Running an Event

This is a guide for directors, teachers and club owners, explaining in detail how to run an event using the RealBridge web app. After you have looked here, we recommend that you look at the following chapters.

Session Login Screen

Login process

(changed 19 January 2023)

  • There are three different links for the three different roles of Player, Deputy Director, and Director. Each person should use the correct link. Deputy Director and Director can also play. A session can have multiple Deputy Directors and Directors. 
  • In the top left-hand corner of the login page, you can choose the language to be used. This changes the language throughout the RealBridge application.  Each user has their own language setting. For example, one player can have it set to French and another can have it set to English. Currently, RealBridge can be used in English, French, Greek, Swedish, Danish, German, Spanish, Catalan, Dutch, Norwegian (nynorsk), Norwegian (bokmål), Turkish, Polish, Portuguese, Chinese - simplified and Italian.
  • Enter the full name. Two players with the same name can log in to the same session, as long as they both enter an ID Number (and the IDs are different).
  • ID Number: whatever you like.
    • Typically: federation ID, Club ID, or email.
    • This data is included in the USEBIO file.
    • Can be left blank.
  • Session key is embedded in the link.
  • High contrast UI: tick for people who are colour blind.
  • Those who have more than one camera and microphone can choose from drop-down menus.
  • If a player is logged in and happens to log in elsewhere, with the same name (or the same combination of name and id), the earlier instance of their login will close. The latest login becomes the only login. The reason we have done this is that some people were logging in multiple times unnecessarily.
  • The RealBridge support email address and telephone number are shown on the login (and lobby) screens. If you have a problem when running a session, please contact us. If one of your players has a technical problem with RealBridge, please encourage them to contact us.

Media Verification

  • On the login page, for all persons with a camera: a video preview is at the bottom right.
  • A soundbar shows whether the microphone is working (horizontal, green, running from left to right).
  • The best way to test prior to playing, and self-diagnose issues and resolution, is to visit the camera test page.
  • Players do not have to have video and sound, though it makes the user experience better. We recommend that Director and Deputy Director do have both.

Roles and Permissions

Directors are able to do all actions

Deputy directors have similar actions available but are unable to access:

  • Session Settings (Setting movement, number of rounds, etc.)
  • Advanced Director actions (Setting federation details, kicking players to lobby, etc.)
  • USEBIO (Downloading results for sessions)

Player seating

In a Mitchell or Howell session, the four players seated at a table will play each other on the first round (unless you specified Randomize starting positions in the session settings). After that, the system will move the pairs according to the chosen movement.

In a Swiss Pairs session, on the first round the system does a random draw, then moves every pair. It does not matter where the pairs sat before the session started. In subsequent rounds, the system automatically moves the pairs to play against the correct opponents.

In a teams session, each team should sit together at their team's table. When the first round starts, the EW players are moved by the system to the oppsiing team's table. At each scoring break, the system moves the EW pair back to their home table. In subsequent rounds the same thing occurs. (See also the section about "Auto-swap NS/EW at half-time" below.)

In all types of pairs or teams session, the players should never move manually. If they do this, they will end up playing for a different contestant.

In a practice tables/lounge session, the players are not moved by the system. They remain at the table for the duration of the session. For this type of session, especially when used for teaching, you may choose to have players move manually to fill in gaps. 

In the lobby: Director and Deputy Director view

(changed 10 December 2023)

In the yellow band at the top of the screen

  • Person's name appears at top left.
  • Session name is where you name the event. This forms part of the file names for output files. It also appears on the scorecard and leaderboard. As a Director you can edit the name directly in place. You must do this before the start of Round 1.
  • Buttons
    • Advanced currently has functionality for:
      • General: club parameters; video broadcast; show draw
      • Players: editing players, removing players, destroying pairs; player validation (in countries where this option is available)
      • Load & export: import and export config files; import PBN files 
      • End session: restart session; destroy session
        For details on the Advanced director actions, see later on this page
    • Scores
      • For Director/Deputy Director, shows scores for completed boards, including the current round.
      • For players in the lobby, shows scores for completed rounds.
      See also section on Scores detail

Directly beneath yellow band - Banner announcements

The banner announcement is a message that appears in three places:

  • In the lobby, just below the yellow title bar
  • In the scores window, underneath the heading
  • After the session has been destroyed, in the results pages.

The banner announcement can be added, changed, or removed by the director at any time.

To enter or edit a banner announcement, just type in the box near the top of the lobby screen.  You can go beyond the width of the box; if you do, what the players see will be wrapped to multiple lines. You are able to change the banner throughout the session.

In the lobby In the scores window

Under the yellow band - on the right

  • Information on event
  • Buttons to add and remove tables (will change slightly)
    • Add tables (including half tables) when you like, up to the end of Round 1.
    • Remove tables when you like, up to the end of Round 1 (only empty tables, or half tables). Removing a table also tidies up and condenses.
      See Game in progress for more about this.
  • Current round number
  • Timer information
  • Session settings button opens a window.
  • Open session button. Allows players to join the session. Until you have clicked this, players cannot log in. Only Directors and Deputy Directors can log in. If a player tries to log in, they will see a message saying: "Director has not opened the session yet".
    The idea is to allow the director to fill in the session name, enter session settings, and add tables before the players arrive. All of this can also be done after opening the session.
  • Start round button. This appears after you have clicked Open session. It changes its name based on the round.  At the start of each round it disappears, then it reappears when enough tables have finished for you to start the next round. See Moving players for the next round for details.
    To reduce the risk of accidentally starting an event early, for Round 1 only you have to click twice. After the first click, the button changes to Confirm. If you don’t press Confirm, after five seconds the button reverts to saying Start round 1.
  • The RealBridge support email address and telephone number are shown on the lobby screens (and the login). If you have a problem when running a session, please contact us. If one of your players has a technical problem with RealBridge, please encourage them to contact us.

