We have five strong candidates for the IBPA’s Master Point Press Book of the the Year. Here they are, with either publisher/author blurbs or book reviews (McKinnon, from Jeff Rubens of The Bridge World).
Winning Suit Contract Leads – David Bird & Taf Anthias
The authors’ previous work, Winning Notrump Leads, was a ground-breaking and very well-received book that used the power of computers to determine which opening leads work best against a variety of auctions at notrump. Using enhanced software, the authors now turn their attention to suit contracts. They generate millions of random deals, retaining those that match the chosen auction, for example one spade-two spades-four spades. By playing these deals automatically against each of the 13 possible opening leads from a given hand, they are able to discover which lead is most likely to beat the contract (also the best lead at matchpoint pairs). The authors provide insightful commentary to each result, answering timeless questions such as: When should I lead a trump? When is a doubleton a good opening lead? Should I lead differently against a partscore? Should I make an aggressive or a passive lead? Should I lead an ace against a small slam? Which leads work best against a grand slam? By using the number-crunching computer power available nowadays, there is no longer any need to rely on general openinglead guidelines passed down by our ancestors. We think you will be surprised by many of the discoveries made during this investigation! David Bird and Taf Anthias were contemporaries at Cambridge University, both reading mathematics. They carried out research and development on software systems for over 30 years at IBM’s UK Laboratories. In the 1970s they formed a successful bridge partnership, winning a number of national events. David is now one of the world’s top bridge writers with 116 books to his name. Taf moved on to the USA, where he became a vice president of Cisco Systems. They have again joined forces on this ground-breaking book.
Fantunes Revealed – Bill Jacobs
Not since the introduction of Precision has a new bidding system created such an immediate impact as Fantunes, the unique methods of Fulvio Fantoni and Claudio Nunes, the world’s number-one-ranked pair. The Italians have several world championship wins to their name, and their system has played a major role in that success. This book delves into the system, explaining how it works and just as importantly, why it works. Two words best describe Fantunes: natural and fun. It is the definitive text for those who would like to try an innovative and proven new bidding system. Bill Jacobs has won many Australian national championships, the most recent three playing Fantunes, and has twice represented his country at the Open level. He regularly provides astute vugraph commentary on Bridge Base Online. For the last ten years, he has been editor of the monthly bulletin of the Victorian Bridge Association.
Bridge Philosopher 3 – James S. Kauder
He’s back! That old curmudgeon, the Bridge Philosopher, is back for a third try at explaining the art of dummy play. He claims that he is losing his memory, but he hasn’t lost his ability to reason or to analyze a bridge hand in an instant. And, as usual, he has cogent (often biting) comments to make about the sad state of affairs in the world at large: the rising cost of living; unfunded Social Security liabilities; dysfunctional political parties. He unashamedly (in fact, somewhat proudly) admits to personal weaknesses of one sort or another: diet; neatness; relationship issues; and all around dissatisfaction with the world. Learn a little; laugh a lot. He isn’t the only one who isn’t getting any younger. James S. Kauder is an expert bridge player and humorous author who explains his reasoning for adopting one line of play over another to improve the reader’s skills. This book contains 60 new bridge hands, new stories, and a serious dose of his unique humor. If you’re an avid bridge player and enjoy a great read, this is a great book for you.
Duplicate Bridge Schedules, History and Mathematics – Ian McKinnon (from Jeff Rubens, The Bridge World)
Ian McKinnon has a strong sense of history, and it’s a very good thing for the bridge world that he does. His outstanding 1979 book, Bridge Directing Complete, presented not only the mechanics of tournament movements but also the motivations behind them. The author both updates the earlier work and considerably expands the scope of the inquiry in this spectacular effort. McKinnon introduces the challenges of tournament logistics against the lengthy historical background of attempts to meet them. This includes the conflicts over which solutions are “better” and why. If you also happen to enjoy historical anecdotes and tidbits, so much the better; there are plenty. In presenting the sometimes-subtle mathematics involved, the text introduces important ideas but does not elaborate details. The heavy dose of theory is supplemented by an equal portion of practical information and advice for directors and tournament organizers, covering both normal and emergency situations over a vast array of game forms and entry sizes. There are Internet references to other capabilities, such as having useful materials spew out of your home printer. McKinnon has basically spent a lifetime collecting, analyzing and organizing the material in this remarkable volume.
Diamonds Are the Hog’s Best Friend – Victor Mollo
Just about every bridge player over forty has read Victor Mollo’s Bridge in the Menagerie, a book that is on any list of the all-time top ten on the game. Towards the end of his life, Mollo continued to write stories about the same well-loved characters (the Hideous Hog, the Rueful Rabbit, Oscar the Owl, and the rest), but they appeared in various magazines around the world, and if you weren’t a subscriber, you didn’t get to read them. This is the second MPP collection of these lost Menagerie gems, collected for the first time in book form (following The Hog Takes to Precision in 2011). Victor Mollo is everyone’s favorite bridge morist,and a genuinely new book from him will be greeted as something to be treasured. Illustrations by bridge cartoonist Bill Buttle add to the fun.
IBPA Bulletin No. 581 June 2013, Editor John Carruthers