Sally Sparrow

Beginner on BBO

Yikes, just the title of this one could start a debate given some of the discussions here lately, but rest assured I am only here to blog about my first experiences this weekend playing on Bridge Base Online. As a Mac user, I was initially disappointed that I couldn’t run the ACBL learn to play bridge software which my mother had recommended, but will continue to explore software options for my Mac that will enable me to do run PC programs (any suggestions welcome!). I did play on BBO once a few weeks ago with Ray, Linda and Becky in our last bridge lesson before Becky left, which was fun. This time I met my mum online and we played in a room together with robots. This was quite fun because the pressure was off, and I could take my time and ask her questions as we went.

We played a couple of games last night (while my soup was cooking) and five or six tonight and I have to say that I am now officially addicted. I even took my Beginning Bridge (Barbara Seagram) book to work with me today to read on my break, in hopes that I could refresh some of my declarer play. Alas, I was declarer only once, and was playing in notrump (which we haven’t learned yet). It was fun though and I felt a little like one of the characters in David Bird’s books, the newest of which I am currently editing at work – Somehow We Landed in 6NT. Well maybe not quite that glamorous, but somehow I was playing in 1NT and didn’t know what I was doing. In the end it was pretty straightforward and I made the 7 tricks I needed and that was that. More! More!

I learnt that trying to squeeze someone when you don’t know what a squeeze is doesn’t usually work (and, well, you don’t know if it does). And I learnt that an endplay is not termed as such simply because it happens at the end. At times I had to ask for clarification on what the bidding meant (those robots got pretty carried away!), but the clarification didn’t usually clarify anything other than that I have a lot more reading and practising ahead of me! It’s a good place to be though, knowing that there will be many, many more exciting times to come. And I’m really looking forward to it!


Jacob RakMarch 24th, 2009 at 6:37 pm


Is there a beginners Bridge online software for my Mac?

Sally SparrowApril 3rd, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Hi Jacob,

I have had trouble finding a program that starts you right from the beginning for my mac. The thing I found most useful at first was Barbara Seagram’s Beginning Bridge (which is a book but has lots of pictures and practice hands, and great summaries!). You can download this book for your Mac now at, or buy the book online at Baron Barclay’s in the US or I now play online at BBO, which does run on your mac, and their BIL (beginner intermediate lounge) is good once you have a few of the basics. If you pick up the Seagram book (some shameless advertising here), check out our website, which has practice hands and further articles and problems for students to try. You may have seen the student blog, where you can post questions and get answers from the experts (the teachers). I now have Bridge Baron, which is a CDROM that runs fine on my mac (the newest version required me to upgrade to Tiger), and lets you play hands and compare your scores to the Baron’s (he makes suggestions too), but again, the learning section is more advanced techniques and conventions.

If you get your hands on a PC the ACBL Learn to Play Bridge is free and easy to use, I went through it really quickly, and then there’s Bridge Master and other such programs. You can access those from And Barbara Seagram has software available in her Practice Your Bidding series, lots of fun (also available at! Again, only for PC. Let’s start a “bring beginning bridge to the Mac” petition!

Sally SparrowApril 3rd, 2009 at 5:34 pm

Oh, I did also hear that if you get a “windows emulator” program for your mac, you can run most of these programs. But it’s a pricey option and since I have a PC at work I didn’t go for it.

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