The Halloween Hand


Anisa Nixon

Inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, “The Raven,” we give you a poem just in time for Halloween.

A Halloween Hand

Once upon an evening still, while I pondered a hand most ill,
For any strong suits or which defenses best,
There came a knock-knocking on my apartment door,
As if someone was inclined to disturb my rest,
And the relaxation for which bridge was best,
Was not to continue, anymore.

I grumbled and stood as quickly as able, my horrible hand flat on the table,
Bidding my partner a moment, please,
To see who was knock-knocking at my door.
I unlocked the lock, with scared, quivering knees,
Sure I could hear the ominous creaking of trees,
Over the sound of my heart’s sudden roar.

The knob turned without sound, my imagination abound,
For it was All Hallows’ Eve tonight,
Upon which our game had never fallen before.
My mouth was dry, my throat was tight,
As I turned the knob towards the right,
And slowly creaked open my dangerous door.

The clock struck three and I jumped, truthfully,
For the Witching Hour had me on guard.
I then stood in silent shock, my hand on the door,
As my former partner whose gaze was hard,
Showed his hands still full of our old cards,
Which held no luck, anymore.

I couldn’t stop a scream, wishing it were a dream,
That he had returned with such a hand.
It was a nightmare at my door.
I shook my head against his demand,
That I take back that last grand slam,
Which I had never even asked for.

On that dark eve, I just could not believe,
Even as my spine prickled with a chill,
What my old partner would come back for.
Because I had moved on from that partnership thrill,
As he’d outlined in his last will,
Since he had died, three years before.

But in a blink, he had vanished, as if he had been banished,
From this moment, now quiet and still,
Leaving me alone standing at my door.
I turned back to the table and my current partner Jill,
Picking up the hand I’d left there to swill,
And gasped to see it a different score.

Our new bidding started and I played brave-hearted,
With this fresh hand given to me,
Thanks to an old partner at my door.
We took all our tricks with no debris,
And I made a new decree,
Not to turn away old partners, anymore.

At least not on All Hallows’ Eve!


Classic Classroom Moments



Written by Eddie Kantar

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.  Peters says, “It’s o.k., open anything you want.”  The guys say, “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 on top of three small is worst of all.
  • The one how 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.”


The 12 Days of a Bridge Christmas


Brenda Geden

The 12 Days of a Bridge Christmas

We’re coming up on the holidays this year and people are celebrating family, friends, and festivities in a variety of different ways. For the North Bay Bridge Club in Ontario, Canada, this meant a sing-along during their annual Christmas Dinner and Bridge Party.   Inspired by an article in their 2013 Summer magazine by Richard Braunstein (p.27), Brenda Geden decided to put together a sing-along of the 12 Days of Christmas with a bridge-twist.

This past twelfth of December, saw 20 tables of “mostly senior bridge players with a wide range of bridge experience,” as Brenda puts it. She got up midway through the game, rang a bell and announced, “Sorry to interrupt this serious game but, everybody put down your cards, pick up your reading glasses, clear your throats…We are having a first-ever flash-mob at the North Bay Bridge Club and YOU are the stars of it.”

What happened is a fun, spirited bridge-loving, holiday-themed song that we are delighted to share with you.


We have to thank Brenda Geden and the North Bay Bridge Club for sharing this with us and post her own comments, a “thank you [to] Richard for your great idea. Our version is not exactly the same as yours but it has the same spirit. Our members have a great keepsake in this video, and our players of all levels had a great bonding moment.”

Happy Holidays everybody.


‘Twas the Night before the Tournament


Anisa Nixon

Inspired by C. Clement Moore’s poem, “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” we give you a poem just in time for the Holidays.


‘Twas the Night Before the Tournament

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the club,
Not a partner was stirring, not even for late-night grub.
The decks were all shuffled, stacked with such care,
In hopes that strong hands soon would be there.

The partners were snuggled all warm in their beds, While visions of auctions danced in their heads.
And Jill in her pajamas and I in my socks,
Had just settled in for a nightcap on the rocks.

When out on the deck there arose such a sound,
I sprang from my seat to see what was around. Away to the sliding door, I flew like a bat,
Tore open the glass and stepped out on the mat.

