BridgeTab User Guide

by Matthew Kidd
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This guide documents how we use the BOS and the BridgeTab software, running on Amazon Kindle Fires at the La Jolla unit games.

Most of the material below is covered in the BOS Package documentation (6 MB PDF). However, the BOS documentation is poor, confusingly organized, and covers many cases not relevant to our use of the software. The translation from Swedish doesn’t help but the confusing organization cannot be blamed on the translation. Moreover, BOS is designed to work with multiple national bridge scoring programs, e.g. ACBLscore, and the way in which all the pieces interact is fundamentally confusing. No twenty-first century software engineer would design the interaction this way if starting from scratch; unfortunately decisions from the 1980s are baked in.

Step by Step Guide

The first five steps should be performed at least five minutes before the game starts so as to avoid unnecessary delay in making the BridgeTab software available to the players for data entry. You can not proceed through step 6 until you know how many pairs and what movement you want to setup in ACBLscore.

1. Reboot the network router

The router is on top of the desk on the stage. There is no power switch. Simply unplug the power cord from the bottom read of the router, wait a few seconds, and plug it back in. The local area network (LAN) should be ready in a few seconds. Connectivity to the outside world may take a minute or two to be reestablished.

(This step isn’t absolutely necessary. Commercial networking equipment often runs for months or even years without being rebooted. But commodity retail networking equipment isn’t manufactured as well and its software is often sloppy, subject to memory leaks and other long term problems.)

2. Start the BOS Software on the laptop

Double click on the yellow BOS icon on the desktop.

When prompted to select an event, click on the ‘Create new’ button. For the event name, use YYMMDDA format, e.g. 170910A for the afternoon session on September 10, 2017. The main BOS screen will now appear as shown below. Note: some items are disabled as indicated by the light green crosshatch; this is normal.

Main screen of the BOS software

Do not start ACBLscore before starting the BOS software. ACBLscore will be launched from the BOS main control panel later.

3. Import the deals from the DUP file

Deal section of the main BOS software menu with Import button circled

Click on the Import button in the Deals section of the Main BOS control panel.

When prompted for a file, choose the DUP file. It will be named YYMMDD.dup, e.g. 170910.dup and is provided by whomever makes the sets of boards, usually Wirt from Adventures in Bridge. The DUP file can be loaded from a USB memory stick or anywhere else. My recommendation is to first copy the DUP file to the C:\ACBLSCOR\GAMEFILE folder and then load it from that folder.

The DUP file contains an electronic version of the hand record. After the load is complete the DupSoft control panel in the next section will appear.

4. Run the double dummy solver

Click the Ma button to compute the makeable contracts. This take a minute or two because the BOS package uses the old Deep Finesse engine rather than the much faster Bo Haglund double dummy solver that ships with newer version of Dealmaster Pro. The number of deals analyzed is shown at the lower left.

DupSoft control panel after deals are import with Makeable button circled

The hands are not initially shown. Press Ctrl+H to toggle the display of the hands if you want to check one against the printed hand record to make sure that the correct DUP file has been loaded.

It is probably okay to close the DupSoft window after the double dummy calculation is complete, but I leave it open throughout the game just in case.

5. Start ACBLscore from the BOS control panel

Scoring section of the main BOS software menu with Start Scoring button circled

Start ACBLscore from the BOS control by clicking on the Start Scoring button at the center of the control panel.

Note: ACBLscore has already been set as the Scoring Software. If this default is forgotten, you will be prompted to select the scoring software. This should never happen. But if it does, select ACBL-Score*, check the “Remember this choice” checkbox, and press the OK button.

6. Setup the event(s) in ACBLscore

Setup the event(s) in ACBLscore in the normal manner. Unit games normally have one event—our attempt at sustaining a 0-750 MP limited game having failed—but may have more than one section.

If ACBLscore prompts, “Use Remote Server for score entry”, click Yes.

If there is a half table, click Yes at the “Phantom Pair” prompt, contrary to the information in the BOS manual.

Do not enter the player names into ACBLscore. They will be imported later from the BridgeTab scoring devices.

7. Start interaction with the BridgeTab devices each table

Within ACBLscore, do F11 → BMS to start the interaction with BridgeTab devices at each table (BMS = BridgeMate Server). When asked whether to start the remote server, click Yes.

There are many options to choose. Make sure they are set as shown below. Enter a numeric PIN code for the TD PIN where the screenshot says ####.

Bridge Scorer Control Game Options

Click Save. Players can now press the green Start button within the BridgeTab app. Announce to the players that the scoring devices are ready.

