The Principle of Restricted Talent
and other stories
by: Danny Kleinman and Nick Straguzzi
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An anthology of humorous stories featuring Chthonic, the bridge-playing robot. The stories draw unmercifully funny portraits of human bridge players, as Chthonic's bridge brilliance and abrasive and ill-concealed contempt for his human creators leave them all in his wake. A particular target is the pompous Director of the Cybernetics Research Institute, whose opinion of his own bridge expertise differs greatly from that of his protégé. Some of these stories have appeared in The Bridge World magazine, where the characters are established as firm reader favorites.
"The star of this fictional book is Chthonic (pronounced thah - nik), a bridge-playing computer. He (and the authors go to lengths to explain why 'he' is more appropriate than 'it') is in many ways a brilliant bridge player. Only one thing exceeds his prowess as at the table (well, two if you count his ability in the post mortem). This is his contempt for all things human. The deals are generally of the type that you cannot see from the first trick or two how the play will develop. This provides a good setting for a discussion between two humans on how the play ought to go, only to find themselves outdone by the infernal Chthonic who knows the answer.
Jeff Rubens explains in his foreword how the Chthonic stories meet his exacting standards for humorous bridge writing. The bidding and play are technically sound, the deals will interest accomplished or improving players and there is a high ratio of bridge to total content. Certainly, with 60 deals in the book, I agree on the last point and there is no doubt that the difficult level presents sufficient challenge. A few of the auctions suggest that the authors have, perhaps, used a little artistic licence on the first point! Readers may be alarmed if they reach chapter 10 (entitled 'The Executionee's Song') that the days of Chthonic are at an end. Perhaps the clue is the word 'executionee' rather than 'executioner', implying that Chthonic must have survived to tell the tale."
— Julian Pottage
"Recommended for its good bridge hands and its humour."
— Jon Sveindal, Norway
"I Robot, I Bridge Player. Chthonic, the world's greatest bridge player, is a robot. However, like Mr. Spock., Chthonic is seemingly also part human, since he seems to have the same over-sized ego as many human bridge players. The bridge world meets the Terminator. Stay tuned."
— The Denver Post
"Great hands, hilarious stories. If you like the Hideous Hog and the Abbott, you will love Chthonic. What a pity they can't play together. Highly recommended."
— Frank van Wezel, Toernooi Bridge Magazine, The Netherlands
"Wickedly funny... the title is hilariously on-target. The deals are fascinating, and frequently presented in a fashion that makes it unclear whether declarer or the defense will prevail."
— ACBL Bulletin
"Chthonic is poised to replace Victor Mollo's legendary Hideous Hog as the world's most obnoxious expert player. For quality deals combined with fun settings, this is about as good as bridge books get."
— The Bridge World
"Great fun - the hands are very good."
— BRIDGE Magazine
"Interesting characters, subtle humour, technical brilliance - The Principle of Restricted Talent is one of the most enjoyable bridge books I have read in a long while."
— Belleville Intelligencer
“The general plot line of the book disturbs me. A "robot" has been constructed to play bridge and while his knowledge is monumental, and he may very well be the best technician in the world, he sneers at the human race and never misses a chance to insult his partner and his opponents. His creator is a pompous windbag with delusions of grandeur about his own game. Sould like an unpleasant combination that would get old very quickly. But, wait. As I began to read (not finished yet) I found that there were sympathetic characters, that the hands were interesting, and the robot is occasionally bested because he has no understanding of human nature. Bridge is not all technical. The author’s style have meshed, and the hands are good...”
— Ron Garber
"A witty and delightful book. The bridge deals are exceptional, with some unusual twists and turns along the way."
— International Bridge Press Association
"Very entertaining (an instructive) reading. Don't be put off if some of the bridge humor you've read previously didn't seem very humorous: even allowing for different tastes, I suspect there will be few readers who fail to find these stories funny or the bridge deals interesting."
— Australian Bridge
"The funniest bridge book I've ever read."
— Belleville Intelligencer
Danny Kleinman of Los Angeles is a prolific bridge writer, theorist, professional player, and teacher, who is a regular contributor to several bridge magazines. He is a Contributing Editor of The Bridge World, and is one of the moderators of 'The Master Solvers' Club' in that magazine. He also writes about backgammon, another game which he plays at an expert level.
Nick Straguzzi of Mullica Hill, NJ, is a software analyst specializing in artificial intelligence and knowledge management. Nick has researched ways in which computer game theory could be applied to bridge, but concluded that it would be far easier to write about a perfect bridge-playing computer than to actually build one.
This product was added to our catalog on Saturday 01 September, 2012.