Thanks to Mike Jennings - I think from Australia - for a lovely review of my forthcoming bridge book. Out next week, I hope students and readers will all enjoy it but, equally, I hope not to come across you at the green baize following my suggestions...
“Thinking About Bridge” – Paul Mendelson
published by Constable, July 19th 2018
178 pages, £7.99 UK AUD14.95
If you are a fan of Mr Mendelson’s bridge writing, it will come as no surprise that his latest offering is easy to read, entertaining, and highly informative. In terms of accessibility, Mendelson must now be considered one of the world’s premier authors for improving players, be they students or club regulars. Indeed, there are some gems which so-called experts would do well to note. It is also a very well laid-out book, with full contents and easy cross-referencing, broken into three sections on card-play, defence and bidding.
From basic planning and hand assessment, which will vastly improve some peoples’ approach to (especially no-trump contracts) to some well explained processes for forming endplays and squeezes, each topic is broken down and simply explained. I also enjoyed the section on playing hands upside down – after Transfers or a systematic defence to 1NT. For experts, ruffing in the short trump hand is bread and butter, but for others (and the defenders to those hands), it seems that it is not!
Mendelson is particularly strong explaining when it is right to attack and when to be passive, and the items on Surround plays, withholding information, and unblocking are all bang-on target. His lead style and partner’s reaction is generally very count-based, whereas you or I might prefer greater emphasis on attitude, but his NT lead suggestions and style are excellent and will empower average players with expert techniques.
The bidding section continues on from his outstanding (and my favourite) book of his, “Control The Bidding”, with an updated version of a non-game-forcing Jacoby Raise, which is the best I have seen and works very well with Weak NT systems, some advanced Transfers, which again I think are powerful and logical, and some very welcome guidance on further doubles after high-level bidding, scramble techniques and fit-jumps, which play perfectly into his distribution-based style of play. Mendelson advocates doubling pre-empts with two-suited hands opposed to using an artificial system, perhaps a simpler method, but probably not optimal. However, since partner and I recently played in a 4-2 fit at the 5-level after a conventional sequence, maybe he has a point!
This is another first-rate bridge book, bound to improve your game, by an author at the top of his game. Make sure both members of your partnership have a copy though!