (This will be Notepad unless that setting has been changed.)


Revised January 2, 2013.   An earlier version of this article appears on the  site .