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How to run Howell for small tourneys

Last updated: July 2022

BBO has support for Howell movements, for tournaments with up to 20 tables. As of July 2022, any username with permission to create tournaments is able to use the howell setting, if they wish, and it is no longer necessary for the host username to be online when the tournament starts.


A clocked pair game that contains +howell+ in the tournament description will automatically be converted into a Howell upon tourney start. Set the movement to Clocked and type +howell+ in the tournament description.

  • This can be used only for tournaments smaller than 20 tables.
  • The system will use the total number of tables to guess at boards per round.
    • You need to specify at least as many pairs as there are rounds or it will fail.
    • Try to make tables a multiple of rounds. Example: 6 tables = 11 rounds. Specify 22 boards, 2 boards per round. 

Those are the bare essentials. Note the following

When the tournament starts:

  • The event will run as a single section Howell, limited to 40 pairs. If you have more than 40 pairs, the event will destroy itself and will not start.
  • You will have as many rounds as needed for a full Howell. Rounds = NumTables * 2 – 1. So 8 tables will produce 15 rounds.
  • You can override the number of rounds via the +rounds11+ description string detailed below, and run a partial howell.


In addition, you can tweak the behaviour with the following strings in the description.

  • If you want a partial howell, use +rounds7+ or +rounds12+ etc. Type the setting exactly like that. +rounds followed by a number followed by a + sign.
  • If you want a break after round X, use +break5+ +break6+ etc.
    • Default break duration is one hour.
    • You can remove +break6+ from the description at any time to resume the tournament.
    • You can have multiple breaks (caution, there are some known bugs there, if you try to edit breaks and break duration during an ongoing tournament).
  • You can use +bduration=30+ +bduration=45+ etc to specify the break duration in minutes. Note the slightly different syntax.

For tournaments of exactly 18 boards +hm18+

  • The string +hm18+ in conjunction with +howell+ (i.e. use +howell++hm18+) will automatically use either Howell or Mitchell.
  • Number of boards in your tournament must be exactly 18. You cannot use +hm24+ or other variations, only +hm18+ works.
  • If Boards to Play is not set to 18, the tournament will run as a Howell even if there are more than 7 tables.
  • If the number of tables is 7 or higher, the movement will switch from Howell to Mitchell

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