This is an exciting product released at the end of 1999. It takes the user through 56 deals of the Life Master Pairs bid-by bid and play-by-play with Larry's "over-my- shoulder" narrative. Suitable for most levels of players -- the commentary ranges from simple to advanced -- depending on the difficulty of each particular deal. The user takes one hand on each deal and gets to make interactive decisions. PC ONLY--WILL NOT WORK ON MAC
The New York Times : Dec 13, 1999 by Alan Truscott
West led the 9
Most good players would be delighted to play for a day with the opportunity to consult a top-ranking expert at every moment of crisis. They can now do so, in effect, by buying ''Play Bridge With Larry Cohen,'' an interactive CD that takes the user through 56 deals of the 1999 Life Master Pair Championship in San Antonio.
This CD has superb software and color graphics by Fred Gitelman. Cohen, who has a large collection of national titles and almost won at the world level a year ago, goes slowly through each deal, explaining the expert thinking involved and pausing occasionally to allow the user to make a crucial decision. As in real life, virtue is not always rewarded, and the diagrammed deal is an example. To test yourself, as you do with the CD, cover the East-West hands.
After three passes South rejects the idea of opening one no-trump, a slight overbid, and chooses a normal one heart. He considers raising the one-spade response to two spades, which would certainly be indicated with a weak doubleton in one of the minor suits, but settles for one no-trump. When his partner invites with two no-trump, he gives delayed spade support, showing exactly three cards and maximum values for his previous bid: with a minimum he would have exercised his option, opposite a passed hand, to pass the one-spade response. North retreats to three no-trump, ending the auction.
The club nine is led, and Cohen suggests a quick look at the opponents' convention card. It turns out that the players are using a popular method he approves of if, and only if, the declarer is nonexpert: jack denies a higher honor, while 10's and nines show zero or two higher honors. (This is sometimes misleadingly and inaccurately described as ''jack denies, 10 or nine implies.'')
If the club king is on the right, it might pay to win with the ace, preserving the guarded queen in dummy. Here it seems likely to be on the left, so South plays the queen, and it wins the trick. Now, in life and CD, South must pause to make a plan.
Playing spades may produce nine tricks, but unless the clubs split evenly, the defense is almost sure to prevail. Diamonds offer a better bet, and the most convenient way to reach the closed hand for a finesse is to cash the heart queen and lead to the ace.
South can take a diamond finesse at this point, but it is slightly better to force some discards by cashing the remaining hearts. Three spades can be thrown from dummy without unguarding the suit. This play would be dangerous if South did not have the spade nine.
Now South finesses the diamond nine, and on a good day he will emerge with 10 tricks or even 11, collecting most of the match-points. Unfortunately this is not a good day. East produces the jack and leads a club to your ace. Full of hope, you take another diamond finesse, but East wins with the king, and you are down two.
Along with Cohen and 34 other declarers, you collect 16.5 match points of a possible 194. In real life, as opposed to books, you must resign yourself to the fact that good play sometimes earns bad scores.
Ordering info at www.larryco.com
Review from ACBL Bulletin (Dec 1999) by Brent Manley
Play Bridge With Larry Cohen --- 1999 Life Master Pairs --- Day 1By Larry CohenBridge software (CD-ROM)$29.95 plus $4 shipping
The next time you play a session of bridge, think about how many key decisions you had to make during the course of the 26 or so boards you played. Sure, you are aware that virtually every bid and play involves a choice, but think about how many of them made a difference to the bottom line of your session. You may be surprised at how often you were at the crossroads, how many times you could have made a less-revealing play, how often the spot card that you played or the discard you chose made a huge difference.
Perhaps you are saying that you don't think you could tell how many key plays you made --- or that hindsight is always 20--20 so why bother? If so, you should take a look at Larry Cohen's new bridge software --- one of the best products to come along in years.
In a slick, easy-to-use package, Cohen presents 56 deals from the first day of play in the Life Master Pairs, the six-session championship contested last summer at the San Antonio NABC. Note the title --- Day 2 will be released next spring.
In an exhaustively detailed recap of each deal, Cohen guides the user literally step by step through two sessions. You learn from watching, reading and participating --- at certain points, you are given a choice of a bid or play.
Do not be concerned that Cohen's narrative will be over your head or that you might feel he is talking down to you. The presentation is balanced and suitable for every level of player who wishes to improve his or her matchpoint scores (Cohen's Trick One Lecture is practically worth the price of the software on its own).
The format is such that the user is always declarer or defender, never dummy. At the end of each deal, the score achieved is matchpointed against the actual scores of 194 other pairs in the LM Pairs. It's fun to gauge how you would do based on the plays you chose.
