Two great players, both
good friends of mine from England, Robert Sheehan and Jonathan Cansino,
have a terrible game. Of course each thinks it is the other's fault.
Finally Sheehan hands Jonathan a tiny piece of blank paper and says:
Here Jonathan, write down everything you know about bridge."
Johnthan replies: "Well, it's a bigger piece of paper than
I would have given you."
Playing with Marshall Miles, I leave the table for a moment after
Marshall doubled a 1D opening bid and jumped to 2NT over my heart
response which I raised to 3NT having a pretty good hand including
the J10x of diamonds. When I return, Marshall is down two. I ask
Marshall what happened. He says he misguessed the DQ. I asked him
if he played the opening bidder for it and he said: "No, I
played you for it, and you didn't have it!" (Marshall had two
I am on a late night panel show at the Nationals hosted by Harold
Ogust. Also on the panel is Jim Jacoby. It is getting really late
(1:45 am) and Harold says there is time for one more question. A
lady raises her hand and Harold recognizes her. She says: "I
don't have a bridge question, but I was wondering if there were
enough people here to form a membership quorum after the panel show
is over." Harold says that is not the kind of question he had
in mind, but now that she has asked, are there any people who would
be willing to hang around for the membership meeting? About three
people raised their hands.
Harold then says he will entertain one more question. Some guy raises
his hand and asks, "I heard that when someone opens 2NT followed
by two passes, 4th hand should double no matter what he has. Is
that a good idea?" At this point Jim Jacoby takes the mike
and says, "Anyone who would double 2NT in 4th seat regardless
of what they hand, would also vote to attend the membership meeting
after this panel show is over."
Recently I was teaching a large class and was walking around the
room with a portable mike. When I went to one certain area the mike
started to make horrible noises so I moved elsewhere. However, every
so often I drifted back to this same spot and the same screeching
came from the mike. Finally one lady said, "Stay away from
that area, those men are all wearing hearing aids!"
When Oswald Jacoby was in his eighties, he bid every time it was his turn. His
partners asked why. He said: "At my age the bidding may not
get back around to me again."
This guy who loves to psyche is playing in a two session pair game
with his favorite partner. He is psyching like mad and most of them
are not working. After the session his partner tells him that he
doesn't want to play the second session if this psyching continues.
The guy, not wanting to lose his favorite partner, promises not
to psyche in the next session. In fact, he says, "If if I psyche
I will give you $20.00 each time I psyche. " This sounds okay
to his partner, so they begin to play the second session. Near the
end of the session, the psycher, on his best behavior, sits down
against a guy he really hates. The psycher is the dealer. He pulls
out a 20.00 bill and hands it to his partner saying: Here's that
twenty dollars I owe you; one spade!
Several years ago I was asked to give a lecture at Leisure World,
a Southern Califonia retirement community. I asked the fellow in
charge if I could pick my topic. He said, "Yes, but be sure
not to mention the term "drop dead bid"!
Too Tall Tex always looks in both opponents' hands before the bidding starts. As
a result he never misguesses the location of any missing honors. One
day sitting South he is angling towards a small slam in spades. West
has Kx of spades and wants Too Tall to bid a grand so he hides his small spade in
with his clubs and let's Too Tall see the singleton king. Too Tall
promptly bids a grand, wins the opening lead, and bangs down the ace of spades. When
the king doesn't fall, he gets up and quits the game saying, "I don't want to
play in a game with cheaters."
A bridge teacher explaining duplicate bridge protocall tells this lady to make her
opening lead face down. She promptly puts her head on the table
and leads a card face up.
Two wives are discussing how badly their respective husbands had played the previous
evening-each convinced that their husband plays worse than the other. The
first wife says, "Just let me tell you what happened last night. My
husband was playing 7NT, vulnerable, with 12 top tricks and he needed a spade finesse
for 13. Dummy had the AQ of spades and he had a couple of small ones
and the finesse was onside. So, what do you think he did? He
took the first 11 tricks and ended up in DUMMY with the AQ of spades and then led
the queen from the dummy at trick twelve!"
"So what's so bad about that?" says wife number two "Against
my husband, that play works!"
Another husband-wife story.
This couple is playing
rubber bridge against another couple and the husband is getting
angrier and angrier at how his wife is playing. At last he reduces
her to tears and she excuses herself and goes to the ladie's room
As they are waiting for her to return, the husband says, " Let's deal another
hand and I will bid her cards face down. It won't matter, because I never
know what she has anyway. The other couple agrees reluctantly. The
husband deals and opens 1H. The next player passes and he bids 2H for
his wife. When his right hand opponent passes, he tries 3H passed around
to his wife who still has not returned. He thinks awhile and bids 4H ending
The opening lead is made and he observes aloud, "This is the best contract I've
been in all evening." He begins to play the hand and ultimately it comes down
to a finesse. Just as he takes the losing finesse, his wife returns determined
to finish the game. He looks at her and says, "You had to bid 4H,
Here are two of my favorite "teacher" stories. The first was
related to me by the late, great, John Gerber who I used to run into early in the
mornings in the lobbies of the hotels where the Nationals were being held.
