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Team League Suggestion Encryption of deals files

#1 User is offline   McBruce 

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Posted 2022-March-10, 12:48

We have a team league on Tuesday Evenings where players set up the team matches from a schedule and standings page posted on my website. It would seem we are not the only one.

As we transition back to live bridge, some may wish to continue playing these team games online and some may wish to play at the club. If multiple matches are played at the club, we usually have them share a set or multiple sets of boards. It would be good to have the online players use the same boards at the same time, but as I understand it this requires that the match creators be given a file which contains the deals in a fairly readable format, which is prone to accusations of cheating: even if I post the file on my website for download minutes before the start, someone could conceivably copy it into a reader and get the deals while playing.

I wonder if there is a way around this where a deals file can be encrypted by BBO so that the deals file can be distributed to match arrangers without the possibility for revealing the deals (or the suspicion of such when results go the other way). It would be a nice option for team leagues.
ACBL TD--got my start in 2002 directing games at BBO!
(Now directing on BBO again, six Vancouver games a week)
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#2 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2022-March-14, 15:21

Given that the dealing machine in the club needs to be able to understand the file, I guess what you are asking boils down to BBO generating an encrypted file plus a public key and supplying a private key/software to the Director only.
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#3 User is offline   paulg 

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Posted 2022-March-14, 17:02

I've been thinking about this occasionally since McBruce posted but have yet to come up with a solution that makes sense for the club and BBO. I like the idea and would have used it, which is one reason I've been thinking about it Posted Image

I think the hybrid nature of the set up can be ignored if you consider that the club provides the deal file, meaning that it has the original for its dealing machine.

One thought was that BBO could provide a facility that encrypts deal files and provides the encrypted file back to the organiser. The organiser sends this file to the online match hosts, who upload this file to their Deal Archive and use it in their team match. When BBO sees that this is an encrypted file, perhaps through a tag, it decrypts it and uses it for the match.

All the encryption and decryption is done by BBO, so there is no key sharing required, but BBO would need to store sufficient information 'somewhere' to be able to decrypt the file. Of course the organiser, and match hosts, would have both the input and output of the process and could seek to understand the encryption used for future nefarious purposes: but I don't think this is a real problem.

One concern would be scalability if everyone was using this, given the number of team games played on BBO. I guess there would be few of these events, which is good in the sense that the extra load on BBO would be very small but bad as it is a lot of work for the benefit of not many users.

Of course the real answer is that the organiser should run all the team games on BBO. Clearly the games have to start at the same time, otherwise there are obvious security issues. If we don't trust the match hosts, then is BBO the right platform given the hosts can chat privately to any member of their team while they are playing?

It's a real pity that we've stopped trusting people.
The Beer Card

I don't work for BBO and any advice is based on my BBO experience over the decades
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#4 User is offline   patr1cks 

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Posted 2022-April-28, 06:10

We have been running games of this nature for the two years of the pandemic, and handling the distribution of boards by sending an email to the match host in the half hour before the match.

Obviously someone could still analyse this file and cheat, but this approach limits the numbers who have access to the file, and nobody has raised any suspicion of cheating in that time.

The one problem that has come up is this : a match gets delayed by a number of minutes, and what do people waiting about naturally do - they go and watch at their friends' table. Oops - if they are in the same league this is deals they are just about to play. You can avoid this with NO KIBS, but we have seen the occasional accident of this nature.
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