Bridge Stories from the Classroom

By Eddie KantarAuthor picture

Posted: 2012-09-07

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  A under the table and give it to her. “Now you’ve gone and ruined my whole hand”, she tells me.

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 1  opening bid with 2  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.

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:  874  K4  J543  943 and found herself on lead against 4. 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 1  to 3  shows spade support with an unknown singleton; ditto for 1 – 3 . 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:  AKQxx  9xx  xxx  QJ
I have:  AKQ10xxx  AKxx  xx

Mike opens 1 and I forget our agreement and jump to 3. Mike alerts and announces that I have spade support with an unknown singleton. He then bids 4 having no interest in my singleton is. I bid 5. He alerts and says that I have spade support with a heart void! He then bids 6. I bid 7 . He alerts and says that they should cancel all previous alerts. They lead a diamond and I make 7. We did not have one kibitzer left after that hand.

Two great players, both good friends of mine from England, Robert Sheehan and Jonathan Cansino, have a terrible game. Of course each thinks it is the other’s fault. Finally Sheehan hands Jonathan a tiny piece of blank paper and says, “Here Jonathan, write down everything you know about bridge.” Johnthan replies, “Well, it’s a bigger piece of paper than I would have given you.”

Don Krauss and Roger Bates wind up in 7NT after bidding hearts. Bates forgets and thinks he is in 7. 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  K (king from ace-king) and John has the  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  8 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 ’30s, was reputed never to have misguessed 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.

I ask my friend John Levinson for a tip. He says he never preempts against weak players because it takes away all those levels that they could be using to confuse themselves.”

Playing with Mike Lawrence we arrive at 6. 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.”

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.”