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Points Schmoints - CHAPTER 3  -

© Marty Bergen


Order Points Schmoints here   Other Bergen books
Index   TOC

Prior Chapter:
NOW WHAT?                                                                                            13

Note: Only summaries are included below -
see book for details

21 Rules of Being a Good Partner                                                            17

He Sure Talks a Good Game                                                                    19

Thou Shalt Obey The Law of Total Tricks                                               21

21 Rules of Being a Good Partner

“I have always believed that your attitude toward your partner is as important as your technical skill at the game.”      

Rixi Markus, one of the all-time great players

Before you sit down to discuss what you are playing, you should start your partnership off on the right note. Half the battle of winning is being a good partner. Always observe the following:

1.    Do not give lessons, unless you are being paid to do so. “According to an evening paper, there are only five real authorities on bridge in this country. Odd how often one gets one of them as a partner.” Punch (British magazine).

2.    Never say anything to your partner unless you would want him to say the same to you. If you are unsure whether your partner would want you to say something, don’t.

3.    Never “result” (criticize your partner for a normal action just because it did not work this time).

4.    Unless your intent is to clear up a misunderstanding, avoid discussing the hand just played. If you cannot resist, be discreet.

5.    Remember that you and your partner are on the same side.

6.    Do not forget that your partner wants to win as much as you do.

7.    If you feel the urge to be nasty, sarcastic, critical or loud — excuse yourself and take a walk.

8.    When there is time between hands, do not discuss bridge.

9.    When you want to consult another player about a disaster, ask about your hand, not your partner's.

 Page 17
© Marty Bergen

10.  Do not ever criticize or embarrass your partner in front of others.

11.   Remember that bridge is only a card game.

12.  Have a good time, and make sure that your partner does also. “Bridge is for fun. You should play the game for no other reason. You should not play bridge to make money, to show how smart you are, or show how stupid your partner is¼or to prove any of the several hundred other things bridge players are so often trying to prove.” Bridge legend Charles Goren.

13.  Trust your partner; do not assume that he has made a mistake.

14.  Although it may be unfashionable, it really is okay to be pleasant to a partner with whom you also happen to live.

15.  Remember: “The worst analysts and the biggest talkers are often one and the same.” Bridge columnist Frank Stewart. Think twice before verbally analyzing a hand. Do not embarrass yourself with a hasty, inaccurate comment.

16.  When you voluntarily choose to play bridge with someone, it is not fair to get upset when partner does not play any better than usual.

17.  Never side with an opponent against your partner. If you cannot support your partner, say nothing.

18.  If you think you are too good for a partner, and do not enjoy playing bridge with him, do everyone a favor and play with someone else. That is clearly much better than being a martyr. However, be careful before burning bridges — another player's grass may not be greener.

19.  Learn your partner's style, regardless of how you feel about it. Do not expect your partner to bid exactly as you would. When partner makes a bid, consider what he will have, not what you would.

20.  Try to picture problems from partner's point of view. Seek the bid or play that will make his life easiest.

21.  Sympathize with partner if he makes a mistake. Let your partner know that you like him, and always root for him 100%.

 Page 18
© Marty Bergen

He Sure Talks a Good Game

“A man shouldn’t oughtta open his mouth, unless he got a hand to back it up.

Cowboy on “Gunsmoke”

Everyone knows about major and minor suits. It is also clear what you are talking about if you refer to the black suits or the red suits. However, many players would be surprised if they overheard a player talking about his pointed suits!

Take a careful look at the shape of each of the four suit symbols. You will notice that the spades and diamonds have pointed peaks while the hearts and clubs are rounded. So much for that.

How about touching suits?  Picture . Touching refers to suits that are next to one another. and are touching, as are and , and and . The black suits, and , are also considered touching.

What would you think if you overheard the following?  “I held ace-queen fifth, king-jack fourth, stiff, three baby.” Here are a few hints:

1.    Describe hands in order of the suits, starting at the top: first spades, then hearts, then diamonds, then clubs. You don’t need to identify the suits by name.

2.    Small cards are not specified.

3.    The number of cards in each suit is always stated.

4.    “Stiff” is the accepted bridge slang for a singleton.

5.    “Baby” represents small cards.

6.    Strive for brevity. Therefore, the hand described is:

  AQxxx  KJxx  xxx

“x” is the written designation for spot cards. If I were using a blackboard while teaching, I would write:


The class would know that the suits were, in order going down the board: spades, then hearts, then diamonds, and finally clubs.

 Page 19
© Marty Bergen

If you asked me what to bid with “Q975 of diamonds, the ace, king and three of clubs, the ace of spades, and my hearts were the king, jack, ten, eight and four,” here’s what would flash through my mind:

ü    I’m pleased you gave me your entire hand. A+. Very often, I am asked what to bid despite being told: “I had five diamonds including the ace and king and some nice spades.”

ü    I’m also delighted that this hand contained 13 cards. If I had a quarter for every hand that I was given with an unusual number of cards, I would be a rich man. Another A+.

ü    You did a nice job identifying your high cards. I would have been happier if you had told me the number of cards in each suit. Also, you did not need to name your small cards. B+.

û    I was not thrilled with the order in which I was given the suits. I had to make the effort to arrange the hand into spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs. D+ for this important category.

Overall, a very commendable B+. Got the idea?  Try another hand.

“I opened 1NT with a 17-count. Three small, king-jack fourth, ace-king tight, ace-queen-ten fourth.” Translation:

                                                                        xxx  KJxx  AK  AQ10x

7.    Number-count = HCP. For example: 16-count means 16 HCP.

8.    “Tight” means only.

9.    Middle cards (tens and nines) are named by the same players who have learned to appreciate them.

One more: “Ace doub, void, eight solid, three small.”

Ax  —  AKQJ10xxx  xxx

10.  “Doub” refers to a total of two cards, short for doubleton.

11.   “Solid” indicates consecutive high honors beginning with the ace.

Impressing your peers may not be easy, but it is important. Not everyone can accomplish this with technique, but now that you can “talk the talk,” you’re on your way.

 Page 20
© Marty Bergen

Thou Shalt Obey The Law of Total Tricks

How often have you been confronted with this classic situation?  You are South and hear the following auction:

West          North         East            South

—              P                P                1

2           2            3             ???



You are safe in competing to the trick level equal to your partnership's number of trumps. Avoid bidding beyond that level in competitive auctions.



CHAPTER 4 - FITS AND MISFITS                                                        25


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