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By: Marc Smith

Originally Published in Bridge Magazine, Christmas, 1998

Everyone has the ability to count a bridge hand. Acquiring the habit of doing so routinely takes practice: Lawrence's interactive educational software will help users take that step while entertaining them at the same time.

Lawrence is acknowledged as one of the world's leading bridge writers for players at all levels. His new work, Counting at Bridge for the personal computer, leads the user through a series of simple steps on each of one hundred hands.

As with many bridge books, the hands in Lawrence's software are presented in problem form. However, when reading a book we are all too often inclined to skip quickly from the problem to the answer in the next sentence. Using Counting at Bridge you must think about the problem and select an action before you can progress. As you read through the text and see the hands being played out, Lawrence quizzes you on what you would do. After each question, or series of questions, he explains the correct answer(s). Also, after each hand Lawrence provides a useful tip.

Sixty per cent of the hands focus on various aspects of counting a bridge hand. There are some additional themes, though, to prevent the user from assuming that the problem is always one of counting. You must discern what is needed on each hand, just as you would at the table, and play accordingly. In addition to the declarer problems, the program contains ten defensive hands to show how counting can also be used by defenders. While Lawrence wrote the bridge part of this program, the software was written by Canadian international Fred Gitelman. The play of the hand is easy to follow and you may choose to see your hand (and dummy) in the format of a hand diagram that you see in books, or as images of actual cards. This is just one of the many features of the display that makes this software a pleasure to us.

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