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ATPM 8.05
May 2002



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Review: Bridge Baron 12

by Ellyn Ritterskamp,


Developer: Great Game Products

Price: $59.95 plus $6 shipping (list); $29.95 (upgrade)

Requirements: 68020 Mac with 4 MB of RAM, 10 MB hard disk, System 7.5.

Trial: Fully-featured (24 deals).

This software has everything I want in a bridge game. It’s smart, fast, uncluttered, and has plenty of ways for me to modify it to suit my own bidding and playing style. Bridge Baron 12 is the latest version of a game that has in many ways led the computer bridge game race. This is the twelfth version of a game that has been around for nearly two decades.

Installation was very painless, and if you know how to play bridge, you can dive right in. Be sure to stop by the Options menu, to customize all sorts of things to suit your style. If you set the bidding and playing judgement higher than normal, the game will take longer to play, but will make better decisions. In my first session, I played at the fast settings. For my second session, I set the judgement levels as high as they would go and had a much more fulfilling experience. The first session was faster but not very challenging. The other significant change I made was to add many of the bidding conventions to the active window. This improved my bidding experience about a thousandfold.

Beginning players—and players new to computer bridge—will find a wealth of information in the Help files. Windows users also get a Learn To Play Bridge feature, presented by the American Contract Bridge League. Favoritism is at play, as Windows users also get the option of using French, German, or Spanish. Maybe Bridge Baron 13, expected in October 2002, will include these features for Mac users as well.

This software is extraordinarily vast and efficient; it includes two billion deals, with tournaments available for purchase. You can use the software to generate hands to practice many bidding conventions, save ’em, print ’em—all kinds of stuff. This program makes a great teaching tool or practice tool for the serious student.


The only drawback I noticed is that the interface is not as cuddly as some other programs (notably Freeverse’s 3D Bridge Deluxe). For beginning bridge players, another program might be a bit more user-friendly. Talking player characters and such would be an easier way to get started, and for a lower price. For those of us who want to roll up our sleeves and get dirty, though, this is the software to do it. I don’t mean to suggest that it’s an ugly interface; players can change the background color to anything on the color wheel, and the card backs have several choices as well. I just think that many beginners might prefer the talking heads in Freeverse’s game.

Bonus: the CD and instruction booklet are attractive, with classy artwork of the steamship Finland, which was traveling in the Panama Canal on November 1, 1925, when Harold Vanderbilt’s version of contract bridge was invented.



Novices, of course, should try the free demo, but if it doesn’t suit you (Ha! I said, “Suit you!” We had to get at least one bit of card-suit of wordplay in here!), try the less expensive and more visually compelling Freeverse game.

Intermediate, advanced, and expert players: your decision will depend on whether you already own an earlier version and are trying to decide whether to upgrade ($29.95). Not having played an earlier version, I can’t speak for the improvements touted on the graphical user interface, and to bidding, declarer play, and defense. Here are the additions you’ll get which are more objectively evaluated: the French 5-Card Major bidding system (you also get Standard, 2/1, and ACOL); 11 new bidding conventions (I won’t list them here—they’re on the developer’s Web site); 24 new problem deals for the Challenges menu (there are now 96); two new tournaments from the early 90s; new card faces, including easy-to-read cards; improved online play and stability.

If you have some playing experience and have been thinking about taking the plunge into a computer bridge game, or if you need a tool for generating hands for learning, this is the way to go. If you’re brand-new, start with something a little cheaper until you’re sure you want to stick with it. Then come back for Bridge Baron 12.

Reader Comments (17)

anonymous · May 2, 2002 - 05:58 EST #1
Yes, Bridge Baron is great, but...

