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By: Brent Manley

Originally Published in The American Contract Bridge League BULLETIN, February, 1999

Mike Lawrence wears many hats in the bridge world. He is a world-class player, teacher and an automatic selection if anyone ever establishes a Bridge Writers Hall of Fame.

Many of Lawrence's books are considered classics in bridge literature, and recently he has branched out to software, basically just as a change in medium for his teaching. His first software production was Counting at Bridge, a terrific manual for anyone yearning to play like the big boys. The sequel, Private Bridge Lessons, Volume 1, was even better because it covered a wider variety of topics.

If you are an aspiring bridge player, get on the telephone now and order Private Bridge Lessons, Volume 2, the latest partnership effort for Lawrence and Fred Gitelman, whose software "engine" powers PBL and makes it so easy to use.

To enjoy this masterpiece, you need Windows (3.1, 95 or 98), 3MB of disk space on your computer and the ability to use a mouse. Once you install the program (about two minutes), the mouse is all you need.

What's so impressive about this program is the same element that is so impressive about Lawrence's way of discussing principles and teaching good bridge -- he speaks in language you understand and offers reasons and explanations for what he is trying to impart. Ideas that might seem arcane come clear as Lawrence takes you through a deal step by step. Even if you rushed through every problem at breakneck speed, it would be impossible not to learn from this program.

There are more than 100 deals, covering crossruffs, dummy reversals, loser-on-loser plays, simple squeezes and more. The focus is on how to play various contracts and how to work out the proper lines of play, but you are involved in the auctions leading up to the final contracts in many cases - with commentary by Lawrence along the way. It's a bonus to be able to pick up tips on bidding as you make your way through the play problem.

Private Bridge Lessons, Volume 2 is as good as bridge coaching gets.

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