By: Brent Manley
Originally Published in The American Contract Bridge
League BULLETIN, November 1999
When the original version of this software was published seven years ago, it was a revolutionary product: bridge software that actually did what it was supposed to do (teach good bridge technique). At that time, there were few other products in the software market except for those that purported to play with and against you -- and they were uniformly poor at doing that.
Bridge-playing programs have made great strides in the interim, but they still leave much to be desired when compared to products such as Bridge Master 2000.
The update is the latest in a series of spectacular successes by Bridge Base Inc., the Toronto-based company headed by Fred Gitelman. The Bridge Base product line is worth every penny you spend on it.
What made the original Bridge Master so effective in teaching good bridge play is that it moved the cards around on you. The idea was that if you didnít play properly, you did not make your contract. You could take a two-way finesse for a queen either way and, unless the finesse was the correct play, it would lose each time.
That key element has not changed in the new version, an easy-to-use (can you click a mouse?) Windows product with great graphics and several extra options. Although post-deal analysis is all in English, you have the choice of English, French, German and Italian for the main screen during play. Another aid added with the first Windows version: panels on either side of the screen keep track of the cards in each suit as each deal is played. A claim button lets you get to the end of a deal quickly once youíve figured out the solution.
Problems come in five levels -- relatively easy to quite challenging. Master these, and youíll be ready for some seriously good competition. If you are stumped on a problem, there is a bridge "movie" at the end of each deal to tell how you should have played and why -- and you see the cards in the various scenarios to help you understand.
There are 180 deals covering a wide variety of problems, from trick-one play to compound squeezes. Additional deals are available. If you own an earlier version of Bridge Master, you can upgrade to the 2000 version for less than $59.95.
In bridge software, you can't do better than this.