These are stories I tell my classes — many of them come from my
Lew Mathe used to dominate Mixed Pairs competition with his wife Janie. Lew used to have strict opening lead rules that Janie had to follow. They were: (1) never lead a trump; (2) never lead from Kx; never lead from the jack. It wasn't that these leads couldn't be right, it was just that whenever Janie tried them they backfired. Everything was going just hunky dory until Janie picked up: S. 874 H. K4 D. J543 C. J943 and found herself on lead against 4S. She was afraid to lead anything! Finally Lew said, "Come on Janie, lead whatever you want, I know what you have anyway."
I am playing with Mike Lawrence in the Men's Pairs in Houston and we have many kibitzers. He has talked me into playing that a jump shift from 1S to 3H shows spade support with an unknown singleton; ditto for 1H-3S. Partner can then ask for your singleton by bidding the next step up. Fine. But it has never come up and then this hand happens:
Mike has: S AKQxx H 9xx D xxx C QJ
I have: S- H AKQ10xxx D AKxx C xx
Mike opens 1S and I forget our agreement and jump to 3H. Mike alerts and announces that I have spade support with an unknown singleton. He then bids 4S having no interest in my singleton is. I bid 5H. He alerts and says that I have spade support with a heart void! He then bids 6S. I bid 7H. He alerts and says that they should cancel all previous alerts. They lead a diamond and I make 7H. We did not have one kibitzer left after that hand.
I ask my friend John Levinson for a tip. He says he never preempts against weak players because it takes away all those level that they could be using to confuse themselves.
Playing with Mike Lawrence we arrive at 6C. The clubs in the dummy are Q10xx and I have Axx. We are also off a cashing ace. When the opponents aren't looking, Mike sort of mouths to me asking if I have a play. "Yes Mike, I say aloud, if the KJ9 sixth of clubs is singleton I have a play."
I have a lady in my class who loves voids. Once she had only 12 cards including a spade void. I come over to the table and find the SA under the table and give it to her. "Now you've gone and ruined my whole hand", she tells me.
Playing with Billy Eisenberg in a K.O match we are playing Key Card Blackwood and have a few screwups and are behind at the half. When we sit down to play the second half, one of our opponents announces, "We have decided to give you guys a chance, we are also going to play Key Card Blackwood."
Giving a class on how to get rid of losers, I prepare a lesson hand and then ask this lady how she plans to get rid of her losers. She says: I am going to lose them right away so I don't have to worry about them any more."
I give a lesson on Stayman. Next week a student overcalls a 1D opening bid with 2C holding: A10xx KQxx xxx xx. I ask him what he is doing. He answers, " I was making a Stayman."
Lady picks up 7 diamond and 6 clubs and doesn't know how to bid the hand. She solves the problem by putting one suit in one hand and the other in the other; a new way to show 7-6.
Two ladies are playing against Jim Linhart who is close to 7 feet tall. One says, "Alice, hold your cards back, he can see." Jim says, "Alice, it's too late."
Don Krauss and Roger Bates wind up in 7NT after bidding hearts. Bates forgets and thinks he is in 7H. At one point he leads a low diamond from his hand and asks Don to ruff. Don says, "I'd love to".
Ivan Erdos and Kelsy Petterson have a really terrible game in the finals of a K.O championship. They go back to the home table to compare and which point one of their teammates says, "How dare you come back with this game?" Kelsey replies, "It wasn't my idea to come back."
John Crawford playing with a weak player for high stakes. His partner leads the SK (king from ace-king) and John has the S 1098. He knows that if he plays the 8 his partner will think it is a high card and continue the suit which John knows will be awful. Instead as he goes to play the S8 he purposely drops it under the table and spends a long time trying to pick it up. Finally his partner asks him what it is. John replies; Oh nothing, just a low spade."
Hal Sims, along with Ely Culbertson was one of the brightest lights of American bridge in the 30's, was reputed never to have missguessed a queen. Once when playing against two ladies he had a two way finesse for a queen and announced to the table that neither one of them had it. Sure enough it was on the floor.