No Carbon version (in fact, I think there is still 68k code down in there). Bridge Baron's the only Classic app I use regularly, so the resource cost of playing is enormous. (Worth it, though.)
Colin Smith · May 20, 2002 - 17:03 EST #2
Just an FYI: We'll have an OS X version of our Bridge game in the next month or two. It also has an improved AI and a host of other improvements. For the pro player, Ellyn is perfectly correct, you can't beat Bridge Baron. But for intermediate players, our new version should be perfect. Plus, we've got great online play, and nothing beats playing with real folks. Colin Lynch Smith
Rupert Stubbs · May 20, 2002 - 17:51 EST #3
As a satisfied BB10 player, I tried the BB12 demo anticipating incremental improvements. However, I was immediately put off by the new card faces. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I was very happy with the old ones - they looked 'real' - and these new ones look like a Sinclair Spectrum game. There is a choice, but the old face isn't there. And I don't really fancy the old French versions. I wish I didn't find this so off-puting, as I'd have liked to see how the 'engine' has improved. Pass.
John Zipf · June 10, 2002 - 11:20 EST #4
Is there an OS X version?
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · June 10, 2002 - 19:29 EST #5
John - after a quick skim through their web site, I found no mention of an OS X native version. I'd wager, however, that Bridge Baron 12 works just fine under Classic emulation mode.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · June 13, 2002 - 00:17 EST #6
I just received a message from Colin Lynch Smith of Freeverse Software. He said, "Our OS X Bridge will be out by MacWorld New York."
anonymous · January 6, 2003 - 22:25 EST #7
I just wrote to find out the status of an OS X version and was told that Bridge Baron 14, due in Fall 2003, will be Carbonized. I was excited with that reply until I saw that they were promising an OS X version two months away back in May of 2002.
Ellyn Ritterskamp (ATPM Staff) · January 9, 2003 - 14:06 EST #8
Yep. It looks like BB 13 didn't make it to OS X. It runs fine under Classic mode and Freeverse is an OK alternative as well.
Nina Avery · June 26, 2005 - 21:52 EST #9
i am looking for the game,ekbridge,and bridge baron12,to install to my computer..thanx

Ellyn Ritterskamp · June 26, 2005 - 21:54 EST #10
Nina, click on the link near the top of the review.
Brian Ferguson · October 24, 2005 - 22:00 EST #11
Having bought Bridge Baron for my wife during my first endeavour to use the 'internet' in 1991, years before the Internet was born, because it was a Macintosh-only bridge playing application, I find it lacks somthing without the Learn Bridge programs available to Windows-only users.

[I could make a comment about the distinction but won't (-: ]

I'm now starting to re-learn bridge with BB 16, after a long break, and have just visited the ACBL site. I wonder why a Mac user would want to install a Windows emulator when you have OS X 10.4.2 Tiger, on tap?

Formats such as HTML and PDF are cross-platform and their use as a teaching mechanism would only enhance Bridge Baron's reputation as the leading bridge application. BB 16 has a huge increase in information in its Help menu, but it read-only in a poor font and cannot be printed. BB Help could be the basis.

Surely Great Game Products could invest in its own teaching systems.
Robin Collins · January 14, 2006 - 22:45 EST #12
Hi a few comments from someone who bought BB for his mother. This is the second version we've had, an earlier version was from the dark ages.

The primary user in this case enjoys the game immensely, but with less than perfect sight, she would offer a few suggestions:

Make the arrow in the centre of the "table" indicating who is playing the next card much bigger and thereby easier to see. Increase the font size of text and increase the width of the edge below the "south" indicator.

The software is installed on a 12" laptop ibook (Mac) and in order to make the cards readable I hve reduced the display dimensions. When this is done, the "South" text and bottom of the cards disappears. To get the full table back on screen, we need to click the green (+) open window full buttom. This works, but it cannot be done until after the first bid. Can the window be made so it can be scaled (stretched) in and out? There seems to be a limit currently.

We cannot access the preferences. Is that intentional, or is there a secret to it?

The opening page is colourful, but the text font is very hard to read. A cleaner, less stylistic font would work better, particularly for seniors.

Luke · October 21, 2007 - 15:52 EST #13
Can someone help. I install Black and White and go to play it but it says that it cannot find the cd. how do i fix this. i want to play B&W
Barney Clement · December 28, 2008 - 15:00 EST #14
Could I buy more hands with my Bridge Baron 12 or to add to the ones I have on it?
Ellyn Ritterskamp (ATPM Staff) · December 29, 2008 - 01:11 EST #15

I do not know the answer to your question. You can contact the develop using the link at the beginning of the review.


Jeremy C. Ward · November 2, 2010 - 14:57 EST #16
There have been others that have had the same problem. I had bought the Black and White Platinum Pack, and for one it never came with a manual and was bought brand new. When I try to install it on my new Mac, it keeps asking to the data CD which doe snot exist, and never did. I did contact Feral support via e-mail, and they told me that he should of come with a data disc and that if it did not return it with proof of purchase to get it. Seriously are you kidding me. Who keeps a receipt for that many years? I told him that and told him, maybe later they gave people a data disc, but mine never came with one and I played it fine when I did play it years ago. Also I tried the demo for Black and White 2, and advise everyone to try it first before buying, because it sucks. You would think in 9 years that it would be a lot better specially graphic wise, and it isn't and pretty much still has the same bugs as the first one.
Jerry Gumpert · April 20, 2015 - 00:08 EST #17
Bridge Baron is a good game. Here's a suggestion.

After a particular hand has been played, the user should be able to determine how his result compares to other players.

The program complements you for making a contract. I think it should also say what was possible or what other did with the same hand. Just a suggestion.

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