It is a magic
moment for Charles Goren when the fresh, crisp cards of a new deck are spread
and players cut for partners. After a lifetime of bridge—from demanding
tournament competition to social rubbers with presidents and princes—the most
renowned player and teacher in history still plays the game for fun. More than
that, he believes it should be played only for that purpose. In the series of
articles that begins here, Goren contends this approach will vastly improve the
game of players of all ranks, from amateur to expert. To prove it, he has
distilled his decades of experience into a few astonishingly simple rules and
principles. They cover far more than the expectable aspects of bridge, such as
bidding and play. Goren will demonstrate how the efficiency of any partnership
can be improved; how—and why—nearly all of today's complex conventions can be
scrapped; how, in short, everyone can enjoy bridge as much as Charles Goren
does and be a more successful player, too.
PART 1: THROW OUT
THE FADS AND GIMMICKS
When I was
studying law at McGill University, a girl taught me how to play bridge.
"Just follow suit," she said. "If you can't, you discard or you
trump." So I followed suit and, when I couldn't, I discarded or I trumped.
At the end of the afternoon I was down about 4,000 points and that lovely,
intelligent, desirable girl was laughing at me.
You might suppose
that I now look back in anger at my first bridge teacher. Well, no, I don't. In
the first place, she had made me so ashamed that I went home that summer and
practically memorized a book on bridge, thus inadvertently taking the first
step toward a life of all play and no work. What's more, I now realize that her
simple instructions to me were the essence of what one should tell a beginner.
Just follow suit. If you can't, you discard or you trump. You can't expect a
first-timer to assimilate much more than that, at least for a few rubbers.
But consider the
same situation as it might happen today. A mythical Charles Goren, McGill class
of '64, wants to learn bridge.
Charlie," his beautiful girl friend (I'm making up this mythical situation,
and I say she's beautiful) tells him, "it's simple. First let's talk about
bidding. Suppose your partner opens the bidding with one club."
"That means he
has a lot of clubs in his hand, right?" interrupts the precocious mythical
Charles Goren, McGill '64.
exactly. Maybe he's playing the Neapolitan Club—"
"That he has
at least 17 points in high cards, but not necessarily any good clubs."