Bridge on the Raspberry Pi

pybridgeFor some reason that I really can’t fathom there seems to be a dearth of Bridge software for GNU/Linux and what little there are are closed source and for x86 only and these days i’m effectively an ARM only house. Wife uses an iPad, kid after his 8 year old HP blew up uses an HP Touchpad and I have 4 Raspberry Pi’s, an ARM based netbook & some ARM dev boards. I do have a borrowed laptop that has to go back soon but i’m not allowed to install anything on it as it’s locked down & I really don’t think I should hack it as that wouldn’t be nice & they might not lend it to me again if I did. So I can’t use any of the Bridge programs that will run on GNU/Linux even if I could afford them (seem to range from about $25 to $100+). The reason i’ve been looking for Bridge software that will run on Linux and have done several times over the years, in particular the Raspberry Pi is that although I learnt to play in my teens and for a while was quite good at duplicate bridge, i even earned a few master points a few times although never enough in a single year to get a real ranking, played at the Bridge Club at the retirement home down the street from where I grew up & the club at the local community college (my high school), I also bowled there too, i’ve always been a bit of an old fogie :) is that although my wife plays Spades, Hearts & Whist a lot she just can’t get Bridge although I think that is deliberate as she doesn’t want to learn. My son has no interest in learning and I don’t even have 3 friends let alone 3 friends who can play Bridge. So while the footie was on TV last night I did some trawling on freecode & sourceforge to see if I could find anything and after getting my hopes up that Bridge Calculator http://bcalc.w8.pl/ had been open sourced, it hasn’t :( not because it’s for playing bridge, just because it looks cool & pretty and might be fun for setting myself Bridge puzzles to keep my hand in, I found PyBridge http://sourceforge.net/projects/pybridge/ it seems to have been abandoned & the pybridge.org website is no longer but the stable version is available in the debian, ubuntu & raspbian repos and I suspect other distros as well & it has OSX & Windows versions. I installed the version from the repos. it’s split into two parts. pybridge (the client) & pybridge-server which are installed using

sudo apt-get install pybridge pybridge-server

and for once I actually RTFM’ed the man pages & started the server in my putty window & as i run all my raspberry pis headless fired up a vnc session & ran the client in vnc. and created a user on the server & logged in.pybridge1 and created a table.pybridge2 and that is where I got stuck :( As PyBridge doesn’t have AI players and I don’t have any Bridge playing friends, not even on twitter by the looks of it I really couldn’t do much other than play against myself and about 50% of the time I knew what card i was going to play even if I tried to hide that fact from my other self :) so after setting up a domain the Raspberry Pi that PyBridge is installed on, forwarding port 5040 to the Raspberry Pi on my router and restarting the server just in case anyone I know fancies a few rubbers of Bridge, we’ll need 3 if you do & i’m not sure if the Raspberry Pi will be able to copy with it when/if i do have a full table but it’s worth a shot. the server is at pybridge.burninghorse.com port 5040 if you fancy a go but be gentle with the Raspberry Pi as PyBridge is running on a 256meg model B.

As I still needed a Bridge program that had computer players and found Gnubridge http://gnubridge.org/index.php  gnubridge Gnubridge is written in java so you’ll need java installed, which I believe now is installed by default in recent Raspbian releases. gnubridge is run with the command

java -jar gnubridge-0.1.19.jar

and it opens directly into the game waiting for you to bid with your cards and all bids displayed. After making your bid the bidding continues as normal until a contract is reached and play commences. When it’s your turn to play a card you can either drag it to the table or double click the card you wish to play (double clicking is easier and less error prone than dragging) gnubridge1 and once the game is complete it displays the score and you can start another game. The AI isn’t great and won’t cause advanced players any problems and i’ve not been able to quite workout what bidding system your partner AI uses, it seems to be a combination of ACOL & Precision with semi-weak no trumps. Unfortunately neither of these two programs support things like PBN (Portable Bridge Notation) but they are the best i’ve found so far that will run on the Raspberry Pi & don’t cost if not an arm and a leg at least a finger & thumb.

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