Get lucky

West needed to do all he could to get lucky the night he had this hand though there was no sign of that during the bidding.

Picking up this balanced 15 point hand:

he, playing 15-17, naturally opened 1NT.

East bid Stayman and, after West denied a 4 card major, went on to bid 3NT. North lead the 3 and this is what West saw on the table:

With a combined 26 points, and 7 tricks off the top, making 3NT should be a piece of cake.

But… there are no long suits to develop, and only one finesse opportunity – to catch the ♠Q. If that worked then he should make all spade tricks but if not then it looked like he’d have to hope for a 3-3 break in one of the minors, and there was not a good chance of that happening.

Also North had lead hearts the suit where declarer had the most weakness. As one of the philosophers Nile Rodgers, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, Pharrell Williams, or Thomas Bangalter observed “All ends with the beginnings”.

Following the Rule of 7 – the number of times you should duck a suit in NT is the number of cards you have in that suit (here 5) deducted from 7, so he ducked 2 times, to the King and Jack and was anyway forced to win the third heart trick with the Ace.

First difficult decision: what to discard from table on the third heart? Not a spade since he hoped to make 4 tricks in that suit. So a diamond or club then. But which? – the suits were very similar, both 7 cards total, split 3-4 and headed by AK. What would you pick? As Clint Eastwood said “you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‚Do I feel lucky?‘ Well, do you, punk?”

In the end, maybe for the not very good reason than hoping the 9 he saw in clubs might have its legendary magic properties he discarded the 4.

OK, time to try the spades. To be on the safe side he first lead to the Ace on the table – just in case a singleton Queen was with an opponent – it would be so annoying to have that win. Then back to hand winning with the ♣A with twin objectives of being in the right place to finesse the ♠J and also to develop an eventual winner in clubs hopefully.

Time to get lucky, he lead a low spade and played the Jack on the table. It lost to the Queen. So not so lucky after all.

At this point in the game, South was on lead with these cards:

A spade did not look like a good idea and he had no hearts thanks to declarer’s double duck. Perhaps put off by the sight of the K on the table he chose to lead the ♣8, though the Jack at the top-of-a-sequence in diamonds was surely screaming for his attention.

Well part of being lucky is having an opponent make a mistake for you. West went up with the ♣K and was interested to see North dropping the Jack. That could be good news he thought, maybe North is out of clubs now and can’t be reached to cash his 2 heart winners. Or South can be end-played. Or something.

Moving on, he cashed his 2 spade tricks on the table, dropping a club from hand. Then he played a club and prayed…

He had got lucky that night after all, both the Queen and the 10 fell, as they split 3-3 – a 36% chance.

South holding just diamonds now had no option but to lead one. South won that in hand with the Ace, crossed to table with the K and won the last trick in style with ♣9. Well that was good fun.

The full hand was:



  1. BANGALTER Thomas, DEHOMEM-CHRISTO Guy-Manuel, RODGERS Nile, WILLIAMS Pharrell, “Get Lucky”, 2013. An award-winning disco song by French duo Daft Punk that was released on 19 April 2013.
  2. Dirty Harry, film released 23 December 1971, directed by Don Siegel featuring Clint Eastwood.
  3. “Love Potion No. 9”,


Freak Out

“Le Freak” would have been a good soundtrack for this hand. To begin with it was hard to tell whether it was the players or the cards that were the cause of the freak out.  It happened when I was playing online bridge in BBO and picked up this pathetic hand:

♠ 8 6 2
J 9 8 6 3
♣ 10 8
8 5 4

I was dealer and naturally passed as did my left hand opponent. Partner opened 1 which was nice but I wasn’t expecting much to happen beyond a part-score either way.  However, the bidding fireworks started when my right hand opponent made this somewhat unusual overcall:

North:  6♣

I thought either he must have 11 clubs and an Ace in a side suit, or he was insane. The latter option seemed much more likely based on my long experience of erratically minded bridge players, some of which I am proud to call my friends. So I passed waiting for partner to double for penalty, punishment and a pleasing score for us.

Left hand opponent also passed, probably as shocked as partner and I. But there were more surprises to come. My partner then bid again:

West:  6

A slam in a new suit. That’s brave, I thought. Had I encouraged partner with my Pass? Hope she doesn’t mind that I only have a Jack.  At least it was easy to know what to do when it was my turn to bid next: correct to 6 and be glad I don’t have to play it. But I never got to make that bid for now came the freakiest bid of the auction. My right hand opponent also bid again:

North:  7♣

Sure now that North had freaked out I didn’t even think of bidding 7 despite the strong signals I had got from partner’s bidding. Surely 7♣ must be a sacrifice otherwise why not bid it the first time. I decided to pass and let partner double this. My left hand opponent also passed – and so did my partner surprisingly.

Well a double would have been worse than a Pass because in fact 7♣ made.

