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bridge (game)
Old 12-24-2017, 12:07 PM   #1
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bridge (game)

After a long break (40 years) I plan to start playing bridge again. Initially rubber and perhaps much later duplicate. With humans, face to face.

I was curious as to whether any of you had tried (and would recommend) bridge computer games so that I can get re-familiarized with the game. Ideally free but I don't mind paying if necessary. Free should not dump some viruses and the like on my system.

Also, are there specific conventions that are more popular today? I need to relearn and can pick up any of them that are more commonly used so finding a partner who knows it becomes easier.

I would prefer the game on the computer (Windows) rather than on the phone.
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Old 12-24-2017, 01:18 PM   #2
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Bridge Base online will allow free play against robots on desktop or phones. Good for long bus rides, although the robot opponents sometimes bid strangely.

Generally bidding is slightly more aggressive than 40 years ago. Open on 12points or sometimes 11 is quite common. The 2 over 1 system is most popular in duplicate games. Precision club systems are on the wane. You should be easily able to find plenty of partners playing straight Standard American. Weak 2 bids are virtually required. Michaels and Unusual 2 NT to show 5/5 hands are common. Flannery is rarely used anymore. Gerber and Blackwood ace asking are ubiquitous, although Blackwood is often Roman Key Card (K of trump counts as a 5th ace) so you'll need to agree with partner on variation before play.

Transfer bids over 1NT openings are very common. Overcalls against opponents opening bids are trending ever weaker. Many local clubs will have "beginner" classes which can cover all the current bidding basics in a few weeks. After 40 years break (i took a 30 year break) getting a review of all the basics might be helpful. There are usually several experienced players in every "beginner" class.
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Old 12-24-2017, 02:14 PM   #3
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Hi. A few thoughts.
1. For software, I highly reccomend Fred Gitelman's BRIDGE MASTER 2000. It has a base package and then you add deals to it depending on level of play desired (novice to super-rexpert). This is a Declarer play program, and it will help a lot with your declarer skills. Which factor a lot into bidding (the better declarer you are, the better you can bid with your improved play and visualization skills). I also use Jack 6, which is a top rated software for setting up duplicate tournaments (against robots, or even human players). You can control the level of robot play, from novice to world-class. They are very tough competition at higher levels. You can also practice conventions, and a big number of other things. Both these are Windows.
2. For conventions: BBO (bridge base online) pretty much standardized the use of 2/1. Most people use it and then they may agree to additional conventions/treatments. I suggest you taka a look at robots' convention card (GIB is the name of the robot used on BBO). It's a modern 2/1 and it will come in handy: GIB System Notes
Set a BBO account, if you have not done so already -you can also learn a lot by kibbing star players (national/international champions). I also lately play in Robot Tournaments. It's a form a duplicate, where every table has a human and 3 bots. Basically your score is compared to other humans in the same tournaments as the hands played are the same and the bidding system is common, so only bidding/declarer skills matters. It's also very cheap ($.25 to $1) or free on occasion. Playing in bot tournaments will bump up your level fast if you pay attention and review the bad results afterwards.
In terms of must know conventions, I would rate the Negative Double as essential. It has changed a lot over the past years and using it right will take you a long way. Support X and XX are very useful, 4th suit forcing is a must as is cue-bidding. Never agree to play conventions you're not comfortable with - try to keep it simple and analyze your bad results.

I love this game
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Old 12-24-2017, 03:11 PM   #4
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I've only been playing about 18 months.

I would third bridge base online. I for some reason don't like playing on a computer, so I don't, but I did try BBO once and it seemed like it would do what I wanted, which was just to practice and learn in general.

As far as systems and conventions go, I am learning Audrey Grant - look for her books on Amazon - which from what I can tell is fairly close to Standard American.

Conventions I (try to) play and/or are most common:
1. Stayman/Jacoby transfers/Texas transfers - responses to 1NT.
2. Weak 2 (and weak 3 and weak 4) openers.
3. Blackwood/Gerber - slam bidding
4. Quantitative raise - response to show partner 11/12 points
5. Jump shift - response to show partner 17/18/19 points
6. 2 club opener / 2 diamond waiting / immediate positive responses - 22 point opening hands
7. Negative double is pretty common with a very simple meaning: "I have opening, bid your best suit even with zero points unless there is an intervening bid."

I've read about Michael's cuebid and unusual 2NT but don't play them. They're moderately complicated to bid correctly and most partners I play with don't play them, so I don't. Likewise with new minor forcing to find 5/3 major fits.
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Old 12-24-2017, 03:26 PM   #5
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Unless you're playing for money, rubber/party/social bridge is much looser bidding & scoring is forgiving of minor mistakes. Duplicate has much more precise bidding & less forgiving of even minor bidding/play mistakes. Those features make it more intense though not unfriendly. I play duplicate normally 3x per week at our local club & play in regional tourneys 2-3x/yr.

Standard American bidding is standard in rubber games. SA is obsolete in duplicate. 2/1 is preferred by about 80% of duplicate players - me included - with strong club (SC) systems like Precision used by the others. I wouldn't say one is gaining on the other, but SC's are way more complicated systems & payoff to some degree for slam bidding. I'm just not dedicated enough for SC.

