Bridge for Bright Beginners

Bridge for Bright Beginners

by Terence Reese

Paperback(Revised ed.)

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Terence Reese, "the world's best bridge player and best bridge writer" (The New York Times), turns his attention in this book to you, the bright beginner. He gives a complete guide to the game with sample bidding and sample game play and coverage of everything the beginner needs, from point count bidding to finesses, to make bridge the exciting, competitive game it is.
Mr. Reese isn't content with presenting rules the beginner will later abandon. Instead he builds up the game in simple steps with chapters on opening bids of one, responses, defensive overcalls, opening bids of more than one, play and defense in no trump, play and defense in suit, scoring, and so on, until the game is taught as you can expect to play it against strong competition. In the course of the book you will learn the common terms used in bridge, the fundamentals of offensive and defensive bidding and play, the reasons why bridge strategies work, and how to use such popular conventions as the Blackwood and the Stayman. Altogether you will have had experience evaluating 130 normal bidding hands and playing through 18 sample games. An index and summary of bidding at the end also make the book useful as an instant reference for later use.
Both the bright beginner and the player who has had some experience will want to use this book to learn the fundamentals of bridge and increase his ability to establish best possible bid and play. For a further competitive advantage and even more bridge fun, you will also want to read Reese's other bridge books, Bidding a Bridge Hand and Play Bridge with Reese.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486229423
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 06/01/1973
Edition description: Revised ed.
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 744,977
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)

Read an Excerpt


By Terence Reese

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1964 Terence Reese
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-31746-5


About Cards and Tricks

"Oh, if only I had time to learn to play bridge!"

Of course you have time. You can get the feel of this game inside half an hour!

To play a real game, you need cards, a table, score-pads, four chairs, and three friends to play with. In a pinch you can dispense with the table, the score-pads, and the friends. You can begin (as I did) by dealing out a deck of cards on the carpet.

How the cards and suits rank

Sort the cards, as we say, into suits, so that they look like this:

Ace King Queen Jack 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
Ace King Queen Jack 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
Ace King Queen Jack 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
Ace King Queen Jack 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2

There are 13 cards in each of the four suits. These lines show how they rank in bridge. That is to say, the Ace is a better card than the King, the King than the Queen, and so on. The order is not difficult to remember, except perhaps that the Ace counts high. You would expect the King to rank higher than the Queen, and of course the Jack (or Knave, as it is sometimes called) ranks below the throne.

The five top cards, Ace King Queen Jack Ten, are called HONORS. They possess no special magic in the play, but in certain circumstances you score a bonus simply for holding honors.

We have put the suits in order, too—spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs. The suits rank this way, spades better than hearts, etc., but that will not concern us in the first two chapters.

There were two reasons why I asked you to lay out a deck of cards in this fashion. One was that you would see how the cards (and suits) rank in bridge; the other so that, with the 52 cards sorted into suits, you could easily pick them out and reproduce the deal below. For you are going to play a hand of bridge right now!

First, look at the North hand in the diagram and pick out the cards you want. Set this opposite to yourself, for you are going to be South. Then pick out the West hand, followed by the East hand. If you haven't made any mistakes so far, the thirteen cards left will form the South hand.

Now that you have set out the deal in this fashion, with the cards in a suit going from left to right, I want you to change each layout or hand so that the cards actually lie like this:

[??] [??] [??] [??]
K A K 7
6 8 Q 6
2 4 6
2 3

In writing, we use the horizontal form, because it is easier to read as the eye travels across. When you are actually laying the cards out to play, the vertical arrangement is more convenient.

I should add that North, South, East and West are not meaningful terms in an actual game of bridge where the players all have names. They are simply used for convenience in writing, to designate the players. North and South are partners, playing against the partnership of East and West.

One other point: You will find that you can pick out the cards more readily if the BLACK and RED SUITS are arranged alternately in your hand. Most players do sort their cards like that, and so should you. It makes no difference, however, so long as you pick from the right suit when you play a card.

The first trick

Now we can begin. You, South, are the man at the wheel, known in bridge as the DECLARER. (In written bridge hands, you will almost always find that South is the declarer.) The opponent on your left, West, makes the first play or LEAD by putting a card face up in the middle of the table. Let us say that he leads the 4 of clubs, which would be a sound choice from his hand. Now you have to play a card from North's, your partner's, hand opposite. The rules of the game require that a player must, if possible, contribute a card of the same suit as has been led. You have therefore the "choice" between the 7 and 6. These cards are in effect the same, being next to one another in rank, so you play the 6. East plays next, and he puts on his highest club, the Queen. You have a still higher club, the King, and you play it.