The moon was there sparkling on new-fallen snow,
Giving light to the scene happening below.
When what to my widening eyes should appear
But a miniature car with eight spade-covered deer.

With a little old driver, spritely and fast,
I knew it had to be a player of tournaments past.
Quicker than auctions his reindeer they slowed,
And he stood up and called out while they showed.

“Now 1 Club! Now 2 Diamond! Now 3 Heart and Four!
On, 1 Spade! On, 2 Spade! On No Trump and more!
To the top of the deck, to the top of the roof!
Now disappear away without any proof!”

As snowflakes in the middle of a big flurry fly,
They met with the roadside and up into the sky.
On to the roof-tops, the spade-reindeer leaped,
With a car full of toys to a house where bridge players slept.

And then, in a flash, I heard on the ceiling,
The shifting and settling of those reindeer kneeling.
As I stepped back inside and was turning around,
Down the chimney, St Nicholas landed aground.

He was dressed in red from his head to his toe,
And his boots and hat were all covered in snow.
A bag full of goodies was slung on his back,
And he looked like a salesman, loaded with a knick and a knack.

His eyes were all sparkly, his grin way too glowing,
As if he’d seen all the cards and was all plays knowing.
His hand lifted in a wave, cards tucked in his sleeve,
And I picked up my drink, preparing to leave.

The stick of a candy cane he held in his teeth,
Patting the leaves as he passed by a wreath.
“How about a hand,” he said with a smile,
“I don’t have to be on the road for a while.”

Dumbstruck, I nodded, saying, “Hang on a ‘tick,”
Asking the only other partner still awake to pair with old Nick.
I settled across from Jill, who set out the deal,
And Nick sat to my west, quivering with zeal.

The game passed by quickly as the night, it wore on,
Jill and I were up bids, then down bids at dawn.
St Nick saw the sky lighten and tossed down his suits,
Hurriedly pulling back on his old boots.

“I really must be going but thanks for the game,”
He said from the chimney and I felt the same.
My eyes were gritty and aching for sleep,
But I knew that my dreams would be peaceful and deep.

I’m glad that St. Nicholas stopped by the table.
Like a legend or myth or something from fable,
I heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight,
“Merry Christmas to everybody and to all a good-night!”


The Impossible Rebid – Linda Green’s Lesson Plan


Here is a lesson plan on the impossible rebid from the ABTA teacher, Linda J. Green.

The lesson plan is available as a PDF version for download here.


The Impossible Rebid

Opener’s Rebid: Before you open the bidding, always consider what the rebid is going to be should responder bid in a suit you cannot support.

Tips for rebidding:

With two 5-card suits always open the higher to show both suits at the same level.

  1. After a 1-level response you need 16 + HCP to bid a higher ranking suit at the 2-level (“Skipping over” your 1st suit) called a “REVERSE”.

a.? A4 ? KQ65 ? Q8765 ? K2

b.? A43? Q765 ? KQJ43 ?5

c.? A4 ? AJ54 ? AKJ43 ?76


1? 1?


a. Rebid 1NT.Stoppers in all suits and not strong enough to “skip over”. Do not rebid an emaciated 5-card suit.

b. Rebid 2 ? .Not strong enough for a “Reverse” and you have a singleton? .

c. Rebid 2 ? . This is strong enough to “Reverse”. You guarantee your 1st suit is longer than your 2nd suit and strength 16 + high card points

2. If you have two 3-card minors – open the best lead directing suit and if partner

does not like it , tell partner you had a heart mixed with a diamond!

E.g. ? A765 ? Q104 ?AK3 ? 987 = 1?

3. 4? and a poor 5-card ? suit. e.g. ?A3 ?96 ?AQ65 ? K7654 =1? and then 2 ?

as you have no rebid with that poor club suit and no ? stopper.

4. If you are strong enough to REVERSE – open 1 ? first.

e.g. ?A8 ?74 ?AQ65 ? AKJ43

5. If you have an emaciated suit and honors in your doubletons, sometimes we

have to open an off- shape NT. On our next rebid we cannot jump in a suit with

the majority of the points outside the suit.

e g. ? A2 ? KJ ? J87654 ? AQ7 = open 1 NT.


