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By: Jim Loy

Originally Published in The Bridge World, October, 1998

We asked Jim Loy, an aficionado of bridge software, to examine a new product based on a Bridge World feature. His review follows.--Ed.

"The Bridge World's Master Solvers' Club" (Bridge Base; software for Windows; $34.95) consists of back numbers of the Master Solvers' Club, presented on your computer, pure and simple. The basic product comes with three years' worth (1994-1996), 36 eight-problem quizzes; upgrades, with other years, presumably both earlier and later, will become available in the future.

To emphasize how trivial are my complaints about this product, let me first say what I don't like about it. The colors are garish, not the restful greens and such that bridge players may prefer. Yes, you can select your own colors, but that is tedious. Your hand is shown as it appears in the magazine (e.g., K 10 3 2, etc.), not as pictures of actual cards. That's about it for complaints.

For those who have a computer, this is what the MSC should have been like, all along: as in the magazine, but handier. You log on, choose a user name, and, if you wish, tell the program to keep track of your scores. (Other users can do the same.) Naturally, I want to get through the preliminaries as quickly as possible and play bridge, so I am already looking at the first question. I see my hand, the previous bidding, and a list of reasonable choices. To the left is a list of panelists, with my name at the top of the list (a minor ego trip). I choose to double. Instantly, I am informed that I scored 100. (I was lucky, but the program doesn't say that.) Now, let's scroll through the comments. I see who agreed with me, who didn't, and who is quoted. Zia agreed with me, and I immediately read his comment. He doubled reluctantly, because there was nothing better. Kantar disagreed with me; I read his comment. There are several different ways I can enjoy the discussion.

Basically, this is the MSC plus instantaneity. You don't have to thumb through the pages. You don't have to dig up the correct issue. If you need to check Bridge World Standard, it is there at the touch of a button. The program works very well (the word "handy" keeps coming to mind as I use it), and I really like it.

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