By: Paul Linxwiler
Originally Published in The American Contract Bridge
League BULLETIN, August 2001
Fred Gitelman has long been recognized as the creative force behind much of the premium bridge-related technology and software available on the market today. His bridge-playing software engines are the backbone to instructional material such as ACBL's own Learn to Play Bridge (written by Gitelman, himself), or from player/writers such as Larry Cohen and Mike Lawrence, as well as many other products, such as vugraph presentations.
Gitelman's latest effort, however, is exponentially more ambitious. He and partner Sheri Winestock have launched a new website. The purpose of the new website is multifaceted. As usual, Gitelman has created something first-rate that deserves serious attention from the world bridge community.
The website, Bridge Base Online, can be accessed after downloading the free software available at www.bridgebase.com/online. Gitelman has created a forum for visitors to enjoy the game in a variety of ways. First, of course, the site allows visitors to play bridge. Participants may choose from different scoring methods (rubber, IMPs, matchpoints, etc.) and may even choose between playing random deals versus playing deals from recent major events.
An online lecture hall may also be found on the site, where expert players wax eloquent on a variety of topics. (The week this was written, for example, Gitelman had scheduled a lecture entitled "Playing Bridge with Zia".) Players may browse a host of instructional topics in the online library or simply "lounge" in the chat room to talk with friends or strangers.
Another feature is the Vugraph Theatre, which has an impressive array of complete bid-and-play records from recent high-level contests.
Perhaps the most important gadget on the site is the "Movie" option, which allows players to create (or recreate) deals they're interested in studying and sharing with other players. The significance of this, of course, is that teachers and students can easily analyze the same deals. Had a problem deal at the local dupe last night and want to ask your mentor (who lives in another city) how she would have played it? Want to demonstrate the correct way to defend a hand with your student(s)? This platform is super for this type of activity; it's a virtual classroom.
Finally, a section of the site is devoted to partnership bidding, where a pair may practice their methods on groups of hands whose parameters can be selected by the participants. Want to practice your 1NT auctions? Preemptive bidding? It's easy to do here.
The technical achievements and breadth of this site make it a must-see.