The Bridge World, July, 2005
by David Morgan, Melbourne, Australia
During the past two decades, the Law of Total Tricks has been a key element of bidding, both at the table and in system design. In "I Fought The Law of Total Tricks" (Mikeworks; 268 pages; $17.95 paperback), Mike Lawrence and Anders Wirgren challenge the accuracy and usefulness of the law. Drawing on Wirgren's critical analyses of flaws and caveats in its application, some of which have appeared in The Bridge World, they show the limitations of the law. In particular, the authors highlight the importance of shape, then suggest an alternative method of evaluating partnership hands with a fit, based on working points and short-suit assets. The text recognizes that using these tools involves some guesswork.
Anyone interested in bidding should consider carefully these analyses and ideas. Alas, some readers may be deterred by the presentation. The writing is mostly in Lawrence's folksy style; that has been a plus in his earlier books, but it jars here: Some sections of the book are repetitive, even tedious. As well, readers with an interest in statistics are likely to be frustrated by both the data and the way they are displayed. This includes the absence of information on standard deviations and the small sample sizes used for most of the detailed analysis (perhaps because the deals were analyzed single- rather than double-dummy, but the reader is never told).
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