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Book Reviews

#441 User is offline   Rossoneri 

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Posted 2009-July-14, 23:30

Bridge: Adding Precision and Pre-emption to 2/1 and Acol by Matt Smith
Level: Intermediate-Advanced

Picked up this book from a local library. Wasn't expecting much from it at first, but a quick browse first revealed that it was rather new, being published in 2008.

It makes for a rather interesting read. The main idea being "sold" is of course Precision, but this book is not about precision alone. The first 2 chapters give a good introduction and brief analysis of bidding trends historically and worldwide. Of course, this is not the main point of the book hence it does not go into great detail. There are also good chapters on hand evaluation and pre-emptive bidding in general. Hence, even if one is not interested in playing a big club system, there are still many useful points. This is stated by the author in the Introduction as well.

I have not finished this book yet, but so far from what I have read, the discussion and points given would definitely be useful to an intermediate player. Advanced players might find this useful as well for catching up with the latest trends in bidding and hand evaluation e.g. Zar points.

Overall Grade: A
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#442 User is offline   bill1157 

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Posted 2009-August-04, 08:01

"Bridge behind Bars" by Pottage and Smith is outstanding. In the genre of the Bridge in the menagerie series but much, much better.

Bill
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#443 User is offline   Rossoneri 

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Posted 2009-September-02, 00:06

Masterclass: Lessons from the bridge table by Fred Gitelman
Masterpoint Press 2008

Found this in the online catalogue in the local library, but I was beaten to it twice! I finally managed to grab this a couple of weeks ago.

Fred's writing style should be pretty familiar with all of us by now. Reading his book reminds me of reading his forum posts here. Some pretty nice themes and hands. Textbook enthusiasts, sorry, this is more of a collection of interesting hands rather than a standard textbook on technique. However, it does give an insight into better thinking at the table. A couple of misplayed hands are even included, and analysis showing how declarer should have gotten it right at the table.

A deceptively easy book to read through, but I would suggest reading it a few times through. I'm halfway through my second read. To sum up, a book to skip if you are looking for a hardcore text, but a good general read for intermediate-advanced players.
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#444 User is offline   eyhung 

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Posted 2009-September-15, 16:01

Expert Bridge Simplified by Jeff Rubens
Bridge World Books, 2009
Level : Adv+ to Expert
Topic: Cardplay and Odds

I learned about this book by a post Fred wrote about recent significant books. His recommendation sparked my curiosity, so I ordered it and have read approximately the first half of the book. I would call the book significant in that it treats a topic that has not been very well covered in the existing bridge literature : practical bridge math, as applied to (mostly) declarer play.

It not only gives odds for most fundamental situations, but explains how those odds are calculated, so that the player can estimate or compute those odds at the table when faced with a similar, but non-basic situation. One example is the odds of a 3-3 break. Most advanced bridge players know that it is approximately 36% in isolation, but did you know that the odds of a 3-3 break rise to 3/7 (~42%) when two rounds are cashed and both opponents follow? Or how much they decline if one side-suit is known to be 7-1 (~24%)? Rubens explains the basics of combinatorics and probability so that you can understand how and why odds change, and come up with reasonable approximations at the table. I particularly liked his shortcut for comparing fractions, which I remember learning long ago but had forgotten till now. Which is bigger, 4/13 or 5/16? Answer: Multiply each numerator by the other denominator: 4*16 = 64; 5 * 13 = 65; 65 > 64, so 5/16 is bigger.

Lest the previous paragraph give a misleading impression, the book is not merely about numbers. Most of the book is devoted to declarer play problems with multiple plausible lines, and the reader's job is to identify which line is more likely based on the principles taught. These range from suit combinations (Play your trump suit of AJTxxx opposite x for 4 tricks) to hands where you have to decide between a finesse or a break given the early hand information, to hands where you have to decide whether East is more likely to hold 2 spades rather than 4. The book focuses on technique, and not psychology -- those looking for practical examples of how to induce or capitalize on errors would be better off elsewhere.

The author is a math professor, and this shows in his academic (rigorously mathematical) writing style. However, the writing is not as dry as, say, Clyde Love's -- readers of the Bridge World will be familiar with the style (often seen in Swiss Match or Test Your Play) There are flashes of humor and some off-beat problems (What would you overcall after RHO's 1D on AKQJTxxx AQ A AQ? And how would you play it opposite a xx xxxx xxxx xxx?) to break the monotony of hand after hand of line comparison. The academic nature of the book may make it slow going, especially if you are not mathematically inclined, but it is certainly worth the effort if you are looking to master bridge math. It is not for casual bridge players, but it is certainly worth reading if you are serious about improving your technical declarer play from advanced to expert.
Eugene Hung
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#445 User is offline   Lobowolf 

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Posted 2009-September-15, 16:45

eyhung, on Sep 15 2009, 05:01 PM, said:

Expert Bridge Simplified by Jeff Rubens
Bridge World Books, 2009
Level : Adv+ to Expert
Topic: Cardplay and Odds

I learned about this book by a post Fred wrote about recent significant books. His recommendation sparked my curiosity, so I ordered it and have read approximately the first half of the book. I would call the book significant in that it treats a topic that has not been very well covered in the existing bridge literature : practical bridge math, as applied to (mostly) declarer play.

