Omar Sharif's Bridge logo

Oxford Softworks * £34.99

The high-society card game on the Amiga, with the ultimate licence-deal: Omar Sharif. But this bridge game is not aimed at beginners - there's not enough detail in the manual to learn from scratch. If you're a bridge player, you may find it useful if you can't get three other players together. It could also improve your bridge because you can drop out of the hands where you aren't the declarer. Consequently you can play a lot of hands in one sitting and learn from them all.

The Amiga plays any number of the other hands. The in game options are good, but there's not enough variety in the bidding to make it superb. Plus the computer is slow to think and it sometimes plays like a real fool.

Omar Sharif's Bridge logo

Einst lockte er unsere Eltern mit Filmen wie "Lawrence von Arabien" oder "Doktor Schiwago" ins Kino, heute möchte Omar Sharif jugendliche Computerfreaks zum Zocken verführen - so wandeln sich die Zeiten...

Als Filmheld hat uns der Mann mit dem Schlafzimmerblick allemal besser gefallen, kennt hierzulande doch kaum jemand die Regeln seines urenglische Kartenspiels.

Die besten Chancen haben da noch Skat-Profis, prinzipiell läuft's beim Bridge nämlich nicht viel anders: Farben müssen bedient und können mit einem Trumpf gestochen werden, wobei zu Beginn jeder Partie ausgereizt wird, welche Farbe Trumpf sein soll und wieviele Stiche die Geweinnerpartei mindestens einsacken muß.

Partei deshalb, weil zu jeder Bridge-Runde vier Spieler gehören, von denen immer die beiden einander Gegenübersitzenden zusammenarbeiten.

Abgesehen davon gibt es noch ungefähr 1017 Extraregeln (besonders bei der Abrechnung), von denen wohl die ungewöhnlichste ist, daß der Partner des Reiz-Champions stets seine Karten aufdecken muß.

Wir hingegen decken nun die Karten der technischen Qualitäten auf, als da wären: Relativ häßliche, aber deutliche Optik, bequeme Mausklick-Steuerung, kultiviert englische Sprachausgabe, jede Menge Spezialoptionen (Tutorial, bis zu vier menschliche Gambler, zwei Reiz-Varianten usw.) und ein etwas konfuses Handbuch, das z.B. wahrheitswidrig behauptet, Omar Sharif's Bridge liefe mit 512 KB.

Somit kann das neue Game der auf Karten- bzw. Brettspielumsetzungen spezialisierten Company Oxford Softworks in Deutschland also kaum einen Stich machen - na, Hauptsache Meisterzocker Omar hat für seinen Namen genug kassiert, um sich den nächsten Casinobesuch leisten zu können... (jn)

Omar Sharif's Bridge logo

Could a computer be the king of the green baize? Nick Veitch faces off a new contender.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the game of Bridge is an ancient and noble one, played by Kings in their draughty medieval castles.

Well, the modern game of Contract Bridge as we know it has only been around since 1925. Still, that's long enough for someone to have come up with a decent computer simulation you would have thought.

Bridge is a game, very similar to Whist, played with one deck of cards and four people. It's a game of two halves: the auction, where everybody tries to out-Sotherby each other guessing how well they'll do in the second part; and the play, where the cards are played in Whist fashion. Points are awarded for making your target and, as is the way of things, points are deducted when you fall short.

The card play isn't all that tricky to get to grips with, but the bidding can be. It's not just a matter of evaluating your hand of cards and bidding on that - you have to take into account what all the other players have, and what they are bidding.

Unfortunately, this is where most computer simulations fall down. It's a sort of fuzzy logic exercise which is difficult to handle with conventional computer programming, unlike Chess.

Omar's Bridge is very easy to use. The cards are quite clear, if a little small, and most of the menu options are accessible by a hotkey combination. Unfortunately, its bidding power isn't as great as the hype would have you believe.

Although it firmly bids according to the ACOL convention (including Stayman and Blackwood), bizarre hands completely phase it. It is also impossible to choose which conventions are to be added on to the basic system (no Gerber, Multi-twos, etc.) and there are no discard conventions. The card-play is not of a master level, except perhaps a Bird's Eye Menu Master.

To be fair, it is an excellent package for the beginner to learn on before he risks going down to the local bridge club to be glared at by real card sharks. The spot effects of Omar telling you how well you are doing are very nice, but get a bit tedious after a while. This program is like a pair of short trousers - you'll grow out of it quickly (unless you are the Art Editor of CU Amiga, that is).

If Omar Sharif really plays bridge like this, I'll have to invite him around for a few games at a pound a point...