The full hand was


♠ A Q 5

♣ A K Q 9 7 6 5 4 3 2
♠ 3
K Q 10 5 2
A K Q 7 3 2
♣ J
♠ 8 6 2
J 9 8 6 3
8 5 4
♣ 10 8
♠ K J 10 9 7 4
A 7 4
J 10 9 6


Interesting. North with only one loser and 11 tricks off the top saw that 6♣ was a good bet. Though it could be that he gets frustrated by winners in hearts or diamonds in his partner’s hand that he is not able to reach.

West, my partner has 3 losers and must have thought that North’s 6♣ would make so gives me the option of sacrificing in the red suit of my choosing. This could have caused North to think we had a small slam so in he goes at the 7 level to sacrifice on his side.

South has no trumps at all but has the only card that declarer needs to make the grand slam – the ♠K. How chic.


  1. „Le Freak“ by the band Chic, released 21st Sept 1978



The First Cut Is The Deepest

The First Bridge Game Ever Published – Probably

What was the first full bridge game ever to appear in print? Probably this one in “Bridge Abridged, or Practical Bridge” by W. Dalton which was published in 1901 (ref 1).

It is written from declarer’s perspective so initially we only see the hands of declarer “A” and dummy ”B” :

Then, after describing the play card by card in an attractive pictorial style…

…there follows the analysis (politely termed “REMARKS”) and finally the full hands of the defenders “X” and “Y” are given:


First impressions: clearly bridge hand notation has improved a bit in the last 118 years! The naming of the pairs as “A and B” versus “X and Y” was carried over from books on Whist, the grandfather game that predated Contract Bridge by half a millennium. Although it does make it clear who is partnering whom – as realistically no one would expect A to be partnering Z, except for those with  perverted minds (such as those who actually like playing Precision), the disadvantage is that it misses the sequence of play – is A before Y? Is Z after B?  Are there any other players involved named C to X? Compare with the genius adoption of the cardinal points North‑South versus East-West that we have now where, for example, it is clear that there are exactly four players and East plays after North. Even if sometimes leads to irrelevant arguments about the alignment of the seats with the true North of the bridge room.

Second, the full description of the cards that seems a bit unnecessary now, such as “Queen” instead of “Q”, and the confusing abbreviations when space runs out on the page like “Knv” for “Knave” which was the term then for Jack, now J. And do we really need all those dots and commas to link a suit to its oh-so-carefully separated cards? I don’t think so.

Back then bridge was a new game. Many features were new to Whist players and must have made it an interesting alternative. These were having a dummy (hence the reminder in the book that B’s hand is Exposed) , playing with “no trumps”, doubles, redoubles, a score that depended on the trump suit or no trumps, plus extra points for slams and chicanes.

The chicane score was for making 7 or more tricks despite having the a void in trumps in a hand, a challenge that bridge players face even today through catastrophic bidding misunderstandings although they no longer get a bonus for it.

Bridge was first seen merely as a variant of Whist and around that time there were books published that actually called it Bridge Whist (refs 3, 4).  Despite the attractions of bridge, Whist did not die immediately and books continued to be published even 5 years later when bridge was dominating the scene (ref 5).

However bridge then was quite a different game to what is played today. There was no bidding, instead the dealer was always declarer and would either choose trumps or pass the decision to his partner. Doubling and redoubling could go on and on (initially indefinitely until a rule was introduced to limit it to 100 points per trick over 6 (six tricks were known as the Book) thus preventing players being bankrupted.

Scoring was different too with spades being the lowest scoring suit at 2 points per trick over book, clubs with 4 points, diamonds with 6 points and hearts with 8 points. No Trumps was still the highest scoring and by a large margin of 12 points per trick. To make a game 30 points were required. However it didn’t matter if declarer or defenders made the tricks, the scoring was the same on either side. So as is the case today making 4 hearts or 3 No Trumps was enough for game, also two games made a rubber which scored extra points.

For the fascinating story how bridge evolved, read the excellent book The Golden Age of Contract Bridge by David Daniels (ref 2). It is out of print now but easily available second‑hand from Internet sites such as

Anyway, in current notation the hand is as follows, with South as declarer in No Trumps at any level and any vulnerability as both concepts hadn’t been invented yet. The lead was the ♥4.

North (B)
♠ J 9 8 3
♣ A 10 8 4
K 8 5 2 
West (Y)
♠ Q 5 4
Q J 9 7 6 4
♣ 5 3
7 6
East (Z)
♠ 10 7 6 2
A 8 5
♣ K 7 2
Q 10 3
South (A)
♠ A K
K 3 2
♣ Q J 9 6
A J 9 4


Nowadays, with 25 combined high card points and no 8 card major, the likely contract would be 3NT by South. Although North might have been worried about his singleton heart and South must have been alarmed too when he saw dummy.

The lead of the ♥4 from QJ9764 seems a curious choice, being neither fourth highest (which was known at the time) nor the Q from QJ9. The latter would have been my choice hoping that the 9 becomes good for example if partner leads a heart back through declarer’s 10 if he has it. However an earlier chapter of the book about “The First Lead” states that with a suit headed by QJ you should lead a small card, so this rule was being followed one assumes. It is unfortunate that it gave declarer a sure trick in hearts with the King since dummy’s singleton 10 then forced out the Ace from East.

