BOREL support page

BOREL is a very sophisticated hand dealing program written by John Lowenthal (1938-1999) and continuously refined by him from 1987-1998. It is really a programming language to describe bridge hands and one uses it to chose to include or discard hands from the generated random deals. Many of the best players in the world use it to look at the possible hands when they have a specific hand on a specific auction, in other words, a bridge simulation. You may see it referred to in old Bridge World Master Solver’s Clubs. Others use it for bidding practice on specific openings that they wish to practice. Teachers can use it to generate specific opening and responding hands for a class. As an example I include my script to generate strong 2 openers along with several other useful basic scripts. One of the advantages of Borel is that you can specify hands where the opponents will not bid at a specific level.


The version I am selling for $49.00 (most of the proceeds will go to the ACBL junior fund as per John’s wishes) may not be the most current version but if you buy it you are guaranteed an upgrade if we find a more recent version. We (me with Celia and Lia Lowenthal) will be looking for the sources to see if it can be modernized. The documentation has not yet been completely scanned in (up to chapter 5 now) so if you buy it we will email it to you later. There is enough in the README to get started. plus there is a command summary included.

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In the meantime, we are recommending using a DOS emulator such as DOSbox to run it and I have included my Python script which prints hands from Borel generated files (BHG) files.

A number of basic scripts to generate hands are included. This is not a package for the technically challenged! It is best used by other programmers at this point or very computer literate types.
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The release is a ZIP file, it will not install itself. You need to unzip into a folder on your C: (or other drive) and then read the file called README.txt to find out how to run it.


15 thoughts on “Borel

  1. Jim Garner

    You have the executable and documentation… do you also have the original source code as well?
    With the original source code, it is possible to bring the program into the modern era and breathe new life into Borel.

    1st: the BHG format is not well known. You have writen the python script to interpret it, but how much more flexible would things be if we had the program write out JSON or XML? This can be accomplished with the source code and a compiler.

    2nd: Requireing people to use DosBox throuws off potential users. Many people interested in bridge these days are older, and do not ahve the experience necessary or desire to load DosBox. I am a software engineer, and I do nto want to bother with DosBox, though I will if there is no other way.

    3rd: Command line interfaces, if designed smartly, can be used as the interface between a UI program and a simulator. The uI can be written as a windows/MAC program or a web interface, calling the prgram as thoguh it were a serveice on the server. This is done with chess engines all the time. Stockfish, for example, is a simple command line program that utilizes UCI as its interface. You can dowload Stockfish to run on any device (Android, iP{hone, iPad, Windows, MAC, even run it from web-pages) People simply use it, and do nto think about how it is put together. This can be done with Borel.

    4th: Depending upon how it is put together, a redisign (while preserving the core logic) cna be accomplished to make it more maintainable, or more flexible. The time of its creation it is probably written in C, but could have been written in Pascal, assembler or FORTRAN. With the exception of assembler, these languages have modern counterparts and can be compiled in modern compilers and packaged to run directly on modern machines. A little work on the interface aspect may be needed , but designing the interface will be helpful (see above)

    I think it would be a good idea to breathe new life into Borel.
    As a software engineer and programmer with over 25 years experience, I might be able to help with the effort.
    Let me know what, if anything I can do.

    Jim Garner

  2. Kitty Cooper Post author

    Your ideas are all excellent and I did recently find a windows version of Borel which I might package up for people if there is nterest.
    Hoever the source code is gone. I got more files from his widow recently and I do need to check those for those missing sources but do not expect much …

  3. Steven Lawrence

    I have been using Borel (off and on) since 1989. Initially I had a few ideas for improvement and forwarded them to John but never heard back. When I found out he was seriously ill, I realized that he had likely lost interest.

    Were there upgrades? My program file are what I originally received.

    I have found that I can do anything that I really want to do with hand generations but my problem now days is getting output that I can work with and print. Again I have workarounds using another program but it would be great to do it in one step. The original print functions were primitive (likely best for dot matrix printers) and redirecting the output to a document was not very good.

    BTW, I found while DOSBox worked well for some programs, Borel seemed to do poorly. Instead I use an old computer with Windows XP.

  4. Kitty Cooper Post author

    Steven, I have been happy with DOSbox but have not used it in a while. I do not think there were any improvements to Borel. His widow has sent me various files but we have not found the source files. There was a windows version but I have not gotten it working and perhaps have less interest myself these days.

