Nancy Evins: I’d rather be declarer than kibitzer

Nancy Evins • Updated May 8, 2016 at 4:00 PM

A kibitzer is defined as one who looks and often offers unwanted comments and opinions.

It is derived from the Yiddish term that came from a German word, kiebitzen, meaning to look at cards.

Synonyms are “buttinsky” and “interferer and interloper.”  

In the bridge world a kibitzer is simply someone who sits by one player and looks at his hand. In our country the rule is that he cannot look at anyone else’s hand and he mustn’t speak or show any sign of emotion, no matter what goes on.

When I played in an international game in Iceland many years ago, however, I was surprised that several people would watch and circle the table so that they could see everyone’s hand.

My partner had convinced me that she understood the conventions we agreed to use. I am naïve and easily fooled.

We grew quite a crowd around our table when she gave answers to the questions opponents may ask. “What does her bid mean?” That can be asked only of the partner of the one making the bid.

I was as intrigued as everyone at the table, hearing things I had never heard before. The director was called so often I thought he might as well just draw up a chair if he could find an opening.

Though the kibitzer may not talk as the bidding is going on, unfortunately there is no rule about carrying on a conversation between hands.

I do believe there was quite a bit of talking a few weeks ago as we sorted this hand.

My partner was North, the kibitzer sat between him and East, so I guess you could say she was playing North/East.


(S) A Q J 8 6

(H) A

(D) Q J 10 9 6

(C) 9 3


(S) K 9 3

(H) J 10 8 2

(D) 7 5 3 2

(C) A J


(S) 10 7 5 4

(H) K 9 3

(D) A K 8

(C) K 4 2


(S) 2

(H) Q 7 6 5 4

(D) 4

(C) Q 10 8 7 6 5

East passes, and I make the only correct bid…one club. West passes, and partner bids one spade. A pass around to me who says two spades.

I am somewhat surprised at North’s rebid of three spades. What is he asking me? He knows I have only four spades and between 12-14 points. Maybe he thinks I have distributional points, but I would have counted them when I raised his suit.

I pass, and East leads. As I place my hand down, the kibitzer gasps, “She has 13 points.” I nod. How astute she is.

Then partner enters in and says, “But you were a passed hand.”

No, I tell them, I opened a club.

North, North/East and East are all in agreement (as they must have been during their conversation) that no, I had passed. Finally West says, ”unless she has sent ESP waves to me, she did bid one club.”

Bottom board. Everyone is at game, making an overtrick.

The point of all this is just to pay attention no matter how interesting the kibitzer is.

As an aside, today I received a certificate in the mail saying I had made ruby life master. I had never heard of that division. It is usually life master, then bronze life master, next is silver life master, gold and on up, depending on the number of points a player has. I started thinking that the ACBL has added this to make players like me who know they will never make gold feel a little better.

I think I accidently used the certificate as a place mat.

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

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