Teaching Stories

By Eddie Kantar Eddie Kantar

Courtesy of KantarBridge.com

A student in class has xxx facing AQJ in dummy.  She leads low and puts in the jack, which holds. She plays the ace next.  Teacher asks why she didn’t take the finesse again?  She says:  “You told us that only one out of two finesses work.”

Before I teach a class at Leisure World, a retirement community in Southern California, I am told not to use the term “drop dead bid”. 

I am called over to a table by one of my students who tells me she only has 12 cards. Sure enough she is right.  I look around and find the A on the floor and give it to her.  She was previously void in spades. Now she says to me:  “You’ve ruined my entire hand.” 

A lady and her partner take my counting lesson and then play in the duplicate that follows.  After the game she tells me that they both loved the lesson and they had a big game finishing 2nd overall.  They are now both so excited that they are going to start counting next week.

John Gerber tells his beginning class that after the first series of 10 lessons he will play a few hands with the best table. So the series is over and he picks out the best table and deals the first hand playing with his star pupil. He opens 1NT and his partner replies “2 no spades”. 

I give a lesson on preemptive bidding and then call off a hand.  The class divides the cards.  The South hand is suppposed to have seven hearts, but North winds up with the 7 hearts and 20 cards and South winds up with no hearts and 6 cards.  South calls me over and says:  “Mr. Kantar, I have never seen a hand like this before.”  But she is happy because she likes to count points for short suits.  North, on the other hand, is having trouble holding on to all 20 cards and they are falling over the place.  But North is even happier than South because North likes to count extra points for long suits.  I finally had to tell them what happened. 

Peter Leventritt, a famous bridge player, is teaching a beginning class at the Card School in New York.   It is now the fifth lesson and one of the regulars is sick.  Peter is forced to ask this fellow in the class, who has not said one word since day one and is only there because his girlfriend bugged him to try to learn the game, to fill in. Actually, he is a poker player. Reluctantly the fellow sits down and is given a set hand that Peter uses to teach beginners. The fellow has 14 HCP and a nice five-card heart suit, and everyone is waiting for him to bid something. Silence.  Peter asks him how many points he has?  Silence. Well, Peter teaches him how to count points and says you have to open something. Silence.  Peters says, “It’s okay — open anything you want.”  The guys says “Okay, I’ll open for a dollar.” 

In a beginner’s class I had a lady who when playing a hand was afraid to lead any suit in which she didn’t have the ace.  Finally, she had to lead up to a KJ combination and was petrified. I tried to explan to her that if she thought the ace was to her left to play the king and if she thought the ace was to her right to play the jack.  Finally, finally she leads up to the KJ and is afraid to play either one.  I said:  “Play whichever one you want, but just tell me what you are hoping for.” 

“Okay,  I’ll play the king.”

“Great, and what are you hoping for?” 

“I’m hoping they make a mistake.” 

One lady in my class can only play by rhymes.  These are her favorites:  

(1) When the dummy is to your right, lead the weakest suit in sight. 

(2) When the dummy is to your left, lead through heft. 

(3) Don’t be cute, lead partner’s suit. 

(4) The lead of top of three small is worst of all.  

(5) The one who knows, goes. 

(6) You will lose face if you underlead an ace.

A lady phones me and asks me if I can teach her mother and her friends starting in mid-November. I tell her I can’t until January. She says: “Never mind, they won’t last that long.”

A lady (West) leads the king from the KQ102 in one of my classes. Dummy has the 543, her partner the 987 and declarer the AJ6.  The idea is for East to play the seven, South the 6, and for West to realize that the 7 is partner’s lowest card and discontinue the suit.  Of course this never happens in my classes. But this one lady switched suits.  I asked her why she switched?  She said:  “I’ve had this lesson before.”

While I’m teaching a signaling lesson, West leads the ace (ace-from ace-king), dummy has Qxx and third hand has 9x.  I tell them that third hand should start a high-low with the 9, the higher card from a doubleton. One lady asks: “How will my partner know it is my highest card — what if I have a ten or an eleven?” 

Patrick Jourdain, a famous bridge player and teacher from Wales is called over to a table at one of his classes where a hand has just been passed out, but 4th hand had 17 high card points.

“So why did you pass?” asks Patrick.

“Because you told us after three passes the bidding is over, so I had to pass.”

More Patrick:  Again he is called over to a table and this time a lady tells him that she has opened 1 and there have been three passes back to her so this time she bid 2.  Again there were three passes back to her, but this time she wants to know if she is worth 3

I’m teaching a class on counting losers and how to get rid of them. I ask a gal in the class how many losers she has, and she replies correctly that she has three. “And what are you going to do with them?” I ask. 

“Lose them right away so I don’t have to worry about them any longer.”

And she was one of my best students!