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ATPM 7.01
January 2001


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Review: 3D Bridge Deluxe 1.0

by Ellyn Ritterskamp,


Developer: Freeverse Software

Price: $19.95

Requirements: Mac OS 8.1.

Trial: Fully-featured (30 days). Puppets for online play are richer with purchase of CD.

I was excited to hear that one of my favorite software companies had come out with a bridge game, but I’m bummed to have to tell you that it’ll need a lot of work before I can stand to play it. Available evidence suggests that none of the writers or programmers actually consulted a serious bridge player when they were drawing up the characters’ card-playing abilities. I’ll get to the flaws soon enough, but let me throw in a happy thought first: if you’re new to the game of bridge or would like to try it out at home in a non-threatening environment, this may very well be the game for you.

As we’ve come to expect from Freeverse, the presentation is excellent, with vivid backgrounds, cool music, and chatty characters (some of whom we’ve met in their other games). If you’ve played much real bridge at all, though, you’re probably not going to like this game very much.

Problem One: You can’t claim or concede the remainder of the tricks. If for no other reason, that would stop me from purchasing it. There’s nothing quite so tedious as playing out a small slam that everyone at the table knows is cold for 12 tricks. Having to click on each card and wait for the opponents to follow suit, even at the fastest speed the game allows, is still a huge waste of time. But like I said, if you’re new to bridge, and if pondering all of those tricks as they happen is educational, try the game out and enjoy it.

I hadn’t played in a year or so, and my last experience was with online heavyweight OK Bridge. Compared to the somewhat cool Windows software they have, telnetting from a Mac is far inferior; however, playing cards online isn’t about some pretty interface, but about being able to play with real people while still in your underwear.

I’ve only found one Mac bridge game that was very good—Bridge Baron—but still haven’t invested in the full version. I haven’t been out looking for bridge software lately, so there could be all kinds of great stuff out there. When my weekly download newsletter arrived with news of Freeverse’s newest offering, I couldn’t wait. I downloaded the demo right then and jumped in, but I’d learned my lesson with Freeverse’s Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab and stopped to peruse the ReadMe file first. Just trust me, it’s worth a skim. Lotsa fun.

I found the preferences, bumped up the skill level and aggressiveness of the other three players, and clicked on all of the available bidding conventions. Jam the speed up to fastest, turn the score-card on, and we’re ready to go.


Problem Two: Oh, how sad I was to realize that these players are really, really dumb. You expect a certain amount of stiltedness in the bidding of computer players, but at least the card play itself could be well programmed. “Third-hand high” is a great rule for the first hour you ever play, but once in a while after that we’re allowed to turn on our brains to decide when it’s foolish. Check out Jet’s brilliant play of the Ace of Spades to cover his own partner’s King of Spades in the dummy.


He deliberately led the Ace, knowing he was going to drop the King under it. Yes, there are isolated situations in which this kind of transportation issue solves a problem, but trust me, Jet’s not that bright. He’s just leading out his tricks.

Problem Three: Wussy bidding. Look at this hand of Jenny’s, minus the Ace of Hearts, which played to the first trick. She made two bids on this hand: 1 Diamond and 2 Diamonds. Unforgivable. This hand has the power to inspire all sorts of exciting auctions, in the clutches of someone with even a smidgen of imagination.


Of course that’s the trouble with these players; they have no imagination. I guess that’s why most games end with your side winning and get really boring really quickly.

If Freeverse wants to snazz up this game for its next upgrade, the gang needs to lurk at OK Bridge or at a real tournament for a little while, just to get a feel for how the game can really be played. Listening to the postmortem after a hand is really where we learn the most about bidding and card play. Better yet, ask a successful advanced player for some tips (not me, but I’d be glad to tell people where to look).

3D Bridge isn’t designed to mimic actual tournament play—there’s no substitute for that actual rush—but we could certainly figure out a way to move the players up the evolutionary scale a bit. With the skill level these characters have right now, we might as well be playing against that burning monkey.

A nifty benefit of purchasing Freeverse’s games is membership on the HMS Freeverse, their online gameroom in which you can play against real live folks. If you have broadband access and some decent playmates, 3D Bridge has much more to offer, since you’re playing against actual brains instead of simulated ones.

Reader Comments (8)

Ian Lynch Smith · January 31, 2001 - 01:01 EST #1

Thanks for the honest review.

I just wanted to add that our Bridge game is at the very young age of 1.0, and as with all brand new software, it will improve greately over the coming months.

Our other older card games can speak for the quality of our computer players and commitment to excellence.

But it is already the best looking mac Bridge game, supports many game conventions and has the easiest internet play by far. 3D Bridge Deluxe has a great base on which to build and if you're interested in Bridge on the Mac, I hope you'll try it out.

Ian Smith President, Freeverse Software

Joyce H. Bauman · May 12, 2006 - 18:12 EST #2
I fully agree with the comments that the calibur of bridge is very poor., If one is even an average player they would be frustrated by the jumps to 6 without any idea what their partner has and irregardless of oponent's bids. They never finesse, they lead out their A's right away, etc., etc.
It's a complete disappointment.
james w stalter · November 26, 2007 - 21:02 EST #3
Very good review of freeverse 3d bridge deluxe 2.3. freeverse is to bring out update sometime in the future?. The puppets seem to make a difference; other bridge games just show the cards. Wrong --- leading all the aces first; running out the trump; bid (N)1nt, (S)2x, (N)pass; (S)biding a new suit, (N)pass; skill, style do not make any difference; winning a trick with a ace, when a 9 would, win; playing a ace on a winning king.
naomi WOIWODE · February 1, 2010 - 14:50 EST #4
I have no comments about the game. I need to find a way to get in touch with the FreeVerse people. I bought it and my computer died and I lost everything. I want to know how to get this bridge game back on my new computer.
Naomi Woiwode
ATPM Staff · February 1, 2010 - 14:55 EST #5
Naomi - the Freeverse web link is in the blue text header of the review, like all our reviews. Granted the particular page linked from this very old review is now a 404 page, but the site is still there and you should be able to find a contact link there.
Patty Russell · February 2, 2010 - 20:28 EST #6
I have some of the same agonies presented by Ms. Ritterskamp. Additionally, and really frustrating, is that play will begin, and the action starts taking place at lightning speed..without any opp to see who plays what. Is this normal? Should I delete this program and download it again?
Ellyn Ritterskamp (ATPM Staff) · February 2, 2010 - 22:21 EST #7
Patty, I have not played this game in years. Freeverse is still going strong - you might try their home page: to see if they have newer versions or other games you'll like. Good luck.
Kim Dunn · May 19, 2010 - 10:48 EST #8
I agree with the comments. Bridge basics such as leading what your partner bid; returning your partner's lead. Not leading repeatedly to a void on the dummy. I'd to buy this game (I've been playing the demo version) but not until you fix all the bugs mentioned here.

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