ACBL has converted to a new software program in order to more securely create computer-generated deals. In making the announcement, Robert Hartman, the organization’s chief executive, calls Big Deal the world standard when it comes to bridge dealing programs.

“Big Deal is widely used throughout Europe and in World Bridge Federation events,” says Hartman. “All the boards in play at the Fall NABC in Orlando will use the new program, and effective January 2017, all the hands for regionals, sectionals and special club games as well as NABCs will be generated using Big Deal.”

Hartman met with the creator of Big Deal, Hans van Staveren, at the recent World Bridge Games in Poland. “Hans volunteered his assistance, offering to do whatever was needed for the ACBL to seamlessly integrate the new program into current programs and internal processes.”

The ACBL upgrade was triggered by the announcement this summer that given three consecutive deals in a session, a program (running up to an hour on 50 computers simultaneously) could, by “brute force,” determine the succeeding deals.

“While it is highly improbable that players were using this method to illegally gain information,” Hartman says, “the fact that it was possible meant our deals were vulnerable.”

Van Staveren, who lives in the Netherlands, says that one of the reasons he wrote Big Deal in the late 1990s was the repeated occurrence of sets of hands. He believes strongly in the system, which relies on a cryptohash – a mathematical algorithm – as a random number generator. “These crytohashes are used to guarantee safety in international banking, protecting billions of dollars,” he explains on Bridge Winners. “So, as long as I do not read about the end of the financial world, I am not worried about our bridge hands.”