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By: Brent Manley

Originally Published in The American Contract Bridge League BULLETIN, 1992

In the real world of bridge, poor technique and mistakes are not always punished. Look at this play problem, for example. The contract is 6 by South. The opening lead is the J.

You can win, pull trumps and take a club finesse, hoping to guess the location of the Q if the finesse loses. Or you could pull trumps and try to guess the Q, hoping the K is onside if you misguess diamonds. Many players might make the slam with either line of play and go on to the next deal unaware that they had taken a risk in an absolutely cold contract.

Proper play is to win the opening lead, pull trumps and play two more rounds of hearts. Follow with the A and the Q. Whoever wins will have to lead a diamond, solving that suit, or give you a ruff and a sluff.

So how can you tell if you've gone wrong? One way would be to sit down at your computer with Bridge Master. The new program was created by the developers of Base III, the most advanced bridge software on the market.

Bridge Master is programmed to teach proper technique. The example above is one of the featured deals. If you take the club finesse, for example, it will lose and the Q will be wrong no matter which way you guiess it. If you go after diamonds first, you won't find the queen. It will always be in the other hand -- and it will never drop. And, of course, the club finesse will lose.

Each deal is set up the same way. You must play correctly or you will go down. But don't worry about being frustrated. Each deal ends with a narrative to help you figure out where you went wrong. It tells how you should have played and gives you the logic behind the solution.

The graphics are exceptional. Everything on the screen is oversized so that even those with vision problems can enjoy the game. Even better is the simplicity of the program. While you're playing, you need no more than three keys to perform all functions.

Besides being a terrific teaching tool, Bridge Master is addictively fun. The problems come in five levels -- from beginner to quite advanced. Disks with 30 supplementary deals are available.

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