What it does
Acol Master is a program that plays the card game bridge. It can take the part of zero, one, two, three or even all of the hands. This makes it quite handy if you can't find a forth player. You can configure which conventions it plays and whether it tells you what it's bids mean or not. You can use it to assist you in learning the game. It has a little bit of help, but not enough. However, I like to think that it's fairly intuitive to use given the technology it had to run on in those days.
I wrote it in 1988/9. It won the Gold Medal in the Bridge section of the First Computer Olympiad in 1989. The Computer Olympiad is an international event where computer programs from all over the globe slug it out at various "thinking" games including bridge, chess, checkers, go, scrabble and many others. I still have the medal somewhere.
Acol Master was written in Turbo Pascal with some 8086 assembly code to do the bits that needed faster processing on those old slow machines. It was originally designed to run in Microsoft DOS on a 286 processor with EGA graphics. This explains why it uses so few colours. It will runs fine in a DOS environment under Windows 3.1, 95 and 98, provided that you're happy to dispense with the mouse. Actually, I dimly remember writing mouse support but it seems to be absent - perhaps if you tried mucking about with mouse drivers in the DOS environment, you might get it working again. Acol Master works best in full screen mode.
The program actually has a "back door" which allows you to change the way it bids. If you're interested in this feature, I can mail you details but I take no responsibility if you mess it all up. Keep a backup or come back here to retrieve it again.
Click the image below to download a compressed file called acolmstr.zip which is 387 Kb.
Extract this file into a folder (directory) called "acolmstr" on your "C" drive. You have to run the program from a folder with this name for the "pif" file to work. The folder must be no longer than 8 letters long and must contain no spaces. This is important or the program will not run. Drag the file called "Acol Master Bridge" or "Acol Master Bridge.pif" onto your desktop or a shortcut folder and double click it to run the program. The executable file is actually called "brmain.exe" for those of you who want to muck about.
To uninstall, simply delete the entire C:\acolmstr directory (or whatever you called it). Acolmaster doesn't write files anywhere else unless you ask it to.
Cautions and Pointers
There's only one bug that I know of - that's in section 'E' of the Help option. Please don't go into option 'E' unless you want the program to crash. That's the final help section that I wrote - sorry! You need to hit the Esc key to get out of the help not "X" or "Q" as it says.
Use the up, down, left, right, N, Y, Enter, Esc and function keys to navigate. Use the S, H, D, C, P, N and D keys together with the numeric keys to bid and play.
This program has been checked with a recent version of Norton Anti-Virus. However I do not accept any responsibility for its failure to run nor its suitability for any particular purpose. In no event shall I be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages.
Mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any help.
Have fun and don't forget to give something to the charities named at http://www.mult-sclerosis.org/programs.html