John told his beginning
class that after the 10 lesson course he would play a few hands
with his "best" table. After the course was over he was
true to his word and sat down to play a few hands with his star
pupils. On the first hand John opened one notrump, his left hand
opponent passed, and his 'star'partner responded, "Two no spades".
The next story was told to me by Peter Leventritt who played many
years in partnership with Howard Schenken. Peter also taught bridge
at the Card School in New York. At one of his series of classes,
this guy had been coming for five weeks but not paying any attention.
He was there because his girlfriend insisted and he could have cared
less. Peter let him alone because they had enough bodies to fill
up each table without him.
On the evening of the
sixth class one of the "regulars" couldn't make it and
Peter was forced to have this guy sit in. As luck would have it,
this guy was the dealer on a prepared hand. He had six hearts and
13 HCP, an easy one heart opening bid. Easy for anyone else, that
is. This guy didn't have a clue. Finally Peter asked him what he
was going to bid. No answer. "Well, how many points do you
have?" No answer. Peter reviews the point count and finally
the guy adds up his points and miraculously comes to 13. "Good",
said Peter, "Now what are you going to open?" No answer.
The players at the other tables were becoming impatient. Finally
Peter said, "It doesn't matter, just open anything you like."
"O.K.,"I'll open for a dollar."
I have been involved in more than my share of card combination mixups.
Here are two of my finest:
West (moi) East
S. K32 S.
Defending notrump with
declarer having denied a four card major, I elected to lead the
deuce of spades. Dummy played low and Mike stuck in the eight losing
to declarer's jack. Later, on lead, I decided that declarer might
have started with AJ doubleton so I led a second low spade. When
declarer played the ten from dummy, Mike played low thinking that
I had led from Kxxx and that declarer had AJ doubleton.
Guess what? We didn't take a single spade trick and declarer took four!
West (Paul Soloway) East
C. QJ2 C.
After a convoluted sequence
where dummy showed a strong 4-4-4-1 hand, the opponents wound up
in 4C. Paul elected to lead the deuce of clubs! Dummy played low
and I stuck in the eight losing to the ten. Later on lead, I decided
to clear trump and played the ace and another. The end result of
this defense was that we were able to take one trump trick with
a combined holding of AQJ982 of trump! (At least we didn't have
Many years ago in the Los Angeles area Malvine Klausner was the reigning queen. Her
husband, Sigfried had invented Kem Cards, plastic cards that could be washed and used
over and over again. The Klausner's were not hurting financially. Malvine
played the majority of her bridge at the legendary Ardmore Bridge Club. Duplicate
games were held downstairs and money (rubber) bridge games as well as the restrooms
(soon to become important) were upstairs.
The money bridge players
would have nothing to do with the duplicate players feeling that
they were afraid to risk hard cash on their skill. As a result when
they walked into the club they looked neither left nor right at
the duplicate players before going up the stairs. The duplicate
players, for their part, displayed equal contempt for the rubber
bridge players feeling that they were afraid to venture downstairs
and play a game of skill that did not depend upon who got more aces
and kings to win. As a result they NEVER went upstairs unless it
was an emergency. Enter the rest rooms.
And so it came to pass
one afternoon after the duplicate game there was a giant migration
upstairs to the lady's room. By the time Malvine got there it was
already a full house. As this was an emergency she went across the
hall into the Men's Room! Malvine was the last person on earth one
would suspect of doing something like this. When she emerged several
minutes later, one of her friends saw her and asked if she knew
where she had been. "Yes", she said. "Well, her friend
continued, was anyone in there?"
"Yes, said Malvine, a couple of guys but they were only rubber bridge players."
These four guys were playing rubber bridge at their club and they noticed they had
a kibitzer who said nothing. Several hours later one of them received
an emergency telephone call and had to leave. There was absolutely no
one at the club who could fill in so they asked (beseeched) the kibitzer. He
said he would like to play but didn't know how. He was a gin rummy player
and had just come over to watch. They said, that was good enough, and
they would sort of lead him through if he had any problems. Reluctantly he filled
As luck would have it, he was the dealer. After everyone sorted their
cards, all eyes were turned on the newcomer . Finally, he opened four
Well, they thought this
is a strange bid for a beginner to make, but they carried on. Second
hand doubled and this was passed back to the dealer who, after a
considerable time, bid four diamonds.
Well, they thought, no
matter how desperate we are, we can't play with this guy after this
hand. Second hand doubled and again it was passed back to the newcomer
who, looking around, only wanted to go home. But it was his turn
to bid again so he bid four hearts!
Would this madness never end? Second hand doubled and for the third time the
bidding was passed back to "Mr. Multiple Preempts". They all looked
at him again.
