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COMPUTERS LEND A HAND
By: Matthew Granovetter

Originally Published in The Jerusalem Post, July 17, 1997


With the increasing popularity of the Internet, the game of bridge is changing. If you have the right hardware and software, you can now play live bridge on the computer, watch bridge games and even view famous bridge games from the past.

Perhaps when the Jewish sages said that our entire lives will be played back before our eyes in the hereafter, they weren't kidding. (Though in the case of bridge players, you may be very unhappy to see some of your mistakes a second time!) In this life, anyway, you can now watch thousands of bridge deals from the past, with the option of pausing the play at any point to review the position. You do this by logging into "Bridge Plaza" (http://www.bridgeplaza.com). From there you will find directions to download the required software and choose among computer "VuGraph shows" (52-card diagrams in which the cards actually "move") from championship events.

Bridge Plaza will also help you connect to other interesting web sites, such as the American Contract Bridge League web page, book dealers, and private pages, such as Israel's Ophir Herbst's homepage. Two of the people behind Bridge Plaza are Toronto's Fred Gitelman and Sheri Winestock, who are here this week as part of the Canadian Maccabiah bridge team (which also includes Steve Aarons, of Toronto, and Peter Schwartz, of Montreal).

Gitelman was a pioneer in revolutionizing live VuGraph presentations. A decade ago, VuGraph was presented by simple overhead projector and screen. Four hands were typed on a sheet of paper and someone at the projector had to write in the bids and cross off the cards as the hand was reported by microphone from another room. Gitelman changed all that. He created a computer version, which showed the bids and plays in large, colorful illustrations. In the last few years, he incorporated this to the Internet.

Gitelman is also famous as the producer of the best-selling software for home computers: Bridge Master. This Windows-based product allows you to study bridge and improve by playing instructional hands on your computer. Readers who are interested should contact Gitelman this week at the Mecure Hotel in Jerusalem, where the Maccabiah bridge tournament is being held (through Wednesday, July 23).

Opening lead: 5

IN 1995, in Beijing, Gitelman's Canadian team reached the final of the world championships after defeating Sweden in the semifinals. Gitelman was South on this week's deal from that match. West opened the bidding with 2, showing a two-suited hand with hearts and a minor, 7-11 points.

Gitelman's partner overcalled 3 and Gitelman made the aggressive call of 3NT. There were two strikes against this call: first, he didn't hold a real heart stopper, and second, he had no club honor to help his partner run the club suit. Nevertheless, his daring bid succeeded after West's low-heart opening lead.

West's lead was reasonable, however, because declarer rated to have three hearts for his bid. By leading a low heart instead of an honor, West would leave East with a heart return if East started with a doubleton.

Gitelman won the first trick and took the club finesse. When the 10 held, he led another club to the J and the cashed the A. East showed out and Gitelman now had to guess the location of the Q for his ninth trick. Since West had already shown up with 10 points (the A-K and K), East was almost a sure bet to have the Q. So Gitelman cashed the A and led the J for a finesse. When it succeeded, he had 10 tricks.

At the other table the same contract was defeated when Gitelman's teammate led the A and K on opening lead, cashing the first six heart tricks. But at that table East had raised hearts, so the lead of an honor was indicated.

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