It not only gives odds for most fundamental situations, but explains how those odds are calculated, so that the player can estimate or compute those odds at the table when faced with a similar, but non-basic situation. One example is the odds of a 3-3 break. Most advanced bridge players know that it is approximately 36% in isolation, but did you know that the odds of a 3-3 break rise to 3/7 (~42%) when two rounds are cashed and both opponents follow? Or how much they decline if one side-suit is known to be 7-1 (~24%)? Rubens explains the basics of combinatorics and probability so that you can understand how and why odds change, and come up with reasonable approximations at the table. I particularly liked his shortcut for comparing fractions, which I remember learning long ago but had forgotten till now. Which is bigger, 4/13 or 5/16? Answer: Multiply each numerator by the other denominator: 4*16 = 64; 5 * 13 = 65; 65 > 64, so 5/16 is bigger.

Lest the previous paragraph give a misleading impression, the book is not merely about numbers. Most of the book is devoted to declarer play problems with multiple plausible lines, and the reader's job is to identify which line is more likely based on the principles taught. These range from suit combinations (Play your trump suit of AJTxxx opposite x for 4 tricks) to hands where you have to decide between a finesse or a break given the early hand information, to hands where you have to decide whether East is more likely to hold 2 spades rather than 4. The book focuses on technique, and not psychology -- those looking for practical examples of how to induce or capitalize on errors would be better off elsewhere.

The author is a math professor, and this shows in his academic (rigorously mathematical) writing style. However, the writing is not as dry as, say, Clyde Love's -- readers of the Bridge World will be familiar with the style (often seen in Swiss Match or Test Your Play) There are flashes of humor and some off-beat problems (What would you overcall after RHO's 1D on AKQJTxxx AQ A AQ? And how would you play it opposite a xx xxxx xxxx xxx?) to break the monotony of hand after hand of line comparison. The academic nature of the book may make it slow going, especially if you are not mathematically inclined, but it is certainly worth the effort if you are looking to master bridge math. It is not for casual bridge players, but it is certainly worth reading if you are serious about improving your technical declarer play from advanced to expert.

Eugene --

Thanks for this review. I had forgotten about this book after reading a post (probably the one you mention) that had sparked my curiosity.
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#446 User is offline   mike777 

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Posted 2009-December-08, 06:09

Take All Your Chances at Bridge. Eddie Kanter, 18.95$, 166pp. 2009.
Level=Intermediate
Grade=A+



Best bridge book of 2009. A wonderful book I recommend it for all Intermediate level players.


This book helps you select the best line of play in playing a bridge hand. In this book of intermediate problems, Eddie shows the reader how to combine options, so as to take advantage of more than one possibility. A humorous and entertaining book that will improve your declarer play.
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#447 User is offline   Rossoneri 

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Posted 2009-December-08, 06:56

Bridge with Imagination by David Bird and Geir Helgemo.

Found this book in the 5 pound section in London's Chess and Bridge shop. A very interesting read for the creative ways to play a hand. Most of the hands are from Helgemo, but there is quite a collection of hands featuring other well-known players as well. The deals are divided into different chapters dealing with different topics, so this makes for easy reading and linking the various discussions in the book. I wouldn't say this book is a textbook, it definitely is not, but it will help to broaden your mind to the possibilities of playing a hand.

Recommended only for Advanced and above. Intermediate players might find some help but I would think that some of the plays and discussion would be of little use to Intermediate players as they are too advanced/obscure to be of the most benefit.

I rate this an A. Bird's writing style is always enjoyable to read!
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#448 User is offline   Bende 

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Posted 2009-December-09, 05:12

Does anyone know how much has been updated in the 2nd edition of "The Complete Book on Overcalls in Contract Bridge" and whether it is worth getting the new edition?

Tobias
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#449 User is offline   babalu1997 

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Posted 2010-January-14, 14:09

Bende, on Dec 9 2009, 06:12 AM, said:

Does anyone know how much has been updated in the 2nd edition of "The Complete Book on Overcalls in Contract Bridge" and whether it is worth getting the new edition?

Tobias

i ask the same question, except, i have the book downstairs, waiting for the boss to take abreak so i can start reading

View PostFree, on 2011-May-10, 03:57, said:

Babalu just wanted a shoulder to cry on, is that too much to ask for?
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#450 User is offline   eyhung 

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Posted 2010-January-14, 14:42

Quite a bit has been updated, especially with regards to advancer's bids. Lawrence now advocates a more modern advancing structure, with preemptive jump raises, mixed raises, jump to 2NT as a 4-trump limit raise, and discussions of various cue-bids. I think it's worth reading.
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#451 User is offline   hanp 

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Posted 2010-January-14, 14:54

moved to watercooler by me.
and the result can be plotted on a graph.
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#452 User is offline   mike777 

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Posted 2010-February-02, 16:50

It's Your Call. Marshall Miles. 2009. 19.95$ p.220.
Level=Advanced
Grade=B



A compilation of his bidding panel problems. The last quarter of the book Marshall discusses some of his bidding theories. Another entertaining book from him that many will enjoy. Some panelists are BBO forum members.
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#453 User is offline   eyhung 

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Posted 2010-February-10, 01:08

Calf. By Krzysztof Martens
Level = Expert - World Class

The theme of this book is about not defending too quickly, but carefully considering the clues about the unseen hands to find the right play. All of these hands were misdefended by the author at the table "like a calf" -- can you do better?

