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By: Jeff Rubens

Originally Published in The Bridge World, June, 1998

In our October, 1996, discussion of the state of bridge software, we hoped that Mike Lawrence's Counting at Bridge was a harbinger of a new generation of worthwhile products. Mike's next entry to the lists, "Private Bridge Lessons, Volume 1" (Bridge Base; Windows 3.1 or higher; $34.95 plus $5.00 S&H) meets our expectations: The bridge quality remains high, scope is broadened, computer capability is used to add a valuable resource, and the earlier price has been maintained.

As before, the base is Fred Gitelman's easy-to-use movie-like presentation that allows the user to interact comfortably with the author. The deals are at intermediate level-there are roughly 100, the exact count depending on which of the many variants one considers "new." The main focus is on declarer play in several different areas (including throw-ins, squeezes, safety and percentage plays, using entries, and counting), but, as might occur in a face-to-face lesson, the author takes time out to discuss interesting matters of bidding (and, occasionally, defense) as they arise.

In Counting at Bridge, the user knew the underlying idea of each deal. The same flaw appears in most instructional books, when insufficient care is taken to mix other-topic themes with each chapter's quiz questions. That drawback is eliminated here. The computer can be instructed either to present the problem deals in groups, allowing a topical lesson, or to produce a random order, enabling more realistic practice.

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