7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2006
Mike Lawrence must be a big fan of Sherlock Holmes! He uses every scrap of information available on any particular hand/auction, and uses these to arrive at the best bid to make. And it is because of this attention to detail that this (and his other books) are intended for those in the strong intermediate or advanced category.
Interesting to place this book's approach alongside more modern bridge textbooks. Take the likes of Cohen's 'Law of Total Tricks'. It expounds the 'Law' and then illustrates how a player should use it via a modest selection of example hands. By contrast, Mike Lawrence bombards the reader with every conceivable hand and explains (albeit in logical order) how you should be thinking about these along the way.
This hardly SEEMS a sound teaching approach: the type is small, there is loads of repetition (Lawrence admits it), and the 'quizzes' at the end of each section are not organised in a 'reader-friendly' way.
But where this book succeeds and some modern books fail, is curiously in its insistence upon looking at each hand in a strictly individual way, as opposed to selling out to easy mnemonics or rules.
While more modern books (take one of Eddie Kantar's books on defence, which I also think are excellent) are nicely presented, contain witty 'after-dinner' asides, and have an interactive feel, their neatness sometimes makes me feel that bridge is all clearcut rules and decisions, hard for the beginner, easy for the expert.
But Mike Lawrence seems to be experiencing real pain on many of his example deals. You will frequently see him write, 'I don't know what to do with this hand', not because he's not a good player, but because he understands the difference, for a bridge player, between 'knowing the path' and 'walking the path'.
The writer of this book won't sit on his pedestal and lecture you with rules, he will walk the path WITH you. If you will take the time to let him lead you, it should prove time well spent.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 February 2011
Mike Lawrence is easily my favourite bridge writer. He has written a stream of information-packed books.
Previous reviewers have given views of this book with which I whole-heartedly agree.
As always, Mike's writing is forensic, realistic, crystal-clear, and uncluttered by irrelevances.
Forensic? Sitting fourth, he gives you about ten different things to think about whilst considering making an overcall. I didn't think there were anything like that many.
As in all his books, Mike doesn't tell you what to do; he doesn't give you a formula to work from; he doesn't bother counting his points. He doesn't give you a mantra that you can recite before each hand. Instead, he tells you all of the things you should be considering, how they interact, and how to apply them. I think he says something like "overcalling is too complex to have a system". You might scoff, but he clearly demonstrates why. There are so many clues you can pick up and process!
Whilst many bridge books are like learning a foreign language from a school text book, Mike's teach you as though you're living and breathing the language - right there in the country where the language is the native tongue. The country populated by bridge professionals.
You begin to think in the new language.
This might not be for you if you go to the club and play by auto-pilot. It gives you lots to THINK about whilst playing. It could radically change your game.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 8 June 1999
This book presents a superb, complete, and clear explanation of principles of overcalling and responding to overcalls. Lawrence provides many tabulations of slightly different hands and shows how to distinguish them to partner. Thorough discussion of differences between match-point and IMP strategy is included. Responsive doubles are explained clearly, and examples clarify the inferences available from NOT making a negative double. Complete explanations of when, why, how, and how high to preempt are provided. This book is addressed to players already competent, and will help raise their competitive bidding to expert level. Buy 2 copies and give your partner one. DON'T LET YOUR OPPONENTS READ IT!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 8 May 2003
This book is a must read. It covers all the aspects of overcalls. Although which hands can overcall is widely known, the responses of the advancer and the following sequences are poorly known and disregarded among many players. This book is a prerequisite to be an advanced player.