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 in 1958. During an illicit 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 and three times was second. In ACBL play, he won over 23,000 masterpoints and more than twenty major National Championships, including 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 rare 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. Initially the players were Bobby Wolff, Jim Jacoby, Bobby Goldman, Billy Eisenberg, and Mike Lawrence. A year later he added Robert Hamman who gave the team the needed sixth player. He had decided that if he couldn’t beat us, he would join us. Excellent decisions by all.
Ira additionally 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.
And he 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 organising 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 needed 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.
In 2002, Ira Corn’s unique contributions to bridge earned him a place in the ACBL Bridge Hall of Fame. There are few there like him.
“Mike is known for an ability to share his experiences with his readers and students”.
As an author, Mike has written more than twenty-three bridge books, most of them exploring areas that no one else was willing to write about. His writings have received numerous book-of-the-year awards starting with his first book, How to Locate Your Opponents’ High Cards, which is rated as one of the three best bridge books of all time. He most recently finished writing a three-book series, called The Tips Series. Tips 1 on Constructive Bidding, Tips 2 on Competitive Bidding, and Tips 3 on Play and Defense.
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.Mike also published a bidding newsletter that emphasizes Standard American bidding. It covered almost all of the conventions that appear in US tournaments but more importantly, devoted emphasis on the judgment to make these conventions work. This publication included one hundred editions which ended in 1999.
From 1994 until 2006, Mike was one of the authors of the Bridge Calendar, a publication that became a Christmas hit with bridge players.
His longest writing engagement began back in the eighties, writing for the ACBL Bulletin. This adds up to more than 500 articles and rising.
His participation with Bridge Clues, an online site that gives the reader interactive bridge problems daily, for free yet, includes over 3000 of his articles.
In 1995, Mike joined forces with Fred Gitelman to produce a series of bridge software products which allow the user to learn bridge in an interactive format. Mike and Fred combined to do seven CDs on topics including Counting at Bridge, Defense, and the Two Over One System. An eighth CD, Mike’s Advice, was a solo effort.
Counting at Bridge was an immediate success and is acknowledged as the most useful teaching tool in bridge.