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Bridge Word Puzzles

  by Richard Pavlicek

These bridge word puzzles created by Richard Pavlicek have been used as fillers in a variety of publications related to bridge. Warning! You probably won’t improve your bridge game here, but you might be entertained.

The answer is shown immediately after each puzzle, however, you’ll enjoy them more if you try to solve each one on your own. In other words, no peeking!

Bridge Groaners

If someone said that Bobby would be a nicer guy if he didn’t Wolff down his food, it would probably get a groan in bridge circles. How many of these famous players can you identify by the intended puns?

1. Bill doesn’t play very often, but he knows which team to ________ for.

2. Al converted his investments to a ________ I.R.A.

3. Eric went fishing and got his reel all tangled, but he held the ________.

4. Bob ordered ________ eggs for breakfast.

5. Lynn was a good student except for the occasional ________ on her report card.

6. Richard got his parole and is now a ________.

7. Michael joined the Navy and became a ________ First Class.

8. Kathie said there was no ________ she could lose.

9. Nick wouldn’t give a ________ for his chances to win the Vanderbilt.

10. Billy held up his glass and proposed a toast: “It’s ________ time!”

1. Root 2. Roth 3. Rodwell 4. Hamman 5. Deas 6. Freeman 7. Seamon 8. Wei 9. Nickell 10. Miller

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Conventional Quiz

What adjective, when used pertaining to bridge, has a meaning opposite to its normal English meaning?

Conventional! In bridge, a conventional bid has an unusual or nonstandard meaning. Compare this with its non-bridge usage meaning usual or standard, such as “conventional manner” or “conventional warfare.”

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What’s My Name?

Many last names sound like ordinary English words. Can you name a famous bridge player (past or present) for each of following descriptions:

1. Large pine box
2. Small steel spike
3. Lion’s den
4. Part of a camera
5. Wading bird
6. Catholic clergyman
7. Letter of the alphabet
8. Piece of granite
9. Common household pets
10. Flowering of a plant

1. George Coffin  2. Bobby Nail  3. Mark Lair  4. Sidney Lenz  5. Barry Crane  6. Cliff Bishop  7. Norman Kay  8. Tobias Stone  9. Ralph Katz  10. Lou Bluhm  (Other answers are possible.)

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Bridge Chain

Can you complete this chain of bridge terms? Starting from the word “bridge” form each consecutive word by changing one letter in the previous word and rearranging the six letters. Finally, circle the nine new letters added and rearrange them to form the phrase suggested by the final clue.

  B R I D G E

 __________ One who seldom passes

 __________ Repeats the same suit

 __________ Supported partner’s suit

 __________ Face your hand to claim

 __________ The master suit

 __________ One who seldom bids

 __________ Waits after a skip bid

 __________ Bridge hand patterns

 __________ Leads a winning card

What bridge duffers do: ________ _________

Bidder Rebids Raised Spread Spades Passer Pauses Shapes Cashes “Push cards”

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Unusual Paragraph

Good slam bidding, or a lack of it, is a major downfall of most aficionados of our popular indoor sport. It is just too common to find good old Blackwood as an automatic slam-bidding tool. I doubt that any solution would bring unanimous approval, but my proposal is to ban all four-notrump bids from this day forward. I would also found an institution for violators — call it a Blackwood Asylum — so that stubborn fanatics could bid four notrump ad infinitum. What is unusual about this paragraph?

The paragraph contains no “e” — the most common letter.

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Bidding Mix-Up

Each of these silly phrases is an anagram of a familiar bridge word or phrase that pertains to bidding. Can you unscramble them?


1. Overcall  2. Blackwood  3. Weak two-bid  4. Penalty double  5. Negative double  6. Five-card majors  7. Grand slam force  8. Preemptive bid  9. Splinter bid

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Carding Mix-Up

Each of these silly phrases is an anagram of a familiar bridge word or phrase that pertains to card play. Can you unscramble them?


1. Opening lead  2. Falsecard  3. Attitude signal  4. Trump endplay  5. Backward finesse  6. Dummy reversal  7. Coup en passant

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Hidden Names

Hidden in each of the following sentences is the last name of a famous bridge player (past or present). How many can you find? Watch out for my traps!

