The introduction of the IBM Personal Computer in 1981 combined with the launch of the Internet in 1990 marked a new era for mankind, especially for everyone connected with bridge.
It suddenly became possible for bridge players from all corners of the planet to interact and play together even though they were separated by thousands of miles. The language of bridge bidding and play uses only 15 words and with all selections made via a mouseclick, people from any country speaking any language can play together.
Bridge players do not care about the nationality, race or religion of their opponents. They wish only to play bridge in a friendly and competitive atmosphere. Hence the motto of the World Bridge Federation, Bridge For Peace.
Utilising the immense power of the computer brought dramatic changes to bridge. Scoring no longer had be done by hand – the computer could deliver the results just seconds after the final deal had been completed.
Meanwhile, software experts set out harness the immense power of the computer.
Fred Gitelman & Sheri Winestock founded Bridge Base Online, a company that would change the face of bridge forever. Their initial products were analytical tools designed for serious students of bridge and were quickly followed by the development of software that was designed to allow players to learn how to play and improve their technical skills.
The launch of Bridge Base Online (BBO) in 2001 enabled players to meet in competition without leaving home and the same technology allowed spectators to follow the action.
The BBO software provides pictures of cards and a chat window, and has become the leading system of relaying real-life hands online. BBO transmits world class tournaments live so that the user can watch hands being played anywhere in the world in real time. In these tournaments there is an operator clicking the cards that they see the competitors play so that everyone on BBO can watch. In the biggest tournaments live commentary is provided by a team of experts.
The results of the introduction of this technology were dramatic; during the final of the 2003 World Championships in Monaco, more than 20,000 online spectators attempted to follow the final of the Bermuda Bowl between Italy and the USA, exceeding the capacity of the server.