One of my all-time favorite books is one by Mike Lawrence in which he guides the reader through a two-session pair game. Cohen's new product updates and greatly improves that format.
System Requirements: Windows 95, 98 or NT, CD-ROM drive and 3MB of hard disk space.
Published by Larry Cohen and available at www.larryco.com (free demo at the web site). Also available from the ACBL Sales Department and other bridge supply houses.
Phillip Alder's syndicated column
Thursday, December 2, 1999
Opening lead: 3
Terence Reese started the "over the shoulder" technique in his book, "Play Bridge with Reese." Now comes Larry Cohen's CD-ROM called "Play Bridge with Larry Cohen -- 1999 Life Master Pairs Day One."
You play through 56 boards, with Cohen periodically asking what you would bid or play. Also, you receive oodles of good advice about both bridge in general and matchpoint duplicate strategy in particular.
This deal is important only in a pair event. Against three no-trump, you decide to lead the club three: eight, queen, ace. South advances the spade nine. Do you play low or high?
North's two hearts was fourth-suit game-forcing, asking opener for more information. Then, over two no-trump, North should have bid three diamonds. Note that six diamonds would probably succeed.
As the spade nine is likely to be a singleton, you should cover with the jack. (If you duck, partner must do likewise, otherwise four spade tricks automatically fall into declarer's lap.) After taking dummy's spade queen with his king, partner cashes the club king. Which spot do you drop?
This is complex. It looks obvious to play the two, showing your five-card suit. But you know that another club from partner will give declarer a second club trick (and 10 in all). You should drop the four or five. Then, a clever partner will switch to a heart. This holds South to nine tricks. Minus 600 was worth 149.5 matchpoints out of 194 (it was a big event). Minus 630 was worth only 90.5.
From the Cleveland Plain Dealer
A difficult three no trump.
Bridge Column for December 19, 1999, By HARVEY BERNSTEIN
This hand was dealt at a local duplicate game and has a number of interesting points. The first is East's opening bid. We are taught that it is best to open the higher of equal length suits (5 cards or more). In this case, East was more concerned about the opening lead should his partner have to make that decision, as was the case. Think about it, this hand becomes much easier to play if West leads a spade.
Second, while the North-South auction is not elegant, they have arrived at the correct contract. South, by making a take-out double, followed by a cue-bid, and then a new suit, has shown a hand with at least twenty high card points. Each of these bids is forcing, although I believe that North could pass three diamonds with a zero count and a couple of diamonds.The opening lead was the nine of hearts. The ten was played from dummy and East ducked this trick. This is an excellent play and the third good point. If West can somehow manage to gain the lead, it is very likely that he will have a heart to lead to East. Had East cashed out two hearts, declarer would be able to make "safety plays" so that any tricks that would have to be lost would be won by West, who could not lead hearts to defeat the contract.
The play of the hand is the fourth point. After East ducks the first trick, South pauses to evaluate his situation. If the diamonds break 3-2, or if they break 4-1 and East is the hand holding four diamonds, ten tricks will be easy. If diamonds don't behave, declarer only has eight tricks and the ninth will be a problem. On top of this, the entries to the dummy are very limited. The lead to trick two is from the dummy. Declarer could try to finesse the jack of clubs, but if this loses and it turns out that the diamonds sat right, he will have been defeated in an unbeatable contract.
It appears correct to play a diamond to the ace and back to the queen. When this suit breaks badly, declarer still has an outside chance to bring his contract home. If either black queen sits doubleton, the ninth trick will come from that suit. A spade to the ace and king fail to bring down the queen. But the play of the king of clubs and the jack to the ace is rewarded with the fall of the queen of clubs. The ten of clubs and the king of diamonds are the contract fulfilling tricks.
This line of play is a simple matter of exhausting all of the "safe" possibilities instead of taking a calculated risk. If there was an additional safe entry to dummy, I would suggest that the club finesse is the correct play after determining that the diamond suit is not going to provide the required tricks. Without that entry, declarer must look for other ways to make the contract.
Larry Cohen of Boca Raton, FL, national champion player and author, has introduced an exciting new method for the individual player to work on his bridge game. It wasn't that many years ago that you had to be able to struggle through some very complicated bridge books in order to really improve your level of bidding and play. Today, all you need is a personal computer and disc one of the interactive bridge series "Play Bridge with Larry Cohen" . With this program, you will be able to sit with Cohen and work through 56 deals that actually were a part of the 1999 Life Master Pairs from the summer nationals in San Antonio. You will be able to observe the decision making process and the program includes the actual match point results for each hand so that you can see the effect of the analysis.