As for games, Bridge Baron is recommended by ACBL. Also, Bridgesclues has hands daily online with recommended bidding & play.

Conventions? Yikes!! 10's if not 100's. I hear about new ones about every week. I play with 6-10 people, each convention card is different, & we update every month or two.

What I see getting more popular is weaker & weaker opening bids & overcalls as well weak NT (10/11-14/15) openings. 11 hcp with two quick tricks is pretty std to opening now & 3rd seat even lighter.

Me, I'm just not much interested in playing online or against bots & stick to the club social interactions. Maybe I change when I get old.

The sad thing with bridge is that it seems to be fading as the players' average age seems to continue to rise. Attracting new members is a struggle. Our relatively little 100 person club does have a 17 yr old who is in the top 20 in points nationwide for juniors. He's a pleasure.
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Old 12-24-2017, 04:59 PM   #6
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Like others I like BBO. DH and I used to both play duplicate bridge (it is how we met) but haven't played much the last 20 years while raising kids. We recently decided to get back into and have been playing against the robots on BBO to get practice. He and I can play together against robots. Individually I've played in some of the ACBL games on BBO and have gotten a few points that way. The BBO standard with the robots is basically 2/1. We didn't use to play 2/1 so we have been getting adjusted to that.

Once DH and I feel that we are up to date on conventions and alerts we plan to play some online against real people. Then we will start hitting some of the bridge clubs.
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Old 12-25-2017, 06:19 PM   #7
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I thought I put in a post this morning but it's not there now.

Anyway, this feedback is very useful, thanks a lot. I have some reading to do now.

I created a BBO account and looked around briefly.

Regarding Bridge Master 2000, I am thinking Audrey Grant with refills later, rather than the Standard Edition. Would you concur?
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Old 12-25-2017, 06:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gerntz View Post

The sad thing with bridge is that it seems to be fading as the players' average age seems to continue to rise. Attracting new members is a struggle. Our relatively little 100 person club does have a 17 yr old who is in the top 20 in points nationwide for juniors. He's a pleasure.
Unfortunately, this is true in a lot of organizations, not only bridge.
Apparently the younger people today are too busy on Twitter, Instagram, etc. to have face to face interaction with others.
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Old 12-25-2017, 08:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gerntz

The sad thing with bridge is that it seems to be fading as the players' average age seems to continue to rise. Attracting new members is a struggle.
I see this also in local tournaments. The biggest games are in the afternoons. The evening games which allow people to play after work are much less well attended, which is consistent with bridge players gradually aging and more of them being retired. It's a much more commonly played game at older ages with relatively fewer younger players.

Some people here have started large in school bridge programs to try to recruit a new generation.
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Old 12-25-2017, 09:15 PM   #10
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I just tried BBO tonight. I have not played in over 15 years, and I was soundly trashed
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Old 12-25-2017, 09:47 PM   #11
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I have been unable to register, I got no confirmation emails. I can view the website and have watched a few games. I emailed their support area but got nothing back.
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Old 12-26-2017, 07:55 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DEC-1982 View Post
I thought I put in a post this morning but it's not there now.

Anyway, this feedback is very useful, thanks a lot. I have some reading to do now.

I created a BBO account and looked around briefly.

Regarding Bridge Master 2000, I am thinking Audrey Grant with refills later, rather than the Standard Edition. Would you concur?
Audrey Grant edition is intended for New players.
Regular/Standard edition is for all levels, from new to world-class-experts. This is the one I have. It has sets of deals grouped into Levels: L1 (easy) ---L5 (hard+++). I would estimate majority of declarer, based on my long experience on BBO, to fall into L2-L3 range.
You can learn more here:
https://www.baronbarclay.com/category/bridgemaster-2000
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Old 12-27-2017, 05:42 AM   #13
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I finally gained access and am playing with 3 robots to become familiar with the system and the bidding conventions I am unfamiliar with such as Drury. I played in some tourneys in the 1990s but haven't played in a club since 2000.
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Old 12-27-2017, 05:47 AM   #14
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Thanks for the feedback fachiru, and the link.
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Old 12-27-2017, 06:21 AM   #15
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About 10 years ago there used to be a fantastic free online bridge game (I think MSN sponsored it) where you could play against real people. When you joined you got a user name which allowed you to look at the tables and see who was playing where and if there was an empty seat at a table. Then you just "sat down" and started to play. After you had played a few times you got to know which people you enjoyed playing with, and you would look for their user names when you entered the parlor. If you sat down at a table with someone you didn't enjoy playing with (maybe his/her bidding style was not compatible with yours) you could just excuse yourself and go to another table. There was a chat box where you could "talk" to the other players at the table, congratulate them on a well-played hand, etc. The parlor rooms were organized by skill level (beginner, intermediate, advanced) so it would be unlikely that a beginner would end up playing with a Master Points player for a partner. It was absoluteley fantastic, just like real bridge. Needless to say, I got hooked on it and played for two or three hours everyday. I had played a lot of bridge when I was in college, but DW didn't like bridge so I stopped playing for many years until I found that website. Then the website just shut down, and I've never found anything like it since.
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