Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, September 1st, 2020


Iain ClimieSeptember 15th, 2020 at 12:26 pm

HI Bobby,

I suppose you can’t argue with success but I developed a friendly distinction when congratulating partner and/or opponents. “Well played” meant it; “well done” implied congratulations on your probably undeserved appalling good luck despite your bidding and play!

Most people didn’t note the distinction and just thought I was being sporting.



jim2September 15th, 2020 at 2:00 pm

One of my long-time favorite stories on what to say at the bridge table has also been repeated by Our Host here on this site.

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, May 28th, 2014 by Bobby Wolff on June 11th, 2014

Iain ClimieSeptember 15th, 2020 at 3:16 pm

Hi Jim2,

Howard Schenken’s comment I take it? The opposite approach is when a weak declarer asks a stronger partner whether he could have made the contract and the answer is “No, YOU couldn’t”. Doesn’t help morale or results, though!

jim2September 15th, 2020 at 4:30 pm

Yes, Schenken’s.

I have heard a great many put-downs and snarky this-and-that’s, but Schenken may have been the most sought-after partner in bridge history. IIRC, there was one famous team he was on that won multiple championships, and he was the only one who regularly played with ALL the others.

bobbywolffSeptember 15th, 2020 at 5:07 pm

Hi Iain & Jim2,

One must always protect himself against spoken words, which leads to mental abuse, which is (or perhaps should be) “any after talk, especially by an uncouth partner or opponent (same thing) and after a good result for them, (seldom done by a her)” once partner has not only flown off the rails, but doesn’t even know it.

With, of course, some examples above, but also by a late and great former playwright, humorist and, during his popularity (long ago) a rampant bridge enthusiast, George S. Kaufman: “When did you learn how to play bridge, I know it was today, but what time today”?

And Iain, once a bridge atrocity occurs, the last thing one usually considers is another bridge playing joust with the responsible culprit, but only, should I leave now?, with more horror to come on the next hand or should I maintain my ability to not get forever barred by not playing on, real wish: “if so, possibly, under an assumed name”.

The result of such a caper might be similar to, while alone, finally arriving back at one’s car after a long walk, parked in a desolate far northern location, in the middle of winter and reach for your car keys, only to find an empty pocket with a hole at the bottom.

Iain ClimieSeptember 15th, 2020 at 5:34 pm

Hi Jum2, Bobby,

I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve been responsible for assorted put-downs over the years including to one poor guy (and a really decent but easy to pick on guy – sorry Paul de W): “Why the club switch?” “I thought he might have 4 of them.” “Well the bidding and early play showed declarer almost certainly had 10, or more likely 11, cards in the other 3 suits; your play was fine if there were 15 clubs in the pack and stood a chance if there were 14. Just not your night.” Unhelpful, smart-alec and that sort of comment helped lose me a charming, intelligent and rich girlfriend in my early 20s; she was unwise enough to partner me in a few tournaments. My wife refuses point blank to even think about learning!

In Daphne De Maurier’s “My Cousin Rachel” the character who narrates the novel says early on something like “There is no going back in life, no second chance, no return. I cannot withdraw the spoken word or undo the done deed….” Lesson: Count to 10 and/or put a sock in it before unleashing the tantrum!



bobbywolffSeptember 15th, 2020 at 6:59 pm

Hi Iain,

Lesson on your lesson:

Be Dr Jekyll not Mr. Hyde.

Robert Louis Stephenson, likely not a bridge player, but obviously a keen analyst of human nature, was trying to tell all who listened that all of us had some of both men in us, but, if possible, mask the beast.

However, bridge being a partnership, not an individual venture, both live and die (at least figuratively) by our Ox’s actions!

Not dissimilar to Daphne De Maurier’s clear and passionate message.