Under the yellow band, lower down on the right - chat

  • Chat text (colour and name indicate who typed it). The chatbox is taller for players compared to Directors, because players have more room at the top. Requests for the Director are bracketed by diamond symbols and identify the player and table.
  • Send chat button to send chat to lobby (anyone can use this).
  • ANNOUNCE button is visible only for Director/Deputy Director. Announcements go to all tables and the lobby. Announcements are centered and delimited by spade symbols. Note: To do a video broadcast, see the Broadcast section under Communications.
  • Lobby: panel shows a list of people in the lobby; the number in brackets shows how many people are in the lobby. 

Under the white band - on the left - tables

  • Switch view button. You can view the list of tables either as a diagram or in a grid.  This switches between the two views.
  • Sort dropdown. Changes the order in which the tables are displayed. By default, it shows them in order of table number.  The available options are
    • Table number, ascending order
    • Table number, descending order
    • Tables with empty seats first
    • Slow tables first
    • Fast tables first
    • Highest scores first
  • Filter lets you search for a player by name. Enter any part of the player's name, and the list of tables will just show tables that match.
  • Open TD Table opens a table only visible to Directors and Deputy Directors. See TD Table.
  • In diagram view, a table with four seats. In grid view, a table where the rows are tables and the columns are compass positions.
    • Click seat (eg Sit E) to sit (anyone can do this). The seat is now shown as occupied.
    • Click on the table number to visit the table to give rulings or help (only a Director or Deputy Director can do this). For someone else viewing from the lobby, the table has an orange border, and the name of the person in attendance is displayed. At the table, you appear in the top-left corner.
    • After the Director or Deputy Director has left, the table reverts to a black border.
    • If the table has called for a director but a director has not yet gone to the table, the table has a red border. See Director Calls.
    • If the event is Teams or Practice tables, under the table number is a box for the team name or table name. Click this to edit it.  For Practice tables, you might want to label your tables for particular categories of players, like "Novices" or "Players without partners".
    • When a table has completed the round, the colour changes from green to a grey-brown colour.
Lobby with sort Lobby as spreadsheet

Session Settings Details

(changed 29 Dec 2022)

General Settings

(updated 29 September 2023)

  • MiniBridge - Select the checkbox to play MiniBridge
  • Scoring Method - Choose a scoring method, to configure the event. The current list is:
    • Practice (this is for Supervised Play)
    • Teams
    • Matchpoint pairs
    • IMP pairs
    • Board-a-Match (Also known as Point-a-Board)
  • Movement - Choose movement. The current list is:
    • Mitchell (2 winners)
    • Switched Mitchell (1 winner)
    • Howell
    • Swiss
    • Head-to-Head matches
    • Round robin (With and without an intermission. See Scoring & movement notes)
    • For Head-to-Head the number of tables must be even.
    • For  Round robin, if you have an odd number of tables there will be a sit-out. It is possible to determine which team has the sit out, using configuration files. For more about that see RealBridge Config files
    • For Swiss, if you have an odd number of tables there is a choice.
      • Either there will be a sit-out (the team with the lowest score that has not already had a sit-out will sit out.)
      • Or you can make use of "triples".  See Scoring & movement notes
    • For Head-to-Head matches, if you want to change opponents or change your lineup, you must change seats at your home table between rounds. See Advice for directors for more details and advice. If the number of rounds is exactly 2, there is an option to "Auto-Swap". See more about that below.
  • VP Scale - If appropriate, choose a VP scale. This will only be enabled when relevant. A VP scale can be specified for Swiss Teams, Round Robin teams, Head to Head teams, Swiss Pairs, and Howell.
    • 20-0 dis - This option gives whole number (discrete) VPs, for example 19-1, 12-8. This is the WBF scale.
    • 20.0 con - This option gives decimal places in VPs (continuous), for example 19.02-0.98, 12.41-7.59. This is the WBF scale.
    • ABF - This option uses the Australian Bridge Federation VP scale. This option can be used for matches of 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, or 14 boards. See here for details.

In Swiss Teams and Round Robin Teams, the system defaults to using VPs. It will select the WBF continuous VP scale, unless you have already selected a different VP scale. If you do not want to use VPs, you change it back to using no VPs. In all other formats, the system defaults to not using VPs. You can specify VPs if required.

  • Boards Per Round - Set boards per round and number of rounds. Be careful to get them the right way round.
  • Number of Rounds - Set the number of rounds in a session. You do not have to complete all the rounds to export a results file. You cannot add more once you have started. See here for special note regarding Round Robin 2x1/2.
  • Timer - Set the timer, if required. The timer is for information only. It appears on every table, under the board, and also in the lobby. You can specify whole minutes or minutes & seconds. Time can be specified in the following ways:
    • 7:30
    • 7m30 (or the equivalent in the user’s selected language)
    • 7m (or the equivalent in the user’s selected language)
    • 7 (interpreted as minutes)
    • See here for special note regarding Round Robin 2x1/2 and time "per round".
  • First Board - The first board allows you to start at a board other than 1 if playing a single event in multiple sessions, eg 1-24 morning, 25-48 afternoon.
  • Captains - Populate with the names of captains, captains have special privileges, similar to a director. This is only for Teams events. See Captains in Team Matches for details.
  • Captains start - Allows captains to start rounds. This is only for head-to-head matches.
  • Auto-swap NS/EW at half-time - When the teams move after the break, the system rotates the players from the lower-numbered team, so that East-West swap with North-South. This option is available for:
    • Round robin (2x½)
    • A head-to-head match that has exactly two rounds.

Notes about auto-swap:

    • If you enable this option, the players must not manually change seats. If the players swap NS with EW manually, then the system swaps them again, they will end up in the same seats as in the first half. See here for special note regarding Round Robin 2x1/2 and time "per round".
    • If you try to start a Head-to-head match with exactly two rounds without specfiying auto-switch, you will see the message “Two round H2H match WITHOUT Auto-⤨”. This is just a warning.
    • If you try to start a Round robin (2x½) session without specfiying auto-switch, you will see the message “Round robin (2x½) WITHOUT Auto-⤨”. Again, this is just a warning.
  • Randomize starting positions - In Mitchell and Howell sessions, if this is selected, on the first round the pairs will be randomly moved to new starting positions. The pairs will then follow the standard movement from those starting positions. If there is a half-table, it will start at EW at the highest-numbered table.
    This option can’t be used with teams sessions or practice tables.
    In a Swiss Pairs, the system always does a random draw for the first round (or a draw based on the carried-over scores, if there are any).
  • Load PBN File - If using deals from an external source, load a PBN file of the deals.
    1. Click Choose file
    2. Select a file
    3. The system displays the first and last board in the file. This is to help the director or teacher to confirm that they have loaded the correct file. You are notified of any gaps in the range of boards imported.
    4. A confirmation message showing the name of the file is displayed in yellow text on the Session Settings page.

