Blue Chip Bridge 6.7.1

                                                           by Ian Trackman and Mike Whittaker

The Creators 

Ian Trackman started his professional life as a lawyer, but when he discovered computers, he became so fascinated that he changed direction and became a programmer. As his expertise grew, he became Software Consultant for the BBC' s Computer Literacy Project, and even ended up presenting several programs.

Ian met his wife, Susan, when they were both students, and together they learned to play bridge. His interest in computer bridge began as a hobby in the early 1980s. "I realized that if wanted to produce a good program, the project would have to change from a hobby to a commercial enterprise," says Ian. Today, Blue Chip Bridge has become a full-time occupation.

"As a fairly-average bridge player, I knew I would need input from a seriously good player, which is why I teamed up with Mike ... "

Mike Whittaker year 2000
Mike Whittaker year 2000

Ian met his wife, Susan, when they were both students, and together they learned to play bridge. His interest in computer bridge began as a hobby in the early 1980s. "I realized that if wanted to produce a good program, the project would have to change from a hobby to a commercial enterprise," says Ian. Today, Blue Chip Bridge has become a full-time occupation.

Mike Whittaker worked in South Africa for three years, and many of the industrial chemistry techniques that he developed are still in use there today. Bridge has been a hobby since Mike's schooldays, and he enjoyed some success as a Scottish junior international, He has written a regular column in Bridge Plus for some years, and has co-authored two books (Test Your Acol Bidding and Practice Your Acol Bidding). Since teaming up with Ian in 1995, the development of Blue-Chip Bridge has filled most of Mike's trine.

The Software

When they began working in earnest on Blue Chip Bridge, Mike's first task was to compile an Acol bidding database, although this has now been expanded to include Five-card Majors and Standard English. "I thought a few thousand entries would be sufficient," comments Mike, "but I made a slight under­estimation. Now, five years later on, I am still hard at work on it, improving it in small ways. It is the bidding database that, we think, sets Blue Chip Bridge apart from other programs - it is easily the world' s largest, with over 45,000 entries, Blue Chip Bridge relies on it in order to bid and, if there is no exact match in the database, it uses fuzzy logic to choose the best-fitting bid from among candidate bids. Obviously, it is impossible to cover every possible sequence, but bridge is not played like that and we have other tricks up our sleeve as well. Unusual hand-types can sometimes cause problems, and there were one or two clear indications of this in the Zia match, but Blue Chip Bridge will continue to improve. Once we correct a mistake, it will never happen again -I wish human players had that ability!

"In play and defense, Blue Chip Bridge is a 'searching' program. It uses information from the bidding to reconstruct the unseen hands, constantly changing its perception as new information is disclosed during the play. We are always looking for ways to improve the search procedure. The difficulty is to arrive at a sensible play in a reasonable time. Despite the enormous calculating power of modern computers, the numbers involved are gigantic. People who buy the program don't want it to sit there for ages before playing each card, so the depth of searches is limited by commercial and practical factors." (from 1999).

The Blue Chip Bridge Site was closed in march 2023 and the selling and upgrades were discontinued.  

However the archive link still work...

Blue Chip Bridge participated in the ACBL Computer Bridige World Championships from 1998-2006., at best 6th place in the round robin. In 2008 Blue Chip Bridge didn't participate, but played a role in the experimental Individuals. Ian Trackman has invented the protocol  used in WCBC event for network play, the Blue Chip Bridge Protocol and also a program for network play at WCBC, Table Manager. After Ian Trackman stopped to attend the WCBC Table Manager was replaced with Bridge Moniteur by Gerard Joyez. It is a free program with source code in Rebol. 

Ian Trackman passed away 2023. Here is an orbituary testiomny by Christine Goulden from 2023:

Ian Trackman 1945-2023

It is with great sadness that I have to announce that Ian Trackman passed away at the end of June 2023      aged 78.

Ian was born in March 1945. After completing his schooling and graduating, Ian started his professional life as a lawyer. But he changed direction having discovered the world of computers, and decided to become a programmer. This led him to becoming a software consultant for the BBC's Computer Literacy Project.

Ian met his wife Susan, when they were both students together, where they also learned to play bridge.

Ian's interest in computer bridge began as a hobby in the early 1980's. He realised that if he wanted to produce a good program, then his hobby would have to become a commercial enterprise. The bridge program Blue Chip became a full time occupation. Ian considered himself as an average player, but realised that if he was going to succeed with this enterprise, it would require input from a seriously good player. Ian teamed up with Mike Whitaker, who bridge had been a hobby for since school days, and he enjoyed success as a Scottish Junior International. Mike was later a co-author of two books on the Acol Bidding system. But his time was taken up with Blue Chip Bridge after 1995.

Blue Chip came a long way between 1995, and the closure of the project in 2020. Blue Chip appeared at the World Computer Bridge Championships from 1997 to 2006, usually finishing between 5th and 8th place against strong competition from all around the world. But the biggest contribution that Ian and Mike were responsible for at this time, was an add on to Blue Chip Bridge known as a Table Manager. The Blue Chip Table Manager was the first of it's kind, which made it possible for different bridge computer programs to play against each other with very little human assistance other than bridge bidding convention enquiries. Without this addition although superseded in recent years. The World Computer Bridge Championships would never have been possible in their current form.

I'm sure all of the computer bridge robot authors, who knew Ian would like to join me in sending our deepest condolences to Ian's family and friends, and also people Ian may have met along the way on this amazing journey.

Christine Goulden

Bridge Manager


The network feature of Blue Chip Bridge enables you to play bridge (using duplicate scoring) using two (or more) computers running on a network. The most common arrangement will be with two computers, where two humans either partner each other against a pair of computer opponents or they play against each other, each partnered by a computer player. 

Playing Blue Chip Bridge over a network involves the use of Table Manager and one instance of Blue Chip Bridge for each networked computer. Table Manager deals the cards, keeps the score and generally manages the game. Each player, whether a human or a computer, participates through that player's own copy of Blue Chip Bridge.

Networking of Computer Bridge Programs 

Latest version of Blue Chip Bridge his 6.7.

Blue Chip Bridge is a commercial program. It is  only available for Windows.

Blue Chip Bridge is not available for Mac, but can be run with a suitable Windows emulator.

Blue Chip Bridge supports the following systems: ACOL, 5 Card Major, Standard English, Andrew Robson and 11 configurable conventions. It is the best program for Acol players according to Zia Mahmood.

Play up to 16 boards in an IMP scored match against the robot or play random deals.