BRIDGE
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Mobile Bridge Apps: Using New Technology to Learn a Classic Card Game

Smartphones have become an integral part of our lives over the last decade and the world of bridge has welcomed this technology with open arms. In years gone by, aspiring bridge players had to ask experienced players or read books in order to learn the game. Today, however, online and mobile apps make it possible to learn in a much more efficient way. From simple tutorials to simulations and move analyzers, the best bridge apps are like having a professional coach available at the touch of a button.

In this article, we’re going to outline some of the best bridge apps. From software that allows you to play to products that will analyse the moves you make, these products will allow you to get more from your time online or live.

The advent of mobile technologies has been revolutionary in many ways, and this article focuses on one aspect of this revolution: the gaming industry. The nature of the technological support has led to a radical change in two facets of this industry: how games are designed; and what gamers want.

Bridge is a traditional card game which is over a century old. How can this game survive in the digital era, where the winners seem to be high definition graphics, speed and gripping storylines?

Many National and International Bridge Organisations are trying to find creative ways of using new technologies to complement the traditional set of services and activities offered by clubs, teachers and federations.

However, a search for ‘bridge card game’ through Google Play and the App store reveals the current state of play: few results are returned (especially on the App store), suggesting that investments have yet to lead to significant improvements in the quality and volume of available bridge mobile technology.


Nonetheless, a few apps stand out from the crowd and pave the way for future developments. The most interesting apps currently available are:

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Playing apps: Bridge Baron; Bridge Base Online; Funbridge; iBridgePlus; NeuralPlay; and SharkBridge.
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Learning apps: Bridge CCAnalyzer; Bridge Doddle; Bridge Quizzes; Bridge Score Calculator; Kida; and MinuteBridge.


This article reviews only some of the several apps currently available (highlighted in bold in the list above). The selection aimed to:

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Cover a range of aspects of the game (playing, learning, analysing).
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Showcase interesting products.
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Highlight innovative approaches.


The review compares and describes those three apps, based on the following criteria:

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Graphics: ease of visibility, e.g. buttons’ size, card design, resolution.
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Accessibility: easy to use, intuitive to navigate.
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What you get: amount of free content.
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Customisability: choice of game parameters (e.g. bidding system), choice of app parameters (e.g. graphics preferences).
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Teaching level: amount of teaching input from the app.
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Bridge intelligence: how well it plays, bids and defends.

Each app gets a mark from 1 to 5 for each of the parameters that are relevant to it, where 1 is lowest and 5 is highest, and then an overall average mark.


Contract Bridge has been around since 1925 and can be played on mobile now

KIDA

Kida is a double dummy app, which allows users to play a wide range of combinations and, importantly, see all four hands. What the developer has done is design puzzles that provide a range of scenarios designed to test your knowledge of the game. Some scenarios are simple, some are tricky, and some will tax even the most experienced players. Now, the real strength of this app is its underlying teaching style. Instead of giving you the ability to choose how hard things are, the level of complexity gradually increases. By slowly ramping up the difficulty, you essentially become a better player without realising it. What’s also nice about this software is that the hands are grouped into levels and each one contains 52 puzzles (i.e. to match number of cards in a standard deck).

Level 1 starts with one card per player and then moves up to two cards of the same suit per player. After a while, a second suit is introduced, which slowly brings the concept of trumps into the mix. Thanks to this step-by-step technique, new facets of the game, such as following suit, ruffing, overtaking, finessing and the uppercut are slowly introduced. The main benefit of this dynamic is that the software doesn’t overload you with information. Bridge is a complex game, even if you’re an experienced card game player, and it’s easy to get lost in the small details. However, because Kida builds things from the ground up, it’s easy for anyone to become a proficient player.

Overall, we think this app appeals to a broad audience. People who aren’t familiar with cards have an opportunity to explore all aspects of the game at their own pace. Additionally, aspiring players can enjoy the competitive aspect of the app and compare their performances to users from around the world. Finally, the fact that puzzles are short and can be solved on the go, means you can pick up the game at your leisure, take in a few bits of information and then move on.


How We Scored Kida

4

GRAPHICS

The images are clear, and the cards are bold, so you aren’t struggling to read what’s on them. The text is generally easy to read, although the instructional text is on the small side.
5

ACCESSIBILITY

The app is ergonomic, and you’re pushed through the levels in a sequential order because the puzzles are locked. This means you can only access the next level by completing the previous one. Additionally, this app is available for iOS and Android devices. Moreover, once you’ve downloaded the software, the content is available offline.
5

VALUE FOR MONEY

Kida scores top marks here, because the content is available for free.
2

CUSTOMISABILITY

The only thing you can change in this app is the language.
3

TEACHING STYLE

The app doesn’t provide any tips or lessons. However, the level of complexity increases gradually, and new concepts are introduced on a step-by-step basis. Although some players might not like the fact you don’t receive explanations for certain situations, the fact each new level builds on the previous means that you’ll be learning as you progress.
4

BRIDGE INTELLIGENCE

The app knows if you found the best solution on your own or took a shortcut, which means your score will reflect how well you actually know the game.
4
OVERALL
SCORE
You can learn how to play Bridge with apps like Kida, CC Analyser or Neuralplay.