    As to printing, I wrote a Python program to generate RTF files with the hands in 3 columns from the Borel results. Of course that requires installing Python. See samples in my downloads area. That is included in the purchase as are my Borel scripts like a subroutine for weak two bids. There has not been enough interest for me to package that stuff separately but if you want it … we can make a deal 🙂

  5. Bo-Yin Yang

    Hello Kitty,

    I found the copy of Borel that I have but have since lost my copy of the manual. I have asked a friend with a Paypal account to buy for me for nostalgia’s sake. Please send scans of the manual if you finish the scanning.

  6. Bo-Yin Yang

    whoops hit Post prematurely.

    I hope to use Borel again from time to time; have lost my old scripts which will be hard to repair.
    But it is a tribute to my misspent youth. I thank you very much for providing Borel at cost.

    I wish you the best in the time of COVID-19, stay safe and healthy.

    Best wishes,

  7. Bo-Yin Yang

    Hello Kitty,

    Did in fact have my friend do the purchase and have now gotten the downloaded Borel zipfile which includes a list of the commands but not a list of the attributes (Losers, winners, stoppers, Neapolitan controls …) in suits.

    If one is available is there any way to get hold of that?

    Best wishes

  8. John Schuler

    I’ve written a Windows “printing’ program which formats the Borel BHG files into text files. Yes, it even has a menu to select the BHG file and select the output format.
    Currently there’s 3 formats, North hands, South hands, and the full deal. All are “one across the page”, but if there’s REAL interest I can add formats with multiple hands/deals across the page. Probably takes a few hours apiece.

    Weirdly I can get only the “Diamond” symbol to show up correctly in a text file; so for now it’s just “S”, “H”, “D”, and “C”. And yes, I’m outputting UTF-8.

    1. Kitty Cooper Post author

      Sounds great John, but the user group for BOREL is pretty small. The release I sell here comes with a printing program in Python that creates RTF files (any word processor) in all those formats

  9. jim berglund

    I kave borel and use Dosbox to run it. I have it set up so startiung Dosbox takes be directly to the Borel command line.
    I teach bridge lessons and would greatly appreciate a converter grom the BHL file to a format that can be used with dealing machines and loaded into Excel.
    I have the original manual in a MS Word documant.

  10. Kitty M Cooper

    I have a converter that creates word docs suitable for bidding hands with a partner written in Python. I would need the format of the files for bidding machines and/or excel. I can put your request on a bridge programmer list I belong to. I will send you a private email.

  11. Arjun Ray

    Hi Kitty,
    Hans van Staveren’s BigDeal program can generate deals in BHG format. The format itself is quite simple: the 52 cards in a deck (in descending order within each suit) are associated with the 52 characters of the English alphabet, upper case and then lower case. Thus SA = A, H2 = Z, DA = a, C2 = z; and a deal string is 52 characters long, with each of the 4 subsets of 13 characters in a row constituting a hand. The only tricky part is that _which_ hand comes first is not fixed. Apparently, the convention in BHG format is to start with the dealer’s hand. So, that bit of extra information is needed along with just the deal string. I suppose one could fix a different convention (e.g. South first always) for generic dealing purposes.

    What is the status of the updates you mention (the documentation, mainly)?

  12. Kitty M Cooper

    Thanks Arjun,
    I have a copy of the socumentation now somewhere. I am just back from the Nationals so can respond to you privately in a few days.
    Interesting about the BJG format, I guess South was always the dealer in my simulations, bidding hands, etc

  13. Peter Weichsel

    Hello Kitty
    My name is Herb and I have been doing computer stuff for the last 25 years in the San Diego Area.
    I have over 700 clients and one of them is Peter Weichsel. We met on the tennis courts about 10 years ago and I helped him with some computer issues. I recently tried to fixed his really old XP computer and took the Borel files off to try to get them to work on a Windows 10 PC. Saw you posts on the internet. Peter is doing another book and wants to use some data from the old Borel program. At least I now have the files and can see the hands, but it sounded like there may be a way to install the old program on a newer PC. Peter would love that, or if not I have an old XP notebook for free that works and if there is a way to get Borel to run on another xp pc would be great. Thanking you in advance,
    Herb (hh tennis anyone) at

  14. Kitty M Cooper

    hi Herb,
    As suggested above, DOSbox gives you a DOS environment on a PC and can run BOREL. I am getting ready for the Nationals so check in with me again in 2 weeks if you can’t get it working. I will also email you


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