If the file contains fewer deals than specified for the event, the system adds extra deals, making sure that the new deals have the correct board numbers. Eg, for a 24-board event starting at Board 1, if PBN has deals 9 to 14, then the system will create 1 to 8, and 15 to 24. (will change slightly)

For a detailed understanding of "PBN with Play" see the document "Loading PBN with Play Data" and Advanced director actions, later on this web page.

Other Settings

  • Self Alerts - If required, choose self-alerts and explanations. If this is not ticked (and screens are not in use), alerts will be by the partner of the bidder. (will change slightly)
  • Screens - If required, use choose screens.
    • The screen is lowered when cards are accepted. (slightly different for teams - match "acceptance" causes the screen to be lowered)
    • The screen is raised at claim or trick 13.
    • With screens, if you don't specify self alerts, the alert card is not available to the players. That is, you can’t alert your partner’s call and have the alert seen on the other side of the screen.
  • First trick delays - These impose a delay for play in trick 1 for the first three cards. The delay occurs from when a player is able to play a card to when the card becomes visible to other players. The timer starts from the moment the player is able to play, not from when the card is played. This delay can be set separately for the lead, card played from dummy and the card played from the third hand. The maximum limit is 30 seconds.
  • Bidding-box delays - When you set up the session, you can specify a delay of a few seconds before the bidding box is displayed. There are three settings: for dealer's first bid, for the next three bids on the first round, and for all subsequent bids. A setting of zero means that there is no delay. The default is 2 / 0 / 0. The delay for dealer must be at least 2 seconds.
  • Swiss: odd number of teams - For a Swiss teams with an odd-number of teams, you can choose whether each round will have a Triple (three-way match) or a sitout. The default is Triple. See Scoring & movement notes for an explanation of how a Triple works.

MiniBridge Settings

There are many features that allow you to customise your MiniBridge Sessions. These allow you to:

  • Configure it to exactly the version you normally play, or
  • Start with a very simple version, and gradually introduce more as your students gain experience.

The options are all accessed via Session settings. You must check the MiniBridge checkbox, then click MiniBridge settings.

  • When choosing a contract, the declarer can see
    • See the shape of dummy - This will show dummy's hand face-down on the table
    • See dummy's cards - This will show dummy's hand face-up on the table
  • Opening leader can:
    • See dummy - This will show dummy's hand face-down on the table
    • See dummy's shape - This will show dummy's hand face-up on the table
    • Not see dummy - Similar to a normal bridge session, the leader will not see anything from dummy
  • Doubled Contracts - Allows defenders to double contracts 
  • Distribution view - Gives all players the option of viewing the distribution of the cards using a toggle button during play
  • Special effects - Plays special effects when certain contracts are made 
  • Contracts - These are the contracts that are available to the declarer
    • All contracts - This will show a full bidding box, where all contracts are available
    • Default contracts - These are the one level part score, game, slam and grand slam in a suit or no trump.
    • Customs Set - You are able prescribe a custom set of available contracts. Specify the contracts using the abbreviations C, D, H, S, N.
      • Custom sets can be made by prescribing particular contracts, for example: 1C, 1D, 1H, 1S, 1N
      • Custom sets can also be prescribed by using ranges, for example: 1C-1N
      • Both of these will yield the same result.

Warning and error messages

(updated 10 December 2023)

You may receive a warning or error message in various parts of the system. The most common times to receive an error message are:

  • When changing the session settings
  • When starting the session

Other times that you may see a message are:

  • When loading a PBN file
  • When loading a config file
  • When changing the number of tables or the scoring method, after a draw has already been created

Warnings and error messages are accompanied by a symbol to show which one they are. This is an explanation of the difference between a warning and an error:

Warnings ⚠️ Errors 🛑

A warning message tells you about something that you should check.

It does not stop you from continuing.

An error message tells you about something that you have to correct.

You cannot continue. You must correct the error.

A warning is indicated by this symbol: ⚠️

The exact appearance is different on different web-browsers and devices.

An error is indicated by this symbol: 🛑

The exact appearance is different on different web-browsers and devices.

Example of a warning from Session settings:

If you get a message like this, the settings you specified will be saved.

Think about whether the setting you specified is what you want. If it is correct, leave it like that; if it’s wrong, go back into Session Settings and change it.

Example of an error from Session settings:

If you get a message like this, you will still be in Session Settings.

Until you have corrected the error, you will not be able to save your settings.

Examples of warnings when starting a session:

If you get a message like this, you can still start the session if you want to.

Think about whether the settings are correct. If they are, click Confirm start and start the session. If they are not, correct the error before you start the session.

Example of an error when starting a session:

If you get a message like this, you cannot start the session.

Correct the error before you start.

More examples of messages

This error message is because you have omitted the session name:

  • Please enter a session name

These are warnings; if you want to, you can continue without changing anything:

  • Total boards < 8 or > 48
  • Opponents will repeat
  • No timer set
  • Time-per-board is < 6 minutes or > 8 minutes
  • More than one sit-out pair
  • Reserved spaces will NOT be a sit-out
  • Number of rounds < boards per round
  • Screens selection WITHOUT self-alerts
  • You selected 'Randomize starting positions', but this looks like a multi-session event.
  • Two round H2H match WITHOUT Auto-⤨
  • Round robin (2x½) WITHOUT Auto-⤨

Notes on movements

Mitchell movement: verified by Ian McKinnon (author of Duplicate Bridge Schedules).

Howell movement: verified by Ian McKinnon. Variation of Flower. The fastest pair should be seated at 1 E/W to minimize bottlenecks. See Limbo tables.

