Better Basic Bridge: Ninety-two percent don’t know it? Really?

Nancy Evins • Updated Aug 27, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Decades ago, Art Linkletter asked Charles Goren how many cheated at bridge.

Goren answered, “About 94 percent, but 92 don’t know it.”

If you, your partner or your opponent sighs, groans, takes a card out of his hand, puts it back and selects another, he or she are cheating.

If anyone asks to look at a played trick and is allowed, that is cheating.

If a bid is made in an excited voice or indicates in any way his pleasure, that’s cheating. Same when his partner leads, and everyone can tell if it pleases or displeases the other.

Some cheat intentionally such as an Italian team who told each other things by the way they pointed their pencils. 

That is why the upper echelon partners had to play without seeing each other’s face or hear their voice. Partitions were set up so that no one could do anything but pull their bid out of the bidding box.

My mother never got over the idea that calling the director was insulting to the opponents, and she gave us a zero on a hand that was rightfully ours.

There was bidding around the table, and mother’s last bid was three diamonds. The next opponent bid three clubs. I said, “insufficient,” and raised my hand to call the director. Mother stopped me, and the other opponent, now knowing they had clubs covered, bid three no-trump. Zero for us. But mother was proud of her manners.

I am so impressed with directors who must rule on every infraction, though sometimes incorrectly.

In the duplicate world, declarer does not gather up four cards for each trick but calls for a card in dummy. Dummy has little to do but straighten up the cards when necessary and play the card for which declarer calls. He must not touch the cards until declarer specifies what he wanted played.

One of the rules is that if declarer merely states a suit, the lowest card must be played.

I once screwed up a hand by simply saying diamond when there were some higher than the lowest one on the board, and I had the top diamond there. So I lost that trick, as well as control of the hand.

I called my bridge partner, who is also a director, to ask who is the one to call the director when it is one’s own partner who has broken a rule. He said the opponents, which dismayed me since two of my partners not only confused me by their actions but helped the other side.

In one case, I was declarer and had led a diamond. Dummy was placed on board, and I was counting the trumps out or something when I realized, I thought, dummy was void in diamonds. I had the ace of that suit with two other small cards but decided to trump and hold my ace.

Opponents sputtered that I couldn’t trump, because I had a diamond on board. I said, “Where?” and they pointed to my partner who had picked up the singleton before I had studied the board and was holding it beneath the table.

He and I played together for several more years, and he never changed.

I wonder who’s correcting him now.

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


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