Timer for Duplicate Bridge:
A Low-Cost Professional Timer For Your Club
Copyright 2017 by Paul F. Dubois. All rights reserved. Version 1.
Timer for Duplicate Bridge displays the time remaining in a round and the number of the round; this supports a Director in keeping the game length within acceptable time limits. Timer runs on any iPad running iOS 8 or later. An older iPad can be dedicated to run Timer; often a club member will donate one. A fully-charged device should have no trouble finishing two sessions without a power source.
Timer also runs on any iPhone 5 or later. Timer can be useful as a personal, small-screen timer for a Director.
Table of Contents
- Quick Start
- Details of Timer Operation
- Using The Settings Screen
- Timing The Session
- Additional Notes
Before launching Timer, the user should go to the device's Settings, tap Do Not Disturb, and tap the "Manual" switch to "On". The Do-Not-Disturb half-moon icon appears at the top of the device. This prevents timing interruptions from such things as text messages and notifications.
The Timer app prevents the device from sleeping when the Timer screen is visible.
Timer sounds a warning tone when there are two minutes left in a round, and another tone at the end of the round. If these tones are not wanted, mute the device.
Launching and Setting Timer
Begin the Timer program by tapping its icon, which is a small version of the timer screen labeled "Bridge Timer". The Settings screen appears first.
The initial settings shown are Timer's default values: 9 rounds; 3 boards per round; no extra time between rounds; 7 minutes per board; and no formal break.
Change each value as desired, by tapping the "−" or "+" to the right of the value. After setting your desired values, tap Timer in the upper-right corner to display the Timer screen.
Note: For less than 3 Boards Per Round, the ACBL standard "Time Per Board" is 7½ minutes.
We suggest using Practice Mode to practice use of Timer's features before using Timer in a live game.
Timing The Session
Initially, the "− | +" adjustment controls for time and round are visible. Tap Start to begin timing. The adjustment controls and the Start button disappear, and the timer updates the screen every five seconds.
The user may tap the screen anywhere to pause timing. The "− | +" controls and the Start button reappear.
At the end of each round, a "Move" screen counts down the extra time set on the Settings screen by the "Seconds Between Rounds" control, if any. The default is zero seconds.
Timer pauses at the end of the round set by the "Break After Round" control. There is no specified time for a break; Timer waits for the user to tap "Start" again.
When the session is complete, the "Game Over" screen appears. After one minute (or sooner if the user taps Settings), Timer resets itself and presents the "Settings" screen, ready for a new session. Tap the device's Home button to leave Timer, and reset Do Not Disturb if desired.
Note: Using the device's Home or Lock buttons during timing pauses the Timer and removes it from the screen. After this or any other interruption, or even a device reboot, Timer always remembers where you were in the session. Launch Timer from its icon and restart it from the Timer screen.
Using The Settings Screen
On the Settings screen, the values displayed can be increased or decreased by means of the "+" and "−" controls that arenext to each field. The adjustment buttons can also be pressed and held to accelerate the change.
The five values are:
The number of rounds to be played.
The number of boards per round.
The number of extra seconds of movement time between rounds. A value of zero starts the next round immediately.
The time allowed per board. ACBL standard is 7½ minutes per board for two-board rounds, and 7 minutes per board otherwise. Novices may require more, and "fast pairs" less.
The number of the round after which the timer pauses for a hospitality break. Leave this value at zero if no formal break is planned. After a break, the user starts the timer by tapping Start to resume play.
Alternatively, how to add time to a round in order to make it a "hospitality round" is explained in Adjustments, below.
Timing Swiss Teams
For Swiss Teams, lower the Break After Round value to zero and then tap "−" one more time. The value changes to an "S". A break will occur after every round.
Set "Number of Rounds" to the number of matches, and "Boards Per Round" to the number of boards in a match, typically 4 and 6 respectively for a club Swiss. (Swiss mode also works for a team match played in segments, such as four segments of 15 boards each.)
Additional Controls On The Settings Screen
The top bar contains:
Reset: Tapping Reset returns the settings to their default values; and
Timer: Tapping Timer displays the Timer screen.
The bottom bar contains:
Practice Mode switch: To practice using the timer, tap the Practice Mode dot to turn it on; the dot will slide to the right and show a dark green bar to its left. Tap it again to turn it off.
In Practice Mode, set Timer to a modest number of boards and rounds to observe the behavior of the timer and practice using the controls. The timer runs the rounds at 75 times normal speed.
Help: Tap on Help to display this documentation; tap Done in the upper-left corner to return to Settings. This documention is also available online; see Support, below.
Timing the Session
Tapping "Timer" in the upper right of the Settings screen displays the Timer screen. The timer is not running—yet. The upper panel displays the time remaining' in the round, and the bottom panel displays the Round number and total number of rounds. Each of the two panels has a "− | +" control to adjust its value.
Tap the yellow Start button to start the timer. The Start button disappears, as do the "− | +" adjustment controls. The timer updates the time every five seconds.