Oswald Jacoby was missing a queen in a two-way finesse suit. He counted the hand and discovered that West started with five cards in the suit and East only two. Just as he was about to finesse West for the queen, East dropped the queen face up on the table. At this point Ozzie announced that he was revising his count.
Two guys play bridge all afternoon at the club and adjourn for dinner. They go over every hand dutifully writing on every napkin not to mention their tablecloth. They go back, play another session, and adjourn to the same restaurant for a late snack. Again they start to go over the hands. Finally, one says: "Bill, I can't take it any more, can't we talk about something else, anything else like politics, the movies, sports, sex? Bill says, "Sex? " I had sex diamonds to the king queen......"
Husband tells wife who has misdefended: "Not to worry dear, it's only a game." "Yes, she says, but it's a vulnerable game." Husband playing with wife picks up a zillion spades facing his wife who has a zillion and one hearts. The battle begins. Higher and higher they go, finally, in spite of the looks he has been getting, he bids 6S over her 6H bid which buys the contract. The lead is made and when the dummy hits, he sees he can't make 6S, but 6H is cold. He knows he is in big trouble. He starts out before playing to trick one by saying, "Sorry dear, I should have withdrawn. " She says, "you should have withdrawn? Your father should have withdrawn!"
Guy meets this gal at a bridge club and they decide to play in the evening duplicate. Their styles seem to mesh; they both like to play 2 over 1, five card majors, short club, short diamond, etc. They have a big game and they win. Afterwards they go out for a bite to eat and they like each other. She invites him back to her apartment for a drink. He accepts. They are both sitting on the couch and now things are heating up. Suddenly clothes are flying around the room and in the midst of all this passion, he says "alert! She says, "Yes, what?" He says, "It could be short."
Erik Paulsen comes back to his home town, Downey, Ca. after being a member of the U.S team that had just won a world championship. The local players are surprised to see him at the local duplicate. But there he is and he begins to play. About midway through the game he is competing in spades against opponents who are bidding hearts. Finally, he bids 3S, loudly, so he won't get doubled. It doesn't work. His LHO doubles. Erik looks at him and says: "Do you know who I am?' The guy says: "Yes I know who you are." Erik says: "Do you know how many masterpoints I have?" The guy says, "No, but do you know how many spades I have?"
Many players have their own little ways of deciding which way to finesse for a missing queen. Some play that the queen always lies over the jack; hungry players finesse toward the kitchen, romantic players finesse toward the bedroom and practical players finesse toward the bathroom.
Goren disliked Sam Stayman and never would call the Stayman convention by name in his column; instead he called it the 2C convention.
Alan Truscott was not enamored with Howard Schenken so in his New York Times bridge column, Schenken always went down on the hand Truscott was describing.
Too Tall Tex, who usually knows what everyone has before play starts, has just begun to play RKB. He has his own set of responses when his partner makes the queen ask. His first step response tells his partner he doesn't have the queen. His second step response tells his partner he doesn't have the queen, but he knows who does!
Lady calls me in August and asks if I can give her mother and a group of her friends some lessons in October. I tell her I can't do it until January. She says: "Never mind, they won't last that long."
Count your losers and count your winners. If the total doesn't come to 13, count your cards. (Alfred Sheinwold)
No 5 trick set should be considered a complete failure. It can always be used as a bad example. (Alfred Sheinwold)
When dummy comes down weaker than expected, tell your partner: "My name is Simpson, not Sampson."
I'm giving them a class on counting losers. I start out by saying: "This will be a class on counting losers." A voice from the back of the class: "Where where you when I needed you 30 years ago?"
Guy playing a contract in the South seat reduces to the Axx in dummy facing the KJ10 in his hand. He knows his LHO, West, has a singleton so his plan is to lead the jack to the ace and then finesse the 10 on the way back. When he leads the J, West hesitates for quite a while and then plays low. South asks West: And just which half of that singleton were you thinking of playing?"