Here is brief rundown on what the options mean, top to bottom, left to right.

TD PIN - Controls access to the tournament director settings on the scoring devices. If you leave this blank, players may inadvertently alter scores or cause other problems and savvy players could cheat.

Player ID - Asks players to enter their ACBL player number. These can later be imported into ACBLscore.

Lead - Asks players to enter the opening lead. ACBLmerge can read this information and include it on the web results.

Show names - Player names will be shown at the start of each round. This helps prevent mistakes, e.g. when there is a skip round.

Rotate compass directions - Shows the situation from the perspective of North, who is traditionally responsible for the scoring, rather than South, as is typical when publishing a bridge hand.

Tricks made/down (US std) - Contract results are entered as the level achieved or the number of undertricks. For example if the contract is 4♠ the choices with be 4, 5, 6, 7 (in green), and -1, -2, -3, -4, … (in red).

Give Feedback - Shows currently available results on the board

Traveler/frequencies - When there are many results on a board, the results may be summarized, e.g. 4 (3x), 4-1 (6x), 4-2 (2x). If this option is not selected, users may have to scroll the results display to see all results.

Show deal - Full deal is shown after the result is entered.

Include Makable - Show double dummy makable contracts underneath the deal.

(Show as) Contracts - Double dummy results are shown as contracts, e.g. 2, 4, 2♠, 3NT.

Show round summary - Shows a summary of all board result for the round at the end of the round.

Permit changes - Allows change to be made to boards on the round after the summary of the round is shown. This allows players to correct the occasional error without director intervention. This option is particularly helpful when boards are being shared between tables and therefore not always played in order.

Recap - Allows pairs to see a recap of their results at the end of the game.

Our settings closely match the setting used at Adventures in Bridge. This makes it easier for players.

If you make a mistake with the settings, click on the ‘Game settings’ menu to make changes. The changes seem to take effect at the start of the next round.

Bridge Scorer Control Game Settings Menu

8. Click start button on the Bridge Scorer Control program

Press the green start button at the upper right corner on the Bridge Scorer Control program window which appeared after the completion of the previous step.

Inform players that they may now start to use the devices. To prevent unnecessary question from players, consider having the caddy distribute the tablets only after the Bridge Scorer Control program is ready. The caddy should have previously powered on the devices and switched to the Player account (profile); devices powered on from a full shutdown will start in the U526 ACBL administrative account which is PIN protected. See Kindle Fire asks for a PIN code below.

9. Load player numbers into ACBLscore

At the end of the first round, load the player numbers into ACBLscore via F11 → BMN. Check the pair names in ACBLscore to see that it worked.

Note: The F11 → BMN option is not documented in the latest PDF version of the ACBLscore manual (2006).

10. Load results into ACBLscore

Every so often transfer results from the Bridge Scorer Software into ACBLscore via F11 → BMP or more conveniently via the Ctrl+P keyboard shortcut. In order to make sure the result from the final round can be loaded, instruct players not to turn the Amazon Kindle tablets after they finish their last round.

Monitor the result entry progress as shown below. Green boxes means all results for a round have been entered for the given table. Yellow boxes mean at least one result but not all results have been entered. Red boxes mean no results have been entered. Change the Section pulldown (circled in the figure) to examine other section(s).

Bridge Scorer Result Entry Status

Results can be changed at table using the director menu on the BridgeTab software, in the Bridge Scorer Control program by clicking the cell representing a table and round, or within ACBLscore itself. It is best to change scores in the Bridge Scorer Control program. If the score is changed in ACBLscore, the contract will not be updated in the BWS file and players looking at the ACBLmerge output online will see confusing results e.g. +200 for a 3♣ contract when 3♠ was actually making five.

11. Last round player instructions

At the start of the last round remind the players not to turn off the scoring devices at the end of the last round.

12. Wrapping up

When the Bridge Scorer Control program shows that all scores have been entered for the last round, press Ctrl+P in ACBLscore to do the last import. Stop the BridgeScorer Control program by clicking on the big Stop (F4) button, and close this window. Close the DupSoft Window. Score the game in ACBLscore and print the results. Exit ACBLscore. Close the BOS Window.

Copy the ACBLscore game file (YYMMDD.ACA), the DUP file (YYMMDD.DUP), and the BWS file (YYMMDDA.BWS) from C:\ACBLSCOR\GAMEFILE folder to Matthew Kidd’s USB thumb device or e-mail these files to him.

13. Power down the Kindle Fires

The best practice is power down the Kindle Fires. The batteries drain much slower if the device is fully shutdown which reduces the number of battery cycles and prolongs battery life. Hold down the power button on each Kindle until the devices asks whether you want power it off. This is a good job for the caddy.