Advanced director actions

(changed 22 November 2022)

The Advanced Director Actions screen is arranged in four tabs:

  • General: club parameters; video broadcast; show draw; allow people to watch at the table
  • Players: editing players, removing players, destroying pairs; player validation (in countries where this option is available)
  • Load & export: import and export config files; import PBN files, Remove results [from an imported "PBN with play"] (this feature which is described below)
  • End session: restart session; destroy session

Tab: General

Clubs see minor variations of this screen for regional federation validation/verification.

  • Club and session parameters.
    • The parameters will be output in the USEBIO file.
    • Functionality specific to NBOs. In the example above, the functionality shown is for the English Bridge Union.
  • Broadcast video announcement
    • All - Broadcasts to all players 
    • Lobby - Broadcasts to players in the lobby
    • Group - Broadcasts to all players, share screen/applications, invite players to join the speaker (in the top right corner), review and demonstrate play of individual boards

See Communications for details

  • Show Draw - View/publish match assignments. The draw is displayed in the chat window in the lobby, and at every table. This works for Swiss teams, round-robin teams, and head-to-head matches. The Show Draw button works like this:
    • Before the start of the session, it shows the draw for the first round.
    • During a round, it shows the draw for the current round
    • At the end of a round, it shows the draw for the next round.
    • At the end of a session, it shows the draw that would be saved in a config file if you save the file.
  • Watching at the table - Whether people are allowed to join the table to watch or talk.
    • Not allowed (default).
    • Allowed during breaks.
    • Always allowed.

This setting can be changed at any time, by the director. See Watching at the table for details.

Tab: Players

  • Player Validation
    • Functionality specific to NBOs. In the example below, the functionality illustrated is for The English Bridge Union.
  • Edit Player
    Here you can edit the name and ID number of a player if they are sitting at a table. It is encouraged to make these changes early in the session, ideally before the session commences.
  • Remove a player from table
    To remove a player from a table and move them to the lobby:
    1. Select the player
    2. Click Kick player to lobby
  • Remove Player from session
    • It is possible to remove a player from a table, as well as remove a player from the lobby entirely. Once a player name is selected, you must click "Kick player out" and they will be removed from the session. Note that at present the player could rejoin the session. 
  • Destroy Pair - (Only available in Mitchell and Howell pair movements) is used to remove pairs from the movement and scoring.
    Note: all scores are removed, which will remove the score for all pairs they played against. Also note: You cannot destroy a pair and compress two half tables into one whole table.


Clubs see minor variations of this screen for regional federation validation/verification.

Tab: Load & export

Config File

Import session configuration Export session configuration
  • Click Choose file
  • Select a file
  • System displays "Successfully loaded file".
  • A confirmation message showing the name of the file is displayed in yellow text.
  • In the lobby view, the players are assigned to their correct seats.

Config file behaviour:
When you load a config file, it will erase any session settings that you have already created manually. Hence you should load the config file first, then make any other session settings.
If you load two config files in succession, the settings from the first config file are totally removed. This means that if you load a config file, change it, then load it again, there is no risk of retaining unwanted settings from the first version of the file.
Exception: if one config file only contains table announcements and information panels,  and the other file contains only session settings, then you can load both files, and the content of both files will be retained. It is also possible to have a single file containing both table announcements and session settings. That is, if you want to import session settings and a table note, you can use either:

    • One file of session settings, and another file with the table note, or
    • One file containing both.

This exports the current state of the session, for use in the next session of a multi-session event.

    • Click Export config
    • A download link appears in the chat window
    • From the lobby, right-click on the link (CTRL-click on a Mac) to save the file to a specific location. You can left-click which will download to your downloads folder. 

For more information about importing and exporting session configuration, please contact the RealBridge support team.

PBN File load: Loading PBN with Play Data

Introduction and summary

This functionality is available for “Practice”, “Mitchell” and “Howell” sessions.

A director or teacher can load a PBN file that includes results and play data from elsewhere (“external results”). This can be done before starting the session, during the session or at the end of the session. You can import the external results several times, to allow for near-real-time updating of the external results.

This has several purposes:

  • A teacher wants to demonstrate how a hand should be played (see “Group Broadcast: showing the play of a hand” above). For example, “ideal line of play”, “best way to defend”, or “this is how it was played in an expert game”.
  • A group of players, playing either as 4 (just one table), or a roomful of supervised practice players, can compare their results with other players who have played the boards in the past.
  • You are running a hybrid session, with an online RealBridge section and a face-to-face section playing the same boards. You want to combine the scores from the two sections for a single overall result.
  • You are running two RealBridge sessions playing the same boards (eg novice in one session, and club players in the other). You want to combine the scores from the two sections for a single overall result.

A high-level summary.

You can import a PBN file either:

  • In Session Settings, General, before the session starts, or
  • In Advanced settings, Load & export, at any time – before, during or after the session.

What you can load

Before the session, you can load either boards or boards + results.

During or after the session, you can load only results, and you can only load results for the boards that you loaded previously.

When you load results during the session, these results replace all previously-loaded external results. Therefore, you should load a complete set of external results each time.

For a detailed explanation, see document: Loading PBN with Play Data


Removing external results

(added 11 September 2022)

In the Advanced menu, under PBN File load, there is a button to remove the external results. This will:

  • Remove the external results.
  • Re-score the session using only the results from the session.

Exporting USEBIO with or without external results - recommendations

Scenario 1: You use external results from another event.
You want to submit the session results to your national bridge organization for masterpoints.

Your NBO will probably expect the file to contain only the results of your session, scored only within the session. We recommend:

  • At the start of the session, load the external results.
  • At the end of the session, remove the external results.
  • Click the USEBIO button and save the USEBIO file.
  • If you want to, re-load the external results.

Scenario 2: You are playing a two-section event in parallel (eg a hybrid session, or two RealBridge sessions to be scored as one).
You want to generate the combined scores within RealBridge.

  • To show running scores, load the external results during the session.
  • At the end of the session, load the final version of the external results.
  • Click the USEBIO button and save the “combined” USEBIO file.

Scenario 3: You are playing a two-section event in parallel (eg a hybrid session, or two RealBridge sessions to be scored as one).
You want to generate the combined scores outside RealBridge.