That completes the first TRICK. You have played the highest card, the King, so you have won the trick. You collect the four cards and turn them face downward in front of you.

Quite a simple operation, but you have already learned the meaning of three important terms in bridge: declarer, lead and trick. Add one more to your stock: the players on the other side, East and West when you are South, are called the DEFENDERS, and play the DEFENSE.

Tricks two to nine

You have won the first trick with the King of clubs. What next? It doesn't matter a lot on this hand, but your eye will probably be caught by the diamonds, where you and North between you hold all the top cards. Because you won the last trick in your hand, you have the privilege of making the next lead and you choose the Ace of diamonds. West plays the 5. As you have already played a winning card, there is no point in putting on the King or Queen from North, your partner's hand. You play the 3. In the same way it would be pointless for East to contribute one of his higher cards. He plays the 2.

That's the second trick won by your side. You gather the cards again, turn them over, and lay them across the first trick. It is your lead again, for you played the winning card.

Trick 3—Continuing diamonds, you play the 4 and this time win in the North hand with the King. West plays the 9 and East the 7.

Trick 4—Now North has the lead. You play the 3 of diamonds from North, East plays the 10, and you (South) the Jack, making sure that you win the trick. West has no more diamonds, so he has to play a card of another suit. This is called DISCARDING. As he may hope to win tricks sooner or later with his clubs, West discards the 7 of spades.

Trick 5—You lead your fourth diamond, the 8, towards North's Queen. West discards the 5 of hearts this time, and East the 3 of spades.

Trick 6—You still do not wish to surrender the lead because you know that the defenders have several clubs to make as soon as they come in to lead them. You lead the 2 of hearts from North and play the King. You know that this must win because the Ace—the only card to beat the King-is held by North. East plays the 6 of hearts on this trick and West the 10. (Remember that West has already discarded one heart.)

Trick 7—You are still "in" (on lead) with the King of hearts, so you lead the 3. West must play his last heart, the Queen; the North hand plays the Ace, and East the 9.

Trick 8—You have two more certain tricks, the King and Ace of spades. From North you lead the King of spades, East plays the 4, you the 3, and West the 9.

Trick 9—The 2 of spades is led from North to your Ace. East plays the 10 and West the Jack.

Tricks ten to thirteen

You have won the first nine tricks and there are four cards left in each hand. As you can see, you have no chance of making any more tricks, for East has the best spade, the Queen, and the best heart, the Jack. If you lead either suit, East will win the trick and then CASH his other high card. Then he will lead a club, and West will win the last two tricks with his high clubs. If, instead, you should lead a club at the tenth trick, West will win the last four tricks himself.

Remember what we said earlier, that you could get the feel of this game inside half an hour? Already you have played a complete hand with thirteen tricks. What is more, on this particular hand a world champion could not have made more tricks than you did!


Ways of Winning Tricks

When you played the hand in the first chapter you made all but one of your tricks with cards that were sure winners from the first. The exception was the King of clubs. This became a winner because the opponent on your left LED AWAY FROM his Ace of clubs.

Forcing out high cards

Some hands go like that, but mostly there is a battle between the two sides to ESTABLISH tricks. Imagine that the spade suit is distributed about the table in this way:


We assume, as usual, that South is the declarer. No matter who leads a spade, the defense can take the first trick if they wish to. After that, North-South win the next three tricks. If South were starting this suit, he would lead the Queen, West would play the 7, and North the 3. East might take his Ace immediately or he might play low, knowing that the Ace can win only once. If East plays the 5, South continues with the Jack. Say now that East plays the Ace. When North-South regain the lead they make two more tricks with the ESTABLISHED King and 10.

Here is a typical deal in which both sides strive to establish their long suits. We suggest that you set out the cards again, for in the early stages you will find it easier to follow the play with cards than in the diagram. But that won't be so for long: You will soon find it as easy to read a diagram as a line of print.