Dan Romm’s Bridge Quiz


Dan Romm


How do you play the following hand at MP’s? At IMP’s? (Answers below)


? K8652
? 432
? AK106
? 5
                                              ? 3
                                              ? AKQJ109
                                              ? 9
                                              ? AK642

Contract: 6?
Lead ?Q.
No adverse bidding.


This hand illustrates two points:

    1. There are different strategies for MP’s and Imp’s.
    2. It is frequently better to count winners than losers.

Solution at MP’s: Throw a spade on the king of diamonds and hope clubs are no worse than 4-3 (about 50-50) in which case you can ruff two clubs and make 7.

Solution at IMP’s: Lead a club to your hand at trick 2 and lead a spade! If clubs split 4-3 you will always make 6, but if they split 5-2 you need the king of spades for your 12th trick.

Originally posted: November 17, 2008

Teaching Aboard Ship: What You Need to Know

Class Handouts/Photocopying

Take notes with you. Most ships do not wish you to make photocopies aboard. Large ships with internet cafes will allow you to print copies there but expect to pay a hefty per page charge. You could take your files with you (on a stick or a diskette) and print aboard ship. Or you could print in some ports but this may be a challenge. I go a day early and find a printer and make many sets of notes for the ship.

Personally, I hand out a cheat sheet to my students (sorry, but that is what I have called them for years). Make up your own which has a summary of everything they need to know and laminate it. This will serve you well. This cuts down on notes that you have to hand out. I take along copies of my beginner textbook and all beginners get these but luggage is truly a killer.


Usually a one-hour beginner class per day and a one-hour intermediate class. It depends on the cruise line. Usually only on days at sea but if the port is mundane (e.g. the Caribbean) you could be asked to be available to run games every afternoon on days at sea. I try to teach on port days also. Sometimes your assistant can teach beginners if the ship does not allow a time slot for you to teach beginners.

Note: If nothing is scheduled, and the itinerary is getting boring for clients, I tell them we will have a class at 2.30 pm that day. The cruise directors love it if you do extra. The clients are happy and you get amazing ratings. A win-win for all.

The Bridge Teacher Aboard

Remember that you are not really a passenger and you are not really crew. The crew sees you as crew and essentially, so do the passengers so you have to be on best behavior at all times. They are all watching you. AVOID confrontations and go with the flow. As Gerry Fox says: “You are neither fish nor fowl”. I have learned the hard way to not try to change things. The cruise line does not want to learn a better way to do things from you. You are on stage at all times. Dress well and conduct yourself accordingly onshore and on a ship.

Content of Classes

am wild about teaching defense. They love this topic. All levels love it. These hands (in Lesson 1 and Lesson 2) are all Eddie Kantars’. He is my hero.

Bridge Problem 244

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 | Tags:


Problem 244 for May 2010

How should West play Four Spades? North leads a club.


West                                    East
? A J 9 3                               ? K Q 8 2
? A 8 7 3 2                           ? 4
? 4                                        ? A 8 7 3 2
? A 8 3                                 ? 7 4 2

An answer to Prize problem 244

Prize problem 244 for May 2010

How should West play Four Spades?  North leads a club.

West                                           East
? A J 9 3                                      ? K Q 8 2
? A 8 7 3 2                                  ? 4
? 4                                               ? A 8 7 3 2
? A 8 3                                        ? 7 4 2

This is a matter of sound technique and is symmetrical. You plan to make three outside aces and seven trump tricks and the best way of ensuring this is a cross-ruff where the first ruff of each red suit is with a small trump but the subsequent ruffs are all with big trumps. That guards against the danger that a defender with a red doubleton and the ten of trumps sitting behind the ruff is able to over-ruff and play a trump, reducing declarer to nine tricks. When you make the seventh ruff you don’t mind being over-ruffed as the middle trump, on the other hand, becomes a winner.

You get a small extra credit if you began with a diamond to the ace and a heart to the ace. On the rare occasion when the defender in front of the ace is void there are still layouts where you might succeed. (It is odd the defenders did not bid but if West opened One Heart and North had seven of them he would have to Pass.)