1. If your contract is in danger, be realistic and look for a simple solution.

2. Jacob, I know you play by instinct, but I think a plan of some kind is better than just tossing cards.

3. For some people bridge is a mental challenge; for others it’s just a way to cross the river.

4. I wish Mr. Black would not let the bidding stop so low; a young attorney should be more competitive.

5. Some years ago reneges would cost the offending side two tricks; now it might be only one trick.

6. Holding A-K-x opposite J-x-x, cash the A-K; the queen might fall and your jack will be good.

7. What slam was she in, Waldy? If it’s six clubs, even a math expert would go down.

8. Why can’t Arnie play without moping like a sour grape every time he goes set?

9. Oh, Sharri, forgive me; I was so selfish, being the only one who refused to play with you.

10. If you will stay Monday, I’ll teach you my bidding system using old manuals from high school.

1. John Gerber  2. Edgar Kaplan  3. Alvin Roth  4. Paul Soloway  5. Charles Goren  6. Alvin Landy  7. Lew Mathe  8. George Rapee  9. Harry Fishbein  10. Bobby Goldman

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What’s In a Name?

If someone asked you which notable bridge player is a flower, you might answer Irving Rose or Harold Lilie (spelling doesn’t count) or stretch it to include Charlie Weed. Can you name three bridge players (past or present) that fit each of these categories?

1. Colors
2. Animals
3. Trees
4. Chess

Here are my answers, though others are possible: 1. Roy Green, Joseph Silver, Sam Gold; 2. Bobby Wolff, Roy Fox, Henry Baer; 3. Alan Oaks, Bill Root, Nadine Wood; 4. Frank King, Cliff Bishop, Gaylor Kasle.

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Scrambled Names

Each of the following words is an anagram of the first and last name of a player in the 1997 Top 500 list. The names are not necessarily their legal given names, but the name the person goes by. For example, record books are saturated with Bob Hamman, not Robert.


1. Doug Henry  2. Dan Morse  3. Sue Sachs  4. Steve Sion

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All-Time Best Seller

What is the best selling bridge textbook of all time?

A. Bridge Basics by R. Pavlicek
B. Bridge Bidding Guide by R. Pavlicek
C. None of the above

(C). Yep, by a long shot.

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Norman the Conqueror

In the bridge world it would be hard to find anyone more highly respected than Norman Kay, not only from his bridge exploits (which are too long to list) but as a true gentleman. But, everyone knows this. What people don’t know is the story of his early days, before bridge. Perhaps you can fill in the missing pieces using only the nine letters in NORMAN KAY. (Each blank is a four- or five-letter word.)

Norman was born in an outlying ________ suburb, where his family owned a countryside ________. After ________ years of schooling he became bored with his Italian homeland and joined the ________ so he could ________ the world. His first adventure came on the high seas, where he was attacked by a ________ shark and a ________ eel. “I’m ________!” shouted Norman, “thanks to this protective ________ wet suit.” Alas, with his life running ________, Norman returned home. As he entered the kitchen, the ________ was unmistakable; his mother was cooking ________, his favorite vegetable. “Hi mom,” he said, “from now on I won’t let the outside world ________ me. I’m going to make my ________ here, and some day I’ll be the ________.”

Roman, manor, many, Army, roam, mako, moray, okay, rayon, amok, aroma, okra, annoy, mark, mayor.

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Historical Facts

Test your knowledge of bridge history. Who invented:

A. The Stayman convention?
B. The Blackwood convention?
C. Contract bridge?

A. George Rapee. Rapee’s partner Samuel Stayman wrote about it and popularized it, hence the Stayman name became attached; but Rapee was the inventor. B. Easley Blackwood. OK, this was easy, but rumors are that he stole it from my uncle Easily Pavlicek. C. Harold Vanderbilt. On a cruise in 1925 he devised the scoring tables (game and slam bonuses, vulnerability factor, undertrick penalties, etc.) which were so magnificently balanced they have survived to this day with only a few changes.

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Dummy Technique

South handled the dummy with flawless technique and overcame several bad breaks to fulfill his five-club contract. What was South’s occupation?

Ventriloquist! Mr. South signed a contract to perform with his dummy at five different nightclubs, which he managed to fulfill despite some hardships. Did I mention bridge? Read it again.

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© 2007 Richard Pavlicek