  • To show running scores, load the external results during the session.
  • At the end of the session, remove the external results.
  • Click the USEBIO button and save the USEBIO file.
  • Use your external scoring program to combine these results with the results of the other session.
  • If you want to, re-load the external results.

Tab: End session

  • Reboot session
    To erase and restart the session entirely, click Reboot session twice. This:
    • Removes all the players.
    • Deletes all scores and hands played so far.
    • Removes all the tables.
    • Resets the session parameters to the defaults.
    After this, you may rejoin the session and set the session parameters. Your players will be able to log in again.
    This option should only be used after a serious error when you need to start again from scratch.
  • Destroy session
    To destroy a session permanently, click Destroy session twice. This:
    • Removes all the players.
    • Ends the event permanently.
    • Stores the scores, hands, bidding, and play on the RealBridge results server.  Players can view all of this information using the same link as they used to join the session.
    • Deletes the session from the Club Admin screen. (If you already have the Club Admin screen open, a refresh will be required to see this.)
    After this, you can not use this session again for playing. The link stays active forever, but it is now a link to the records on the results server.
    This option is to be used after the session is over and you have saved all required results, hands, and configuration.


Captains in teams matches

(changed 6 January 2022)

In teams events, you can define one or more players as a Captain. This is to allow a non-playing captain to visit their team between rounds and to allow two captains to manage a teams match without a director being present.

To specify the captains, in Session settings, enter the names of the captains in the Captains box. If there are multiple captains, separate the names with commas.

Optionally, you can specify that the captains are allowed to start the session or start a round. To specify this, tick Captains start.

Logging in as a captain

A captain should log in using the player’s link. A captain can do anything that a player can do, and has the additional rights below.

Visiting a table

A captain can visit any table in the director’s seat when the table is not in play. That is:

  • Before the Round 1 starts
  • When the table has finished playing a round
  • When EW have returned to their team’s table between two rounds
  • After the end of the last round

A captain joins the table in the same way as a director does, by clicking the middle of the table.

If a captain is at a table when a round starts, the system moves them to the lobby.


A captain can use the Announce button from the lobby to send a message to every table.

Starting a round

If Captains start was specified, the captains can start the session, and the captains can do the move for each round.

Each captain should go to a table, either as a player or in the director’s seat. They will see a box to start the round. This will only be enabled when all the players are seated.

For the round to start, each captain has to click Start. The system displays information messages showing whether other captains have clicked Start:

This will appear when you are a captain, however, not enough players in your team are seated This will appear when you are able to start
This will appear when the other captain has pressed start. Note: this will not appear if there is only one captain This will appear when you have pressed start

If a director is logged in, the director can also start a round in the normal way, without the captains doing anything.

If a move is started by the captains, every captain has to click Start. Hence you should not nominate too many captains, and each captain should be present throughout the session.

This functionality is mainly intended for a situation where two captains are jointly controlling a single head-to-match, without a director. If it is a larger event, it is best to use a normal director login.

Director Settings

(changed 9 October 2021)

Director settings can be found when a director sits at any seat at a table and clicks the player settings wheel on the bottom right of the screen. When the player settings window appears, for directors there is also a small section in the bottom right with settings for directors. These are similar to player settings as they apply only to you and not all other directors. 

  • Undo notifications - these will alert you when any player requests an undo. This is mainly useful for large tournaments.
    • None - no notifications will be sent to director
    • Message - an announcement like message will appear in your chat box
    • Message & bell - a message will appear with a bell sound to get your attention
  • Move notifications - these will alert you when a move is possible (for pairs events, not including swiss) and when all tables have finished. See Moving players for the next round for details.
    • None - no notifications will be sent to director
    • Message - an announcement like message will appear in your chat box
    • Message & bell - a message will appear with a bell sound to get your attention
  • Director Bell Volume - changes the volume of the bell which accompanies the above notification. This is also the bell for when someone calls the director.

Director calls

(changed 10 December 2023)

Only one person can be at the table as director at any time. A playing director can also be present, but only if sitting in a seat.

The player clicks the Director button. Now:

  • All directors get a notification (yellow text in chat, bracketed by a red book emoji).
  • Players at the table get a notification.
  • Viewed from the lobby, the table border changes to red.
  • All directors get an audible doorbell sound.

A Director (or Deputy Director) goes to the table by clicking in the middle of the table. Now:

  • The director appears at the table, in the top left-hand corner.
  • The director has a toggle to view/hide all player's cards
  • From the lobby, the table border changes to orange, and the director's name is displayed next to the table. When the director leaves the table the table border returns to normal.

Private conversations by video

When a director visits a table, they can have private conversations with players. Clicking the user + button will exclude a player from the conversation and clicking the user - button will include a player. Excluded players will still be able to talk to other excluded players. Please see the page called Advice on how this works with screens. This function will be useful for directors talking to players to make a ruling, as well as supervised sessions with teachers talking privately to students.

Private conversations by text (between director and players)

The Director or Deputy Director can conduct a private chat with one or more players whilst at the table. 
Only the Director and Deputy Director can initiate a conversation. This is done by clicking “Private chat”. 
The chat is visible to those players with the User + symbol.  Players who have the User – symbol cannot see the chat. 
The director chatbox has a red border and covers the table chat.

You might use this when:

  1. You want to conduct chat by text rather than by voice with selected players - perhaps to make it easier to communicate, or because the player(s) do not have speakers.
  2. You are using Google Translate to copy and paste your communication to selected players.
  3. The event is using screens, and you want only one side of the screen to see your text, and you want them to respond to you by text.


Director calls from the lobby

There is also a Director button in the lobby. When this is pressed, all directors get a notification and the doorbell sound.

This button exists mainly for when there is a playing director, or the director is at a table filling in for a missing player.

Starting a game

(changed 29 March 2022)

Adding tables

Click plus to add a table or tables before the event starts.

For adding tables after the start, see Game in progress.

For all teams events, the Director can input the team name in the box under the team number (directly typing on the table). This team name is displayed in all places that show results and information about the team.

Combining and removing tables

At any time before the event starts, click Minus to remove empty tables, or to combine half-full tables.