Declarer held up the ♥K until the third round and then tried to finesse the K♣ which failed. East returned a spade which declarer won. Declarer then gave East a diamond in order to win the rest of the suit and make 9 tricks.

The point of the hand is that if declarer had won the second trick with the ♥K then when East won with the ♣K later he would still have a heart to lead back to West and they would take four tricks in hearts. An interesting point discussed in the Remarks section relates to the diamond suit, how West should not discard one at trick 8 so as to prevent a marked finesse of the Q in the East hand, and another point highlights how declarer ensures he wins the game by giving East a trick in that suit.

All in all a good hand to read about. There are 11 such hands described in the book entitled:

  • GAME I Holding up the command of your opponent’s suit
  • GAME II Illustrating the evil of the penultimate lead
  • GAME III Inference drawn from first lead
  • GAME IV Calling for a suit
  • GAME V A pretty coup which came off
  • GAME VI Doubling up to the maximum
  • GAME VII A rather light “no trump”
  • GAME VIII The only possibility of saving the game
  • GAME IX Taking the only chance of winning the game
  • GAME X Utilising a card of entry
  • GAME XI Illustrating the advantage of not opening a guarded suit up to a heart declaration

The book was rendered obsolete when Auction Bridge took over shortly before the first World War introducing the concept of bidding. However, at least for me it is a charming read all the more so for being new, after all “The First Cut is the Deepest” as Rod Stewart once sang (ref 6).


  1. DALTON, W. Bridge Abridged, 1901
  2. DANIELS, David. The Golden Age of Contract Bridge, 1980
  3. MELROSE, C. J. Bridge Whist Its Whys and Wherefores, 1901
  4. LEIGH, Lennard. Bridge Whist, 1902
  5. SHELBY, Annie Blanche. Standard Whist, 1906
  6. STEVENS Cat, “The First Cut is the Deepest”, 1967




5 Unusual Bridge Tips

Most bridge tips you see are about rules (1 to 40), the choice of bids and rebids, opening leads, or the nuances of declarer and defender play. But the ones given here are a little different and a lot simpler. One of them you can even do when you are dummy!

Here they are in no particular order:


1. Give the opponents a chance to misunderstand each other

Back in the late ‘90s an earnest young bridge player playing a tournament asked the opponents to explain each time they alerted their bids on their long complicated way to slam. They told him every detail truthfully: game-forcing bids, suit controls, numbers of aces, the location of the queen of trumps and more.

Actually they were delighted to give this information and for good reason. As my annoyed partner pointed out to me after the opps made their slam (yes dear reader, that naive player was me), my requests for information had allowed them to tell each other all about their hands, without the possibility of a bidding misunderstanding messing up their conversation to our benefit.

So the lesson I learnt was: “Don’t ask, Don’t tell”. Instead, ask for explanations of the alerted bids only when the bidding is over. (Think of it as the Three Pass Rule or Susten-Furka-Grimsel)

But do ask during the bidding if you really need to confirm some key information, for example if you are thinking of competing in a suit that they might be bidding conventionally.


2. Slow down partner, you move too fast

Ever noticed your partner as declarer failing to count trumps? Or playing the first card from the table too fast? (a popular way to make many contracts fail). What can you do about it? Reprogramming partner’s brain is not allowed in most countries, however you could try this stunt suggested by Howard Schenken:

a) When your opponent makes the opening lead you can give your partner time (and maybe even the motivation also) to count  trumps by putting them down one at a time. Slowly.

b) Take note of the card that the opponent lead and put the cards in that suit on the table last. Partner has to wait until at least then before playing the first card.

By the way if you notice your partner doing this to YOU then you might want to think about counting better and thinking longer in order to up your game.


3. Hide your shortness

Declarers would love to know how the suits will break. When you are a defender you can accidentally help them by revealing you have a singleton or perhaps a doubleton when you play a card from the extreme left or right of your hand.

To get around this, hide your short suits by putting them in the middle of your hand where the picture is much fuzzier. Might be a good idea to do this with your trumps too since that’s usually the most important suit for declarer.

It is of course not ethical to play a card very quickly when there is a choice of cards to play, nor slowly when you only have one in the suit. Don’t do it. Against even semi-competent opponents it will not be believed and probably the only person at the table you will fool will be your poor partner who, as usual, has enough problems of his own already.


4. Cover your tracks

After the game is over, don’t forget to shuffle your cards before you put them back in the tray (traveller). That way the next person to play your hand won’t get a clue what triumph (or disaster) happened when you played it.

For example picking up a hand that is already sorted into suits would give a strong indication that the deal was Passed Out previously.


