Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

A Gift for my Bridge Student Friends

Linda and Ray's Holiday Picks

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Ray and I teach bridge during the winter to our friends in Sarasota.  We teach eight or nine classes each year.  Some of our students are beginners but several of them have been beginners for several years now. They are keen and enjoy the game but have difficulty with declarer play. One of them told me on one hand, ‘I know the right bid is four spades, but I don’t think I’ll be able to make ten tricks if I’m playing it!’ I think most bridge players look forward to the challenge of being declarer and I want our friends to learn to play well enough that they actually want to play a hand.

Declarer Play at Bridge: A QuizbookSo I am going to give them Declarer Play at Bridge, A Quizbook by David Bird and Barbara Seagram to Mona and Steve.

I like this book for a lot of reasons. First it teaches declarer play using some of the exact same concepts I use. For example, I always tell my students that when they are declarer in a trump contract, as part of their plan they should draw trumps right away unless they have a specific reason not to do so.  And David and Barbara have the same concept in Chapter One.

I really like the way the book describes all the concepts slowly and carefully with examples and explanations at a perfect level.  And I particularly like that the book is a quiz book. It teaches each concept by example. You try the problem and then, when you are ready, look at the solution on the next page. It is how I like to teach and how I like to learn.

Then the “Points to remember” feature reinforces key points.

Here is Problem 19. Now I know that advanced bridge players or experts won’t have any problem with the plan but I bet you can think of some beginners who will be doing well if they slowly work their way through the book to problem 19 and then confidently solve this problem.

Problem 19


All Pass

You and your partner bid strongly to a game in spades. How will you plan to make this contract when West leads the  J?

You have one loser in spades, to the ace. In hearts you have one loser and in diamonds you have two losers. In clubs you have a slow loser on the third round. You start with this position:

Losers:         1 Total: 5

You need to reduce the loser count from five to three. You may be able to ruff your two diamond losers in the dummy, but you will have to plan the play carefully to achieve this. Your first decision is this: ‘Where should I win the first trick?’

This book will be wonderful for anyone who is starting to learn declarer play or someone who is having trouble becoming a good declarer. It is the kind of book that teaches slowly and systematically while still letting the reader have fun. I am confident that my friends will be able to master the basics of declarer play with this book.

Oh the answer? I won’t reproduce it all, but suffice it to say, just think about where you want to win the first trick and it will come to you.

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