Bridge Player (CP Software) Review | Sinclair User - Everygamegoing

Sinclair User

Bridge Player
Sinclair QL

Published in Sinclair User #44

Bridge Player

Bridge is tough to put onto a computer - tougher than chess.

It may be an easier game for humans to play, but the big difference is that in a game of Bridge you can't see all the cards. In chess, it's a matter of working through combinations, and the problem is how to analyse millions of combinations very quickly. In bridge it's all about probable distributions of cards, and making a compromise on every play. The strategy must be flexible - you can't work it all out in advance.

Within those limitations, CP Software does well. Bridge Player is based on a series of such programs written for other machines, and is the best version of the game we have seen. The computer bids the three non-player hands and plays defending or declaring hands. There are options to replay and rebit hands, the response is extremely fast for a game written mainly in Superbasic, and the standard of play is moderately dim, but by no means moronic.

The bidding is based on a stunted ACOL system, with strong two club, Stayman and Gerber supported. The program cops out on the latter, and requires you to confirm your use of the convention, rather than interpreting it from the bidding. We found the computer a reliable partner on flat hands, but decidedly wild in ambiguous situations. However, good bidding involves understanding a partner's limitations, and such aberrations need not detract if you don't expect too much to start with.

Play is better, and the computer follows set lines - finesse, cross-ruffs, drawing of trumps and so on - with dogged competence. Its defence is often sharp, and occasionally deceptive. The cards are played very quickly, and the speed tempts you to play equally fast. Beware of hitting the space bar in such situations, which prompts the QL to play for you.

Graphics are clear and professional, with no annoying jingles or slow scrolling of cards all over the screen to distract you. Our one niggle with the presentation is the scoring, which does not tell you when you have won the rubber, but just resets itself.

Bridge Player is a sophisticated version of the game, and not recommended for those who have never played at all. Those who already know something of the game, at whatever level they play, will enjoy the opportunity to play on their own, when there's no opportunity to put together a four.