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Simplicity Bridge
by Chris Hasney


(1 review, 1 customer rating) ★★★★★

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Simplicity Bridge by Chris Hasney

From the introduction:

Charles Goren was right. As early as the mid-1950s he was urging bridge players to avoid getting caught up in all the trendy new bidding systems with their myriad confounding conventions. Eventually, even the great Goren was dragged screaming and kicking into the new age of scientific bidding, allowing that things like the Blackwood ace-asking convention and the artificial 2C Stayman bid to check for a 4-4 major suit fit after a 1NT opening bid could be useful at times. But in fighting against complications to our great game of contract bridge, Charles Goren was right.

As I write this introduction in the later half of 2008, contract bridge is dying in America, despite feverish attempts to revive it with Easybridge, Mini Bridge, the School Bridge League, "Bridge Is Cool", collegiate tournaments, targeting of AARP members, creation of new masterpoint categories to stimulate continued play, Internet play, etc. Membership in the bellwether American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) is static, with only about a 1% growth rate at present. Bridge playing in the general population (non-duplicate players) is static to negative as well. Something drastic must be done if contract bridge is to survive as a popular, dynamic game.

This ebook is a step in that direction.

In its present form bridge is just too hard to learn. It takes years to develop the ability to confidently play the game with experienced players. For that reason, the ACBL has flighted, stratified, and segregated players by masterpoint category, and the vast majority of players think such an abomination is a wonderful thing for the game, because it keeps them "competitive" within their comfort zone. They would rather win than improve, continually beating up on the minnows and avoiding the shark tank. Me, I'm a minnow with an attitude - I swim with the sharks, baby, and if they chew me up I don't let them swallow me. But I realize I'm in a very small minority of hard heads. Most folks give up and find some other leisure activity. We can't have that.

A new approach to learning and playing bridge is necessary. Simplicity Bridge combines simple bidding with simple defense, and emphasizes the 4-Deal "Chicago-style" rubber bridge play and scoring. Defensive carding methods are limited and simple, and the emphasis is on really grasping the elements of declarer play rather than learning a bunch of systems and conventions found mostly in duplicate clubs and tournaments. (We save that stuff for the end of the book when we upgrade to "Super Simplicity" which isn't all that simple and begins to add a lot of the elements of modern standard bidding.)

Does our approach preclude playing in club and tournament games? No. But if the Simplicity Bridge system is used by Simplicity System players, they should run circles around the non-Life Master category folks who constantly get in bidding trouble and mis-defend due to having signals crossed. It is recommended, however, that Simplicity players initially concentrate in International Match Point (IMP) events rather than matchpoints. Once familiar with opposing systems and conventions (which we describe in Chapter 8), and with a lesson or two on matchpoint strategy vs. rubber bridge oriented scoring then this system should be competitive at matchpoints as well.

This ebook teaches the basic elements of contract bridge in a fun, safe, and easy way. It is designed for play in college student unions, coffee shops, bars, kitchens, dens, break rooms, and any other place where folks gather and have a half hour or so to get in a rubber. It is best played for money, even if very low stakes like a tenth of a cent a point. Playing with money at stake (yours and a partner’s!) tends to increase concentration.

I close this with a request for your indulgence. I have a personal prejudice against using suit symbols for spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs in hand diagrams. I find them distracting. If that bothers you, feel free to draw them in.

1st edition 2009; 165 pages.

