Play online with Synrey Bridge
By Alex J. Coyne © Great Bridge Links November 2019
Synrey Bridge was first developed in 2014 and it’s one of the top bridge teaching and playing apps within China. Now, the developers have released the English version equivalent of the game and it’s seeing more registered users across the world as it expands its features to include new games, tournaments and teaching tools.
In the recent IBPA Newsletter, we noticed that Synrey Bridge was mentioned as one of the places to play in a new World Online Championship (WOC) beginning in 2020 and hosted by the World Bridge Federation. Players will be able to purchase tournament entries in batches to play on
BBO, FunBridge or Synrey (China Bridge Online) against robots. While familiar with BBO and FunBridge, we didn’t know much about Synrey so we asked our journalist Alex Coyne find out more.
Alex spoke to Erik Liu from the Synrey Bridge team about how the app works – and how it’s working to stand out.
Starting Synrey: Dr. Erik Liu’s Journey
The Synrey app is credited to T. Uchida, Y. Uchida, Z. Shi and Y. Wu. Working under the direction of Dr. Erik Liu, the team were key developers of the Synrey robot and system.
“The Synrey team has rich experience in bridge promotions.” says Liu. He says their promotion includes universities, primary and middle schools and other social communities that learn more about bridge every year.
Dr. Liu’s own experience as teacher, bridge player and software engineer is vast. According to his biography, the software engineer and bridge teacher spent six years working for Ericsson in the Netherlands while playing in local bridge clubs and “enjoying his bridge life” in general.
During the past fifteen years, he’s created several successful start-up companies across different fields, including telecommunication, health and bridge.
“In 2002, I went back to Beijing.”
From there, Dr. Liu says that he began teaching bridge at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunication in 2014. “I was later invited by the Chinese Contract Bridge Association (CCBA) as a key teacher to promote bridge and China.”
As a bridge teacher, he’s taught bridge at thirteen universities and high schools and eight enterprises so far.
“Based on teaching experience, the team started to build a tool that could support bridge education through modern techniques of mobile internet and artificial intelligence. It was this research that later evolved into the Synrey Bridge app.”
According to Dr. Liu, the team are also the originators of the three-stage teaching system, already widely used by many bridge teachers in China.
Dr. Liu says that Synrey is a created word, but that the pronounciation of it “is close to a Chinese phrase representing innovation and intelligence.”
“Synrey bridge has three apps.” says Dr. Liu. “One app is used by Chinese bridge players, another one by Chinese bridge teachers/students, and a third one is available for English-speaking players.”
Today, he says that the use of Synrey Bridge has boomed. “It’s widely used by more than 2, 000 bridge teachers, more than 400, 000 bridge players and hundreds of schools and universities in China.”
How It Works
Synrey Bridge is aimed at promoting bridge – and encouraging its teaching by connecting players and teachers around the same table with the option for teachers to create customized classes for students.
What makes it stand out is its heavy reliance on robotics. While players can play with others through the Chinese app, a great deal of English-speaking Synrey users are matched up with robots to play.
It can be a fun bridge-based sandbox where players can challenge themselves against robotic players who aren’t judging how they play.
“There are dozens of games available through the original Chinese app, and several games available in the English app.”
The English app offers Trick-Taking Bridge, Minibridge, Daily Pairs and their Daily Robot Challenge. Players can earn Master Points for some challenges.
So far, the ability to create your own club and tournament is a feature that still has to be brought over to the English version of the app, but it’s planned for the near future.
Teachers can apply through an e-mail application to the Synrey team. “If the application is approved, the applicant becomes one of our verified teachers.”
Once a user has become a teacher, they can create an online class and invite students. “The teacher can assign boards to their students, and these boards can either be played live in the real class or after the class as homework.” Dr. Liu says that boards can be chosen from a predefined library or set to random selection instead.
The Chinese app allows teachers to see profiles and statistics for students from the management interface.
What runs the Synrey AI? “The Synrey robot was originally from MicroBridge, developed by both T. Uchida and Y. Uchida. In 2014, we bought over the development license from MicroBridge and started to develop our own Synrey Robot.”