Points Schmoints - The CD-ROM
By: New Downey
Originally Published in Contract Bridge Forum, November, 2002
There are four ways for bridge players to improve their game:
Reading books on the game.
Employing interactive computer software.
If you haven't yet tried the latter, this offering would be a great place to start. And if you are familiar enough with a computer to use the mouse, then you are certainly competent to run, enjoy and learn from Points Schmoints. This wonderful cd-rom is the collaborative effort of the author, the world famous Marty Bergen, and Fred Gitelman, the world famous software designer.
You will need the normal things:
PC with at least 800X600 screen resolution
3 MB of available hard disc space, and
A CD-ROM drive
Pop the disk into the drive, follow the exceedingly simple on screen instructions and this product will set itself up and deliver a new icon to your desktop. Double click on the icon and the fun begins. The graphics are colorful, the sound effects are great and the program is easy to navigate. The material, presented in the inimitable Bergen style is not only educational, but entertaining as well -- Points Schmoints didn't win bridge book of the year honors for nothing, you know.
It is difficult for me to believe that there is a bridge player out there who has never heard of this book, but just in case ...
This is not instruction for the beginner, and the material assumes you have a working knowledge of the game. This is, instead, a collection of incredibly helpful tips from one of America's top-ranked players and prolific writers with More Points Schmoints, Marty Sez volumes 1 & 2, Negative Doubles, Understanding 1NT Forcing, Hand Evaluation: Points, Schmoints!, plus his earlier two volume Better Bidding With Bergen. We have come to trust Marty.
Marty says it as he sees it and when he holds a 15-17 HCP balanced hand, he always opens 1NT and strongly suggests you do too. He has a way of telling the reader that "a player opening 1 usually holds four or more clubs." How to dispute an acclaimed writer who does his homework? He also tells us that when deciding what to open with four cards in each minor..."with a balanced hand, open the stronger suit. If you have a singleton in on one the majors, open 1 unless your diamonds are very weak." I believe! And sprinkled throughout are delightful little gems. In a section on opening leads, this one stood out: "A holding of 7654 is not a sequence, it is consecutive garbage." His humor keeps one engaged as he tackles the harder stuff.
Marty never loses sight of his and Larry Cohen's work on resurrecting the Law of Total Tricks and reminds us, "You are safe in competing to the trick level equal to your partnership's number of trumps. Avoid bidding beyond that level in competitive auctions."
All of this is available in book form, of course. The bonus is the interactive nature of the computer software. It is amazingly easy to read something, think you understand it and promptly forget almost all of it. The software, however, keeps the user involved and makes it harder to cheat on the occasional quiz.
We strongly recommend this product to any bridge player looking to improve his game.
The CD-ROM retails for $29.95