As South is declarer, West has to make the first or OPENING LEAD. It would not be good play to start with the Ace of hearts. That would be like spending a week's pocket money the first day and going hungry for the rest of the week. Instead of releasing this high card, West will begin with his longest suit. His correct choice is the Queen of clubs.

You, the declarer, have two sure winners in clubs, the Ace in the South hand and the King in the North. It is not always right by any means to play winning cards at once, but here it would not be an astute move to play the 8 from North and the 6 from your own hand. If you did that, the King and Ace would fall together on the next round, and you would end up with one trick in the suit instead of two. It is not important here whether you win the first trick with the King or the Ace. Let us say that you play the King from North and low from your own hand.

Now if you were being pursued by devils you could take three more tricks quickly with the Ace and King of spades, and the Ace of clubs, but that wouldn't be good play at all. You might make one or two more tricks at the finish, but you wouldn't be making the best of the hand.

Just as it was right for West to start on his long club suit, so you should set about establishing the best suit held by your side. Given time, you could develop tricks in spades, hearts or diamonds. But you are not going to have time, for the opponents have a long suit of clubs which they are going to RUN as soon as they have forced out your Ace. So you ask yourself, "In which suit can I develop the most tricks?"

Spades are the poorest prospect. You have two top winners, but you cannot be sure of establishing any lower spades quickly. In hearts, once you have forced out the Ace, you are sure of three tricks. In diamonds, you can expect to take four tricks, so the diamonds have it.

You lead the King of diamonds from North. East may take this at once with the Ace so that he can continue the clubs, which his partner has led. The second trick is therefore won by East. At the third trick he leads a club and, of course, your Ace of clubs wins.

Now you run off your diamond tricks. In an actual game you must watch the opponents' discards rather closely when they can no longer follow suit. If several spades are THROWN OFF, you will look for extra tricks for yourself in that suit. If they discard their clubs, you might have time to establish some hearts.

As the cards lie, East-West are not likely to be embarrassed in their discards. West, who will have to discard three times on diamond leads, can conveniently let go three small hearts. East will have no temptation to UNGUARD the spades by throwing the 2 and 4.

Suppose, then, that when you have finished leading diamonds, no clubs have been discarded by West and not more than one spade by East. Three tricks in clubs and the Ace of hearts are the very least that the opponents will make if you LET THEM IN the lead. You cannot do better than make your Ace and King of spades. That will give you eight tricks—all that was possible against good defense.

This should teach you an important lesson. Bridge is a game of thoughtful planning and intelligent strategy—not just a matter of leading out Aces and Kings.

Winning tricks with low cards

As you will have noticed already, low cards often win tricks as well as high cards. Whenever you hold a long suit, you can expect to develop tricks by playing out top cards and extracting those of the opponents. Imagine a spade suit divided as follows:


South begins with only three certain winners, the Ace, King and Queen. He plays off the Ace and both opponents follow suit. Already South can be sure of at least one extra trick. Remember that there are always THIRTEEN in a suit. You and North hold eight spades, so the opponents hold five. Even if the three spades outstanding after the first round are in the same hand, North will have more spades than anyone else and his fifth spade will be established in time. As it happens, both opponents follow suit again when a low spade is led to the King. With only one spade now outstanding, North can be sure of three more tricks from his Q 7 4.

In the next example, the extra tricks are developed after one round has been given up to the opponents:


Here North-South begin with only two sure tricks. If it were South's unlucky day—if one opponent held five diamonds—two tricks might be all. When both opponents follow to the King and then the Ace, prospects brighten. A third round is played from North, and declarer's best hopes are fulfilled when the suit BREAKS 3 – 3. That leaves North with two master cards.

Establishment of tricks in this way occurs on almost every deal and we shall see many more examples. What I want you to note is that LENGTH in a suit is an advantage just as much as STRENGTH. To give an extreme example, if you had a suit of ten cards headed by the Ace and 10, and your partner held the SINGLETON (lone) Jack, you might make ten tricks in it even though you were missing the King and Queen. So when, in the next two chapters, we attempt to judge the value of a hand, we count for length as well as for high cards.

The meaning of a trump suit

In the two hands that you have played so far, the suits were all equal in power and value. That is to say, if you had the lead and played the 2 of clubs, and no one else had a club left to play, it would be your trick.

I have a surprise for you. Most hands are not played under those conditions. One suit usually has superior rank over the others, and this suit is called the TRUMP SUIT. The cards in it are called TRUMPS. The word trump is thought to be a corruption of triumph, and the trump suit does indeed triumph over the others.

