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By: Jeff Rubens

Originally Published in The Bridge World, January, 1997

Canadian international Fred Gitelman has pioneered in computer applications of bridge and in promoting our game in the electronic arena. His expertise as a player and skill as a programmer come through in "Bridge Master for Windows" (Bridge Base; software for Windows 3.1 or Windows 95; $59.95), a splendid product. Essentially, the software creates a device that allows you to learn or practice by stepping through prepared, annotated deals. You move at your own pace, make your own decisions, then get to see expert explanations of what should have been done and why. In effect, Bridge Master combines the functions of Autobridge (a device that is effective but limited by its static format) with interactive features that allow you to simulate at-the-table play or to use supporting teaching devices to whatever extent you wish. For example, you can go backwards and review, or take advantage of the special capability to help you learn to count the hands. It is a major pedagogic improvement that the user can get an explanation of an action immediately after that action has occurred, much as in our Bridge Movies, without having to wait for the deal to be concluded. As in many computer products, there are zillions of minor capabilities, different subsets of which will appeal to different people. (There are too many features for us to be able to describe them all satisfactorily yet briefly.)

The bridge materials are excellent. There are 180 deals, but they range from elementary to expert, distributed among five levels. This means that each individual will find roughly 120 deals in his or her enjoyment and learning zone. It also means that one copy can be enjoyed by players of varying experience. Better yet, if you like this software-and we're betting that you will-as soon as you discover which levels match your capabilities you can order appropriate sets of 30-deal refills (at $14.95).

This software moves the state of the art to a new level. What a pleasure it is to be enthusiastic about some computer-oriented bridge products after years of telling fans we had nothing in that line to recommend!

Footnote to registered users of earlier versions of Bridge Master: You can upgrade by sending $30 (which includes shipping) to BMW Upgrade, Bridge Base, 2805 High Sail Court, Las Vegas, NV, USA 89117.

The deals and discussions in Bridge Master for Windows are mostly unsuitable for those new to bridge. If you (or your gift recipient) are in that category, try instead "Bridge Master for Novices" (Bridge Base; software for Windows 3.1 or Windows 95; $59.95), a similar product with 147 deals at beginners' and students' levels prepared by Audrey Grant. If you begin with this version, you can later add selected 30-deal refills that match the deals in Bridge Master for Windows.

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