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Marty Sez - Bergen’s Bevy of Bridge Secrets


Order Marty Sez here      Order other Bergen books


1    Getting Off On the Right Foot       13

2   Hand Evaluation    23

3  Opener’s Decisions        33

4  Responder’s Decisions    43

5  Notrump Bidding   53

6   All About Slam     65

7   Passed Hand Bidding     75

8   Preempts — We Do It   83

9   Preempts — They Do It 95

10  Competitive Auctions     105

11  I’ll Have a Double 117

12  Impressive Declarer Play       129

13  The Defense Never Rests      143

         Glossary       153

      Recommended Reading       159


Chapter 1


© 2001 - Marty Bergen

 While it is necessary to master your partnership’s conventions, it is crucial to understand your partner’s style.

You need to know what to expect from partner before you can make good bidding decisions. Keep in mind that it is not necessary for you and partner to have identical bidding styles. In fact, it is impossible.

In the situations below, you must know what partner is likely to do. With a close decision, does he:

Open light? (If he relies on The Rule of 20, the answer is yes.)

Preempt aggressively?

Overcall aggressively?

Make light takeout doubles?

Dramatically change his style when vulnerable?

By the way:  It is essential to be consistent - “to thine own self be true.” Whether you are a solid citizen or loose as a goose, stay in character.  Dealing with a chameleon is just too tough.

Page 15

© 2001 - Marty Bergen

The Law of the Land

You are always safe bidding to the level equal to your side’s number of trumps.  This is known as The Law of Total Tricks.

Although “always” is a word to be avoided in bridge, The LAW is more accurate than any bridge player you (or I) know, and it even transcends vulnerability. Applications of this essential principle are endless

West   North   East     South

1      1       2      ???

  K7643     7     85     98642

Bid 4. Adding partner’s five spades to your five gives you a 10-card fit — so jump to the four (10-trick) level. Even if 4h (doubled) goes down — not to worry — the opponents must have an easy game or slam.

West   North   East     South

 —        —       Pass   1

2    2       3      ???

  AQJ      876532     74     A2

Bid 3. I have seen stronger suits, but our six trumps plus partner’s three totals nine. Sometimes, bridge is an easy game.

Page 16

© 2001 - Marty Bergen

A Class Act

It is hard to play like a champion, but easy to behave like one.

  A CHUMP                                   A CHAMP

gives “free” lessons                    does not preach

sides with opponents                  sides with partner

berates partner                            treats partner with respect

dwells on bad results                  moves on

makes partner wish                    allows partner to enjoy

he were elsewhere                      the game

is in his own world                       knows that bridge is a partnership game

 thinks he knows it all                  is willing to learn

insists on playing                         only is open to partner’s
his favorite conventions              suggestions

Page 17

© 2001 - Marty Bergen

No Reason to Stall

"He who knows, goes.”

If you know what the final contract should be, bid it.

West   North   East     South

 —        —        —        1

Pass    2    Pass    ???

Q87432     Q3     —     AKQJ8

Bid 4h. You have gorgeous clubs, but so what?    You want to play in 4h, period.

West   North   East     South

Pass    2NT     Pass     3 (transfer)

Pass     3      Pass     ???

 6   KQJ95   J9863     82

Bid 4. Because of your great hearts, you should insist on the major-suit game.

West   North   East     South

—       Pass     1        Dbl

2       2     Pass      ???

53     K6     AKQJ74     A84

Bid 3NT. On a heart lead, all you need from partner to score this up is the A or the K. That’s not too much to expect after his free 2 bid.

Page 17

© 2001 - Marty Bergen

Take a Hike

Taking a walk between rounds is often the best remedy for your bridge woes.

There are times when you must get away from partner and/or your opponents. You have probably just gotten a bad result. Don’t sit around playing the martyr or glaring at partner. As soon as you get a chance, just excuse yourself and leave. It does not matter where you go — the restroom, outside, the water fountain and “in circles” are all fine choices.

I discovered this technique the hard way early in my professional career. I was playing with a client who turned out to be rather obnoxious. He was obviously not interested in learning and spent his time lecturing me, and the opponents, on the error of our ways.

One day I just couldn’t stand it any longer. As soon  as we finished the round, I was “outta there.” I went outside for some air and did not return until the next round was called. I can’t say that I looked forward to returning to the “battle,” but at least I had preserved my sanity. And, although the money was good, I put  a quick end to our arrangement. Life is just too short

By the way Taking a walk to relieve a stressful situation has helped me in many other situations.

Page 18

© 2001 - Marty Bergen

Some for Me, Some for You

Bid aggressively when your partnership’s assets are evenly divided. Proceed cautiously when they are one-sided


  1)         North


2)         North


  1)         South


2)         South



On hand 1), the 26 HCP are divided 21-5 and dummy has exactly one entry. Unless the Q falls, you are limited to two club tricks. Even if East has the K, you can’t finesse twice. Dummy is “useless,” so you are playing “one against two.” Down you go.

On hand 2), the 26 HCP are split 13-13. What a difference! Communication between the two hands is a breeze. Now that dummy has become an active participant, the two of you are ready for battle. Win the A, unblock the AK, lead the Q, and relax.

Page 19

© 2001 - Marty Bergen

This Dummy is No dummy

When dummy tables his cards, he should hold on to the suit that was led and put it down last.

Why should he do that? To force declarer to look over the other three suits before playing to the first trick. It is uncanny how many makable contracts are lost when declarer plays too quickly at trick one. In fact, entire books have been devoted to the subject.

Most players are so excited to become declarer that as soon as dummy is tabled, they are off and running. Even if they are one of the five best players in the world, they can’t play effectively at that speed.

By the way:  There are lots of little things you can do to help partner when tabling dummy. Alternate colors — do not put the spades next to the clubs. Place the higher-ranked cards closest to you. Make sure to space the cards neatly so that partner can easily see how many you have in each suit. You get the picture.

Page 20

© 2001 - Marty Bergen

Thrifty is Nifty

When in doubt, make the “cheapest” bid.

Trust me, this works. Here is a good example.

West   North   East     South

  —       1     Pass       1

Pass     2     Pass      ???

J3     A98542     Q9     AJ10

Bid 3NT. On a heart lead, all you need from partner to score this up is the A or the K. That’s not too much to expect after his free 2 bid.

Partner’s jump shift was game-forcing, but you have loftier goals. Over 2, most players would routinely rebid their six-card heart suit. However, 3 is “expensive” (it bypasses 2NT, 3 and 3) and misdirected (your hearts are probably too weak for 6 if partner has a doubleton).

You should make the cheapest bid, 2NT, which has many advantages. It assures partner that clubs are under control, and allows him to:

Rebid 3 with a six-card suit. That would be wonderful news — 6 here we come.

Bid 3 with three-card support. Your six-card suit is now looking good, as is a heart slam.

Cheap bids — they lead to good auctions, better contracts and best of all, very happy partners.

Page 21

© 2001 - Marty Bergen

2   Hand Evaluation    23

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