Author: Eddie Kantar
Software: Bridge Base, Inc.
Level: Mainly Intermediate
Format: Interactive CD-ROM
Publisher: Master Point Press
Advanced Bridge Defense is a sequel to Modern Bridge Defense. Like MBD, ABD is well written and humorous. And as with MBD, the software used to present ABD is greatly superior to reading a book.
The approach used in both Modern Bridge Defense and Advanced Bridge Defense is to start each chapter with a summary of what will be covered, present the material with numerous examples, and end each chapter with a quick review of the material, followed by a set of interactive questions on the material. This presentation style is impeccable.
Unfortunately, Advanced Bridge Defense is misnamed. It's not that there is not a lot of worthwhile information in the CD, but if you are expecting a lot of ADVANCED tips and techniques, you may be disappointed.
There is nothing about truly advanced topics such as recognizing and breaking up potential squeezes and avoiding endplays. Instead, there are discussions about such things as uppercuts and trump promotion and lead-directing doubles.
If levels of expertise are broken down into Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, and Expert, then surely most intermediate players already know 90% of what Advanced Bridge Defense has to offer.
If you do NOT already know these topics, then Advanced Bridge Defense is a must-have. If you are an intermediate player already familiar with these topics, Advanced Bridge Defense serves as a good review, and you will undoubtedly learn SOME tips and tricks you didn't already know.
The first chapter starts by identifying three common types of dummies and how to play your defense according to which type you face. The chapter then goes on to discuss strategies when it becomes apparent that declarer has a second suit (5-5 or better).
The second chapter is about drawing inferences from the bidding and play. This chapter is probably the most advanced of the CD.
Here's an example of the subtleties of advanced play. You are West
and face two slightly different North-South bidding sequences:
In both cases, South has made a jump-shift rebid at his second turn. What length do you think South shows in the second suit in each sequence?
In the second bidding, he shows at least 4 cards in his second suit, Diamonds. In the first bidding, he may have bid a short Club suit to create a game force, so he might have just 2 or 3 cards in his second suit (Clubs).
Another example is when partner makes an opening lead of a low Spade and the next time he gets in, he leads the 2 of Clubs to your Ace. Do you return a Spade or a Club? What if partner led the 9 of Clubs?
Chapters 3 and 4 talk about how to calculate declarer's distribution and the likely number of tricks he has, based on the bidding, partner's lead or play to your lead, the dummy, partner's count signals, and declarer's line of play.
Most intermediate players are undoubtedly familiar with most of the techniques described, but may not have ever put everything together in a cohesive plan as described.
The weakest part of the CD is chapter 5, which is dedicated to telling you what point ranges different bidding sequences may show. The need for this chapter is not clear, since meanings vary among opponents, and you can always ask at the table what the bids show.
Chapter 6 covers ruffing and forcing declarer/dummy to ruff. Interesting parts include an explanation of how giving up the "dreaded" ruff-sluff can sometimes be best, and the best time to win the trump lead when you have a high trump.
Chapter 7 is about lead-directing doubles. Most of the information here seems pretty basic for an "advanced" text.
CLUB PLAYERS BEWARE
Many of the examples in Advanced Bridge Defense focus on strategy for IMPs and rubber bridge, where setting the contract is significantly more important than allowing an overtrick.
Kantar even goes so far as to say that if a suggested line of play fails "all you have done is present declarer with an overtrick, not the end of the world." It may not be a disaster in IMPS and rubber bridge, but it can be in a duplicate bridge (matchpoints) game.
The basic techniques taught in this course are certainly applicable to matchpoint play, but duplicate players will have to adapt the rubber bridge examples for use in matchpoints, and the difference may not always be obvious.
Example: Partner's opening lead against 4S is a small Diamond. From the bidding, you know partner is void in Clubs. You have the AQxx of Diamonds. Kantar says that you can't defeat the contract unless partner has the King of Diamonds, so you should play the Queen so that when it wins the trick, partner will know that you have the Ace to lead back to after you give him a Club ruff.
In Duplicate, you cannot risk a sure ruffing trick by hoping that partner has the King of Diamonds. (If you play the Queen and Declarer has the King, the ruff goes away.) Instead, you should play the Ace and rely on your partner to read the small Club lead as suit preference for a Diamond return. (You should already have a partnership agreement that a card led to be ruffed shows suit preference.)
Another problem is that answers to quizzes are often not explained. For example, with N-S bidding 1C-1H, 2N-3D, 3N, the question is "How likely is opener to have 4 Diamonds?" The answer is "unlikely", but no explanation of why.
Not explaining implies that the answer is obvious - in which case why ask the question?
Despite the problems, Advanced Bridge Defense, is an enjoyable and instructive course. Novice players who are looking to move beyond the basics of defensive play will get more than their money's worth out of this package. Intermediate players already familiar with most of the techniques described will get an excellent review and reinforcement of intermediate techniques, as well as picking up a few advanced techniques.
Also see our review of Eddie Kantar Teaches Modern Bridge Defense.