Best Bridge Book Ever (IMHO) Back In Print

One thing I think I have never mentioned before on this site is that in college, I was a fanatical bridge player.  I developed this odd social life of bridge in the afternoon and beer pong at night.  When I got tired of playing other students, my friend and I would go into town and play the local residents, who were sharks.

Anyway, people new to bridge are always intimidated by bidding, and certainly there is a learning curve there (which I made worse by using the Precision rather than the Goren standard system).  But with some time, bidding becomes rote.  Only perhaps in one in ten or twenty hands is the last increment of bidding expertise really useful, and then usually only when playing duplicate where even a few extra points really matter.

Once your bidding is mostly up to snuff, the game is all about card play.   A good player will play out the entire hand, with guesses as to which cards are held by which players, before the first card is led.

The single best book I have ever read on card play is Card Play Technique by Mollo and Gardener.  Thirty years ago there was about one source for this often out-of-print book and I bought a dozen copies, slowly giving most of them away over time.  Now, however, it is back in print.  If you play bridge, you have probably read this book, but if not, buy yourself a copy for Christmas.


  1. jc collins:

    Do you mean blow pong at Valhalla?

  2. mckyj57:

    That is indeed a great book. My other favorites are the advanced ones by Reese, "Play Bridge With Reese" being of the 'over-the-shoulder' variety and "Master Play" being the treatise.

  3. obloodyhell:

    In a similar vein, if you are a relative beginner at chess and would like to become better at it, but probably don't ever expect to become a world-class player, I will recommend

    Chess in a Nutshell
    by Fred Reinfeld

    As an introduction to intermediate chess play, it's a spectacular book. Instead of taking the almost ubiquitous approach of "here's 47,000 games, play through them and figure it out", it actually describes, in reasonable terms, what things you are looking for -- it introduces concepts such as Discovered Check, Pinning movies, Forking attacks, and the like. It is literally the best chess book I've ever seen to get one from the beginner level to the intermediate one. You'll need a lot of study to get from here to ranked play, but if you just want to be able to open up a can of whoopass on your buddies, this is the book for you.

  4. HenryBowman419:

    Thanks, Coyote. In the summer between my freshman and sophomore year at college, I spent about 40 hrs/wk [no kidding!] playing bridge in the evening. I was good, but not as good as a couple of other players, Bernie Reddy and Steve Yellin, who went on to compete in the collegiate championships -- Bernie did not even know how to play bridge until 6 months before! Bernie and Steve were simply really sharp.

    I always thought that Kelsey's books were uniformly great (e.g., Advanced Play at Bridge), but I'll check out those you have referenced.

  5. coyoteblog:

    Blow pong too.

  6. J Calvert:

    I have the exact same experience in college. I went to a small Christian school in Texas,
    and fanatically played cards for a full year in my dorm with about 12
    guys. We started with spades, then
    partner hearts (an under-rated game), and taught ourselves bridge. It was not unusual for us to play 20 hours on
    the weekends alone. I even had the same
    experience playing the ruthless spinsters in the local nursing home.