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Book Reviews

#461 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2010-March-23, 12:17

mr1303, on Mar 13 2010, 12:23 AM, said:

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.

If you start this thread at february 23, 2007, you will find a number of posts about that book.

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#462 User is offline   Rossoneri 

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Posted 2010-April-04, 17:35

Was pretty tempted to buy the Jeff Rubens book, but the times when I was out, the book stall was not being manned and when I finally found it being manned, 2 people had beaten me to it!

One question I was wondering though: how useful would the book be to someone who has formal training in probability as compared to someone who doesn't?
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#463 User is offline   Mbodell 

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Posted 2010-April-05, 00:02

Rossoneri, on Apr 4 2010, 03:35 PM, said:

Was pretty tempted to buy the Jeff Rubens book, but the times when I was out, the book stall was not being manned and when I finally found it being manned, 2 people had beaten me to it!

One question I was wondering though: how useful would the book be to someone who has formal training in probability as compared to someone who doesn't?

I think it would be useful to both types of people. I can only offer my experience (someone with reasonably formal training in math, probability, and statistics) that it was still quite useful to me. I quite liked it. The problems seemed quite good, and I've still got to go back and do some more of them.

I also should recommend the other two books that I picked up at the Reno nationals from book sellers and have quite enjoyed:

Bridge, Probability & Information by
Robert F. Mackinnon (published by Master Point Press).

This book was quite interesting and talks at great length about considering the whole hand and how the splits of one suit effects the splits of the others and how to evaluate the relative probabilities of different likely hand patterns for opponents. I thought this book was quite excellent in its readability as well as covering some very interesting topics.

Bridge Squeezes Complete: Winning Endplay Strategy by Clyde Love updated by Linda Lee with help from Julian Pottage (again, Master Point Press).

I have read the classic (borrowed from a partner) and was happy to get my own copy. I find the text in the new update easier to follow, and don't need to decipher odd ancient bidding in the problems. However, I don't like that I have to cover the opponents hands to solve the problems (the problems are presented double dummy). But still I'm happy to have this book.
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#464 User is offline   Phil 

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Posted 2010-April-05, 15:25

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

Calf. By Krzysztof Martens
Level = Expert - World Class

The books are quite expensive ($20-28 each) but apparently you can order them as e-books online for cheaper.

At a recent regional these books were about 35 dollars each.

I'll wait for them to come down.
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#465 User is offline   cherdanno 

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Posted 2010-April-05, 16:03

I bought one of the Martens' books (European Championship) as ebook. I did like the book, and was also happy to have bought it as e-book. The problems for each chapter were on a double page that I printed out. Then when I had thought about all of them I went through the solutions on the screen. So you have to print very little and still don't have to spend a lot of time on your screen when reading them.
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#466 User is offline   whereagles 

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Posted 2010-April-09, 10:28

I recently acquired Emile Borel's "The Mathematical Theory of Bridge".

It's basically a thorough probabilistic study of several situations in bridge, starting from shape and bidding, up to opening leads and cardplay decisions.

The book is from 1939, but probabilities are not time-varying :)

I'll be posting some more comments as I read it.
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#467 User is offline   PrecisionL 

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Posted 2010-April-09, 11:07

Yes, I have Borel's book also. Never finished it.

However, MacKinnon's new book: BRIDGE, PROBABILITY & INFORMATION is a gem for serious players!
Ultra Relay: see Daniel's web page: http://bridgewithdan...stems/Ultra.pdf

C3: Copious Canape - Improved version of Ultra Relay, notes not posted yet.

Scrap heap: Canapé Attack System with Strong and 4-cd Major openings ...

Back to the Future? Using 1 &1 responses to Strong 1 as Positive Exclusion Color Bids.

NOW playing a Mosca (Nightmare-Fantunes like) system with canapé, 11-14 NT with Keri Invites and Bailey 2 bids, & 15+ 1 opener with transfer negatives @ 1-level & transfer positives @ the 2- and 3-levels. Canape after opening 1 or 1 (into a minor suit only). 3/1/17: Adding Nightmare Canape responses to 1 opening.
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#468 User is offline   Hanoi5 

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Posted 2010-April-09, 12:03

I have a book by Borel too on bridge probabilities but is post-war. It taught me to shuffle. (I only read the first chapter, I'm not a mathemathician...)

View Postwyman, on 2012-May-04, 09:48, said:

Also, he rates to not have a heart void when he leads the 3.