A non-prize problem for May 2010
West is in Three Notrumps. North leads a low spade won by dummy’s ten, a diamond to the king wins, the club nine is run to South’s ten, a spade through loses to North who clears the spades. How would you continue?

Answer on page…..

West                                            East
? A Q 2                                        ? 10
? K 4                                           ? A Q 9 3
? K 8 5 3                                     ? Q 7 6 4
? 9 8 6 4                                     ? A Q 7 5

An answer to a non-prize problem on page…
In the 1991 Sunday Times Pairs the declarer, Andrew Robson played a club and when North followed small, surprised spectators by putting on the ACE, dropping the bare king offside. The alternatives were taking a deep finesse, playing for North to have four (unlikely on the spade lead), or finessing the queen, playing for South to hold J 10 doubleton (unlikely on restricted choice as he might have played either in the first round, or even have risen with the diamond ace).

This reasoning suggests North should have played the JACK of clubs in the second round, as a man with K J x would be forced to do.

This article has been published with permission from Bridge Magazine.

BIL Session 1: “Introduction to Counting Part 1”


Ellen Caitlin Pomer


From Thursday September 18th, 16:15 ET, BILlies Retreat
Download PDF

Ellen Caitlin Pomer has been teaching online for nearly 17 years. She is a co-author of the acclaimed ‘Standard Bidding with SAYC’ and founder of Bridge Forum ( She returns to bridge teaching in the BIL, where she has taught many topics and is delighted to be back teaching ‘Introduction to Counting’. She is also available for private sessions. She can be reached at Please advise others that if they wish to receive these notes, that they should email me with their full name and BBO I.D. Enjoy!

Please note that due to the holy Jewish holidays, there will be no session on Thursday, September 25th and will resume Thursday, October 2rd at 4:15 pm Eastern. To all Jewish members who celebrate these holidays, I wish you and yours a Happy, Healthy Jewish New Year.

We will look at a variety of issues which are involved with counting.

Bridge is a game of counting so let’s break it down as to when you count.

a) When declarer does not have what we call a ‘cold’ contract (i.e. more losers than s/he can afford to make the contract), counting may help. We will see examples where this is true.

b) Defenders count declarer’s hand. If, for example West opens 1NT and the contract becomes 3NT, and declarer has shown 17 HCPs (High Card Points) and declarer must have the missing ?A, as partner has signalled s/he doesn’t like hearts, (to be discussed below) South now knows that partner must have the ?K (as declarer can’t have the ?A and the missing ?K). When in, North should feel free to lay down his? A from AQJ as a partner should have the Club King, and in doing so, you can defeat the contract if you get your tricks in time.

c) Defenders give a count to one another, but when? When on defense, and your partner leads, you give attitude. Thus partner leads the 2 and you hold the JT63, play the Ten (lower of two equally ranking cards) to say you like the suit. But when declarer plays a suit, give a count, thus traditionally high-low with an even number of cards (8652) and low-high with an odd number of cards (J32).

What if the suit has been played one round? Now we are giving remainder count. Thus with 852 remaining in the above example, we now play low-high, thus the 2; and with J3 left from the above J32, we play the Jack if it makes sense to do so.

Remember it is very important to give your partner count on defense but you must be the judge. If giving count or attitude in a specific situation only helps declarer, LIE!

More Tips for Counting

a) The bidding at the table gives enormous help. For example, if an opponent, say East, opens a weak two 2?, and North-South land up in 4? declarer already starts with a good count on the opponent’s cards, knowing one opponent has six in a suit.

b) The lead is also a key for declarer. Say you are in 4 ? and your opponent, who passed in the first seat, leads the .?AK. Later s/he shows up with the Club King. There is no way s/he can have the missing? K or s/he would have opened the bidding.

Mike Lawrence, a member of BBO, wrote: ‘How to Read Your Opponents’Cards’ many years ago and has two CDs on counting: ‘Counting at Bridge’ and ‘Counting at Bridge 2’. I highly recommend you consider purchasing Lawrence’s first CD, with software by BBO’s founder, Fred Gitelman, from the BBO ‘Online Store’.

Below you will find the four hands we counted for your review, while hand 4 is ‘homework; which we will discuss at our next session.

