Two Beginner Bridge Book Reviews and Practice Suggestions
Learning Bridge With Books
Recently, I have been staying in the house and finding things to do. I already play canasta and Mah Jongg, but bridge has been one of those games that I have never tried. Although everyone who plays seems to like it, I was reluctant to play because it can take years and years to become good.
To make matters worse, I feel like I should have tried it years ago. My grandmother was a master player, but when I was young, I had no interest. Anyway, fast forward to the past month, and I have been reading about the game and attempting to learn.
If I am honest, these books have been very helpful for teaching me the very basic concepts. I am playing, but I am playing like a beginner. Of course, bridge is one of those games that the more you know, the more you realize you have more to learn. Nevertheless, my mother, who has been playing for years, insists that I have picked up quite a bit.
Can a Book Help You Learn Bridge? Yes!
Bridge Basics 1: An Introduction by Audrey Grant
This was not the first bridge book I read, but it was recommended by one of my mother’s friends after I expressed frustration with learning the game. Since I am one of those students who highlight and take notes when I am trying to learn, this book was exceptionally written for my learning style.
The author explains a bridge concept, discusses specific options about the concept and how to decide what to do, provides examples, and then summarizes everything that she told me. Throughout the book, she periodically uses red print to highlight essential information, At the end of the chapter, she provides a quiz with detailed explanations about the answers, so I can make sure I understand what I read before learning about the next topic. This book is part of a series and this one spends a lot of time on bidding and responses to bids.
I knew almost nothing about bridge when I started looking at bridge books, and I liked that this book did not overwhelm me. It helped me learn how to communicate with my partner through bidding and what to think about when making decisions to discard. This book is part of a series, and I will be reading the second part soon.
Bridge Basics 1: An Introduction
Stay Focused by Playing the Hands as You Read
Bridge for Dummies by Eddie Kantar
This book is much more comprehensive than Audrey Grant’s book because it covers many more topics in one volume. The beginning of the book has a useful icon chart to help you distinguish the importance of various points and identify what is essential to remember in the book. Although this was the first beginning bridge book I started, I felt I would have gotten more out of it if I was familiar with some of the basic bridge rules.
When using this book, I found it helpful to use cards to play out mentioned hands. Sometimes it was difficult to grasp why cards had to be played in a certain order unless I played the hand the way the book instructed and the way it cautioned against playing. Using the cards also helped me to focus on the concept being explained.
The information in the book builds on itself, but the author does not give you a way to reinforce what you have learned before proceeding to the next concept. The end of the book provides tips about being a good bridge partner, and the book also offers some suggestions for those who want to explore bridge through other resources.
You can supplement the information in this book with free bridge quizzes you can find online. Quizzes are usually in categories based on topic. I found that reading the explanations are worthwhile for improving my bridge and learning how to think like a bridge player.
Maximizing the Benefit of Reading Bridge for Dummies
Ideas for Practicing Bridge Online
If you are learning by yourself, it can be intimidating to play with experienced bridge players online. However, if you are brave enough to do so, remember that you can always leave the game if you encounter players who are too advanced, or you just feel overwhelmed. The practice suggestions below are free, but some have upgraded options with fees.
1. Try Bridge Base. Their free “Solitaire” bridge section allows you to play with three robots. You will not feel pressure to play fast, and you do not have to worry about communicating poorly with a partner. Of course, if you know any novice players, play with them, as well.
2. Joan Butts Online School of Bridge is another way to get practice. Although this online school has several paid membership options, you can sign up for a free trial membership. (Just make sure you cancel your credit card when it expires.) If you do not have a paid membership, you are still eligible to play her daily hand. Hit 'Play' at the top of the bar to access it. You have the option to get hints while you play, and the site ranks your outcome when you finish the hand.
Thinking About Playing Bridge
What is the main reason you are not learning to play bridge?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Abby Slutsky