5. Rouge ou Noir?

When you have a choice of equal suits to discard it doesn’t matter if one is black and one is red does it? Wrong. As long as humans continue to play bridge and not computers only then there is the potential for stupid mistakes, especially by a tired player.

Klinger suggests that if you discard a card of the same colour it may look like you have followed suit to declarer. He might then find your partner taking a trick later with a trump that he thought he had drawn.

On the other hand if you are in a situation where want to make sure partner notices you are out, then send a strong signal by discarding with the other colour: red on black or black on red.

Often it will make no difference, but as they say sometimes “desperate times call for desperate measures”.


1. Howard Schenken, 1973. The Education of a Bridge Player p46
2. Ron Klinger, 1995. 100 Winning Bridge Tips, Tip 100, 6th Edition p128

Love Potion No. 9

Players often don’t pay much attention to the 9 card. It’s not an honour card being even lower in the hierarchy than the 10. In defence it may be discarded for signalling purposes, either as a high card in standard signalling or as an odd card if you do it the Italian way.

Which is a pity because sometimes the 9 can be used to win tricks quite surprisingly. For example, imagine you are sitting South as declarer with the challenging task to make 3 tricks out of this weak suit:

Q 8 6 4
West East
A 9 5 2

Try playing a low card towards dummy’s .. 8! East is likely to win with 10 or the Jack. Later you enter dummy and run the Queen playing for East to hold the King. If West started with Jx or 10x then that honour will fall as well (also known as being “pinned” or even more graphically “smothered”).

The full hand might be something like this:

Q 8 6 4
10 3 K J 7
A 9 5 2


This technique was explained by the great Brazilian player Gabriel Chagas who termed it termed the “Intra-Finesse”.

The above example was when declarer and dummy had 8 cards in a suit. However the 9 card can also work wonders when they have just 7 cards, as in this hand

A 8 2
J 3 Q 10 7 5
K 9 6 4

Again the best line is to lead low to the 8 and let East to win with the 10. Later playing the Ace will smother West’s Jack. Finally the lead to the 9 will finesse East’s King and collect 3 tricks.

This Intra-Finesse with the 9 appeared in the Swedish Team Championships earlier this month where the contract was 6NT and this suit had to be played for one loser:

A 9 8 x x
K 10 x J x
Q x x

The books say that the best chance is to lead low towards the Queen and later play low to the Ace hoping for Kx or Kxx to be in front of it. Actually that won’t work with this hand. Instead the winning line is to play for Jx or 10x to be front of the Queen and to run the 8 or 9 to the 10. Then later to play the Queen finessing against the King and smothering the Jack/Ten at the same time.

Only one declarer, a multiple European Champion, went against the odds to play the intra-finesse (maybe due to table feel?) and made his slam.

Alert readers will have observed by now that power of the 9 depends on having the 8 as well. A way to help one to remember the potential of this might be: “Nine and Eight, Investigate

By the way it is not only declarers but defenders as well who can also make good use of the 9 card. For example there is the Surround Play you can do should you find yourself defending with this layout:



Declarer Dummy

10 x x


K J 9


Here you should lead the Jack hoping partner has the Ace. If so, then this is what will happen:

Either the Jack wins then the Ace and the King win the next two tricks.

Or the Jack is covered by the Queen and partner takes it with the Ace. Then his return of the suit ensures that your King and 9 will win since the 10 in dummy is surrounded by your hand.

So, given the power of the 9 described above, next time you find you need a little magic at the table to make your contract or to bring a declarer down, consider taking some Love Potion No 9.

References and Acknowledgements

  1. Love Finesses, Bols Bridge Tip by Gabriel Chagas (BRZ) Part 1
  2. Roland Wald, Danish grand master, commentator on Bridge Base Online Vu graph games, and Bridge teacher
  3. „Love Potion No 9“, song by Leiber and Stoller written I 1959, and performed by The Clovers, The Searchers, the Tygers of Pan Tang and others.

Liar, Liar!

Liar Liar
„Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!“ The other day, I lied to partner not once but twice in one game. It caused me some anxious moments I can tell you. This was the hand I picked up as dealer:

One’s first priority is of course to open 1NT, and at first sight this hand with 15 high card points and an acceptably even distribution looked good for that.

However, ever the pessimist, before I went ahead I had another look at my cards. My doubleton Spade Queen Jack was not good news. In the worst case they could be obliterated by the opponents Ace and King.

I did have a five card suit in Clubs as a source to develop tricks, true, but it was missing the top honours and could be hard to set up after an expected battering in Spades.

Also five of my seven high cards were Queens and Jacks which are known to be over‑valued in the points system (and so termed derisively as “Quacks” by some players).

That’s why, against my rule-abiding nature, I decided to open with 1 Club.

1. First Offence: Not opening 1NT
I accepted that that this opening may lead to me underbidding my hand, but thought “Partner knows I am a cautious type and will compensate”. Then thought “Wait a minute, I am playing funbridge on the Internet, and partner is a Robot”.
As usual partner responded with a bid I didn’t want to hear : 1 Heart.
Now what? I still didn’t want to bid 1NT, didn’t have a 4 card second suit to bid, and didn’t want to rebid my feeble Clubs either.
So I bid 2 Hearts as the least worst option.

