Need a website? Free website templates by professional designers at WTO.

Back to Basic

by Di Brooks

Rockingham held its monthly Mentors and Learners event. Several queries came up during the session and these were passed on to me... so let's take a look at the original systems that started up in the early 1920s'.

  • Eli Culbertson based his opening bids on holding A, K, A... an 11 count.
  • When holding 12 points, take one point off if the hand didn't hold an Ace.
  • Acol 1NT of 12 points was fine, with 3 Aces.
  • Goren was based on 4 card suits, but a strong NT.
  • Then Standard American evolved to 5 card majors.
  • 1956, the Americans introduced the Joker into a pack of cards.
  • Harold Vanderbilt, an American shipping magnate, introduced vulnerability into the scoring, enabling the players to enjoy the challenge of winning (or losing) packets of money, when playing Chicago, a form of scoring each hand, with each person having a turn at Dealer, Non Vul or Vul. Auction Bridge scoring was like a game of tennis. The first side to have scored 100 was a game in hand and therefore vulnerable. The opponents had to battle to get their 100 points to even the scoring, otherwise they would lose the rubber, as Best out of 3 games.

Bonus for a two game rubber; 500 whilst a Best out of 3, bonus; 300.

  • In latter days, C.C. Wei, another shipping magnate, paid for a system to be developed as a gift for his wife. Hence the birth of Precision, by C.C. Wei. After all, what can you give a woman who has everything!!!
  • Then we have the Law of Total Tricks and the Losing Trick Count.
  • Neither of which I will explain as I am trying to keep to Basic Bridge for Beginners. But this doesn't explain the problems at Mentor and Learners. One comment was "Didn't you know you had to have a rebid? Some new players like their hand of 12 points. They open the bidding and find they don't like partner's bid and flounder when they can't find a rebid. They either Pass or Panic and bid some unworkable bid and find themselves in hot water. One such example is the hand that holds 12 points, 6 spades and 4 hearts. They open 1S, bidding is passed around to their partner, who doesn't like spades and bids 1NT. Back to the opener, who is enamoured with their 6 card spade suit and rebids 2S. Responder had said, "I don't have more than 9 points and I don't like your suit!"

    Opener, give your side a chance to find a better fit. Bid 2H and wait for the response. Imagine the excitement when you hit paydirt. A FIT!

    A good tip: Find a 4 - 4 fit, rather than a 5 - 3 fit. You can take out trumps and throw any losers on the 4th and 5th card of the side suit.

    Having looked at a few of the learners' questions, we now come to Defence.<.p>

    It is too easy to just follow the play, discarding/ carding randomly. Newbies have no idea of count nor of attitude. Their thoughts, "It doesn't matter. I'll just play whatever"! Sitting in with my intermediate group, the students finish the hand and then comes the dreaded question... "What card did partner play on your Ace of diamonds" They had not taken any notice. They were too busy following suit. They now have graduated past the beginners' stage and it's the time to take on some more advanced stuff. Welcome to the World of Bridge.

    I tell the players, "You are always learning" Not one player knows it all.

    Back to Basics.

    1S2S (1, 2 that will do)
    ? Opener's rebid depends on shape and his points. 

    1H1S (I don't like hearts)
    1NT Minimum hand2S ( 1, 2 that will do)

    1NT2C? Stayman
    2D No Major2NT = 9 pts
    3NT = 10-14 pts

    If this pair get into trouble it is usually because they use Stayman when it was not necessary. Remember - NO SHAPE, NO STAYMAN.

    Last but not least, Read the same book with partner. Only take on one new convention. Learn it well, before introducing anything else into the system.

    And finally, ENJOY yourself. Bridge is fun. Believe me. Would I lie to you???

    Directing on the 13th

    Directing on Friday, 13th never worries me. I am not normally superstitious, but a recent session may make me think twice.

    Rockingham's Red Point event, Leo Pairs, started off well with 10 tables. great. But illness and personal family matters dropped the tables by a half. Then came a phone call that one pair was running late. They would arrive smack on playing time but would be late for the actual seating time. (Directors need extra time to organise the session movement, make any changes and also arrange seeding, where necessary. The fees collections are made easier with players seated early) The late pair were placed as the sit out. No problems. The movement was a Mitchell, with a share and bye, with the sit out pair at Table 10. This meant that Tables 1 and 10 had no need to share boards. Perfect.

    A member volunteered to take the session monies. A bonus for the director. The Hi Tech square for collecting monies by direct debit decided not to work. That's ok, we will get the table fees at tea break.

    The session started early. Another bonus. Then the silly season started. One North decided to enter the board number instead of the table number in the BridgeMate. Easy to change. Off we go again.

    Three boards around. The BridgeMates refused to go to next round. Guess what? The Director had made a mistake. Easy fixed. (Who says Directors are perfect!)

    Then followed two calls for lead out of turn. Players had removed the bidding cards off the table, so no one remembered who bid what and who was on lead. Sounds familiar.

    Underbidding, three calls. One of which resulted with the director's ruling being very unpopular... I was called.... The bidding on the table was:


    First impression - nothing wrong with the bidding sequence, until East explained that South had placed 2D, followed by 3D, both insufficient bids, followed by 4C. North was most unhappy when I explained the 4C bid stood, North was out of the bidding, although West, East could bid. So could South, but the opponents decided to pass the bidding out and North played 4C making 13 tricks. Director explained: players cannot make their own ruling. The non - offenders also have rights. Whether the session is green points or Red... the Director MUST be called.

    Now all this was before tea break. (The director still happy)

    Now just to keep you all informed... Rockingham Bridge Club doesn't just have a Tea Break. Members bring platters of sandwiches, plus savories and sweet things. The Club provides the usual refreshments, which include slices of cucumber and tomato to go with the cheese and biscuits. Member's birthdays are celebrated with the member bringing the cake.

    Tea break over. (Hoping for a quiet second half.) Not to be. Remember, it's the 13th. Either that or too much sugar.

    The Director was called to adjudicate on protocol, etiquette and the usual number of revokes.

    A day in the Life of a Director. Does this deter me? NO. Would I consider joining the ranks of the State Directors? NO. I have a happy life. Why would I change what works for me! Do I encourage members to try their hand at directing? YES,the more the merrier.

    And lastly, give a thought to the Director. After all we too are just human beings.

    Happy Bridging,

    happy-icon (4K)


Contributors should note that the right to modify submitted material is retained by the Editors.