The Bridge World offers honest reviews of bridge books, software, and other related products. The reviews tell you what the staff thinks is good (and for whom) and what it thinks isn't so good (and why). Individual descriptions often include both positive and negative points, and important issues that transcend a particular work are sometimes discussed within a review.
"There Must be a Way" (Master Point Press; 88 pages; paperback) by Andrew Diosy is different from almost all other bridge books in several significant ways. There are 52 deals, each presented as a double-dummy problem. However, although a few really are double-dummy problems--you can't get the solution by finding the best percentage play--most can be solved single-dummy. Unfortunately, even though the answers are presented in stages, the reader isn't told whether he is supposed to succeed as declarer or defender, nor is he told when he is supposed to find a technically correct, as opposed to a double-dummy, line of play or defense.
There must have been a way to present this material without frustrating the reader. The format is especially regrettable because the deals are very good. Most are at the advanced level. Almost every deal has at least one interesting point of single-dummy play or defense, or, if truly double-dummy in nature, has something beautiful to admire. One reason the deals are so good is that they have been carefully culled from many sources. We recognized most of the themes and several of the deals. Of course, we have read rather more bridge literature than the national average. You will have to judge how much is likely to be new to you.
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Bill Root's excellent treatise on defensive card play, "How to Defend a Bridge Hand" (originally reviewed in the May, 1994, issue) is now available in a paperback edition. . . a good buy for such a large book.
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We suggest you steer clear of Sally Brock's "Step by Step Overcalls" (Batsford; 143 pages; paperback). If what the author says is true, the gap between British and American methods regarding overcalls and advancing them is so great that it would require an international conference committee to span it. Can it really be that British players would take noninvitational part-score actions on hands we would treat as slam tries? It happens more than once here. Frightening! There are also problems with ideas that should cross the Atlantic no worse for wear, such as a misleading description of the Law of Total Tricks.
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British books about bidding frequently require so many mental adjustments regarding methods for the American reader that it is not worth the work required to dig out the other ideas. However, that caveat does not apply to Alan Mould's "Step-by-Step Slam Bidding" (Batsford; 144 pages; paperback), a down-to-earth intermediate-level tutorial chock-a-block with good advice and sensible ways of looking at major ideas in bidding. The author's approach is practical--you win by knowing what you are doing and how to do it--and his style of presentation informal. The emphasis is on philosophy and general technique, so specific methods play only a minor role--that's why you need not use British methods to gain maximum benefit. When the author does discuss special conventions, he concentrates on a few fundamental ones that he believes are sound and frequently applicable.
Mould's proposed suggestion to simplify one's approach to certain fundamental questions related to artificial slam inquiries reminds us of a question we have been meaning to ask for a very long time: Would readers be interested in a discussion of when actions should be conventional (four notrump, for example), and which suit is agreed in key-card Blackwood? Or are these matters too dependent on each partnership's system for a general discussion to be helpful?
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At long last, we have a paperback edition of the late Hugh Kelsey's "Simple Squeezes" (Houghton-Mifflin; 120 pages; paperback). This is the first of the author's sequence of books covering all aspects of common squeeze play.
Here are a few excerpts from our October, 1985, review: "Tutorial . . . to introduce players who are advanced, but not yet expert, to the squeeze . . . better than most. . . . Terminology is kept to a minimum . . . ends with an excellent long quiz."
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We were a bit put off by the title of Terence Reese and David Bird's "All You Need to Know About Play" (Houghton Mifflin; 128 pages; paperback). Surely no one can fit all that into one book, or even a few books, we thought. Opening to the introduction, we toyed with the possibility that this was a reference book, giving listings of thousands of other . . . nah! So what does it mean? The authors claim this volume includes everything you need to know about play to be able to cope with declarer's and defender's problems on most deals. Oh!
Ignoring the hoopla, this is an intermediate-level text that deals mostly with fundamental ideas of card play. The writing is compact, forcing the reader to do a lot of the thinking--we think that's good. Unquestionably on the positive side, the authors instruct on deception ("being difficult" the British often call it) in parallel with pure technique. However, although this is a sound book, it is well below these authors' best efforts. There are mistakes in the descriptions of special partnership agreements, and the level of sophistication of the techniques described is uneven.
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