2. Second Offence: Supporting with less than 4 cards
Thinking, OK I only have three but they do include the Ace and the Ten, so hopefully partner won’t mind. Actually also hoping partner will Pass and bring an end to this series of lies.

In football I would have been shown the red card and be walking off for an early shower by now. However this is Bridge and you have to stay to share the pain.

Partner continued mercilessly with 2NT showing a game going hand with slam interest.

Thinking I must have got the Robot overheated I decided it was time to calm it down and end the bidding by signing off in 4H.
But the Robot was only playing with me and went to 4NT. Playing Roman Key Card Blackwood my two aces obliged me to reply 5 Hearts with the faint hope that we would stop there but no, partner went on bid 6H triumphantly. Was is it with Robots these days that they behave so rowdily?

To recap the bidding went as follows (my interpretations):

1. Oh Dear
2. Oh No
3. Oh God

If I had a human partner then when I put my hand on the table I would have had some explaining to do about my short Hearts. The good news was that it was funbridge so I didn’t have make excuses. The bad news was that it was funbridge so the hands were rotated and I had to play the mess myself.

The Ace of Clubs was lead by East and I could see that I was playing this 16 point hand as declarer:

One blessing I thought after that lead, now my King of Clubs will stand up. Another blessing followed when East followed with another club on which West inexplicably played the Queen to the bare King.

This defensive error set up my clubs with a discard on which to dump my losing Spade (although as it happens the King of Spades was onside so I could have run the Queen through it, if my nerves had been strong enough).

Slam was made somewhat fortunately with combined 31 high card points and 7 trumps, thanks to us having all the trump honours and a break no worse than 4-2.
The full hands were:

As this was a funbridge challenge I could see what my challenger did. She opened 1NT and, after Stayman, her Robot partner drove her to a 6NT slam which went down 1 on a Heart lead from West. A gain of 17 IMPs to me. Truly fortune favours the wicked.


Talking Italian

It’s always useful to know another language. If partner and I could have been “talking Italian” with our hands in a recent tournament at Quodlibet then, although Robert De Niro might not have been waiting for us as well as for Bananarama, we would surely have avoided a big fat zero.

This was the hand, no prizes for guessing which pair bid 6 Spades and went down one:


I was dealer sitting East (normally my lucky seat) and bidding between me and partner went as follows with the opponents passing throughout:

1S – 2C – 4S(1) – 4NT(2) – 5C(3) – 6S(4)

  • Nice 15 point hand with only 5 losers, Spades that should be solid, and a lovely single Ace of Hearts. Partner’s 2 bid shows she has 10+ pts. I hope she has 1 or 2 Spades and game should be there. A bit hasty of me though to go straight to 4 as we will see…
  • Roman key card Blackwood 3041 where the King of trumps is the 5th “ace”
  • 3 key cards (hoping she doesn’t ask about the Queen of Spades as we hadn’t discussed this detail)
  • With 4 of the 5 key cards between us what could possibly go wrong?

The opponents wasted no time getting us down. South made the killing lead of a Diamond, which was really brave of her as it was under her King. A lead in any another suit would have allowed the slam to make as I would happily draw trumps and throw all my losing Diamonds on the Clubs and Hearts.

North played the Ace of Diamonds and I desperately tried to persuade her to switch suits by dropping my Jack. No chance, back came another Diamond to the King and the contract was down one right away.

Now if partner and I had been control-showing cue bids the Italian way (and if I had been a little more patient – always a big ask), then, with the 2/1 system our bidding would have gone as follows:

1S – 2C(1) – 3S(2) – 4C(3) – 4H(4) – 5S(5) – Pass

  • Playing “2 over 1” so game forcing
  • Jump rebid showing a strong hand and setting the game in Spades
  • In this method shows interest in slam with an Italian cue bid promising control in Clubs (i.e. Ace, King or void). These cue bids are made “up the line” i.e lowest controlled suit first, so here Clubs are mentioned before Hearts.
  • Shows my Heart control
  • As cue bids are “up the line” partner now knows Diamonds are not controlled and exits us safely at the 5 level.

So although the classic Losing Trick Count (LTC) evaluates our hands as worth 14 (!) tricks or, alternatively, the New Losing Trick Count evaluates them to be 12 tricks, there is no Diamond control so we must not be tempted to bid slam.

At least we knew enough Italian for our signalling when defending the next hand.


  1. „Robert De Niro’s Waiting…“, song by Bananarama released 20 February 1984 with the line “Talking Italian”.
  2. Control Bidding – the “Italian” method
  3. Losing Trick Count –

What Would You Decide To Do?

Playing online bridge in BBO the other day I was impressed that my partner made the right decisions in this game.

