Better Basic Bridge: A lady, her daughter, a visitor and a man...cheaters?

Nancy Evins • Updated Sep 17, 2017 at 2:00 PM

In party bridge, one doesn’t play with the same partner. “Tallies” are given out, which tell you who your next partner will be the next round.

Since bridge clubs usually have one or more couples who can’t come each time, substitutes are invited.

When it was my turn to have the club, I sometimes invited my parents to come for a visit and be the fill-in pair. Women were paired with the other husbands and vice versa.

After this particular game was over, my mother laughed and told what her partner told her as they prepared to play.

“If I bid ‘uh’ club, that means I don’t really have clubs, but if I say ‘a’ club, it means I do.”

For those who don’t play bridge and wonder why anyone would bid when they don’t have that suit, it is done when the distribution is 4/4/2/3. You can’t bid either of the majors and must have four diamonds to bid them. So you have to start out with what is called the “short club.” However, if the distribution is 4/4/3/2, you have to bid diamonds since you can’t open a bid with only two. There is an exception to this. Partner of bidder of one club must alert and say, “It may be short.”

This is one reason bidding boxes are so nice. He would have had to pull out the club card and say not a word. He is a cheater.

The worst scenario was at one of my mother’s clubs.

A lady was playing with a young visitor. My mother had told me not to ever double any member because it would make them nervous. Fortunately, she was not at my table when I so gleefully doubled them three times.

They had bid one suit several times when the young visitor bid four no-trump as played by Goren and those in his day.

The lady bid five hearts to show two aces. I happily doubled and the lady said to her partner, “that doesn’t mean I have hearts.” The girl nodded and bid five no-trump, and the lady responded with the answer of how many kings she had. I cheerfully doubled again.

Then the visitor bid the slam and I, in my cheerful state of mind, doubled again, and the visitor suddenly looked horrified and started resorting her cards obviously showing she had mixed them incorrectly.

The lady who had been playing for years and should have known better, said, “Let’s just start over.”

And since my dear mother wasn’t at the table, I said, ”Sorry, but I have doubled.”

The visitor probably didn’t know that you can’t express any emotion but was still a cheater. 

The lady was cheating by announcing certain bids didn’t mean she held cards in that suit. Plus it is childlike to want to start over.

But one thing I’m not sure about. This lady and her daughter doubled each other every time they were opponents. It had to be a private agreement, but it meant one or the other would win…whether the mother was doubled, giving a big score to the daughter, or vice versa.

I sometimes thought they just didn’t know enough about the game, and they were just clever.

Sometimes cheaters win. And that is why I gave up party bridge for duplicate.

So don’t lie; don’t steal; don’t cheat. 

The government hates competition.

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


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