Game Plan

Amaresh Deshpande

India’s Amaresh Deshpande likes teaching bridge to kids, so much so that he has invented several simple “bridge-lite” versions of the game to quicken the interest of young players. But there’s a method to his game designs that is more than just trying to overcome the learning curve of bridge: Deshpande believes that the only truly effective ambassadors of the game to juniors are other junior players. If a fun and effective bridge-lite game could catch on with kids, other kids would become interested, too, benefitting the traditional version of the game in the long run. It’s Deshpande’s master plan.

In 2016, Deshpande released a deceptively simple app he dubbed Kida. Its purpose is to quiz players on how to take tricks, from basic one-, two- and three-card positions up to more complicated ones. There is no bidding.

Now, Deshpande has decided to tackle bidding, too – the most difficult element of the game for new players – with his latest project, Hool. The game is available as a free app or browser version for digital platforms and also as a simple board game. It’s designed to quickly teach the elements of bidding to new players. Deshpande is in San Francisco for the Fall NABC demonstrating Hool to attendees, and he also plans to make a pitch to the ACBL Educational Foundation.

“Hool is bridge-lite. It contains a kernel of the traditional game, but it breaks down the bidding into two phases: information sharing followed by selecting a contract. In Hool, players are allowed to give two clues about their hands – high-card points, pattern or length in one suit – after which the contract is selected. Play follows just like in the traditional version,” Deshpande said.

“Years ago, the game of cricket was dying, so they created a simpler, faster version of the game called Twenty-20 that caught on like wildfire. Fans of that version soon began to take an interest in standard cricket. In chess, speed chess is an exciting way to enjoy the game compared to the more serious, slower version. We need something like that in bridge to attract new, young players. Hool will lead young players to bridge. I know from my own experience that kids like this. Once that happens, the young players become teachers themselves.”

Attendees are invited to visit the Hool booth at the Marriott, lower level B2, near the vendors.