Review of vuBridge
I’ve been getting offers for vuBridge hands for quite some time, and I finally ponied up $10 to get the “Life Master Pairs, Day 1” set of hands.
Cost wise, that’s not horrible (from a tournament player’s POV). A club game is often 24 hands for $7 (or so), and factor in 40 minutes of driving, the fact that you’ll likely be dummy for 1/4 of the hands, and some of the hands will not be instructive. Indeed, on a “cost per hand” vuBridge is a good deal.
VuBridge isn’t really playing bridge … it’s the old autobridge stuff. (In fact, the first emails explicitly called it an updated AutoBridge, I believe). You decide what you are going to do and then see if it’s right. It’s a tool for learning strategy.
How does it work?
Well, it’s web based, so there’s no software. I didn’t have any real issues with it. The production is slightly chintzy , but servicable (IMO). The hand player isn’t as good as BBO’s site, for example.
You get a hand, and then start bidding. If you misbid, it just says “Wrong bid” and you click again. After some bids, comments may pop up (explaining your system).
After that, you close the bidding box and get to the play. At various points comments may again pop up. If you click on a wrong card, it flashes and you try again. If it’s right, it gets played and you see the opponents cards until it’s your turn to play again. Sometimes if you click a card it will play an equivalent card instead (like Jack instead of Queen from QJ), But sometimes it won’t.
So — not really bridge, more like a guided tour.
The Larry Cohen set is pretty good. It covers 28 boards from Day 1 of the Life Master Pairs game that Larry won (I think it was 1995, I’m not sure). I believe that’s a 2-session event, so it presumably is only about half of the boards that are ‘interesting.’ Many of the issues/problems involved were not beyond my grasp, but it’s just counting, inferences, and technique. I (partially) got this because I figured it would be good practice to spend a lot of time on each hand, but I found myself blitzing through them.
There were several times when the commentary said “There are several reasonable bids here, but the right one is the one we made at the table.” In fact, quite often the ‘lesson’ of the hand doesn’t matter … after counting out the hand everything breaks and either line of play would work. As the commentary points out, that’s bridge, and nobody tells you which hand is hard and which hand is easy.
What I found particularly helpful is that in many hands there were a detailed discussion about which card to win/lose a trick with (in order to more confuse the issue as declarer). I think the level of instruction was decent. There are also beginner sets, which are probably fine but as a beginner I’d probably just rather play.
So, if you are someone who reads bridge books, this is a decent alternative. For about the cost of a book (half, for many newer titles) you get a full sessions worth of hands that are meant to provide instructive lessons. I probably wont’ be buying new sets often, but every now and then I may splurge.