Sitting West, all vulnerable, he picked up these cards:
♠ KQ963



♣ AJ8764

South was the dealer and passed. The first big decision my partner had was to bid or not to bid.

Although some might pass this hand with only 11 high card points and the weak long card suit, there are these good reasons to open:
• It meets the “Rule of 20”. Adding the number of high card points to the lengths of the two longest suits totals 20 or more.
• Two nice singletons means no more than two losers in the red suits – if partner doesn’t drive you into a No Trump contract
• The points are working. They are consolidated in the long suits, not scattered nor in singletons.
• After opening 1 Spade there is a good rebid possible in Clubs
• It’s Spades, stupid. Will prevent the opponents bidding a suit at the 1 level.

Partner, who is an aggressive guy (and not only in Bridge), did indeed open 1 Spade, and became declarer when the bidding went to 4 Spades.

North lead the Ace of Diamonds and I put this hand on the table:
♠ 742



♣ K

I thought 4 Spades would be no problem as I was providing 13 high card points and we had an 8+ card Spade fit. However declarer saw that it’s not as easy as it seems. The full hand was:

Thinking about losing tricks immediately, as you should, declarer saw the nice AK of Hearts opposite his singleton, but unfortunately it was no longer possible to throw a loser as the opponents had already got their Diamond trick. Similarly there is nothing worthwhile to throw away from the table on clubs.

After the Ace of Diamonds won, North played the King which declarer ruffed. Declarer then lead a small club which not only unblocked the club suit but allowed him to lead a Spade to his KQ next.

North took the Queen with the Ace of Spades and lead a Heart.

The second big decision declarer had was whether to play the Jack of Hearts or not. Which was linked to the next decision whether to develop tricks in Hearts or Clubs. The two suits are almost identical both with seven cards between the hands and containing AKJ.

Speaking for Hearts was the possibility to finesse the Queen as was offered now, and with AK in the same hand, no need to go “Hin und Her” to set up the suit. Speaking for Clubs was that the ruffs will happen in the hand short in trumps, a Good Thing. Also that the long suit is in declarer’s hand not on the table, so easier to access once the dust has settled from drawing trumps and establishing the suit.

My partner took the right decision to play on Clubs. He played the Ace of hearts and lead another Spade to his King which dropped the Jack in the North hand.

He then played the Ace of Clubs, was pleased to see the Queen drop, then lead another club which he ruffed in dummy and South over-ruffed with the opponents’ last trump.

The defenders now had 3 tricks but nowhere to go to get the contract down. Whatever South leads, declarer can ruff in hand and play the Jack of clubs to take North’s remaining club the 10. Declarer’s last two clubs and the last trump take the last tricks.

My partner decided to torment the opponents a bit longer though because he’s that sort of person. When South lead a Diamond he did not ruff but won with the Queen on the table, played the King of Hearts and only then ruffed in hand to pull the last club and claim.

The good score rewarded his good decisions. Looking at the results of the other players, only one other pair made 4 Spades, three pairs went 2 down and one went 3 down. Others went down in 3 No Trumps or 4 Hearts.

“Well played partner”, I typed in Chat. But he was already busy thinking about beating up the opponents in the next hand.

26 Types of Bridge Players That You May Know

Part 2: Types 14 to 26
Following on from the first 13 types of bridge players already described, these are the remaining 13 that may already be familiar to you:

14. The Mean Player
Mean with money or scores, this is the player that quits as soon as he is ahead, without giving his opponents a sporting chance to recover their losses. He doesn’t realise it is not a profitable strategy for him because he will keep on playing when he is on a losing streak. When he is ahead but has to keep playing as in a tournament or team game he stops concentrating or showboats, much to the frustration of partner or his team mates.
Tip: If he is your opponent and is losing, then encourage him to continue and even suggest he takes a “double or quits” approach back to profitability.

15. The Man who takes his Pound of Flesh
Shakespeare doesn’t mention if Shylock was a bridge player. However at the card table there are merchants, if not from Venice, who are merciless in demanding punishment for even the most unimportant of rules violations, and so take joy in frequent cries of “Director!”. Naturally any leeway you give to such a player when he breaks the rules is not acknowledged.
Tip: Be on your toes to avoid incidents and tell the player himself when he breaks a rule. Since those that give it out rarely like getting it back.

16. The Unobservant Player
We may all be seen as an unobservant player at times; since the cards that you hold give you a unique view, what is blindingly obvious from one person’s perspective can be a total mystery from another’s. However some cases can be avoided such as being either unwilling or unable to make coherent suit preference signals to partner when defending, not realising that both declarer and dummy are void in a suit so that leading it will provide a gift-wrapped present of a ruff and discard, or not being suspicious of a suit that the opponents have made into a Trojan Horse should you touch it.
Tip: Keep your eye on the ball!

17. The Litigious Player
We often meet the litigious player. He is the one that loves an argument. Not only with his opponents over an infringement of the rules, real or imagined, but also with his partner usually over interpretation of a detail of their bidding system.
Tip: As he is fuelled by dispute, if you choose not to engage he will soon run out of steam.

