Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"The Principles of Logical Bidding"

I would like to feel qualified to write on this subject, sadly I am not; but that’s OK, because a guy named Allan DeSerpa already has already done it and done so superbly. If you read this bridge blog you will know that I rarely recommend bridge books. I am going to stick my neck out in this case and recommend a book entitled “Principles of Logical Bidding” by Alan DeSerpa (1997). What, you never heard of him? Neither had I until I saw a reference to his book in a footnote discussing the fascinating subject of "reciprocal suit fits." What, never heard of that either? That’s why, even in this crappy economy, I am going to recommend a purchase of something you can’t eat or wear. I guarantee you if you only read and understand the first 22 pages you will be a better bridge player.

From time to time I run across bridge books that are real sleepers. Here we have a book by an academician – Allan DeSerpa is a Professor of Economics at Arizona State University. While this is by no means his only book, it is really the only bridge book that he has ever written other than a bridge novel, the Mexican Contract. He not only suffers from not being a big time bridge professional, he didn’t have a big publishing house behind him; the book was apparently self published. Now self publishing is not new to the bridge world, but usually these books are more about vanity and weak on content. I guarantee you, if it is content you want, Alan DeSerpa delivers it in spades.

The book starts out by building a solid base for logical bidding, and then heats up once you get your feet on the ground. It is a good book for novices and intermediates who are seeking to improve their understanding of the game and there is plenty of “food for thought” for the advanced player. The forward is written by Marty Bergen. He says “Although Allan’s writing style is easy going, the logic is tight and the pace is fast. Be prepared to ponder the inferences and be willing to reread when the going gets tough.”

This book, while focusing on bidding, is not about a new bidding system, but rather a book about why you make certain choices in bidding and why those choices are supported by hard logic. The author doesn’t say “Do this and don’t ask questions”, he says here is what I think and here is a logical explanation of why I think my choice is better than other choices you might consider. Even if you know what to do, he explains, in a patient professorial manner, why he makes his choices, so you will have more than rote memory to fall back on in tight situations.

At the beginning you can go at a normal pace as he introduces simple (but important) propositions that form the groundwork for sound bidding, but as he goes on, you will find that you have to slow down and often reread, since there is more there than meets the eye right off the page. This is one of two bridge books I read this summer, much of the time, reading and then rereading, to make sure I not only got the answer, but also understood the logic and the process. It is hard for me to see how any aspiring player would not benefit from this book.

I had occasion to speak with Dr. DeSerpa and he has copies available that he will sell for $8 plus $3 shipping or a total cost of $11. That’s gasoline to your favorite club game and an entry fee (if you don’t live in South Florida). You can order your book directly from Dr.DeSera by e-mailing him at acd@asu.edu .If you encounter any problems, get back to me.

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