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Lawrence scores slam-dunk with Two-Over-One software
By: Eugene Hung & Joel Hoersch

Originally Published in Contract Bridge Forum, Volume 77 Issue 10 - October 2002

The Two Over One System is probably the most popular bidding structure for tournament players in America. However, most of the existing literature has not kept up with the latest trends and developments of modern partnerships. In his latest software, The Two Over One System, world champion Mike Lawrence sets out to explain the system in a clear, concise and simply-worded format, presenting alternatives and offering opinions on specialized treatments as he progresses.

For those familiar with Lawrence's many award-winning books, the software has enhanced his effective teaching style of outlining principles and then applying them to specific hands by imposing an effective separation between a problem and its answer.

No longer can a user skim through and accidentally read the answer -- the software forces the user to think about each hand before revealing the solution. In addition, the software, based on Fred Gitelman's popular Bridge Base engine, is friendly to use for even the most inexperienced computer user, as the only necessary skill is the ability to use a mouse to select a few buttons whose purpose is easily identifiable.

The content, as in all Lawrence bridge products, is superb. Even though this product describes a bidding system, Lawrence maintains his customary focus on judgment over system by explaining the reasons behind system bids instead of just giving the answer and expecting the user to memorize it without context.

He also presents difficult borderline hands where judgment must cover the gaps left by system, and explains the thought process behind the winning bids.

Even experienced practitioners of the Two Over One system will find this software worthwhile. Lawrence emphasizes the importance of having agreements in specific areas and is comprehensive in describing the popular and effective agreements for each important area, sometimes using material from his previous "Conventions" software to explain specialized bids that work effectively with the general Two Over One system. For the super-scientists, he explains advanced bidding tricks such as Eisenberg jump shifts and a bidding structure (developed by noted bridge theorist Eric Kokish) for competitive auctions after a forcing 1NT.

The newspaper professional writing this review has always been impressed by Mike's simple tell-it-like-it-is style. Also, Lawrence is careful to give credit to Al Roth for his pioneering ideas, and he includes a clear description of the whys of the system as well as the hows. We scanned diligently for any possible typos and glitches in writing and hand presentation, but ... thanks to Mike and Fred ... we were unable to find any flaws in that area.

The computer professional noted an area where the software might be improved. It lacks an index of specific treatments for quick reference, or an appendix/summary for easy lookup of system bids. Also, Lawrence tends to be linear in his writing, which does not take full advantage of the linking capability of computer software to improve the arbitrary organization of the topics he addresses.

These issues aside, both reviewers highly recommend the software to any tournament players who are interested in improving the structure and judgment of their bidding, using an effective and user-friendly tool.

Eugene Hung is a doctoral candidate in computer science at UCSD who has several times represented the U.S. in Junior competition; Joel Hoersch is editor of the District 22 edition of the Forum.

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