The screens are easy to follow and the instructions are easy to understand. This is a very sophisticated tutorial that touches on every aspect of the game. And the best part about it is the price. The CD is $29.95 plus $3.00 shipping and handling. If you are serious about improving your game, this is the way to go. You can use your credit card and order at the website: www.larryco.com
From the Jerusalem Post
Jerusalem Post Bridge Column for January 3, 2002
Over Cohen's shoulderBy MATTHEW GRANOVETTER
Opening lead: C8
"Over my shoulder" is an expression for a style of bridge book that allows the reader to follow a bridge hand slowly from the beginning to the end. The writer of this style puts himself in the role of the player; he explains his thoughts and asks the reader questions along the way. This type of book was popularized by the late Terence Reese of England and has found a new form today in CD-ROMs. If you would like to see how it works on computer, go to [http://larryco.com/] on the Internet, where Larry Cohen, of Florida, offers some free demonstrations. He also sells excellent "over my shoulder" CD-ROMs by mail order.
This week's hand is a sample. When you see it on the computer, you first see only the South hand and you're told that partner passes and East opens three clubs. You're asked to make a bid, and then told that three spades is the best choice. Partner raises to four spades and West leads the eight of clubs. Then you are shown the North hand, which is dummy. The author tells you that North had a difficult problem over three spades, whether to pass or bid three notrump, and his decision to raise to four spades, as eccentric as it may appear, gives you a chance to show your skills.
You're now asked to play the hand, and told that you should cover the first card with dummy's 9. It doesn't matter too much with your singleton ace, but you might as well induce East to waste an honor. Then you are asked how to play the trump suit without touching diamonds or hearts (because East might hold a singleton in one of these suits). If you lead trumps from your hand, how would you go about it?
Here in the newspaper you can see all 52 cards, but on the computer screen you can't. The answer is to play the ace of spades followed by the queen. East is unlikely to hold the king of spades, because of his preempt, but he may hold a doubleton ten or jack. Your queen smothers his ten as West wins the trick with the king. Now you will lose only two trump tricks. With both finesses working in the red suits, you won't lose any more tricks and you'll emerge with 11 tricks for a fine score of 450. Well done!
Matthew Granovetter can be reached at email@example.com
Reader's e-mail :
After downloading and reviewing your demo I can see why the program is widely acclaimed. In most bridge programs and books you are looking for the solution to make or defeat the hand and are immediately on guard. Your presentation of "ordinary" hands from an actual tournament along with your thought process (and amusing commentary) is, to me, a far better approach. I have ordered both CDs. Well Done!
hi larryhave had just a few minutes since we saw you, but i tried several hands and thought that the analysis and graphics of the hands was terrific. i particularly enjoy your sharing with regular players what you are thinking about. you should have good success with the disk and we will hype to all of our bridge-playing friends, even though most think that they are "experts" as well.
The bad news is that it took me until today to try "1999 Life Master Pairs - Day 1."
The good news is that the impetus was a bridge-playing friend of mine who wanted to see how it works. It is GREAT. My friend is a MUCH better player than I and still found the very first deal instructive. Your work (my opinion now) was complete and humorous. VERY well done!
your demo is impressive. your texts are illuminating. please continue your fine work.
sincerely,Kxxxx Mxxxxx (a devoted bridge student)
Your software (Day 1) is wonderful!!
I was just wondering if you have any more software in the pipeline. I loved your San Antonio LM software and Kit's Cavendish. More please!! The format is just great, as is your commentary/analysis.
Bill Cox firstname.lastname@example.orgWinter Garden, FL
I just finished the second day of the 1999 LM Pairs and can't wait to start the third. I just wanted you to know I think the CDs are terrific and I really hope you'll do some more of these.
Bridge books pose too many difficult problems at once for me--I get tired of working so hard on a specific type of problem. Bridge at the table, especially against bad opponents, sometimes poses too few interesting problems. Your CDs are great because there are a lot of normal, easy deals but you've also arranged it so there are as many interesting decisions as you can have in one set of real hands.
I also think you've done a great job of covering advanced concepts in a way that lets people skip it if they want to. I was happy to have that material, and didn't feel like you were leaving out the good stuff, but I could also see my grandmother understanding it. :) I loved the criss-cross squeeze on day one--I've got the basic squeezes down but that one's still hard and seeing one played out trick by trick is really helpful.
Happy New Year!Karen Manf -- Burlingame, CA.