View Postrbforster, on 2012-May-20, 21:04, said:

Besides playing for fun, most people also like to play bridge to win


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#469 User is offline   Rossoneri 

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Posted 2010-April-11, 07:48

I never knew Emile Borel was a bridge player!
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#470 User is offline   babalu1997 

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Posted 2010-June-20, 20:18

mike lawrences the contested auction

it is on competitive bidding, not defensive bidding

encyclopedic, as always, i have identified many sequences where i was just there wondering what to do

i wanna be like mike

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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#471 User is offline   jamegumb 

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Posted 2010-August-20, 11:10

First, excellent thread. Second, I haven't seen a review for any of these:

St. Titus Monks Bridge Series

Miracles of Card Play (1982) - David Bird / Terrence Reese
Unholy Tricks: More Miraculous Card Play (1984) - David Bird / Terrence Reese
Doubled and Venerable: Further Miracles of Card Play (1987) - David Bird / Terrence Reese
Cardinal Sins (1991) - David Bird / Terrence Reese
Divine Intervention (1995) - David Bird / Terrence Reese
The Abbot and the Sensational Squeeze (1999) - David Bird
Saints and Sinners: The St. Titus Bridge Challenge (2000) - David Bird
The Abbot's Great Sacrifice (2003) - David Bird
Heavenly Contracts (2007) - David Bird
Celestial Cardplay (2009) - David Bird

All dates refer to the original publication (so far as I could determine it). The earlier ones have been reprinted. Apologies if I missed any books here, please let me know.

After Mollo's menagerie, the wonderful St. Titus Monks bridge series is the best collection of bridge humor in print. The blend here is fairly similar to Mollo's - entertaining stories with hands thrown in every other page or so. The hands range from intermediate to expert, but can be enjoyed by all levels.

The books in collaboration with Reese all deserve solid A's. IMO, the offerings have slipped a bit since then, but are still entertaining and worthy B's. It appears that Bird's attitude toward the Abbot (the main character) has changed over the years - in the original days, the Abbot seemed to win a fair bit and was someone the reader rooted for, even if he was a bit over the top at times. Since then, the Abbot has grown more curmudgeonly, loses more often (despite being an obviously good player) and only seems to serve as the butt of jokes.

Also, while extremely witty, the whole series is not entirely sanitized and politically correct (esp. the Reese/Bird offerings). Caustic, if dry, humor, which is undoubtedly more of a draw to readers than a deterrent.
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#472 User is offline   babalu1997 

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Posted 2010-September-23, 06:49

PrecisionL, on Apr 9 2010, 12:07 PM, said:

Yes, I have Borel's book also. Never finished it.

However, MacKinnon's new book: BRIDGE, PROBABILITY & INFORMATION is a gem for serious players!

i just got this book too

not everyone can present probability in a conversational tone

the book also tries to demonstrate why sometimes superior technique can lead to poor results when playing against potzers, and does so by quoting zen masters, i like that

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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#473 User is offline   Siegmund 

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Posted 2010-September-23, 11:42

Quote

not everyone can present probability in a conversational tone


Noooo kidding. And IMO Bridge Probability and Information was the epic fail of all time on that front. An amazing job of taking simple ideas and explaining them partially at great length, so that they sound Byzantine.

The message about thinking how suits interact instead of just looking at one suit at a time is something that has been missing from all the other bridge probability books. For a certain type of mathematically inclined expert who has never thought about that question before, that idea might be worth the price of the book. But if you thought from the chapter titles that you were going to learn anything new about LoTT or LTC, or learn anything new OR old about how distributional information and high-card information interact, not there... and if you're new to probability and just hoping to learn the basics of Bayes's Theorem... abandon all hope ye who enter here.

One of the people I sold a copy to liked it better than I did. Shrug. At least the quotes introducing each section were cute.
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#474 User is offline   bd71 

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Posted 2010-September-23, 13:16

Siegmund, on Sep 23 2010, 12:42 PM, said:

Quote

not everyone can present probability in a conversational tone


Noooo kidding. And IMO Bridge Probability and Information was the epic fail of all time on that front. An amazing job of taking simple ideas and explaining them partially at great length, so that they sound Byzantine.

The message about thinking how suits interact instead of just looking at one suit at a time is something that has been missing from all the other bridge probability books. For a certain type of mathematically inclined expert who has never thought about that question before, that idea might be worth the price of the book. But if you thought from the chapter titles that you were going to learn anything new about LoTT or LTC, or learn anything new OR old about how distributional information and high-card information interact, not there... and if you're new to probability and just hoping to learn the basics of Bayes's Theorem... abandon all hope ye who enter here.

One of the people I sold a copy to liked it better than I did. Shrug. At least the quotes introducing each section were cute.

Well, glad to hear I wasn't the only one.

Bought this book with great anticipation, and read through about half of it. But after I found myself having to re-read (or re-re-read) certain sections, and still not feeling that I was really absorbing the points, I set it aside with a promise to myself to return to it later.

I'll still give it another chance, but at least now I know I'm not the only one who struggled to divine what he is saying.
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#475 User is offline   babalu1997 

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Posted 2010-October-17, 08:09

bd71, on Sep 23 2010, 02:16 PM, said:

Siegmund, on Sep 23 2010, 12:42 PM, said:

Quote

not everyone can present probability in a conversational tone


Noooo kidding. And IMO Bridge Probability and Information was the epic fail of all time on that front. An amazing job of taking simple ideas and explaining them partially at great length, so that they sound Byzantine.

