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By: Brent Manley

Originally Published in The American Contract Bridge League BULLETIN, August, 1996

Of all the activities involved in bridge, counting is arguably the most essential. Once you learn to count at the bridge table, mysteries you once thought unfathomable begin to unfold as if by magic. All of a sudden, you are confident at the table. Silly mistakes that once seemed inevitable are memories.

As important as counting is, it's not easy for many up-and-coming players to learn to do it automatically. What it takes is practice, practice and more practice.

With the introduction of a new Windows program by Mike Lawrence and Fred Gitelman, it's now a lot easier to get that practice and to take a giant step toward fulfilling your potential as a player.

Lawrence has been writing outstanding bridge books for nearly three decades -- and he has a gift for zeroing in on topics many other writers gloss over. Gitelman, a member of the Canadian team which was second in last year's Bermuda Bowl, has earned a reputation as one of the top bridge software writers in the world.

Together, they have produced a terrific new product that can help average players transform their games. If you're struggling with this aspect of your game, Counting will be a boon.

There's more in the program, however, than a deal on the screen and a counting regimen. As you read along, it's like receiving a private lesson from Lawrence, who "talks" to you informally and asks questions as you go (you type in your answers). You get sound advice on bidding, and Lawrence talks you through the steps to become a real counter. He helps you think like an expert, which is part of the battle.

Here's one of his tips: "The name of the game is to think. You can learn rules and you can use the most complex bidding methods. Bridge will reward you if you know all these things perfectly. But bridge will also punish you if you ignore signals that tell you the normal approach is not going to work...." Knowing how to count will give you a much better chance to recognize such situations.

The interactive program contains 100 problems, and with the wealth of material in each one, the supply will last for weeks. Counting is user-friendly -- one mouse click or key stroke takes care of just about everything.

If you're an aspiring player right on the edge of making a breakthrough, this program could help you take that big step forward. Your opponents won't like it, but your partners will be delighted.

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