Suppose that spades are trumps. The Ace of clubs is led by West and North and East follow suit with lower clubs. Now if South has a club he must follow suit as well, but if he has none he can win the trick by playing any spade, even the 2. David knocks out Goliath.

As you can imagine, the existence of a trump suit makes a big difference to the course of play. Here is a simple example:


Suppose first that the hand were played like those we have already played, with no trump suit. West would lead one of his top hearts and the defenders would make the first six tricks, all in hearts.

Now let us say that spades were trumps, as in actual play they would be. Again West leads the King of hearts and follows with the Ace. But South, having no more hearts, will trump this second trick by playing a spade. He will then play out three rounds of spades in order to DRAW THE TRUMPS of his opponents. Five diamonds follow and the Ace of clubs, making a total of twelve tricks for South when he plays the hand in spades.

Finally, can you picture West as declarer, playing with hearts as trumps? He can make as many as ten tricks, losing only one spade trick (for East can trump the second round), one diamond and one club.

So you see that when you have a long suit, and your partner has some cards in it as well, it helps a lot to play with that as the trump suit. The bidding process described in the next chapter is a kind of preliminary skirmish in which both sides seek to establish their long suit as the trump suit.


Preliminaries and the Bidding

We are going back a little, now, to see what happens when four people sit down at a card table for a game of bridge. The first thing to decide is who is going to play with whom. Unless there is a previous arrangement, the four players CUT for partners by spreading the cards face downward across the table and drawing a card apiece. The two highest play against the two lowest. As between equal cards, the rank of suits is the determining factor.

The pair which cuts the high cards has the choice of seats and also of cards. (It is usual, though not essential, to use two decks of cards for alternate deals.)

The player who cuts the highest card deals the first hand. The deck that he has chosen is given to the player on his left to shuffle. It is then passed across to the dealer's right-hand opponent for him to cut. The dealer passes out all the cards one by one, starting with the player on his left and ending with himself. During the deal his partner shuffles the deck not in use and places it on his own right, ready for the player to his right to deal the next hand. Thus the position of the second deck always indicates the dealer.


Excerpted from BRIDGE FOR BRIGHT BEGINNERS by Terence Reese. Copyright © 1964 Terence Reese. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

How the cards and suits rank
You play a complete hand
Forcing out high cards
Winning with low cards
The meaning of trump suit
The cut and deal
The meaning of a contract
The bidding
Double and redouble
The opening lead
Declarer and dummy
Game and rubber
Small and grand slams
A throw-in
Point count
Opening One of a suit
Opening 1NT
When to respond 1NT
Responding to a partner's suit
A double raise in partner's suit
Response of 2NT
A new suit at the level of One
Responding at the level of Two
Responses at game level
Jump bids in a new suit
Responses to 1NT
Stayman convention
Responding after a pass
Summary of Responses
Hold-up play
The finesse
Drawing trumps
Establishing a side suit
Trumping in dummy
A cross-ruff
Rebids after a strong response
After a limited response
After a response at the level of One
After a response at the level of Two
Opening 2NT
Opening 3Nt
The forcing Two
Responses to Two bids
Responding to bids of Three and Four
Scores below the line when the contract is made
Scores above the line
A specimen rubber
Simple overcalls
Jump overcalls
Overcall of 1NT
Forcing overcalls
Responding to a double
Action by an opener's partner
Doubling when two suits have been bid
Two doubles on the same hand
Doubling after a pass
Double by the player who has opened
Overcalls in fourth position
Defense against an opening 1NT
Defense to Three bids
Doubling a low contract
Doubling a high contract
Penalty vs. game
Opening with a part score
Responses with a part score
When opponents have a part score
When to try for a slam
Blackwood convention
Opening leads
Leading from a short suit
The lead when partner has bid
Ducking in defense
Hold-up in defense
"The "echo" at No Trump"
Unblocking in defense
Leading for safety
Short suit leads
Attacking leads
Playing a forcing game
When to lead trumps
"Where a "finesse" is wrong play"
Leading low for a finesse
Finessing against two cards
Finesse or drop?
Safety plays
"How many tricks do I need?"
Finessing for safety
Trump control
Stayman convention for a part score
A sacrifice to save game
A neat conclusion

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