Eg: N/S at table 1, missing opponents, and E/W at table 7, missing opponents: they get "married" to make a whole table.

Entirely empty tables are removed.

Half tables and sit-outs

Half tables can exist. A half-table can be opened up to convert to a full table. See Game in progress

In a Mitchell or a Howell, if you start the session with a sitout:

  • We recommend that you have the sitout at the highest numbered table. Then, if another pair leaves during the first round, you can move the sitting-out pair to take over their seats. Now the highest-numbered table is completely empty, and you can remove this table by clicking the “Minus Table” button.
    You can only do this if the empty table is the highest-numbered table. Therefore you should start with the sitout at the highest-numbered table.
  • If you have a director who is also playing, we recommend that the director should sit out the first round. This makes it easier for the director to manage any issues and late-arriving players during the first round.

Functionality to help with managing the sitout

Before the session starts, if you click the "Minus Table" button when there is one empty pair of seats, it will move a pair from the last table to fill in the gap. That is, it will correctly place the sitout at the highest-numbered table.

If you start a pairs session with a sitout that is not at the highest-numbered table, you will see this warning:

Empty tables

RealBridge will not allow you to start a pairs or teams event with a completely empty table. If you need to add tables during Round 1, you will still be able to do it after starting the event.

Practice sessions can be started with some open tables set out. As people join, they can sit and start. So you can start on time (or even a bit early) and easily accommodate latecomers.

Starting the first round of the event

Do not start a pairs event with two half tables. If you do that, and then the holes do not get filled in, you will be stuck with two sit-outs.  Before you start the event, click minus to shuffle up any gaps. If you need to have a half table, it should be the highest numbered table.

The Start round 1 button starts the event. After clicking it, click Confirm.  See Moving players for the next round.

If you have an empty table, you will see the message "Can't start pairs event with an empty table".


After you click Start session, the system sends an announcement to every table. The actual start or move happens 10 seconds after the announcement. The same applies if the captain(s) initiate the start.

Game in progress

(changed 26 June 2022)

Adding tables during Round 1

In a Mitchell or a Howell, tables can be added in round 1 only, not later. That is before the move for Round 2 has been made.

In a teams event or Swiss pairs, you cannot add a table after the start.

Opening and closing seats during Round 1

In a Mitchell or Howell, if you started Round 1 with a half-table, or if you have added a table after starting, the empty seats will be a button saying "Add NS pair" or "Add EW pair". To add a pair in place of the half table and allow the players to sit, click this button.

If you click this button on a table that currently has one actual pair and one sitout pair, you will be prompted to confirm that this is what you want to do:

It is not possible to add a late pair in Swiss pairs.

Starting play with a late-arriving pair

Once a table has been filled up, if you want to allow them to play the first round, go to the table and click Play round. If you don't do this, the players will start with Round 2.

Removing empty tables

In a Mitchell or a Howell:

If you have added a table during Round 1 but you don't need it, remove it by clicking the - Table button. This method will not combine two half-tables.

If you created a table before the start that is now empty, and that table is the highest-numbered table, you can also remove this table using the - Table button.

Destroying Pairs

In a Mitchell or Howell, if a pair leaves during a session, you are now able to remove them from the results. The pair becomes a sit-out.


To do this, go to the second page of the Advanced Director Actions. Select the pair that you wish to remove and click Destroy. This action removes all scores for the pair, and also the scores that other pairs got when they played this pair. Note that you can not undo this action.



Meaning of numbers on the tables

Looking at a table from the lobby, you can see how far through the round they are:

1.P  Acceptance of players at the start of a match (at teams and Swiss pairs only)
1.0  Deal 1, bidding stage
1.5  Deal 1, trick 5
1.E  Deal 1 ended, prior to the start of Deal 2. (Players are seeing the yellow screen, relevant for rights and director calls)
2.7  Deal 2, trick 7
R1  Round 1 is complete
R2a The first half of round 2 is complete (Only applicable to Round Robin 2x1/2) 
TD This is a Director Table for directors to communicate. More details in Communications.



It is within a player's rights to pause the round after a board has been finished for the purpose of calling the director. By pressing the pause button all players at the table will wait for the player to click OK before the next board is presented. The primary use for this feature is during a tournament, but also can be used in practice tables to help with teaching.

When a player clicks the pause button, the player's name badge turns pale red, visible to all players at the table and from the lobby. This is useful for a director to see if play is being stopped and can use it as a prompt to visit the table.


During the countdown at the end of a board, there are three new ways that the countdown can be paused:

  • A director who is already at the table can click Pause (like the players can), to temporarily stop the next board from displaying. To do this, the director must be in the mode where he can see the cards (reached by clicking ).
  • If the director comes to the table during the countdown, the countdown is automatically paused.
  • If a player calls the director during the countdown, the countdown is automatically paused. It will remain paused until a director comes to the table. (This does not apply if Captains start was specified.)

After the countdown has been paused by any of these methods:

  • The band below the director’s picture is shown in red, to indicate that they have paused the countdown.
  • The director can resume the countdown by clicking to show the cards (unless they are already shown), and then clicking OK.
  • If the director leaves the table, the countdown resumes.

As a director, this allows you to manage rulings on the board that has just finished.

As a teacher, this allows you to pause to discuss the deal that has just been finished, or to undo and play the board again.

This is in addition to the existing functionality where a player can pause the countdown. In the image below, the teacher has clicked pause as well as the North player.


There is an option to pause the play after each board, at every table.

The main use is for teachers and coaches, who might want to talk about the board with the players before they move onto the next board. This could be either using the Group Broadcast functionality or by going to the table. The teacher might also want to have the players replay the deal, or play a different deal from the next one in sequence.

How to use this: when setting up the session, go to Session settings, then click Options, then select “Stop play after each deal”.

After players have completed the board, it is as though the teacher has automatically gone to the table and pressed the pause button. So, the teacher must visit the table and “OK” the board, once they are satisfied that the players are ready to start the next board.

Moving players for the next round

When more than half the tables have completed the round, the Move button is displayed and enabled for the Director. The name of the button shows which round it relates to.

