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Novice/Beginner Book Recs?

#1 User is offline   wyman 

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Posted 2012-March-21, 08:11

I have plenty of recommendations for intermediate books, but very few for novice/beginners.

I've heard that Bridge for Dummies is better than you might expect, and recently I recommended Watson's The Play of the Hand and Bill Root's How to Play a Bridge Hand to someone as play instruction. And I recommended Lawrence's Workbook on the Two Over One System as a way to learn 2/1.

All bridge players at any level should read The Bridge Bum, by Alan Sontag. If that doesn't make you want to play bridge, nothing will. Low bridge content, high entertainment content.

But N/B's, what are you reading and how do you like it?

And I+'s, what did you read when you were an N/B that you found helpful?

Remember, these books should be aimed at N/B's -- folks who may not yet know what a finesse is, so Adventures in Cardplay or Love's Bridge Squeezes Complete are really not what we're looking for.
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#2 User is offline   Antrax 

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Posted 2012-March-21, 08:17

I also recommend Watson's "The Play of the Hand". You can get a free soft copy of it from the BIL.
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#3 User is offline   bluecalm 

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Posted 2012-March-21, 08:39

Quote

All bridge players at any level should read The Bridge Bum, by Alan Sontag. If that doesn't make you want to play bridge, nothing will. Low bridge content, high entertainment content.


Meh... maybe I was in bad mood when I was reading it but I really didn't like it.
Zia's "Bridge my Way" was much more motivating entertaining imo when are with this kind of books.

Quote

And I+'s, what did you read when you were an N/B that you found helpful?


"Countdown to Better Bridge" by Kelsey and "How to read you opponent's cards" were 2 books which made me fell in love with the game.
Granted i had some bridge experience when I read those (playing with high school friends) and wasn't total novice. Those can be difficult if you just know the rules but they will show you how beautiful this game is.
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#4 User is offline   daveharty 

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Posted 2012-March-21, 09:41

Freddy Sheinwold, 5 Weeks to Winning Bridge. That's the book I learned bridge from and I don't know that it's ever been equalled.
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#5 User is offline   Codo 

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Posted 2012-March-21, 10:24

My son read "Bridge for dummies", it was nice and worked- of course it starts BEFORE you are even a novice.
I liked Mollo/Gardener "Card play technique" which starsts after you know how to finesse.
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#6 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2012-March-21, 20:06

Lamford's Starting Out in Bridge is a good beginner book. The bidding in it is 4-card majors and weak NT, so it is not suitable for those who will not find themselves in such an environment.
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#7 User is offline   Cthulhu D 

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Posted 2012-March-21, 22:40

Bridge for dummies is actually pretty good. It goes through absolutely everything from the play, to bidding, through to the other stuff that surrounds the game, like scoring, alerting, playing a game of duplicate, how duplicate scores work etc. It even briefly touches on other systems and the like from a 'you may encounter this, don't be afraid' perspective.

If you wanted to learn Standard American from a book, this is not a bad place to start.

The joy of bridge, co-written by Rodwell(?!) is not.
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#8 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2012-March-22, 07:59

The first edition of Bridge for Dummies suffered from very poor graphics. For me, it made the book unreadable. The second edition was much better.
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#9 User is offline   BunnyGo 

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Posted 2012-March-22, 08:05

I got started with "The Bridge Bum." As wyman said, this is "low on bridge" and high on "life of a bridge player." I found it very amusing--especially the story about going to the Caribbean to help a client who'd been taken to the cleaners by some sharks.

As for books to learn from, I'm afraid I didn't do much reading until I was intermediate (or if I did, I don't remember the books)--as wyman and I shared most of our books eventually, he's made all the recommendations that I would.
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#10 User is offline   billw55 

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Posted 2012-March-22, 08:16

Both books by Bill Root (play and defense) are excellent. They have some novice level material and move on to some more intermediate material, and cover a good range of subjects. The only flaw is that they make for very dry and technical reading - perhaps not inspiring to most N/B players. The upside of this is that they are really packed with examples and explanation, no fluff at all.
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#11 User is offline   sharon j 

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Posted 2012-March-22, 08:45

As a beginner I read "Standard Bidding with SAYC" by Ned Downey and Ellen Pomer "Caitlin". It's easy reading and I found it helpful.
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#12 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2012-March-22, 10:25

I also recommend Watson - but I tell people it starts very low and ramps very quickly. So, read it until your mind explodes, then put it down for 6 months and play. Then pick it up again, start at page 1, and read again until your mind explodes, which should be 3 or 4 chapters farther than it was last time. Rinse, Repeat as needed.

5 Weeks really has never been equalled. Unfortunately, it's very hard to find someone who can play 5 Weeks any more - and it's hard to upgrade to Standard American without destroying the "this is why" stuff that Scheinwold is so wonderful at. At least nobody I've seen has been a good enough Bridge Writer for Novices to do it.
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#13 User is offline   BunnyGo 

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Posted 2012-March-22, 12:18

View Postmycroft, on 2012-March-22, 10:25, said:

I also recommend Watson - but I tell people it starts very low and ramps very quickly. So, read it until your mind explodes, then put it down for 6 months and play. Then pick it up again, start at page 1, and read again until your mind explodes, which should be 3 or 4 chapters farther than it was last time. Rinse, Repeat as needed.


