If You Want to Learn Declarer Play, This Is the Book You Want
I don’t think that there ever has been or ever can be a better book for beginners to learn how to play a bridge hand than Eddie Kantar’s Introduction to Declarer’s Play. This is why.
It takes the processes of card play and step by step builds the concepts you need to learn. Here is a simple example from the very beginning of the book.
One of the things that separate experts from beginners is the idea of counting: count your points, count your tricks, count your winners, count your losers, count out the opponents hand and so on. And yet most of us aren’t all that good at it or at least don’t always do it. On the very first page of this book Eddie simply and carefully teaches the reader how to count winners. It is so obvious and so simple and so perfect. He walks through many examples and in doing makes everything clear. What is a sure trick? Why you can’t take more than two tricks in a suit if you are on a two-two fit even if you have the A,K, Q and J. And before you know it, you are chanting “Take tricks from the short side first.”
There are lots of opportunities to practice and lots of exercises.
I have to admit I find Eddie’s use of language and subtle humor make the book very special. When he talks about taking tricks with spot cards he writes “Until this chapter you have been overwhelming your opponents with aces and kings.” And then “You must learn how to take tricks with deuces and threes as well as the more regal members of the deck.”
He makes every concept seem so easy. I remember trying to teach beginners how to take a trick with the Kx opposite two small. I don’t think I ever quite succeeded. As I read Eddie’s careful explanation I realize that I didn’t go slowly enough, and I didn’t take the same care as he does to illustrate why and how it works to lead towards the king when the ace is held by the hand in front of the king.
There are lots of problems with complete and careful solutions. And each chapter ends up with key pointers.
And don’t think this book is just for complete beginners. It starts at the beginning but it covers a lot of territory. There are ideas like “the risk of going down extra tricks versus making the contract” or “finessing into the non-danger hand” or the euphonically named “Bath Coup”.
Buy this book for your favorite new bridge player but read it yourself first. Even good bridge players will learn something and enjoy doing it.
I plan to write some more blogs in the next few weeks now that I remember how much I enjoyed sharing my thoughts with people and some beautiful hands.