After you click Move to Round, the system sends an announcement to every table. The actual start or move happens 10 seconds after the announcement. The same applies if the captain(s) initiate the move.

When the Move button is clicked:

  • Pairs that have completed the round, and can move, do so
  • Moving pairs who have finished but have nowhere to go (when the destination table is still playing), go to a virtual table, called a limbo table. See Limbo tables. They get a notification, a yellow Post-it message in the middle of the table.
  • Pairs awaiting opponents get a notification, a yellow Post-it message in the middle of the table.
  • Pairs who are still playing continue to do so, but the moment they are finished, they are instantly moved.

If necessary, the Director can END a board. See End deal.

For directors: When a move is possible, a notification and a bell will let all directors know that a move is possible. When all tables have finished, there is another notification and bell to let directors know all tables have finished. These notifications and bells can be enabled/disabled in the player settings window for directors. 

Limbo tables

See the previous section, Moving players for next round.

Limbo tables have the same table number as the table that the pair are waiting to go to.

At the limbo table, they get a notification in the middle of the table explaining why they are waiting.

From the lobby, the appearance is similar to a grey overlay on the table. It is a good idea to compare this to a half table and a table that is waiting for opponents. The key is to look at the table adjacent to a late table. See Scoring & movement notes for details of movements.

Claims and Undos

(changed 10 December 2023)


Depending on the mode of play, these can range from liberal (allowed to undo all the way from Trick 13 to the beginning of the auction), to entirely disallowed. The current implementation only allows liberal undos. (will change)

After an undo request, the undo must be resolved before play continues. Possible resolutions are:

  • Both opponents accept (or, if the undo request was by a defender during the play, declarer accepts)
  • An opponent refuses. Play continues.
  • A player leaves the table. The undo is canceled.


Declarer or a defender can claim. A claim can be made any time after the opening lead.

After declarer has claimed, both defenders are prompted to accept or reject the claim.

After a defender has claimed, declarer and the other defender are both prompted to accept the claim. (This is because a defender is allowed under Law 68B2 to object to his partner's claim.)

After a claim, the claim must be resolved. Possible resolutions are:

  • Both players accept.
  • One player rejects the claim. The players call the Director to adjudicate.
  • One player rejects the claim. Play continues, with the non-claiming side seeing all four hands. The appearance and layout change for the non-claiming side - see below.
  • A Player leaves the table. The claim is canceled.

After a claim has been rejected, the non-claiming side see all four hands, in a diagram view. They may play their cards from this diagram view.
Alternatively, they can click the button to switch to the normal view of just their own hand and dummy.

Director utilities while sitting at a table

(Changed 11 December 2023)

This view is seen by a director when they join a table by clicking the middle of a table. (This is not visible to a playing director - sitting in a playing seat). Note - this is the view when cards are shown.

Show/Hide cards and bidding

This button shows or hides the cards and bidding. This is useful for a playing director who does not want to see the cards/play/bidding of a board they are also playing.

Skip deal

This can only be done by a Director at the table as director, and only after the cards have been displayed to the players. Skipping awards 50/50 as the default (artificial) score and discards the auction and play that has happened so far.

End deal

This can only be done by a Director at the table as director, and only after the cards have been displayed to the players. Play ends at that point. When selected, if bidding had not yet been completed, the board will be passed out. If the bidding was completed, the director will be asked how many more tricks the declarer will make.

After the deal has been ended by the director, the director and players now see a countdown, so that they can pause the board, just as they can after a board ends normally. This is to allow requests for rulings, or in a teaching session to allow for discussion or for replaying the board.

The Director can modify the result afterwards from the scores window. See Score adjustments, corrections and penalties.

Board Report

The button creates a Board Report, showing the timings of each action. See


Directors are able to apply undos to the table. The types of undos available are to undo a single action, undo to the beginning of the play, or undo to the beginning of the bidding. The director should select a type of undo in the drop-down menu and then click the "undo" button. This is mainly for quick undos for teaching. Note the undo is applied immediately and that the players are not able to refuse the undo.

Show/Hide Played Cards

As a director, and as a player viewing past boards in the Results window, you can view the cards that have already been played. When it is selected, cards that have already been played appear greyed out.

Bidding/Playing cards

Directors are able to bid and play for all players at the table as well as changing historical bids.

Making a bid

By default, the bidding box is hidden. Click the Show/Hide Bidding Box icon to show the bidding box on the right side of the table. A bid/call can be made in the same way as when playing. (This may be Single-click, Two Tap, or Double Click, depending on what you have set in the User Settings.) The bid is made for the player [whose name is] highlighted in yellow. Subsequent bids/calls can be made until the auction ends.

Changing Bids

Directors can change bids/calls and explanations from earlier in the auction. It is also possible to change an explanation if using self-alerts.
To do this:

  • Double-click a call in the auction box to edit it. The bidding box will pop up. From here, click the correct bid (or click on the original bid to cancel). When a call is highlighted, the bidding box applies to that call.
  • Single click a highlighted call to cancel the edit.
  • Alerts and explanations can be removed or added.
  • Note that director-edited explanations do not add; they replace what is there.
  • When editing a call, the bid/call can be changed by selecting a new one from the box. Pressing ENTER in the explanation box will just update the explanation (keeping call the same).
  • Note: If the auction has been completed but the contract is not correct, you must undo "1 action" from the end of the auction to get back into the auction. That is, you undo the last pass, change the last bid, and pass it out again.

Playing Cards

From the director seat, during the play, hover the cursor over a player's cards. Playable cards will turn red. Click the card once and it will be played.

Keyboard Entry

If you are bidding or playing from the director’s seat, you can do this using keyboard shortcuts as well as using the mouse.


