“Bridge: The First Principles” and “Bridge: The Golden Principles”
By Jeremy Flint and Freddie North
Published by Pan
These are the books that I always recommend to bridge learners; they are books that I learned from. If you are fairly new to bridge, or perhaps more experienced but see that there is room for improvement in your game, these are the books you need. Sadly, and I cannot think why this is, they are no longer in print – but it may be possible to find them second hand, certainly online.
The titles say it all: these two brilliant authors have dissected the game of bridge, picked out what you need to know and devised hands to illustrate the basic principles of declarer play and defence. They contain a distillation of the essence of successful declarer play and defence. But, as the authors say in their foreword, not only do aspiring champions of the game need to know correct techniques of play and defence, they also need to be able to recognise the situations when each is applicable. This is where these books really score!
The books are arranged in two halves, the first dealing with declarer play and the second with defence. Throughout, the reader is presented on each page with a problem. The bidding and the play to date is given, and the question is posed: what now? Overleaf, the correct way to proceed is explained, and the principle drawn.
The books cover everything from the most elementary concepts to some of the most difficult aspects of the game. The really great thing about this format is that it allows steady accumulation of knowledge. If the reader is prepared to work his way through them, at a pace suited to himself, and then, when he feels ready, to go back over the same ground – perhaps many times – eventually he will begin to recognise the problem and will have learned how to deal with it, and the end result will be that he will begin to recognise problems when they confront him at the table.
I would go so far as to say, if these books do not improve your game, perhaps nothing will!
Why You Lose at Bridge
By S J Simon (1904 – 1948)
First published 1945
The best Bridge Book ever written
Who says so?
I believe that group of American experts voted it as best book some years ago
Simon does not aim to improve your technical skill, but to improve your losing tactics. “Points thrown away through greed, obstinacy, refusal to believe the obvious, or just sheer carelessness”. It is aimed at helping you to avoid the mistakes which you are quite good enough to avoid.
The setting is Rubber Bridge and the bidding methods are dated.
Do not let that discourage you.
It is very readable. It feels like Simon is talking to you personally in a friendly way.
At the end Simon gets four people to play a rubber
Their names have passed into our language
Mrs Guggenheim – “She can neither bid nor play a hand and never will”
The Unlucky Expert – “Cannot bring himself to believe how bad other players are”
Futile Willie – “Theoretically he is almost expert class, but he lacks any kind of judgment..”
Mr Smug – “..Represents the epitome of complacent inefficiency”.
Simon uses the hands to demonstrate the bridge frailties of the four protagonists.
At the end the rubber is a washout.
Simon replaces each player with a common sense player in turn and estimates the course the rubber would have taken. He alleges that in each case the common sense player would have won