  1. Contents
  2. Acknowledgements
  3. Introduction
  4. Chapter 1: Overview
  5. - History
  6. - Mechanics
  7. - Playing with a Trump Suit
  8. - The Auction
  9. - Scoring
  10. - Conclusion
  11. Chapter 2: In Your Dreams: Bidding Without Opposition
  12. - Prologue
  13. - Bidding Basics
  14. - Hand Evaluation
  15. - Opening the Bidding
  16. - Suit Selection for an Opening One Bid
  17. - Responding to Partner’s Opening Bid
  18. - Rebids
  19. Chapter 3: Hey, They're Fighting Back, No Fair!
  20. - Defensive Bidding (Overcalls, The Takeout Double, Notrump Overcalls, Two Suited Overcalls)
  21. - Competitive Bidding on Offense (Handling Overcalls, Handling Doubles, Handling the Other Stuff)
  22. Chapter 4: Landing the Big Ones
  23. - General
  24. - Controls
  25. - Asking for Controls: Blackwood and Gerber
  26. - Monster Mash
  27. - When Responder Has a Big Hand
  28. - Preemptive Hands
  29. Chapter 5: Play Like a Pro
  30. - The Bad News
  31. - Basic Declarer Play
  32. - Cool Stuff - Advanced Declarer Plays
  33. - Books for Further Study
  34. Chapter 6: Defense, Defense!
  35. - Defending During the Auction
  36. - Opening Leads
  37. - Third Hand Play
  38. - Second Hand Play
  39. - More Cool Stuff - Advanced Defender Plays
  40. - Books for Further Study
  41. Chapter 7: Rubber Bridge Shuffle Up and Deal
  42. Chapter 8: Overview of Other Bidding Systems
  43. - Goren ("1950 Charlie")
  44. - Modern Standard American and Standard American Yellow Card (SAYC)
  45. - Two Over One Game Force (2/1 GF)
  46. - Acol
  47. - Big Club Systems
  48. - The Expert American Bidding System and its prerequisite The Advanced American Bidding System
  49. - Other Systems
  50. Chapter 9: Add Ons (Super Simplicity)
  51. - Improve Your Notrump Bidding Skills
  52. - Splinter Bids
  53. - Weak and Preemptive Jump Overcalls
  54. - Western Cue Bids
  55. - Special Doubles
  56. - Two Suited Bids
  57. Chapter 10: Tidbits
  58. - Balancing Blues
  59. - Competing
  60. - The Forcing Pass Concept
  61. - Bidding Over Their Big Preempts
  62. - Winning Bridge Intangibles
  63. - Bridge Ethics and Traditions
  64. - Expand Your Game
  65. Appendix A Simplicity System Overview
  66. About the Author

word count: 56284 which is equivalent to 225 standard pages of text

Reviewed by Steve Bruno
★★★★★   Date Added: Tuesday 03 March, 2009

If bridge is going to survive as a recreational activity, it will be saved by Chris Hasney and visionaries like him. Chris successfully teaches someone who literally does not know the difference between a spade and a heart how to play winning bridge in one hundred sixty-three pages. He uses language a non-bridge player can understand. He instills a sense of fun into the entire process by using terms such as "Monster Mash" to describe hands with freak distribution. He lists and elaborates on almost every element of bidding, declarer play and defense that a new player will need to master in order to be successful and does so efficiently and with flair. Not only that, but, at the end of each chapter, he suggests a bibliography which is divided by tiers of difficulty and sophistication.

Chris' target audience is the non-bridge player who wants to learn how to play bridge. This hypothetical player could be young or old. He could have interest in tournament play or his interest could be limited to home or club play. Chris is not trying to save tournament duplicate bridge. He is attempting to save the game of bridge itself, without the trappings of master points or trophies.

This no-nonsense and simplistic (hence the name) approach to teaching the game is just what the doctor ordered. But don't think Chris' discussions of vital subjects such as slam bidding, defensive carding and declarer plays such as squeezes are cursory. Although they may not be able to immediately completely comprehend them, he is able to delve into the finer points of the game in a way that enables novices to appreciate their beauty and availability.

I'm not greatly familiar with e-books and their format, but Simplicity Bridge could have been aided by improved graphics. Chris uses several tables which help explain concepts, but they are somewhat stark and geeky at times.

If your life depended on teaching someone how to be a good bridge player within a limited amount of time, Chris Hasney's Simplicity Bridge would be your magic bullet.