  • P or spacebar to Pass - 1-7 + C, D, H, S, N (upper case or lower case) to bid
  • X to double or redouble as appropriate 


  • 2-9, T or 0, J, Q, K, A to specify rank  
  • C, D, H, S to specify suit (upper case or lower case) - If the rank uniquely specifies a valid play then it is made. In particular, when following suit you need only specify rank.  
  • Spacebar will play a card if there's only one legal play (eg singleton)  
  • Spacebar will play the lowest card when following 
  • Spacebar will play the lowest card, in the lowest ranking suit, of the person on lead
  • U, Backspace, or Delete will Undo 1 action  
  • E moves the focus to the Explanation box. Pressing Enter in that box loses the focus (ie so you can make a bid) 
  • You can specify rank and suit in either order

Deal navigation and replay

For teaching and coaching purposes, it is possible to:

  • Play a board out of sequence
  • Play a board again, right from the beginning

To do this, go to the table as the director, select a deal on the right-hand side, and click Go to deal.

When might this be used?

  • A teacher notices that players misplayed a hand, they want the players to play it again, or they wish to demonstrate the best technique.
  • Teachers have a theme for the lesson, and they would like players to play a specific board, then play another that is similar or contrasting, to emphasize a tuition point, then return to the normal sequence.

In the screenshot below, the current deal is number 4. The teacher can choose to go back and play deal 2 again, or go forward and play deal 10.

Possible warning messages and their meanings:

If you specify a deal that has already been played at this table, you will see this warning message If you click Go to deal when the table is already part-way through the current deal, you will see this warning

After you have seen either of these warning messages and clicked OK, the Go to deal button changes to a Confirm button. To confirm that you want to perform this board change, click Confirm to go to the specified deal. If you don’t want to do this, do nothing; after 5 seconds, it reverts to “Go to deal”.

Scores detail

(changed 21 December 2020)

  • During a round, a Director or Deputy Director (who is not seated at a table) sees the results of all completed boards.
  • A player (including a playing Director/Deputy Director) can only see results and comparison from completed rounds, plus completed boards from the current round.
  • After a table has completed all the boards for the round, the players can see the results and comparisons from other tables.
  • For example, playing 3 board rounds:
    • After finishing Board 1, the players can see the diagram for Board 1, their own bidding and play, and any alerts or self-explanations.
    • After finishing Board 2, the players can see this information for Boards 1-2.
    • After finishing Board 3, the players can see complete information for Boards 1-3 at every table that has finished the board, together with the IMPs or matchpoints. This information updates as other tables complete each board.
  • We advise using the word "Review" to describe the ability to review the auction, play, written explanations, and alerts. This is the action of clicking the result (wherever that exists, eg traveler, personal scorecard, etc).
  • When a score has been adjusted by the Director, the Director sees it immediately. The players will see it at the end of the round, or earlier.

Exporting results, deals and bidding/play record

(Changed 10 December 2023)

The USEBIO button outputs files of data relating to the boards, results, scores and players.

The director can click USEBIO at any time after the start.

Normally there are five files:

  • The USEBIO file contains the contestants, scores and results. The USEBIO version is 1.2 or 1.3*. For more information about USEBIO see:
  • The USEBIO file with play also includes the bidding and play at each table, using an extension to the USEBIO 1.2 standard.
  • The PBN file contains the deals. For more information about PBN see:
  • The PBN file with play contains the bidding and play at each table, as well as the deals. (More details in Scoring and Movements)
  • The Player list is a CSV file listing all the players who have played at least one board. It shows the player name, the ID number that they entered, and the number of boards they have played. The list is in alphabetical order.

All exported files are in UTF-8.

* By default, the USEBIO file is in version 1.2 format. If you would like to export USEBIO 1.3 output, please contact .

How to save a file

  • Windows: right-click to save the file to a specific location. You can also left-click, which will save the file to your downloads folder. 
  • Mac: CTRL and click at the same time to save the file to a specific location. You can single click which will download to your downloads folder. 
  • Android: press and hold
  • iPad: press and hold

Additional files

For Board a Match, also known as Point a Board, there is an extra output file. This contains the results scored as though it was a matchpointed pairs event.

If the director has loaded external results from a PBN file, there are two extra USEBIO files. These files have “combined” in their name. They contain the combined results, with the external pairs as well as the pairs who played in this session. The standard USEBIO files are also exported - these have only the pairs from the current RealBridge session, with scores and ranks calculated using the combined set of results.


(Changed 26 June 2022)

As a Director/Assistant Director, the chat window shows what you have seen during the entire session. If you join a table, you do not see chat that was typed before you arrived. If you leave RealBridge and rejoin the chat window is empty it is as though you have never been there before.

Video Broadcast

The Director can make audio/video announcements to all the players simultaneously. See Broadcasting.

Director Table

You can create an extra table that is not part of the movement, for directors or teachers to meet and have audio & video conversations.

Creating a Director Table

At any time (before or after the session has started) the Director clicks Open TD Table. This creates the TD Table for the remainder of the session.

Before opening the TD Table:

After you have clicked Open TD Table, an additional table appears before the normal tables:

How the Director Table works

There may only be a single TD Table. Up to 4 people can sit there.

The TD Table is not visible to players, and players cannot join it. It is visible to all Directors and Deputy Directors. Any Director or Deputy Director can join the TD Table.

At the TD table, the layout is similar to a standard table, but no cards are shown:

You can use audio & video or text chat, just as at a table. This is not visible to players.

A subset of the normal buttons are available:

  • The Director button sends a standard director-call message to any Directors or Deputy Directors who are logged in.

  • The Scores button shows the same information as the Scores button would show from the lobby.
  • The Settings button works as normal.
  • The Leave button returns you to the lobby.

Commonly occurring requests for help

(changed 26 November 2021)

Situation Advice
I cannot play a card from dummy Check for two taps UI settings.
Advise looking at Settings icon, and reading the description of the two taps mode.
My bidding box is missing Check if it is their turn to bid. A player only gets a bidding box when it is their turn to bid.
I can't lead Check whether the auction is over. When the auction is completed, the contract is displayed in the bottom left, near the trick stacks.
Last trick—cannot see it Check whether the player has already played to the next trick.
Complaint about seeing last trick when partner has played Describe the face-to-face action of not quitting a trick. Seeing last trick is the equivalent to this, as in online play you don't physically turn over your card to finish the trick.
Next deal will not appear Deal has E indicator. A player has prevented the next Deal from appearing by clicking Pause. They must now click OK.
Next Round button is not visible Fewer than 50% of the tables have completed the round.