Okbridge is a website and web based application that allows bridge players to play bridge online with other bridge players around the world. It has some very useful features, but at the same point still has problems that need to be addressed. The program has been around for over ten years now and over the years they have made changes to improve it. Yet, they have missed out on several key weak points of the program. Due to the fact that they have missed these areas, the program is one that I can’t recommend highly for all aspects. For the general membership though it is a good option for people that love to play bridge but can’t get out to their local club.
The membership fee is just under $100 for the year, which is a bargain at less than $10 a month when compared to the cost of playing at local clubs where one game can cost $5-7. The only issue is that when playing as a standard member you can not earn masterpoints like you can in your local club if you are an ACBL member. Okbridge has had a solution for this issue though that started just over a year ago. They allow you to become an ACBL tournament member for just under $50, this package will be reviewed in another article as it needs to be discussed separately.
In the general play, as a member you start the software and log in. You will then be in the lobby area for the software. From this area you can choose from a list of tables that people are “hosting”. Anyone can host a table, and they will put a short description of the level of play of their table. As someone that is interested in playing at that table you can then click on the table’s name and join the table. Then you will ask the host if you can sit at their table, as this is good manners. The host will let you know if you can sit and then once seated you will wait for the table to be filled.
Your partner and you will decide on a convention card. The most common convention cards used on Okbridge are the Standard American Yellow Card and the 2/1 System card. Most tables will give you a minute to decide on your conventions before the game starts. Once the game starts bidding and play are very easy. For bidding there will be a graphical display of the convention box you usually see at your local club. Just select your bid, and hit the ok box. Any bids that are not part of a system must be “self alerted”, this means they must be alerted to the opponents by the bidder. This is different than in standard bridge where the partner of the bidder alerts non-standard bids. Once in a contract, the play of the cards are very simple. You select the card and either double click it, or you drag it to the middle of the table.
Scoring on okbridge uses two different systems. The host of the table can choose matchpoints or imps (international match points). Matchpoints is the most common system of scoring that is used for pairs at standard ACBL games. Imps are a system usually used for team games, but okbridge uses a system to score pair games this way as well. The result of the hand is compared with everyone else on Okbridge that has played that same hand that week and your mp or imp score is assigned. You are also given personal rankings based on your results of play at the end of each week. These use the lehman system, which is traditionally used for chess. This is one area many members feel is a flaw of okbridge as it’s not the easiest ranking system to follow, but a better one has not been designed since the program began over a decade ago.
In general Okbridge is a good online program for bridge lovers who want to play a lot of bridge at a bargain price without leaving their home. The program has both a web based application and a down-loadable version which is still played over the internet. The play level at Okbridge ranges from novice tables to some of the highest ranked players in the world playing at tables as well. Bridge online can be fun, but remember if you wish to earn masterpoints for the ACBL this can only be done if you pay an additional fee of almost $50 annually on top of the $100 yearly membership fee. You can still play tournaments though on Okbridge without this additional membership fee, but not the ones that have masterpoints as prizes. Instead they give away their own form of points called “pond points” depending on how you finish in the tournament. There are over five daily tournaments, so if you enjoy tournament play you will never have to wait too long for one to start. Overall Okbridge is probably the best option bridge fans have for online play, it has it’s flaws but still is a good program.