18. The Good Bad Player
A good bad player may seem to be lucky at bridge in that he does not always follow the rules that experience has shown will lead to best chance of maximising his trick count. However he makes up for this by a good appreciation of the hands and in avoiding unpleasant surprises. As declarer he is happy to cash his tricks for game rather than risk all for an over-trick. As defender he will never be caught with an unplayed ace or king in hand at the end.
Tip: If he is your partner then relax and let him do his thing.

19. The Bad Good Player
This is a person who undoubtedly plays well but does not always score well. How can this be? The reason is although he never makes terrible errors, he does not have a good feel of when to be bold and when to be cautious. He will make a game plan but nor change it when warning signs appear. He tries too hard to show his skill so that when there are two ways of finishing a game he will usually choose the most complicated.
Tip: Enjoy having him as a reliable partner and give some hints on card awareness now and then

20. The Man with the Pre-occupied Mind
It is good policy for whatever you are supposed to be doing that you do give it all of you attention when you are doing it. Nothing is more annoying than to see your partner take his eye off the ball for no reason so that he fails to make a cold contract, or a fail-safe defence. It is even insulting when your partner is a good player and makes mistake after mistake only to excuse himself by saying he was thinking of something else.
Tip: Tell your partner what great player he would be if would care to concentrate!

21. The Popular Player
This player is skilled in the art of making partner pleased. He never, never, never blames partner. Instead he uses phrases like “Perhaps it would have been better..” and “I think you are right partner” (when he knows partner is wrong). He feels bad teaching partner how to play better, and indeed since bridge is a partnership game, keeping the union happy goes a long way to getting good results.
Tip: While you may not always believe him he is certainly a pleasant person to be with.

22. The Unpopular Player
The unpopular play is easy to identify. Basically he is an excellent player in a club otherwise consisting of average players and he is a person who gives his analysis of others defects frequently and loudly. Understandably, this information is not always welcomed.
Tip: Maybe the best comment is “Partner I hate to say this but… …you are right”

23. The Undependable Player
This one keeps you guessing. Seemingly incapable of following a system you wonder how he deals with all the other areas of his life. His cards are a mystery to all other players including partner. Reminds one of the story of the pair having terrible results and when the man had to go to the WC his partner remarked “Well at least now I know what he is holding in his hand”.
Tip: don’t worry making mistakes yourself as either he will not notice or not remember.

24. The Superstitious Player
Superstition manifests itself in bridge in a variety of forms. One player may have a favourite seat (mine is East) which may depend on the way the wind is blowing. I read of a player who thought it unlucky to hold the four of clubs and conversely another who was always happy to pick up the ten of hearts. Quite common is the horror of being declarer in a no trump contract as possibly the psychological damage of previous disasters can be permanent.
Tip: Do whatever works for you.

25. The Selfish Player
A selfish person is easily detected after a few hands of bridge. This is a person who seems to consider a trick won by him is worth two won by his partner. He’s hurt if a trick in his hand is sacrificed even though it lets the partnership win two tricks. As by not discarding his high cards in the suit you are running he will often block it.
Tip: Be patient and maybe he will see the benefits of a sharing, equal partnership.

26. The Inspired Player
The inspired player is a partner who has an amazingly accurate picture of your hand while you are playing it and a very good understanding of how the hands will work together. He is not fooled by opponent’s false cards nor mislead by those done by his partner. As well as knowing exactly how much to trust partner’s skill or lack of it he knows the rules and, more importantly, when to break them.
Tip: If such a person is your partner then hang onto him!

Conclusion: we all have our little ways and do things that are in our nature. Most of us are unwilling or unable to break our habits. But it is hoped that knowing what type of player you are yourself as well as the others you meet the bridge table will bring some amount of tolerance and enjoyment to your games.

26 Types of Bridge Players That You May Know – Part 1: Types 1 to 13

Excitable, crafty or just unlucky? These are types of bridge players that you have undoubtedly met already.
Every card player has a certain style. The styles are very different but you do tend to see the same types again and again.
Over 100 years ago a list of 26 types was proposed in a book on Whist (The Art of Practical Whist, General Drayson, 4th Ed. 1886).
They still apply to bridge today – see if you recognize them in others or indeed in yourself.

1. The Old-Fashioned Player
This player learnt bridge in the ‘80s, and thinks that’s all he needs to know. He is not interested in any changes that have happened to the game since then. A diehard Refusenik who treats such new‑fangled things as the Rule of 20, seven card fits and even Weak Twos with disgust.
Tip: If he is your opponent then throw all the new stuff you know at him and watch the shock and awe begin.

2. The Young Player
He may not be young in years but is inexperienced in the great game of bridge. Such players can be divided into two classes: the humble and the arrogant. The humble ones actually listen to advice and act on it to become a welcomed partner and feared opponent. The arrogant ones will argue, ignore any hints and tips and even worse, lecture other players on what they should have done.
Tip: If he is your opponent then encourage him to stay in his seat by sympathizing with his “bad luck”. Your percentages are guaranteed to rise steadily.

