Humor from the Experts

By Eddie Kantar Eddie Kantar

Courtesy of

The real test of a bridge player isn’t in keeping out of trouble, but in escaping once he’s in it.   
-Alfred Sheinwold 

One advantage of bad bidding is that you get practice at playing atrocious contracts. 
-Alfred Sheinwold 

It’s not the handling of difficult hands that makes the winning player. There aren’t enough of them. It’s the ability to avoid messing up the easy ones. 
-S. J. Simon  

The sum of all technical knowledge cannot make a master bridge player. 
-Ely Culbertson. 

I’m not sure whether glory or masterpoints is first on the list of beginning tournament players, but I know learning to play better is definitely last.   

Regardless of what sadistic impulses we may harbor, winning bridge means helping partner avoid mistakes. 
-Frank Stewart   

A player who can’t defend accurately should try to become declarer (or dummy). 
-Alfred Sheinwold 

Learn from the mistakes of others. You won’t live long enough to make them all yourself. 
-Alfred Sheinwold. 

I favor light opening bids. When you’re my age, you can never be sure that the bidding will get back around to you again.
-Oswald Jacoby at age 77. 

I’d like a review of the bidding with all of the original inflections.
-George Kaufman

John Crawford playing with a beginner for huge stakes. Partner leads the SxK and Crawford has the 1098.  He doesn’t want partner to continue, but knows if he plays the 8 he will. So Crawford drops the Sx8 on the floor and is slow about picking it up. His partner asks what card is it?  “Oh, just a low spade” says Crawford. Partner shifts suits.

P. Hal Sims a great expert of yesteryear had the reputation of never misguessing a queen in a two-way finesse position.  He finds himself playing against two ladies missing a queen and finally announces that neither one of them has it.  Sure enough the queen was on the floor. 

Alvin Roth, a very ethical player, is defending 7NT, vulnerable, in a money rubber bridge game where the declarer reduces to a three-card ending.  Dummy has the Axx of spades and declarer the KJ10.   The lead is in declarer’s hand and he leads the SxJ.   Second hand has xxx and Roth Qxx.  Second hand goes into an act trying to make declarer think he has the queen and finally plays low. Declarer, taken in by the hesitation, also plays low.  Roth, holding the queen, also plays low allowing the jack to take the trick and the declarer to make 7NT.  When Roth’s partner asks him why he didn’t take the SxQ,  Roth says:  “Because I thought you had it!” 

Helen Sobel, reputedly the greatest woman bridge player of all time, and a chorus girl in her younger days, seldom, if ever, misguessed a queen in a slam contract when she was playing against two men. Her trick was to lift her skirt a little above her knees.   It never failed that the one with the queen was too nervous to look around, but the one without the queen always looked. That’s how she did it. I tell the ladies in my classes not to try this one on me because whether I have the queen or not, I always look! 

Helen Sobel when asked how it felt to be playing with an expert (she always played with Charles Goren) said:  “Ask Charlie”.

Howard Schenken never made a hand in a Truscott column.  They were not on such good terms.  Ditto with Stayman and Goren. In the Goren columns, a 2Cx response to 1NT was never referred to as Stayman.  It was always ‘the two club convention’. 

Bobby Wolff is playing with a client who has just driven a long distance to play in this tournament with Bobby. On the first hand Bobby cashes the AK of a suit, his partner playing high-low and when he leads the third round of the suit she doesn’t trump. When Bobby asks her why she didn’t trump, she says:  “Bobby, I was just too tired.”

Count your winners and count your losers. If the total doesn’t come to 13, count your cards.  –Alfred Sheinwold)