Finally, he said: "And the jack
Helen Sobel, probably the greatest woman player of all time,
was a chorus girl before taking up bridge. Not forgetting her roots she used this
little ploy when she was missing an important queen in a slam or grand slam contract
playing against two men: she raised her skirt a little above her knees before playing.
It never failed that the fellow without the queen would look and the one with the
queen was so intent on taking a trick with that card that he didn't. Helen always
found the queen. When I tell this story to my classes, I tell the ladies that if they
are playing against me in a tournament not to pull that one on me. Whether I have
the queen or not, I always look.
Helen Sobel was once asked how it felt playing with a great
expert (Charles Goren). "Ask him," she replied.
Harold Harkavy of Florida
was one of the great notrump declarers of all time. The reason was
that he played professionally and told his clients to avoid bidding
notrump if they wanted to win. One time Harold was playing a 3NT
contract with the QJ doubleton of clubs in dummy facing the 876
of clubs in his hand. He was in a hopeless contract and had to let
the opponents in. He knew once they got in they would shift to clubs,
so he led the CQ from dummy feigning strength in the suit. Sure
enough the CQ held the trick. Harold continued by the leading
the CJ from dummy which also held the trick! Now it was safe for
Harold to knock out the ace he really had to get rid of because
the opponents no longer had enough club tricks to take. Naturally
Harold made his contract. Nevertheless he apologized to his partner
"Partner if I only
had the ten of clubs, I could have run the entire suit."
Alvin Roth, a very ethical player was once defending
7NT in a money game. The hand featured this heart suit in a three card ending:
South had started with four hearts orginally and had to guess who had the HQ. He
started by leading the HJ from his hand. West went into an Oscar winning performance
trying to make South think he had the queen and finally played low. South, taken in
by all of this, also played low as did Roth! When Roth's partner saw that Alvin had
the queen and could have defeated 7NT by taking the trick, he asked Roth why he hadn't
taken the trick with the queen. "Because I thought you had it", said Roth.
I gave a lesson on counting at a Country Club
and a duplicate game followed. I was around after the game and a lady rushes up to
me and tells me how much she liked the lesson and how much she got out of it, etc.
She then tells me she and her partner(who also took the lesson) had a big game and
came in second overall
and they are so excited that they are both going to start
counting next week!
I once gave a lesson on preemptive bidding to a beginning class.
I call off each suit and they are supposed to distribution the cards
properly Hah! It so happened that when I called off the heart suit,
this lady gave North the seven hearts that South was supposed to
get. As a result the bidding started with South having six cards
and North having 20. As North was dropping cards all over the place,
I noticed what had happened, but decided to wait a moment before
I said anything. South immediately called me over to the table very
excitedly. First of all she told me she had never seen a hand like
this before. No kidding. Secondly she loved counting for short suits
and wanted to tell me how many points she had. She actually would
have had more points than North had North not liked counting for
long suits. We finally got it straightened out but it makes for
a good true story.
Playing with Billy Eisenberg in the World Championships we have this hand:
AKx S. Q10x
Axx H. KJ10xx
AKQx D. xxx
10xx C. xx
I open 2NT Billy responds 3D (transfer), I bid 3H and he bids 3NT. I decide to pass
hoping Billy has some strength in clubs. Terrible decision. The player on lead has
AQxxx of clubs and they take the first five club tricks. 4H makes easily. I am very
upset with myself. Billy tells me not to worry about it, he says it wasn't THAT bad
a bid and let's start thinking about the next hand. With that, he pulls out his cigarette
lighter and lights up his gum wrapper which is on the table.
Paul Soloway is playing Flannery with his partner Bobby Goldmand. They
have these hands:
QJxx S. AKxxxxx
KQxxx H. -
QJx D. AKx
Paul opens 2D showing
five hearts and four spades (11-15+ HCP) and Bobby responds 3S.
The way they play, this response forces the opener to cuebid his
singleton if he has one. Paul is afraid to cuebid 4C because he
hates his hand and bids 4S. Bobby continues with 5D practically
begging Paul to show a club control. Soloway refuses and bids 5S
ending the bidding. Of course the hand is cold for six. When they
go to dinner that night, Soloway orders Chicken Flannery.
Get a load of this e:mail. The writer and his partner, on lead against
notrump, had the AKQJ10xxxx between their two hands and could not prevent the declarer
from taking a trick holding 9x!
Declarer is in 3NT and West leads the king. East fearing partner has led from AKxx
and that declarer has Qx, play the jack to deny the queen and prevent partner from
leading low next.
When West sees the jack he thinks partner has J10x and declarer has 9xxx. If this is the case,
he must lead low next which he does. When West sees the low card he thinks that West started with
KQ9x and declarer has Ax. If he (East) plays the 10, the suit will be blocked, so he plays low.
Voila, decarer takes a trick with the nine.