Even the best players in the world went through the same learning stages as we mortals. We all started by feeling oeverwhelmed and frustrated, but we soldiered on. After all, you can't become competent in any endeavour without total effort, immersion, if you will. And these efforts were worthwhile because we realized the eventual reward. - a wider range of friends and mental exercise - was that 'pot of gold' at the end of the rainbow. However, those beginning efforts were essentially rote learning of cliches. It was only as we gained playing experience that we began to realize that nothing replaced thinking and being ' ever vigilant' As you read on, you will begin to appreciate how thinking makes the learning more complete and with it a more complete bridge player. Bridge really is a thinker's game.