Tapping the Timer screen anywhere pauses the timer; the Start button and adjustment controls reappear. Tap Start again to resume timing.
Tapping the "Settings" button in the upper left of the screen takes you back to the "Settings" screen. The timer is paused.
Begin all adjustments by tapping the Timer screen anywhere to pause the timer. The Timer display reveals "− | +" controls at the bottom right of each panel, and the Start button reappears.
Add time to a round simply by waiting that amount of time before tapping Start, or tap the "+" control in the time panel. Each tap increases the time left in the round by about 15 seconds. Pressing and holding the button accelerates the change.
Similarly, decrease the time remaining in the round tapping the "−" button.
The Round Number "− | +" controls in the lower panel have a more complicated behavior:
Timer goes to the start of the next round.
First tap: Timer returns to the beginning of the current round.
Second tap: Timer returns to the beginning of the previous round.
After using the Round Number "−" control, the time remaining can be reduced by means of the Time "−" control if the full time per round is too much.
During the "Move" period between rounds, tapping "+" advances to the next round.
When adjustments are complete, tap Start to resume timing.
Returning To Settings
Tapping Settings in the upper-left corner of the Timer screen pauses the timer and displays the Settings screen. The current time and round are remembered.
Once timing has started, Boards Per Round is no longer adjustable. Also, the Number Of Rounds cannot be lowered below the current round. Use Reset, below, to have complete freedom of adjustment.
After changing any values as desired, tap Timer to return to the Timer screen; then tap Start to resume timing.
Changing Time Per Board does not take effect until the next round starts.
Resetting The Timer
Tapping the Reset button at the top left of the Settings screen returns all Settings values to default values, and forgets the current time and round number. Reset on these occasions:
- After using Practice Mode, to prepare for a real session.
- Timing was started, but the movement changed the number of Boards Per Round.
- You are trying to set up a new session, but the Timer seems to be in the middle of, or the end of, a previous session. (When launched, the Timer returns to the state it was in last.) Return to Settings, if necessary, and tap Reset.
The Adjustment Cookbook
In this section we give instructions for the most common scenarios.
In the following cases, begin by tapping the screen to "Pause".
To add minutes to this round, tap the "+" button in the time panel repeatedly to add the time desired. Then tap Start.
To advance to the next round early, tap the "+" button in the lower Round panel. The timer advances to the start of the next round. Tap Start.
You are five minutes into Round 3 but several tables are still in Round 2. You decide to restart Round 3 when the slower players catch up. Tap the Round "−" button ONCE. The time returns to the start of Round 3. When the players are caught up, tap Start.
Same as above, but you'd prefer to go back to three minutes left in Round 2. Tap the Round "−" button TWICE. Then press and hold the Time "−" button until it says 3:00, and tap Start.
In the following cases, begin by tapping the "Settings" button. The timer pauses and the Settings screen appears. You do not have to separately pause first.
To not play the last round, tap Settings; tap the "−" control for the Number of Rounds; tap Timer; tap Start.
To speed up the following rounds a little, tap Settings, lower the Time Per Board and/or lower the Seconds Between Rounds. Tap Timer; tap Start.
A late arrival forces a new movement. Tap Settings and then tap Reset. Change the Settings, tap Timer, and (optionally) remove some time from the first round. Tap Start.
Have another problem? The Reset procedure described above can put the Timer in any desired time/round configuration.
To have two or more breaks, set up the first break by setting the Break After Round value on the Settings screen. When the Timer pauses at that break, return to Settings to increase the Break After Round to the next desired value. Then tap Timer. When you have finished the current break, tap Start.
Variations In The Timer Screen's Appearance
Colors of letters and backgrounds alert players to different phases of the session. The time display turns red during the last two minutes of a round. Different backgrounds indicate a Break, if enabled by the Break After Round value; the "Move" period, if enabled by the Seconds Between Rounds value; and the "Game Over" screen indicating that the last round has been completed.
Timing Half-round Movements
Some movements have "half rounds" in which the boards and players move every two of these periods. The scoring program and devices show twice as many rounds and the East/West players and rovers move every other round. For example, the movement H7ROVER has 14 rounds of 2 boards, but the players tend to think of the movement as 7 rounds of 4 boards, because they move 7 times. In our experience, using the larger number of rounds is confusing to them. If you choose to match the scoring devices by using 14/2, be sure to set Seconds Between Rounds to zero.
For support, or to make suggestions for improvements, please email the author at email@example.com. Our website is pfdubois.com/timer, which contains this document.
Timer For Duplicate Bridge does not collect any information at all, including informationabout users, or what they are timing. It does not use any of the device's resources such as the camera, microphone, location, or network. There are no in-app purchases.
Thank you to my fellow directors at the Livermore Bridge Club for their suggestions and enthusiasm for the project. Thank you also to:
Professor Paul Hegarty, Stanford University, whose free course on iTunes University let me get started in iOS programming.
Rob Percival, for his excellent, incredibly detailed course on iOS programming on Udemy.com.
The members of Stack Overflow (stackoverflow.com), whose postings solved many an iOS puzzle.