Saturday, July 24, 2004

BRIDGE: Play for FREE (mostly)

I have been retired from club bridge for most of the last decade except for a couple of times that Ed Hills and I played in preparation for the Canadian Nationals. And bluntly, I've only played a couple of Nationals and one World Championship in the last five years or so.

But, I'm out of retirement and BridgeBase OnLine is the reason. You can find BBO at You can download a program that will then put you in touch with players of all abilities from all over the world. You can kibitz or play. You can play for free, or pony up a buck for an ACBL-sanctioned tournament. You can play for five minutes or all day long. In other words, like the game itself, BBO will tailor itself to your needs.

One of the true joys of internet bridge, beyond being able to do it while wearing nothing more than PJs, is the global reach of the game. Last time I played, our opponents included a Canadian, three Americans, two Turks, two Italians, a Swede, an Icelander, three Indians and a Georgian. Bizarrely, I had just finished reading a short story by mystery author Greg Rucka that was partially set in T'Bilisi, Georgia the night before!

It has been a lot of fun re-kindling a partnership with the Golden Macedonian, Danny Ioannidis. Better yet was when we hit the winner's circle, although I was still sputtering about being cheated by the Italians an hour after the event was finished. Yes, if two players want to play over the internet and cheat over the phone at the same time, you can't do much. But it was nice to see our names in red ... and THEIR names mired in second. I am a petty little man in such matters.

I don't always have time for a full day or night of bridge. Danny's not always available. But it's really nice to have the option, partner or not, to reach out and push a few digital pasteboards around. The love (and the skills) are coming back.

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