Better Basic Bridge: Some of the earliest memories of the game of bridge

Nancy Evins • Updated Apr 23, 2017 at 6:00 PM

I had often watched my parents play bridge with friends. When I was a small child, I remember sitting on someone’s lap and asking, “What are you trying to build?” as they swept up their tricks and played them in a row in front of them.

In my late teens, my parents began to instruct me in the rudiments and, believe me, they were rudiments.

I was told to count points and add extra points for voids, singletons and doubletons.

I should open all 13-point hands. When I found out my distributional points were of no value since so many times I was short in their suit, no one told me what I should do.

I opened what looked like the strongest suit even if it were a four-card major. And if the major was accompanied by another major, I ignored it if it wasn’t as strong in points and paid no attention to distribution if the shorter major were the stronger.

I did not know there was a point limit to overcalls.

I did not know you couldn’t bid the same suit you have fallen in love with as many times as you wanted.

Every double was considered a penalty. What other choices did one have?

I thought that holding something like Q 5 4 2 in dummy and A 6 7 8 in hand, you could finesse to find the king of the suit. It didn’t occur to me that playing the queen was still only giving me one trick no matter which opponent held the king.

I thought playing a card in the suit I wanted led, when I was out of whatever suit was led at the time, was exactly what I should do. It did baffle me when the suit I wanted led was something like A K Q J, so I would have to play one of them to get my partner’s attention.

I knew nothing about giving count when my partner was opening the defense.

If I held the ace doubleton and my partner led the king of that suit, indicating he had the queen, I had no thought of overtaking his king with my ace and returning the lead so that I am either setting up his suit or setting up a possible trump trick for our side.

My mother told me when she led a certain suit and I got into the lead later, I should always return her suit “unless void or dead.” I am still alive, but she sure got finessed many times.

I remember playing in a large tournament in Gatlinburg many years ago with my husband and against another husband-wife partnership. The husband bid no trump, my husband passed, and the wife bid two hearts. I immediately bid my five-card spade suit, only to have the other husband turn to me and say, ”she is transferring,” meaning she had at least five spades. Even though he should have said, “transfer” immediately after her bid, I stubbornly said, “I still say spades.

Ignorance is seldom bliss.

Nancy Evins, of Lebanon, is a certified bridge instructor. Email her at [email protected]


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