Andre Bovee-Begun

Bridge Base Online Turns 10!

Happy birthday, Bridge Base Online! Saturday, April 23rd marks the much-loved online bridge website’s 10th anniversary. A decade of bringing bridge online is the latest milestone in BBO’s already impressive history, which also includes introducing robots to the bridge table and helping to bring the VuGraph/PenderGraph to a wide audience. Needless to say, this is all thanks to its hard-working, bridge-loving partners.

What better time than the present to take a look back at the story of how BBO became a favorite destination of bridge players on the internet?

The Founder

While BBO has always been a team effort, it would never have been possible without Fred’s ongoing work. The site was Fred’s brainchild, helped along by countless others. Along with his tireless partner Uday, his wife Sheri, and new partners Bill Gates, Sharon Osberg, and David Smith, Fred has built BBO into a tremendous success. But none of it might ever have happened if it weren’t for a lucky coincidence.

One Game-Changing Phone Call

Fred tells the story of how, back in 1994, a fateful phone call from Warren Buffet set off the chain of events that led to BBO as we know it. At the time, Bridge Base was a CD-ROM-based program and Fred was just beginning to consider the possibilities of transmitting bridge data over a computer network. And then the Sage of Omaha called to place an order, and Fred leapt at the chance to ask him for some business advice. Before long, this led to an introduction to Bill Gates, who was also interested in the future of bridge online. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Hitting the Big Time

Like Master Point Press, Fred has his roots in Toronto, Ontario. But these days, he spends his time in Las Vegas — when he’s not travelling to play in bridge tournaments. In addition to founding BBO, Fred has become a leading bridge player in world-class competitions, winning one World Bridge Championship, five North American Bridge Championships, and a gold medal in the World Bridge Federation’s IOC Grand Prix. You may have also know him as Bill Gates’s bridge coach.

You might be able to glean some insight into Fred’s winning technique by tracking him down at BBO (user name: fred), or by reading some of the books and articles he’s written about the game. In addition, Fred has written a book about the hands, partners, and opponents he’s faced in world-level competition, including Gates and Buffet. Intrigued? You can read all about it in Master Class: Lessons from the Bridge Table. Fred is also featured in Marc Smith’s book World Class: Conversations with the Bridge Masters.

From the Master Point Press archives

Fred Gitelman has published numerous articles in Master Point Magazine, which are available for free download, including his three-part series on 2/1 bidding, which is now available in its entirety for the first time in 17 years!

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