I have a large library of bridge books - many classics - but realized recently how little I had read about (the perilous) opening lead. Scouting around I found almost no advanced subject matter - simply general guidelines and standard leads - astonishing given that the importance of the lead is acknowledged by all writers.
This book provides a scientific approach to studying the effect of different opening leads in the context of the auction. Thousands of hands are dealt and analysed and the best opening lead is determined by match points / imps won. The results are astonishing.
The authors relate how one of them likes to lead from KJ**.I have been known to like this lead myself reasoning partner (for want of a better name) must ... surely must ... have something to make the lead safe. Not a bit of it - the lead is shown to be a disaster in very many instances - never reaching the top of the leader board. Certainly for me it is a lead I will rarely make again... neither I suspect, will one of the authors.
The book abounds with many other surprises ... shocks, but I don't want to spoil the discovery.
There is of course the danger that too much information can become confusing and ends up fogging judgement. This is not the case here. The messages and layout are clear and simple and I scored well in the test quizzes at the end of each chapter. But I will need to return to the book to fully digest all the information.
I ordered its sister book on no trump leads this morning (my wife was out) despite initially feeling it would be a waste of money. After all what could possibly be wrong with my leads against no trump contracts?
I am confident that David Bird and Taf Anthias will soon let me know!
The whole point of this book is to depersonalise the advice on bridge leads. For example, is it a good idea to lead from a side suit of KJxx against a suit contract where the bidding has gone say 1S -- 3S -- 4S, or is a passive lead better?
Opinions will always vary, even amongst experts. The approach here is to use computers and sampling to find out the percentage success rates. This is to my mind exactly the right way to answer many bridge debates, such as best leads. Just saying "never lead this" or "always lead that", complete with a hand demonstrating just how well or badly such a lead worked out on a single hand proves very little.
This is clearly a book aimed at the improver/expert end of the market, and almost certainly not for beginners.
The only thing I can say against the book (and it is not a criticism, just a fact) is that the recommendations are on the whole fairly unsurprising to experienced bridge players (eg lead a singleton if you have one). But even here, this book scores in answering the related but much less obvious question: which is better if you are spoilt for choice, a singleton lead or a lead from AKx?
On that basis, if you are only going to buy one book, I'd recommend going for the "sister" publication Winning NoTrump Leads by the same authors, where much of the advice was genuinely surprising (to me at least).
But if you like that one, you'll be sure to want this one too.
Gave me a lot to think about. I have been playing bridge for many years now and tried to make up my mind about the best lead in all sorts of situations. Computerized research now helps to find the theoretically best lead. Here we look a particular hand - then try 5000 different deals for the other three hands with restrictions according to the biddings. Marwellous work! Of course you have to realize that the "theoretically worst" lead may actually work better than the other leads. Recommended to every bridgeplayer, intermediate or better.
Both their books on leads are an absolute must for any level. The books are quite dry, because they don't contain brilliant deduction, only raw percentages. There is, however, no other way to tackle the issue of leading with little to no information. 60-70 years old books on any other aspect of the game can still be relevant today, but only now the technology allows for rapid simulation in order to distill the proper numbers for finding the best lead.
Interesting book. Have not read much of it yet. Feel from what I have read it is mainly for intermediate and advanced player and would benefit someone interested in statistics. It completely makes you rethink the way you would lead against a contract. Looking forward to reading more.