BRIDGE CC ANALYSER

Bridge CC Analyzer allows users to scrutinise card combinations and, moreover, review calculations that tell you the best ways to play different holdings. The app also displays the probabilities that tell you how effective a move is and how effective alternative moves would have been.

To ensure you can tailor the situations to suit your skill level and particular needs, Bridge Analyzer CC allows you to adjust the following in-game dynamics:

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The number of tricks required
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The number of available entries
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The number of cards in each suit and HCPs in an opponent’s hand

In our opinion, this app is an essential tool for any experienced player. Whether you’re looking to dissect a hand you’ve played, practice a few scenarios or get a better appreciation of the mathematics underpinning bridge, this app is always useful.

If you’re a complete novice, the app is a great way to familiarise yourself with the most common combinations in bridge. By adjusting the variables listed above, you can run through a variety of scenarios that will help you build up an internal database of common situations you’ll experience when you play for the first time. Because of this, we believe pros and newbies will have plenty of ways to challenge themselves each time they load up Bridge CC Analyzer.


How We Scored Bridge CC Analyzer

4

GRAPHICS

These are simple, and the font is easy to read.
3

ACCESSIBILITY

The app is only available on Android devices and needs an internet connection, because the combinations are calculated on a server. For this reason, we can’t score the app higher.
5

VALUE FOR MONEY

All contents are available for free.
3

CUSTOMISABILITY

You can adjust certain variables in order to create new situations to analyse. However, you can’t adjust any other in-game dynamics such as font size, colour and animations.
N/A

TEACHING LEVEL

N/A
5

BRIDGE INTELLIGENCE

Because you get statistics on the best moves as well as alternative moves, the level of insight you get into the game is fantastic.
3.4
OVERALL
SCORE
Did you know?
Bill Gates plays Bridge

NEURALPLAY

This is an app that allows you to bid and play hands against a computer simulation. In terms of its design, Neuralplay is simple yet effective. Because there are no unnecessary details or design quirks, you can get straight into the action. In fact, you don’t even need to create an account or sign-in to start the action.

Depending on the aspect of bridge you want to work on, you can choose one of the following two settings: bid only and play only. The user can select from a range of pre-defined hand combinations in order to practice specific scenarios such as bidding, using balanced hands or opening with each suit. It is also possible to exclude opponents from the bidding to have uncontested auctions.

This is one of the most user-friendly playing apps we’ve come across. Because it’s simple yet effective, it’s very easy to get into the action, set things up to suit your learning objectives and review the action. That’s extremely important for us, because the game is complicated enough on its own without an app being hard to understand. Because of this, we love the way Neuralplay’s developers have taken a no-frills approach when putting together the software.

When it comes to the artificial intelligence powering the game, it’s fair to say it’s competent but not highly advanced. During our review, it did struggle with competitive auctions and its defence wasn’t always sharp. Additionally, there wasn’t an option to select a signalling method.

However, on the positive side, the software can track your stats so that you can analyse your own progression and even compare your performance to other users (this feature requires you to register an account). Overall, we think this app will appeal to players that fancy a quick, no fuss game of bridge. Beyond those that simply want a challenge, Neuralplay should also pique the interests of those that want to consolidate their existing knowledge and shore-up their skills. However, if you’re a complete newbie or someone that wants to learn the basics, we wouldn’t recommend this app.


How We Scored Bridge CC Analyzer

4

GRAPHICS

These are simple and clear. We liked the way things haven’t been overcomplicated with unnecessary images, animations or variables.
4

ACCESSIBILITY

The app is intuitive, but it’s only available for Android. Despite a lack of iOS provisions, you can enjoy full functionality offline once you’ve completed the initial installation process.
5

VALUE FOR MONEY

All content is available for free.
4.5

CUSTOMISABILITY

You’ll get an impressive range of options to adjust depending on how you like to play. You can select a scoring method of your choice, including rubber, duplicate and the match points system. Additionally, you can choose one of three bidding systems: SAYC, 2/1 and ACOL. Finally, the level of support you can receive in the form of hints and HCP calculations, as well as the ability to adjust things such as the colour, the card faces, and the level of animation is fantastic.
4

TEACHING STYLE

The bidding hints are solid, and the descriptions of bids are accurate. There are also hints available during the play and defence, but they come with no explanation.
3.5

BRIDGE INTELLIGENCE

The artificial intelligence is solid. It’s not on the level of a professional, but it’s strong enough that it will pose a challenge to most players.
3.4
OVERALL
SCORE
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