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HOW GOOD ARE YOU?
Charles Goren
October 14, 1957
As a bridge player, the author contends, your main aim should be to get fun out of the game, which is a competitive sport. But he also has a cheerful—and revolutionary—method of evaluating your own rating
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October 14, 1957

How Good Are You?

As a bridge player, the author contends, your main aim should be to get fun out of the game, which is a competitive sport. But he also has a cheerful—and revolutionary—method of evaluating your own rating

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It would be an appalling task to remember all 52 cards in every deal, and it is seldom necessary to do so. Let's see, for example, how East might have concentrated his attention upon the trey and deuce of hearts.

After the very first trick East could forget about the spades except for those he could see in North's hand, because South had already shown out. The next three tricks eliminated his concern about clubs. And from South's discards on tricks one and two, it was obvious that the only diamond of any consequence to East was his own ace.

Skillful deception

That left his mind free to concentrate upon hearts. The reason he was led astray, however, was that it did not seem important to him—since he did not have a heart in his hand—to pay much attention to that suit. Against the skillful deceptive tactics of an operator like Sims, even a foremost expert might have been taken off guard. It's all very human, which makes contract bridge such great fun.

Now let me offer a few suggestions that may serve to jog your memory.

First: Take a good look at the cards that have been played, for it will be impossible to recall what you have not seen. A careful concentration on each trick before it is turned may serve to imprint a photograph in your mind, one that you can pull out of the files later, if it should become necessary. However, in many cases you will find that it won't be necessary.

Second: It is the height of futility to try to remember all the cards that have been played. Start by remembering only what card is now high. Suppose, for example, the first two leads of a suit have slaughtered the six highest cards. Instead of remembering that the ace, king, queen, jack, 10 and 9 have been played, you can catalog the same information by remembering that the 8 is high.

Third: Make a special effort to remember the discards. Most tricks in bridge consist of four cards in the same suit. If you remember those tricks in which some player fails to follow suit and recall how many times the suit was led, it will be a relatively simple task to calculate how many of that suit have already been played.

Can you then be confident that you will know the 3 to be high? Probably not. But you will rarely run up against the kind of legerdemain to which East was subjected in that deal.

No one knows exactly how many bridge players there are in North America, but 50 million would be a reasonable guess. Of these, perhaps 35 million actually play or have at some time played a real game at the bridge table. The other 15 million are "napkin" players, who like to figure out the bidding and the play of hands shown in bridge columns although they never actually sit down and play with a deck of cards and three other players. Their analyses are recorded in postprandial discussions in which the table napkin serves as the blackboard.

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