I do not recommend this book for intermediate (ACBL Flt C) or advanced (ACBL Flt B ) players, because much of the material in here verges on the spectacular. Like a mystery novel, the right answer is never the "obvious" answer. You will frequently make moves contrary to human nature, such as tossing winners away under declarer's winners, discarding unnaturally to give declarer a false impression of the hand, or shifting to unusual suits/cards in anticipation of future squeezes/endplays. I think an advanced player would be better off with a more traditional defense book so that they could identify more common patterns of defense -- but if your aim is to become a world-class player, you must read this book. Many of these problems seem easy to miss at the table, unless you are playing at the top of your game. Reading the book will broaden your thinking and emphasize the important lesson not to defend "on autopilot".

The presentation and layout are poor: all the hands have East as dummy and West as declarer, which is a bit jarring, and it's often too easy to skim the failed defense and jump straight to the answer. But the quality of material is high -- I was exposed to some concepts I had not seen before -- and that makes the book worth reading. I consider it the modern successor to Kelsey's KILLING DEFENSE.

This book is part of a series of books written by K. Martens. After this one, I plan to get the others in the series. The books are quite expensive ($20-28 each) but apparently you can order them as e-books online for cheaper.
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#454 User is offline   inquiry 

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Posted 2010-February-11, 10:38

eyhung, on Feb 10 2010, 02:08 AM, said:

Calf.  By Krzysztof Martens
Level = Expert - World Class


eyhung @ Sep 15 2009, on 05:01 PM, said:

Expert Bridge Simplified by Jeff Rubens
Bridge World Books, 2009
Level : Adv+ to Expert
Topic: Cardplay and Odds


Eugene, someone owes you a commission, as I ordered both of these books yesterday. :)
--Ben--

#455 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2010-February-11, 10:55

I started Rubens a week or so ago, and I had to put it aside when i got about a third of the way through it, to let things sink in. It's good stuff, but quite taxing. It reminds me of Bird's book on squeezes, there's too much material to absorb in a short time.

#456 User is offline   eyhung 

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Posted 2010-February-11, 12:12

barmar, on Feb 11 2010, 09:55 AM, said:

I started Rubens a week or so ago, and I had to put it aside when i got about a third of the way through it, to let things sink in. It's good stuff, but quite taxing. It reminds me of Bird's book on squeezes, there's too much material to absorb in a short time.

Heh, despite writing that review several months ago, I still haven't finished Rubens yet. I've been playing more than reading lately, and I felt the first half gave me enough to chew upon for now. I'll revisit the second half later, as the Martens e-books I ordered seem to be far more practical in treating themes that I expect to see at the table.
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#457 User is offline   babalu1997 

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Posted 2010-March-05, 09:45

The Complete Book on Overcalls at Contract Bridge: A Mike Lawrence Bridge Classic


this book is easy to read

the sequences are presented in constructive manner and actially easy to remember and absorb

easier that the comple on balancing


just as good as the complete hand evaluation book


how to read your opp card i dislike, have never managed to finish the first chapter

this overcall book is very good tho

View PostFree, on 2011-May-10, 03:57, said:

Babalu just wanted a shoulder to cry on, is that too much to ask for?
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#458 User is offline   ArcLight 

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Posted 2010-March-10, 07:52

>.how to read your opp card i dislike, have never managed to finish the first chapter

Please give it another chance, or skip that chapter and go onto the next one. Its a really good book. He has a sequel "How to play card combinations" thats highly worth reading also.
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#459 User is offline   mr1303 

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Posted 2010-March-12, 17:23

I saw a book on cue-bidding today in Chess & Bridge on Baker Street, written by none other than Ken Rexford.

Is it any good? Has anyone already reviewed it? I've had a brief look through this thread but couldn't find anything easily.
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#460 User is offline   ArcLight 

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Posted 2010-March-23, 11:46

>> saw a book on cue-bidding today in Chess & Bridge on Baker Street, written by none other than Ken Rexford.

>>Is it any good? Has anyone already reviewed it? I've had a brief look through this thread but couldn't find anything easily.

It has some theoretical discussions, and for a player of Justins calibler may provide food for thought.

In general it will not be helpful to those below his level.


I would instead suggest the book by Klinger (Cue Bidding to Slams
) or the one by Alan Mould (Step By Step Slam Bidding)


I will sell/tarde mine :)
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