Watson was SO BORING! It seemed to be written like a textbook by someone from Victorian England. The only book I've ever read like it is Whittaker and Watson's Complex Analysis (come to think of it, it may be the same Watson) which is a brilliant book, but I'd never recommend it to anyone.
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#14 User is offline   Vampyr 

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Posted 2012-March-23, 03:28

View Postblackshoe, on 2012-March-22, 07:59, said:

The first edition of Bridge for Dummies suffered from very poor graphics. For me, it made the book unreadable. The second edition was much better.


I am surprised that people actually buy this book. You would be calling yourself a "dummy" -- or your friend, if you gave it as a gift. And I don't think that this means declarer's partner.

Eddie Kantar is a wonderful writer, so I guess he can get away with something like this, but it seems poor marketing to insult the reader before she even opens the book.
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#15 User is offline   BunnyGo 

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Posted 2012-March-23, 05:22

View PostVampyr, on 2012-March-23, 03:28, said:

I am surprised that people actually buy this book. You would be calling yourself a "dummy" -- or your friend, if you gave it as a gift. And I don't think that this means declarer's partner.

Eddie Kantar is a wonderful writer, so I guess he can get away with something like this, but it seems poor marketing to insult the reader before she even opens the book.


It's a whole series....
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#16 User is offline   ggwhiz 

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Posted 2012-March-23, 09:47

Never mind, too advanced
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#17 User is offline   1eyedjack 

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Posted 2012-March-25, 04:24

It may be out of print, but it may be available in the second hand market on t'internet: "Victor Mollo's Winning Double" (by Victor Mollo, of course) is a book that I heartily recommend to early players.

The book illustrates basic play techniques by way of example hands presented as problems for the student to solve. Problem presented on the right hand page, solution overleaf. Different play techniques are randomly sorted throughout the book, some harder than others, but again the difficulty is randomnly spaced out. Most techniques are repeated several times throughout the book, for reinforcement.

The name of the book derives from the fact that the problems are divided into two sections split down the middle of the book; the 'A' series in the first half and the 'B' series in the second half. Again, there is no difference in the difficulty or type of problem, but the division is simply to prove a point made by the author: If you work through either one of the series, and keep a note of your success rate in working out the correct answer before peeking, and then do the same with the other series, the author guarantees that your hit rate will be dramatically greater in the second series, whichever order you choose.

I absolutely agree with the author's claims, and it is a great confidence booster to the student to be able to see a measurable improvement in play technique.
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#18 User is offline   HighLow21 

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Posted 2012-March-25, 11:41

I composed a short list of beginner books and online resources that I like, in my blog:

http://bridgeanalysi...ith-bridge.html

A small sample:

"Best newcomer Bridge Books, in order of priority (IMHO):
  • 5 Weeks to Winning Bridge by Alfred Sheinwold (the definitive beginner's guide in many people's minds)
  • How to Play a Bridge Hand by William S. Root. Root is arguably the best beginner's and early intermediate's bridge teacher and writer of all-time.
  • How to Defend a Bridge Hand by Root. So many people learn how to play (declare) a bridge hand but never do much work on improving as a defender. Rest assured that you will defend twice as often as you declare!
  • Bridge for Dummies by Eddie Kantar. Kantar is a fantastic writer and very, very funny. And a World Champion to boot.
    ...

"
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#19 User is offline   HighLow21 

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Posted 2012-March-25, 11:55

View PostVampyr, on 2012-March-23, 03:28, said:

I am surprised that people actually buy this book. You would be calling yourself a "dummy" -- or your friend, if you gave it as a gift. And I don't think that this means declarer's partner.

Eddie Kantar is a wonderful writer, so I guess he can get away with something like this, but it seems poor marketing to insult the reader before she even opens the book.

Stef,

It is fairly well known in the States that the "Dummies" series of books are not insulting. They are simply synonmyous with "Beginner to X" where X is among hundreds of topics, bridge being one of them.
There is a big difference between a good decision and a good result. Let's keep our posts about good decisions rather than "gotcha" results!
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#20 User is offline   S2000magic 

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Posted 2012-March-27, 15:27

View Postdaveharty, on 2012-March-21, 09:41, said:

Freddy Sheinwold, 5 Weeks to Winning Bridge. That's the book I learned bridge from and I don't know that it's ever been equalled.

Hear, hear!

If you look on Amazon you'll see several great reviews, and the occasional "It's terrible because it doesn't teach 5-card majors and Jacoby transfers and other stuff".

These latter reviews are written by idiots.

This is a great book, written in the late fifties / early sixties when 5-card majors and Jacoby transfers were innovations (and are included in the chapter on Modern Bidding Conventions). What this book teaches you is how to think like a bridge player, which doesn't change no matter what bidding conventions or carding conventions you're using. Study it and learn to think like a bridge player. Read it cover-to-cover three or four times. You'll be amazed what you'll learn, even if you're an experienced player.

(As a simple example, I've been playing at a new club for almost a year, with many different partners of varying levels of experience. I had one partner who knew transfers and 1430 and Bergen raises and negative doubles and new minor forcing and a host of other conventions, but when I asked what sort of game tries she used after 1 - 2 or 1 - 2, she looked at me as if I were talking in Greek. It's a basic concept, covered beautifully in one of Sheinwold's early chapters, that seems to be omitted from modern bridge instruction. Bizarre.)
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