Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Online bridge … we all love it…. Day 9 (and no rest yet)

I am going to try to evaluate or at least mention some websites for playing online bridge.  It is very hard for me to evaluate many of these sites because I would have to set up an account and try to play on them to do it justice.  I suppose I could but I am not going to.  Life is too short.  But I will discuss some features of two sites which I have some familiarity with: Bridge Base Online and Swan Games .

Bridge Base Online (free with some paid games) is my bridge playing site of choice.  They have a “new” and an “old” interface.  I like the old one desktop version rather than the newer online version.  But the online version does allow you to log in more than once so you can watch both tables in a vugraph session and is the only one that works with the MAC.  Why do I like BBO?  Well first it’s free for most things.  On the desktop version the ads are unobtrusive.  (Most of the time I am not aware they have ads).  I like the way I can label people (friends and foes) and block chat from foes (which I do).  If you are mean to me than you are on my enemy’s list faster than you can say Richard Nixon.  I haven’t played tournaments but in principle I like the low price, the convenience and the short sessions.  I love looking up old deals I watched or played.  I love team games…. and on and on.   As long as they keep the ads from flashing they get an A+.

Swan Games (free with some paid games) is another great and popular site.  It has a more “family” feel in a way.  Perhaps more popular in Europe than North America it has similar characteristics to BBO.  Swan Games has a couple of differences.  The first is a rating system.  BBO use self rating.  Swan has a calculated rating.  They have clearly put a lot of thought into the way they manage it.Both approaches have issues so you have to decide if you like the idea or not.    Swan Games does not normally provide Vugraph (although I do remember they have done it on occasion in the past) but instead they provide real-time updates of what is happening for important events.  You can follow a board and see what every pair did with that board, watch matches seeing the scores come in, get victory points based on the result of the moment and watch the standings.  They also provide the butler scores which show how pairs (or in some cases individuals) are scoring compared to the field.  Historical data is available at their site.  You don’t need to be a member to see all this.  It is an incredible addition to watching world championships and other events on BBO.  I have one window on BBO and another on Swan.  (Well I often have more than one Swan window open).  Any real-time online scores you see from any site are just pointing to the Swan site.  If you are visiting the site look for the duckling page which includes a few useful articles and some poems and also the pictures from tournaments.  Here is a portion of a bot-praising poem


You play with a BOT

And what have you got?

A slightly flawed machine.

His bids may confuse you,

And may not amuse you,

But at least he isn’t mean.

He won’t say, “Play faster!”

In hopes of a disaster

Created by rushing your game.

He also won’t say,

“That was poor play!”

Telling all that you were to blame.

He won’t leave a hand,

Forgetting to stand,

Cussing you out as he goes.

And he won’t say,

“Learn how to play!”

(We all have met some of THOSE).

…. and on it goes.  Swan Games is also an A+

None of the following are rated:

OKbridge was the first place I played online bridge.  Looking at the site today I am first impressed by the tutorial on how to play.  The interface is good looking and intuitive.   ACBL games are available at a flat monthly rate.  I had trouble signing up for a trial account.  They just didn’t like the idea that I didn’t live in the US.   I gave up after several attempts.  So all I can say is that it is a paid site or as they call it with a calculated rating system.   If somebody with an account wants to tell us more that would be nice.  Unrated.

Other online sites: Bridgehits.  They feature the idea that there is no chat, just play.  SAYC rules here.  It looks like you have to “buy boards” to play.    There also seems to be prize money for placing in tournaments.  I had trouble registering but not my thing anyway.

The Bridge Doctor has a lot of features for new players.  It costs $7 a month and is online (nothing to install).  You can play against the computer or you can try interactive lessons.  There are live games.  Standard American and ACOL may rule here.    Looks like it might be a great way to learn.  There is a seven day free trial if you want to see if it helps you improve.

Bridge Club Online is another pay to play site.  It has a 16 year history.  I get a guest membership with no fuss (and no credit card). I tried it as a guest and it seems to work fine. Tournaments are listed in GMT but there is a helpful clock feature.  Lots of charity events.  Supervised play.  Fun Friday night game alternates singles and couples.   Rating system.   I hear they are tough on cheaters.

Bridge in included in a number of game sites like Pogo where all games are free.  At Great Day another such site you can play against robots.  Lots were doing it when I checked.  You are ranked.  Free.  I am sure there are lots more where these came from.

1 Comment

Linda LeeNovember 16th, 2010 at 9:38 am

Thanks for telling us about it. I appreciate it.

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