Common BridgeTab issues

Help button in BridgeTab application

Most BridgeTab issues are solved by entering the tournament director mode in the BridgeTab app. Hold down (rather than tap), the green question mark at the upper right hand corner of the app. When prompted for the director PIN enter the number selected in Step 7 and press OK. Occasionally the director PIN does not get loaded on a device. If the director PIN does not work, clear out the PIN you tried, and try again with a blank director PIN.

When you exit the Director Menu by pressing the green Resume button, the application will resume where it left off.

BridgeTab Director PIN interface BridgeTab Director Menu

BridgeTab says Resume rather than Start at beginning of session

This means the last game was not finished in BridgeTab app. Enter the Director Menu, choose New Game and confirm your action.

No player names appear

This isn’t fatal because internally everything is tracked by player number and most of the time ACBLscore will associate a name to a player number using its player database. Even if it doesn’t, the player will still receive masterpoints based on their player number. Still, it is ideal for player name to appear. Enter the Director Menu and choose load names. This loads the entire ACBL Membership, including recently lapsed members, ~200,000 names, which takes 30-120 seconds. Because underneath everything is kludged, the BridgeTab application relies on a different name database than ACBLscore so you may see small discrepancies. A few players are not in the BridgeTab database.

Correcting a score from a previous round

This can be done via the Director Menu but is usually easy to do from the Bridge Score Control program on the scoring laptop as described in Step 9.

Battery runs out

If the battery runs out or a tablet otherwise become in operable, it may be replaced with a new tablet. From within the BridgeTab on the replacement tablet, enter the Director Menu, and select Replace. Enter the section and table number.

Help menu appears

The help menu below appears when the player taps on the green question mark. Simply click the Close button to dismiss this help screen.

BridgeTab Help Screen

Common Kindle Fire tablet issues

Players can handle all the issues below but may need some help from the director or caddy the first few times.

Screen goes blank (enters power save)

Press power button at the top right and swipe upward on the screen.

If this does not work, the tablet may be almost completely discharged. Ask the director to swap in a new tablet for the table.

BridgeTab app is closed

Kindle Fire child profile BridgeTab app launch screen

The BridgeTab app is the only app assigned to the Player user profile. Touch the application icon, the red diamond in the box with a green border, to resume the BridgeTab application.

Kindle Fire asks for a PIN code

Kindle Fire PIN Code access entry screen

If the Kindle Fire asks for a PIN code, the device is set to U526 ACBL adult user profile rather than the Player child profile. Unfortunately this is the default profile when the devices are powered on after being fully powered off (as opposed to merely being placed in the low energy standby mode when the power button is pressed).

First exit the login screen by pressing on the back arrow. Press down on the U526 ACBL user account icon—the blue jewel inside a seashell—for a couple of seconds until both user profiles appear. Tap on the Player account and swipe upward on the screen. The Player account is not passcode protected.

Kindle home screen showing U526 Account icon in the upper right corner Kindle home screen showing both user account icons at the right edge

Kindle Fire tablet maintenance

Charging

It takes about 2 hours to fully charge a Kindle Fire. It is best to charge them the day before a game. However unless they are full drained, they can usually be charged enough to make it through a session if plugged in one hour before a game, i.e. about when the director arrives.

We have three multi-port USB chargers, one 10-port and two 6-port chargers, enough to charge 22 devices at once. The 10-port charger has a power switch.

The micro-USB cables must be connected in the proper orientation. Do not force them in the wrong orientation.

Cleaning

Tablets can be cleaned with Windex and wiped with a paper towel. Sometimes a drop of dish soap and a light rinse with water is necessary.

Storage

Store the tablets on their side in the cardboard box. Do not stack them on top of each other because the could cause the screens on the bottommost units to crack.

Orient all device such that the charging port (and power button) are closest to the top of the cardboard box for ease of charging while leaving the devices in the box.

Battery replacement

If a Kindle will not turn on not matter how long it is charged or always briefly displays the red low battery symbol before going dark, it is likely that the battery needs to be replaced. This is an easy repair. See this iFixit article for details. I’m not sure why it is rated as difficult. I found it easy and a piece of cake compared to fixing anything from Apple. It took me 10 minutes. The replacement batteries can be found for about $10 online and eBay is a good source. You don’t need the precision tweezers set mentioned in the iFixit article—a small jeweler’s screwdriver will suffice to gently pop the battery cable. You do need the plastic opening tools but these are not specific to the Kindles—the one I bought for open iPod Touch devices worked fine.