The list of books below is a selection of some of my favourite bridge books with a short review of each one.
Most of these books are no longer in print, but may be found in second hand book shops, on e-bay or in libraries.
A world class player and possibly the greatest of all bridge writers. His books on play are classics, although his books on bidding are now outdated.
Play Bridge with Reese
Reese plays 75 hands selected from all levels of play from World Championship down to afternoon rubber bridge. The variety is very good - a mixture ranging from highly technical, esoteric squeezes to psychological and humorous. The defenders occasionally outwit him too. All written in excellent English.
The follow up volume Play These Hands with Me is nearly as good, only 60 deals this time and perhaps he had used up his very best deals in the first volume, but well worth reading.
Amongst other good books by Reese are The Expert Game and (with Albert Dormer) Bridge for Tournament Players
S J Simon
S J Simon was a British international in the 1940s who unfortunately died young, so only wrote three bridge books.
His classic book Why You Lose at Bridge regularly tops polls for the best bridge book ever. A book on rubber bridge which describes in the final chapters a few rubbers played by the Unlucky Expert, Mrs Guggenheim, Futile Willie and Mr Smug. The follow up volume Cut for Partners follows this foursome blundering their way through more rubbers. Simon's final bridge book Design for Bidding was an exposition of how the Acol bidding system was developed. Simon also wrote with Caryl Brahms a number of excellent novels based on the theatre.
H W Kelsey
Kelsey was a prolific author of books, mainly in quiz format. His books on play were always good, although some very challenging. His books on bidding were not of the same high quality.
Kelsey's classic is Killing Defence at Bridge. A selection of quiz deals which emphasise that counting is the beginning, middle and end of all good defence. The follow up volume More Killing Defence at Bridge is not quite as good, mainly because the subject matter is more esoteric and therefore of less practical use.
His first book on declarer play Advanced Play at Bridge is another excellent book.
Further books such as Challenge Match, Needle Match and others are good quiz books, but very advanced.
Robert Darvas and Norman de V Hart
Right Through the Pack is a delightful fairy tale where each card tells the story of a deal in which it features. The deals were constructed by Hungarian expert Robert Darvas and brought to life by journalist Norman de V Hart in another book which always features near to the top of polls for best bridge book.
Bridge World Humor
Nine short stories originally published in the American bridge magazine Bridge World are brought together in this booklet. The Grosvenor Gambit and Bridge on the Moon are amongst some of the funniest articles ever written on the game.
To Bid or Not to Bid
Cohen's exposition of Verne's Law of Total Tricks is one of the ground breaking books in bridge theory. Although the deals are chosen carefully to match the theory, every bridge player's competitive bidding should improve by reading this book.
Bridge with the Blue Team
A collection of deals played by members of the legendary Italian Blue Team - world champions for 20 years from the mid-fifties to the mid-seventies. An exceptional collection of deals of outstanding technical interest, mainly from championship play. The quality of writing (maybe the translation) is not up to Reese's standards, but the bridge is as good.
Benito Garozzo and Leon Yallouze (adapted by Terence Reese)
The Blue Club
A personal favourite, though it probably wouldn't feature on most bridge player's list. The first detailed English description of a strong club system. Of interest mainly to system buffs and I doubt that anyone (in their right mind) would want to play the system as described nowadays.
Play a Swiss Teams of Four with Mike Lawrence and Play Bridge with Mike Lawrence
Mike Lawrence is one of the best of American Bridge authors. His style is very readable and you follow his progress (triumphs and disasters) through a Swiss teams and a Pairs event in these two volumes. Lawrence has also written many other books on play and bidding all of which are good.
Bridge in the Menagerie
Mollo's famous Hideous Hog and Rueful Rabbit and other characters feature in humourous incidents at the table. Mollo was one of the great comic writers. Follow up volumes include Bridge in the Fourth Dimension. With Nico Gardener, Mollo also wrote one of the classic technical books on card play - Card Play Technique, which is one of the clearest expositions of all aspects of play and defence from suit establishment through to squeezes and trump coups.
Biographies of some of the great British players of the forties and fifties well written by a professional journalist.