Classic Classroom Moments

By Eddie KantarWoman Laughing

Posted: 2013-08-13

Originally published on

I give a lesson on preemptive bidding and then call off a hand. The class divides the cards. The South hand is supposed to have seven hearts, but North winds up with the seven hearts and 20 cards and South winds up with 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!

In a beginner’s class I had a lady who when playing a hand was afraid to lead any suit that didn’t have the ace. Finally, she had to lead up to a KJ combination and was petrified. I tried to explain 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 led up to the KJ and was afraid to play either one. I said, “Play whichever one you want, but just tell me what you are hoping for.” “O.K I’ll play the king,” she replies. “And what are you hoping for?” I ask. “I’m hoping they make a mistake.”

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 who has not said one word since day one and is only there because his girlfriend begged him to try to learn the game. Reluctantly the fellow sits and is given a set hand that Peter uses to teach beginners. The fellow has 14 HCP and five hearts 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. Peter says, “It’s o.k., open anything you want.” The guys says, “O.K., I’ll open for a dollar.”

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

  • When the dummy is to your right, lead the weakest suit in sight.
  • When the dummy is to your left, lead through heft.
  • Don’t be cute, lead partner’s suit.
  • The lead of top of three small is worst of all.
  • The one who knows, goes.
  • You will lose face if you underlead an ace.

Teaching a signaling lesson, partner 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 the highest card, maybe third hand has a ten or an eleven.”