Resources for New Players

We suggest that you begin with Audrey Grant.  Her books are considered by many to be the “gold standard” for beginning players.  They are incredibly clear, well written, and with subsequent material building upon concepts which are presented in earlier chapters and books.  She has a really nice, structured approach.  There is no humor but the clarity and organization and easy to read format more than compensate.  Each book contains 5 chapters and has an identical format.   The first four chapters cover specific topics; the fifth chapter contains 16 practice deals which further expand upon the concepts presented in the first four chapters.  Each of the first four chapters contains very easy to follow descriptions filled with explanatory examples plus a chapter summary to recap the main points, quizzes to test your knowledge (the answers are annotated so you understand why one specific answer is better than another), and 4 practice deals which illustrate bidding, declarer play and defense.  While the books are focused on bidding, Audrey puts the bidding in context via real hands with commentary on the best line of play and best defense in the practice deals.  The books are based on the Standard American system of bidding.  

Audrey Grant currently has 5 beginner books in print:

  • Bridge Basics 1:  An Introduction (a nice intro to the basics – including opening bids in NT, major and minor suits)
  • Bridge Basics 2:  Competitive Bidding (preempts, overcalls and advances, take out doubles, the competitive auction); this material may be more challenging for those who first learned via party bridge
  • Bridge Basics 3:  Conventions (Stayman, Jacoby transfers, strong 2 bids, Blackwood/Gerber)
  • Improving Your Judgement 1:  Opening the Bidding (opening at the 1 level in 1st and 2nd position, opening at the 1 level in 3rd and 4th position, obstructive opening bids, strong opening bids).  This material may be quite new even for experienced party bridge players who might not have previously considered seat position before bidding. 
  • Improving Your Judgement 2: Doubles (take out doubles, advancing the takeout double, rebid and the subsequent auction, balancing and other doubles).

Audrey also co-authored (with Eric Rodwell) a more advanced book on 2/1 bidding. There is an accompanying pamphlet, “Bridge at a Glance” which shows bids and rebids.  It is essentially a color-coded summary, with 2 pages for each major topic (e.g. opening the bidding, responding to 1 of a minor, responding to 1 of a major, responding to NT, weak 2s, etc.) graphically showing bids, requirements in terms of point count and suit length, and whether the bid is forcing, invitational, or signoff.  For example, in response to an opening bid of 1H, responder will pass with 0 to 5 points (shown in red as sign off), bid 1S holding 4+ spades with 6+ points (shown in green as forcing for one round), bid 2H invitational (shown in yellow) holding 3+ hearts and 6 to 10 points, etc.

Larry Cohen winner of multiple North American Bridge Championship events, author and teacher has also written several excellent books designed for beginners. His website’s “Learning Center” Bridge with Larry Cohen: Free Bridge Articles has dozens of topics, although many of them are aimed at intermediate and advanced players. Novice to Intermediate players who want a concise guide to learning the 2 Over 1 Game Force system can’t go wrong with the Larry Teaches 2/1 Game Force workbook.

Eddie Kantar was a professional bridge player who won two World Champion and thirteen North American Championship titles and a member of the Bridge Hall of Fame. He was also a prolific writer and teacher. Three years before his death in 2022, Barbara Seagram updated and revised two of his books. They should probably be in nearly any personal bridge resource library:
Introduction to Declarer Play
Introduction to Defense

Two-time National winner Karen Walker has a very informative website: Karen’s Bridge Library (kwbridge.com). It is an excellent source of information, ranging from beginner to advanced topics. The site is very well organized, and the topics are easy to read.

Perhaps less well known is Ralph Welton, a retired professional educator and Bronze Life Master with over 50 years of bridge playing experience. His well-designed website Learn To Play Bridge Better | Bridge Bears is primarily focused on beginners. You’ll find tutorials and interactive problems on all aspects of the game from bidding to declarer play to defense – all with clear, easy to understand explanations. His site might seem to be more targeted at much younger players than the typical empty-nester or retiree. Yet his light, fun approach is still engaging and educational for ALL beginners as well as for many who consider themselves to be intermediate players. Note: Sadly I learned on February 20th, 2024 that Ralph succumbed to cancer over the weekend (February 17th). May you rest in peace, Ralph!

Opportunities also exist to practice (solo) on the the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) website to hone your skills without worrying about embarrassing yourself in public. 😃 Click on this Play Bridge link: Play Bridge • American Contract Bridge League (acbl.org) with several different ways to practice playing. The ACBL website (acbl.org) has two learning options too. Try Learn • American Contract Bridge League (acbl.org) or this tutorial: ACBL | Learn to Play Bridge