Barnet Shenkin

Review by Tim Bourke prev/next

Before he moved to Florida in 1997, Barnet Shenkin was one of Europe's leading players. In addition to an impressive record in events in England, Scotland and the continent, he represented Great Britain in European and World Championships. In “Playing Bridge with the Legends” he presents his experiences at major tournaments as either a player or a journalist.

The book starts superbly by reprinting one of my all-time favorite articles from the Bridge World, "Dreamland”. In it Shenkin relates his experience in 1974 as a twenty-four year old playing with Michael Rosenberg against the Italian superstars Avarelli, Belladonna, Forquet and Garozzo. All would-be world champions of that era had a dream of playing and beating them! Well, for Shenkin, it nearly came true because after eight boards his team led by 31-0, hence the title of the article.

While the favorites recovered to win that match, it was not without some drama. As is typical of the book, he gives the readers a chance to test whether they would have done better at stalling the Italian juggernaut by presenting a defensive quiz from the match. Also, there is a postscript to the original article that describes a wonderful mix of emotions and sportsmanship.

It would be easy for a book starting on such a superb note to go downhill from there, but it doesn't. In the following twenty chapters - in four groups, “The Pursuit Of Happiness”, “The Bridge Legends”, “Things Nobody Tells You” and “Life at The Top” - he combines some autobiographical details and personal observations of the tournament scene and players with the wonderful bridge material, much of it new to even the most widely-read bridgeur. A wonderful bonus is the liberal sprinkling of quizzes taken from play you can "win" many an event, from World Championships on down by solving these teasers correctly.

A truly enjoyable book that I recommend to everyone who enjoys bridge.

Playing With The Bridge Legends by Barnet Shenkin (Paperback, Master Point)

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