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By: Brent Manley

Originally Published in The American Contract Bridge League BULLETIN, March, 2001

Just about everyone loves conventions. Some players get their kicks by filling out every available space on the convention card. A new gadget to a bridge player is like a new toy to a kid.

Fortunately for convention bugs, there are many resources with vast listings of conventions, from the plain (e.g., Blackwood and Stayman) to the exotic, such as Snapdragon and Suction.

The trouble with most books or pamphlets on conventions is that they merely list the gadgets and how one calls them into use. Note the absence of the phrase, "how to use them," which implies expertise.

Fortunately for players who want to modernize their convention cards while acquiring the know-how best to employ these aids to the language of bidding, Mike Lawrence has come up with a comprehensive new work on the subject.

The new product is not a book -- it's software called simply Conventions. It's the subtitle that tells the real story of this outstanding product: "And the judgment to make them work."

Lawrence is at the top of his considerable skills as a writer when he sets about explaining how things work. An aspiring bridge player with a complete collection of Lawrence works would have a big leg up on the competition. Lawrence talks to the reader/user in a down-to-earth manner that is easy to grasp and he reinforces his advice with example after example. Even experienced players would learn from a close inspection of Lawrence's works, be they books or software.

Conventions is the latest in a series of CD-ROMs Lawrence has produced in collaboration with bridge software wizard Fred Gitelman. They continue to set high standards.

System requirements: Windows 95 or higher, 3MB of hard drive space, at least 800x600 screen resolution and CD-ROM drive.

Conventions includes dozens of gadgets -- from old standbys such as Stayman and Blackwood to the new-fangled D.O.N.T. and other exotic tools. Just about everything the conventions buff could want is in there, and explained in exhaustive detail by the master -- with dozens of examples to underscore the points.

If you want to win, you need more than a card with every convention known to man. If you don't know how to use these tools, they're more dangerous (to you) than effective.

Conventions will help you wield these swords to your advantage instead of your opponents'.

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