The classic bestseller about the LAW of Total Tricks. Definition of "the LAW" and how to use it. Lists major conventions that are used (or based on) the LAW. Chapter on "Adjustments" (fine-tuning). Hall-of-Shame with 10 deals from world championship play. 240 pages -- paperback
I~ BOOKS ~IOne of the more intriguing presentations of bidding theory in many years is Larry Cohen' s first book: "To Bid or Not to Bid; The LA W of Total Tricks" (available from...).
This is not a new idea. Some 25 years ago, The Bridge World published an article by Jean-Rene Vemes, setting forth the theory that if each side played in its longest trump fit, the total number of tricks available to both sides would be equal to the total number of trumps held by the two pairs. Most experts gave short shrift to Vemes' idea.Cohen has revived this concept with great clarity of expression, and the numerous examples he cites from actual play leave liltle doubt that the Law of Total Tricks does work and should govern your decisions in a competitive auction. The basic premise is that "the Total Number of Tricks available on any deal is equal to the Total Number of Trumps." Neither high cards held by each side, nor distribution, affect the total, because if one side can take 10 tricks in an eight -card fit, the other will be able to collect only six tricks in their eight-card fit!Is the Law etched in stone? Hardly. The author mentions a number of factors, from secondary honors in the opposing suit (which are more valuable on defense than offense) to double fits and freak hands that can skew the total trick count by as many as four tricks! Nevertheless, in the everyday wars in the trenches for a partscore, experience has shown that the Law of Total Tricks is a reliable guideline. Those battles are usually waged between two sides of roughly equal strength, and that is when the Law is most accurate. With two eight-card fits dueling with each other, the three-level belongs to the enemy!Eight tricks are the probable limit for both sides, so if you are destined to take nine in your trump suit, the opponents are going down two in theirs! Many players make matchpoint doubles without knowing why; the Law is the answer.Cohen presents lots of sage ideas. Two that are easy to understand and have widespread application are: "Bid up to the level equal to the combined number of trumps held by your side;" and "Try not to let the opponents play at a level equal to their number of trumps." Sound advice, based solidly on mathematics, and tables appear throughout the book illustrating the favorable gain vs. loss expectation for the various competitive actions he proposes. The benefits of bidding up to the three-level with nine trumps, or the four-level with ten trumps, even when outgunned in high cards, and of refusing to sellout to an opposing eight-card fit at the two-level are among the easiest to demonstrate.This review does not do justice to the full scope of Larry Cohen' s work, for many of his other suggestions are breathtaking, but not without merit. The major championships he has won using a bidding system built on the principle of the Law of Total Tricks, is further evidence that this is not some harebrained theory that can be dismissed lightly. A worthy addition to any serious bridge player's library , but do not expect to master the Law in one sitting. Cohen offers much food for thought and it needs to be digested slowly.~...Thomas M. SmithNovember 1992
It is in competitive situations that most hands are won and lost, and more than one big-caliber pairs event has turned on the decision to bid one more or to defend. Is there some way that we can learn to guess right more often in these key situations? The answermay lie in the Law of Total Tricks. an empirical method of determining the likely number of tricks available on a hand to the two sides. The Law has been referred to in various articles and even rated a whole chapter in Kit Woolsey's superb book " Matchpoints", but now it forms the main subject of this new book. Cohen takes the average player through a straightforward exposition of the Law itself (which relates to the total trump holdings of the two sides), with lots of examples. He applies it to competitive decisions from the 2-level through the 5-level, and shows how and why it works so well, most of the time. Note that "most of the time". Cohen makes no bones about the Law being a competitive panacea --be points out that bridge is a percentage game, and that the Law is no exception, If you take the indicated action, you will be right most of the time, and certainly more often than you are now, which is what most of us would like to get out of reading the book. But you'll also come back to partners with the odd -530. This is an honest account of the Law, warts and al1. Cohen describes some of the kinds of hands on which the Law may not work properly. and recommends some evaluation methods that may allow you to reach more accurate decisions on these. Buried amongst all this are two fascinating chapters dealing with modern competitive bidding methods and a number of sophisticated conventional ideas. These require much discussion and are not for casual Partnerships. Larry Cohen is the winner of a dozen national titles in the last ten years and he certainly writes about the matchpoint game with great credibility; his first book is a fine effort. Unlike many self-published works its smooth. almost error-free text bears the hallmark of professional editing and is well organized with good chapter-end summaries and quizzes. Add it to your bridge library and I'l1 guarantee you'll be reading it again and again.Reviewed by Ray Lee.
Dear Mr. Cohen... I am now nearly a Silver Life Master... I couldn't have progressed this far without having read To Bid or Not to Bid. I've read it at least a dozen times. It's right up there with Why You Lose at Bridge and Matchpoints as my all-time favorite book.
Dear Mr Cohen,I am living in Turkey-Istanbul. ... When I read your book " To Bid or Not to Bid" one year ago it changed my whole view. My game improved a lot and now I am about to join Turkish Women National Team.The reason I am telling you all this is, I think your book must be read by Turkish people too. But unfortunately no translation in Turkish available. I translated your book to Turkish and I believe I made it good. But of course only I have it so far and I cant publish it without your permission.
Arzu ErolTurkey (P.S. -- Permission was given!)------
If your bridge library were extremely small, one MUST item would be The Law of Total Tricks. It's a gem, one that will change the way you think at bridge and one that will help you make those tough part-score and higher competitive decisions which are ordinarily such "guess work". This book will help you evaluate your bidding options with much greater assurance and accuracy.
Carol Hartwell on Amazon.com
The law of total tricks has been around for about 40 years, but it's never been as thoroughly and completely explained as in this book. Cohen shows how the law should be used to resolve your competitive bidding decisions and to make the opponents' life more difficult. He also shows how modern bidding, and how the conventions he developed with Marty Bergen, try to give your partnership the information you need to make total trick decisions. Simply the best book on the subject.
John Brady on Amazon.com
Larry Cohen explains The Law of Total Tricks in an understandable way, with lots of examples and quizzes. I would recommend it to experienced bridge players.
The LAW gets a lot of flack in modern bidding theory. It's not perfect, and it does require judgement, but it's a SIMPLE, yet powerful tool to improve bidding in competition. I can't think of a single book that will improve an intermediate players game more quickly.
I like this book because it is clear and concisely written. I would recommend it to other duplicate players to elevate their bidding technique.
Still reading and gaining insights but the premises are quite intriguing.