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Winninng Notrump Leads. Bird & Anthias

#1 User is offline   BillPatch 

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Posted 2013-March-27, 15:43

This book is most interesting to me because it attempts to use computer simulation to statistically analyze a monte carlo sample of bridge hands to model superior bridge play. monte carlo is a statistics term for sampling from a random choice, as in statistics of the gambling tables at Monte Carlo. I studied computer monte carlo simulations in both engineering school and an MBA program, and enjoy seeing their applications outside the computer world.

The two masters, David Bird & Taf Anthias, present the revolutionary suggestions generated by this experiment. The old notion that the best leads against notrump, barring holding a good 3 card honor sequence, is fourth best from the longest and strongest suit, is shown to be passat. While retaining the framework of standard leads, the leads that best utilize both defensive hands usually attempt to hit partner's suit, unless leader's hand suggests otherwise. If the declaring side has not investigated suit play the leader should strongly favor the major suits, usually preferring three card suits and doubletons. Four card suits led by one or two honors should not normally be selected, though a four card major is usually as good as a five card minor. Two card honor sequences in a major suit, with or without additional spot cards, are good leads compared with fourth best.

When the opponents show suits, opening leader usually avoids them. If responder tries stayman and gets a negative response, majors are still highly preferred leads. If partner overcalls, or opens a major, it suggests a strong lead.

It is relatively easy to gauge one's progress in learning through this book and its successor on suit contract leads, because each short chapter is followed by a thorough quiz on similar leading questions, each with the statistics of the suggested leads. I believe it has similarly affected my leading prowness with relatively little effort. I recommend this book for intermediates through experts.

I had a slight difficulty in applying the leads in this book in the case of ace leads. The authors do not employ the standard American convention that the lead of an ace against notrump demands an unblock, otherwise third hand signals count. They note the merit of this convention, but fail to warn that it is incompatible with 90% of the ace leads recommended here. Bird in his book on signaling prefers the convention "Ace lead for Attitude, King for K©ount" from AK + suits against notrump contracts.

A reviewer on Amazon noted that since he studied this work in his bridge play on line he defeated one quarter more notrump contracts, and gave up an average of almost one overtrick per contract he failed to defeat.
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