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SOFTWARE REVIEW
By: Shireen Mohandes

Originally Published in Bridge Magazine, Christmas, 1996


Fred Gitelman, Bermuda Bowl Silver Medallist, has released a Windows version of one of the most innovative and well produced Bridge programs.

You may already have heard about Bridge Master, which has over 12,000 worldwide sales and an impressive reputation amongst top players including Bob Hamman, Eric Rodwell, Jeff Meckstroth and Zia Mahmood. The original (DOS) version was released in 1992 and the Windows version was launched this summer.

Bridge Master is all about declarer play. The bidding is provided but not always recommended: the authors emphasise this point in the simple but excellent colour manual.

Using carefully selected hands the authors, Fred Gitelman and Sheri Winestock, both Canadian Internationals, present a series of play problems. You play the dummy against the computer, which, having the benefit of the authors' instructions, always defends accurately. If you fail to choose the best line, the program meanly arranges the defenders' cards so as to ensure defeat. Trying another inferior line just causes the layout to change to beat you once again. If you try to guess a two way finesse when you should be endplaying someone, the queen always turns out to be in the wrong place.

An interactive analysis feature called 'Bridge Movies' is provided to tell you how a hand should be played and why. Unlike in a book of problems, this allows the authors to show you the play as it develops and display several different layouts and end positions in the discussion of each hand.

There are 5 sets of 36 hands, graded according to difficulty. You can also select hands with a particular theme. The program remembers which hands you have attempted and whether you were successful, so that you can return to a problem without having to search for it.

The hands are of a very high quality and look like real-life problems, and the interface is very easy to use. My only quibble is with the appearance of the screen, which could be improved. All in all this is first class entertainment combined with high quality education. Having sat down to test it, I found it very difficult to stop.

VERDICT

* = poor ***** = excellent
Ease of installation *****
Documentation *****
Usability ****
Bridge technical merit *****
Value for money ****

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