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Michael Lawrence

Who is Michael Lawrence?

In the world of contract bridge, there is no one who comes close to matching his combined record as a player, author, and teacher.

Mike started playing bridge while attending the University of California. During a chemistry experiment, he caused an explosion which for three weeks meant he was unable to use his writing hand. The result was that he could not take his finals and was instructed to take them during the summer session instead. Not wishing to waste his time on campus, Mike discovered the card room where he proved more adept at bridge than he was as a chemistry student. It was not long before bridge became his major interest.

As a player, Mike has won three world championships three times was second. In ACBL play, he as won over 20,000 masterpoints and more than twenty major National Championships, including more than ten wins in the Vanderbilt, Reisinger, and Spingold.

Mike was lucky to be an original member of the Dallas Aces, a team brought together by Ira Corn of Dallas. Ira was one of those individuals who had a vision and the strength of character to make it happen. Ira Corn wanted to see the US regain the World Championships and to this end, he arranged for a group of experts to move to Dallas, Texas. Ira added two strong personalities to his efforts.

The first addition, Dorothy Moore, was instrumental in helping with the team when problems emerged. She was a powerful balance when one was needed. Many nervous moments were calmed by her insights and 'people' skills.

Additionally, Ira added Joe Musumeci to coach the team. This was no easy task given the diverse personalities and egos of the team members. Joe was the taskmaster who made things happen, including organizing an exercise regimen for a group that abhorred anything heavier than shaking a backgammon cup or dealing cards.

Ira did what he set out to do. In virtually no time at all, the Aces were winning the major US championships and in 1970, they brought the first of two consecutive World Championships back to Dallas.

It was during the years of being an Ace that Mike added writing and teaching to his playing abilities. Ira was instrumental in this too. One day, Ira told Mike to come into his office. During this meeting he instructed Mike to write a book, something that was totally alien to him at that time. Denying the skills to do that, Ira pointed out who wrote the checks and Mike was convinced. A month later, Ira again had Mike in his office. This time, it was to tell Mike that he was going to start teaching bridge. "Here is a list of your students. You start in three weeks."

Once again, Mike denied the skills, but under Ira's reminder that he was the check-writer, Mike became a teacher. Credit to Ira for his judgment. Ira died in 1982, but his achievements still impress. The original members of his team continue to be forces in the world of bridge. Some day, Ira Corn will be given proper credit for his vision and will be voted into the Bridge Hall of Fame. He will be a worthwhile member.

More than any other author, Mike is known for an ability to share his experiences with his readers and students.

As an author, Mike has written more than twenty bridge books, most of them exploring areas that no one else was willing to write about. His writings include numerous book-of-the-year awards starting with his first book, How to Locate Your Opponents' Cards and continuing through Opening Leads, published in late 1996.

In a slightly different vein, Mike has been publishing a bidding newsletter that emphasizes Standard American bidding. All the conventions that appear in US tournaments get coverage as well as exercises in judgment. This publication has been coming out for the last ten years. Due to time constraints, this publication will continue until November, 1999, at which time it will cease.

More currently, Mike has become one of the authors for the Bridge Calendar, a publication that began in 1994 and which has become a staple of the bridge world.

And finally, Mike has joined forces with Fred Gitelman to produce a series of bridge software products which allow the user to learn bridge in an interactive format. At this moment, there are three products on line from Mike and Fred and a fourth in the works.

Counting at Bridge has been an immense success. It shows the user how he should think when he plays the dummy. What information do you need, where do you get it, and how do you use it? More than anything, the user gets to DO the needed work which forces the user to learn how to think.

Private Bridge Lessons, Volume I introduces a number of dummy play techniques such as the Simple Squeeze, Endplays, and others. In the same way that Counting at Bridge functions, the user is nudged into doing the thinking and seeing how that leads to the winning plays.

Private Bridge Lessons, Volume II continues where Private Bridge Lessons, Volume I left off. It demonstrates many new dummy play techniques and reinforces some that were introduced in PBL Version 1.

In early 1999, the fourth in this series will be ready. It will be something special, touching on an area of bridge that is universally recognized as the most frustrating.

DEFENSE

You will see one hundred defensive problems and will have to work your way through the defense on each of them. What is partner doing? What can you infer from what declarer is doing? How does the bidding effect what you do? Be sure to keep an eye out for this one.

When Mike is not creating bridge books and bridge software, he spends time lamenting that he has been unable to finish his science fiction book. It crawls along at a page or two a month. Next time you see him, ask him how the science fiction book is going. Perhaps that will motivate its finish.

--- WA by TA


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