3. The Player Who Has Never Read a Bridge Book
The player who has never read a bridge book will usually tell you this proudly, but if he has not then you will find out very soon from his bids and play. He skipped the slow learning process that the masses have followed and has taught himself everything believing that he is excellent.
Tip: As when spotting a self-taught skier on the piste, one’s safest action is to put as much distance between you and him as possible.

4. The Book Player
This player has a Bible and that is his bridge book. He will never stray from the divine path. He’d rather go down playing by the book than make a contract by breaking a rule. On one hand he is a good reliable partner but on the other hand everyone (including the opponents) will get a very clear picture of his hand. Favourite saying is “Read the Book, Read the Book”.
Tip: If he is your partner then have faith and read the book (there is no other option).

5. The One Who Only Plays For Fun
This player is someone with an over-developed sense of self-esteem who will struggle hard to prevent it being in any way lessened. So when making a mistake at bridge he will claim he only plays for fun. Which is rather rude, as it implies others are making a business out the game whereas it is below him “like a philosopher playing at marbles” and he would of course be a good player if only he bothered.
Tip: Tell him you’d appreciate him finding his fun elsewhere.

6. The Crafty Player
Treasured as a partner and feared as an opponent, this player delights in playing in deceptive ways. For him each trick stolen is twice as sweet. Misleading bids, extra deep finesses, and underleading Aces are all meat and drink to him. Good at estimating player’s ability, his craftiness even goes as far to not pointing out defects in his partner’s play – in case his partner will be an opponent in a future tournament.
Tip: Be prepared for a frenzy of false carding that misleads opponents and partner alike.

7. The Great Card Holder
Although we know in our heart of hearts that the cards really are dealt randomly and so no-one will consistently get better cards than anyone else, there do exist players with the reputation of holding a good hand. This is because they play so well that they win more with good cards and lose less with bad cards. If you are envious of their ability then some consolation may be had from informing them of the saying “lucky in cards unlucky in love”.
Tip: Try to get this unloved person to be your partner.

8. The Unlucky Player
As this player cannot accept his poor results are down to bad play he fervently believes he is a victim of the invisible power called bad luck. Even when a finesse fails it is not by chance but due to bad luck working against him. Although this can be a satisfying philosophy that attaches no blame to his level of intelligence or skill, since believing in it gives him no hope of ever getting good results, one wonders why he continues to play at all.
Tip: Cheer up this unfortunate by telling him he must be lucky in love.

9. The Bridge Authority
Every bridge club has at least one person who has assumed the role of the expert and is fond of dispensing his wisdom – often unasked, usually to his hapless partner but sometimes to the opponents as well. It can be quite painful to observe such scenes especially when the advice given is quite wrong. An intelligent bridge authority will in fact keep his winning knowledge to himself and his regular partner and not share it with the opponents to their advantage (as will the Crafty Player).
Tip: Be respectful of his advice but be careful following it, especially if he is not winning regularly.

10. The Excitable Player
An excitable player is a dangerous partner. His mood infects all at the table: you are excited (actually highly stressed) about what on earth he will do next, and the opponents are excited about their good likelihood of getting extraordinarily high scores. You’ll see: rapidly escalating bidding, hasty leads, overlooking significant actions by the opponents, and playing a card too soon – all are just some of the many signs that you’ve got a wild one facing you.
Tip: If he is your partner then slip some Valium into his tea during the tournament break.

11. The Slow Player
No player drains one’s energy more than this one. Presumably a believer of the fable of the Hare and the Tortoise he peers out of his shell at the dealt hand with great suspicion. And if you thought he took an age to pick up and sort his cards, just wait until he plays them. And wait some more. It is hard not to believe that his long and meaningless delays (e.g. which card to play when it is a singleton) are not a tactic to drive the opponents to distraction so that they deliberately lose their tricks just to finish the game.
Tip: Take the Valium yourself.

12. The Player Who Won’t Learn
When a disaster happens, as it always does at least once in a tournament, this player does not want to know why nor discuss how to prevent it happening again. Like the Bourbons of whom it was said “they have forgotten nothing and learned nothing” he may push back by claiming you made an equally awful mistake in a previous tournament, as if that in any way justified what he has done.
Tip: Adopt a “No Comment” policy – leave it to the Bridge Authority to further his education

13. The Player with a Bad Memory
Possibly the most exasperating partner to have is this one who seems incapable of counting to 13, remembering what was lead or been played, and is fond of an extra round of trumps “just to make sure”. Favourite saying is “Well, I thought that…” closely followed by “Sorry”.
Tip: Screaming at partner will not improve his memory. Instead try to prevent him from being declarer or present him with a hopefully foolproof defence.

Coming in part 2 are the 13 remaining types of players including “The Good Bad Player”, “The Bad Good Player” and “The Man with the Pre-occupied Mind”….