Reading the Opponents’ Cards: Counting Shape



The bidding could be better! The 5? bid, as we will see, with 4NT as RKC Blackwood shows 2 controls — the, two Aces and the Queen of hearts.. Even though South is heading toward notrump, you respond to 4NT based on the last suit bid unless thus 5? showing two Aces and theQ.

West leads the?T. What is your plan?

Here is the full deal:


You cash your winners outside of clubs — 3 spades, 3 hearts, 3 diamonds — so you need to win 4 clubs. As you cash your winners, we count one opponent’s hand, says West, here. We find out that West follows to one spade, two hearts, and East follows to only two diamonds: We know that West’s shape is 1-2-6-4. While West has four clubs and East only two, it is twice as likely that West has the ?J and he does. It is not a done deal that West has the club Jack, but this is an informed decision. With a club finesse to the Ten, declarer has 13 tricks. 



West leads the ?T.

Here is the full deal:


Thus far East has shown 6 hearts and 2 spades and by playing on diamonds, declarer knows West’s shape: 2-6-3-2. (How does declarer know that East has only 3 diamonds? Note that on the run of extra spades to get more information (a common technique), East played a diamond. Counting the hand we know East has two clubs and one must be the? K as East needs the king for his opening bid given East has the A. So the issue is not which hand holds the? K — that we have come to know — but how many clubs does East hold? Now we know to lead a club to the Queen, cashing the? A, dropping the? K.


West cashes? AK and follows with the3. East ruffs and exits with a club.

Here is the full deal:

You win, cash trump and two more clubs. When East discards on the third round, you know that West started with 2-5-1-5 shape, so you can lead to dummyK and finesse theJ with certainty


West cashes? AK. You ruff and…

Here is the full deal:

… knocks out the? A. East does best to return a club. To count the hand, playAK and ruff theJ. Now you know West started with two hearts and two clubs. Presumably, he had six spades for his opening bid so he must have three diamonds. This means that West has only one diamond. Play the? K in case the singleton is theQ and when it does not finesse the? J.



West leads8 and East cashesAK. West plays2 on East’s second heart. East leads a third heart and South trumps with the? Q while West discards a small club. Declarer now leads trump with West holding one trump and East, the remainder. What line of play do you now take to give yourself the best chance of making this contract given you already have 3 losers?

Bridge Problem 245


Problem 245 for June 2010

How should West play Four Hearts? North, who overcalled One Spade, leads the queen of clubs. Trumps are 3-2.

West                                  East
? A J                                   ? 7 6 4 3
? K Q 10 6 5                      ? A J 4
? K 7 3                                ? Q 6 2
? K 10 3                              ? A 6 4

An answer to Prize problem 245

You expect North to hold the ace of diamonds, the jack of clubs and at least five spades. Win the opening lead in hand, draw trumps ending in dummy (North will throw a spade) and play a spade, putting in the jack if South plays low. North will win and have to exit with a spade.  The fourth trump squeezes him.

(a)    If he throws another spade you can use the diamond entry to ruff out the spades and return with a club to enjoy a spade trick.

(b)    If he keeps two spades you cross to the diamond and cash the ace of clubs. If the jack does not fall he must have the bare ace of diamonds and you duck a diamond.

North originally held: ? K 10 9 x x  ? xx  ? A J x  ? Q J 9

A non-prize problem for June 2010

You hold as North:

? 5 4  ? 10 8 4  ? A 10 6 4 2  ? 10 9 5

Dummy opened Two Notrumps, declarer jumped to Four Clubs to set the suit and show slam interest, dummy cuebid in hearts but then declarer signed off in Five Clubs. What do you lead?

An answer to a non-prize problem

Graham Kirby found the winning lead of a LOW diamond in the 1991 Camrose match between England and Wales. Dummy had ? Q 7 3 and partner, the late John Armstrong, had ? K 9. Declarer played low from dummy but Armstrong put on the king, returned the suit and obtained a ruff to beat the game. As declarer had all winners elsewhere the low diamond lead was essential. It might even work when dummy has the king and declarer misguesses.

This article has been published with permission from Bridge Magazine.