The message about thinking how suits interact instead of just looking at one suit at a time is something that has been missing from all the other bridge probability books. For a certain type of mathematically inclined expert who has never thought about that question before, that idea might be worth the price of the book. But if you thought from the chapter titles that you were going to learn anything new about LoTT or LTC, or learn anything new OR old about how distributional information and high-card information interact, not there... and if you're new to probability and just hoping to learn the basics of Bayes's Theorem... abandon all hope ye who enter here.

One of the people I sold a copy to liked it better than I did. Shrug. At least the quotes introducing each section were cute.

Well, glad to hear I wasn't the only one.

Bought this book with great anticipation, and read through about half of it. But after I found myself having to re-read (or re-re-read) certain sections, and still not feeling that I was really absorbing the points, I set it aside with a promise to myself to return to it later.

I'll still give it another chance, but at least now I know I'm not the only one who struggled to divine what he is saying.

well i like his presentation of the probability in the pascal triangle, that makes it easier to remember than raw probabilities if you know the fort ten rows of the pascal triangle.

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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#476 User is offline   babalu1997 

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Posted 2010-October-17, 08:16

augie boehm's matchpoints vs imps

well augie teaches me things because he always teaches with verbal reasoning which helps my memory.

i guess that is not veyr popular as his books do not sell well and he seems to have some kind of niche following. but i have several, if not all of his books.

matchpoints are easier for me to play, have always been, and i find myself bored and inattentive when playing partials in imps where it is not worth competing.

but because most play at the main bridge club-bbo is imps, i thought the book might improve my experience there, so far i have enjoyed reading it.

i also got kit woolsey`s match points and it is veyr nice to have all those strategies collected in one place.

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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#477 User is offline   ArcLight 

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Posted 2010-October-22, 13:56

Somehow we Landed in 6NT - David Bird

I think this is mainly for advanced player, or at least advanced intermediate. Half the book is on real life contracts and the other half from David Birds fictional/humorous books on Bridge (the Abbot, the Rabbi, the Witch Doctor, etc.) Most of teh hands require a less complicated squeeze (Single, Double, or Stip-Squeeze), but there are a few tougher squeezes.
I think you have to already be knowledgeable about a variety of topics (false cards, technique) to enjoy or get much out of the book. I don't think its a great instructional book. I still enjoyed it and give it a B+. Lots of examples.


Bridge Endplays for Everyone - David Bird
Its strats out very basic but by the end of the book has covered a number of interesting non-trivial hands. A good book for Intermediate level players. Even advanced players on the lower end of advanced will find many of the hands interesting. There are quite a few hands supplied, not lots of filler. I enjoyed it and recommend it for intermediates. For them I will give it an A. For Advanced players maybe its a B.
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#478 User is offline   FM75 

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Posted 2010-November-09, 16:39

Minor rant warning...

There are two things in particular that most bridge authors and publishers have done very poorly with:

1) These are non-fiction. If they are to be taken seriously, they should have an index, as mentioned earlier.

2) Even worse, many (Bird's in particular come to mind) fail to have the hands and the text :unsure: on the same or facing pages. That is truly inconsiderate to the reader. I think fewer fail this, but still far too many do.

Why after all these years of publication, has evolution failed?

(One book mentioned several times in this discussion has a hand with 14 cards in it. Never really did figure out how it related to the discussion in the text.)
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#479 User is offline   matmat 

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Posted 2010-November-09, 19:34

View PostPhil, on 2010-April-05, 15:25, said:

At a recent regional these books were about 35 dollars each.

I'll wait for them to come down.


I might be able to get these for you in Polish for less.
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#480 User is offline   ArcLight 

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Posted 2010-November-12, 07:59

Wielding the Axe by Augie Boehm

The book is about penalty doubles. When to pass for penalties, when to X, what types of hands should consider a penalty.
Its an intermediate level book, and sort of a continuation of the authors other book "Demon Defense And Demon Doubling".
The book gives more examples of MP penalty doubles, and fewer IMP doubles. I was hoping for more analysis of IMP doubles, especially the dangerous ones like doubling a partial that makes resulting in a game bonus (plus more). The book wa sok, worth reading, but nothing special. I would recommend Demon Defense And Demon Doubling for intermediates over this, but its still ok.

The author goes on to state that he thinks there is more of a nee dto pass for penalties against hyper aggressive opponents, that collecting a number here and there will serve to get them to back off a bit. He does mention that he doesn't like Support Doubles in IMPs against aggressive opponents since he thinks the ability to punish them is lost to some degree. HE also lists some sequences to discuss with pard as to their meaning, so both of you are clear as to what they mean (take out vs penalty).
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