Move over Aesop! It’s time for Mabel’s fables!

The Mother and the Orphans


My wife Mabel loves to create analogies when explaining bridge principles to her students. This is one of her favorites, which she uses to explain an important technique in suit establishment. Suppose you are declarer in 3 NT and have to establish this suit when dummy has no entry in any other suit:

Dummy
A 8 7 6 5

You
4 3 2

Most of her beginning students are too eager to win the ace, hence they miss the key play of ducking the first two rounds to keep the entry to dummy. Or as Mabel would explain it:

“You have to pretend your cards are a family. The Ace is the mother and the small cards are the children. You know what happens when a mother leaves her children? They become orphans, and that is a terrible thing to do to your children. Therefore, when you play this suit you have to keep the mother with the children. Don’t make them orphans!”

For amusement I sometimes question her about these stories, and something about this one was unsettling. When she tells her students to duck the first two rounds (keeping the mother), isn’t this like giving away some of your children? As I see it, you start with seven children, and you’re asking the students to give away four of them as soon as they can. Talk about breaking up a family! Mabel thought about this for a moment and offered:

“No, you’re not giving them away. Some of the children must leave for school. It’s just important to keep the mother around to care for whichever children are still at home.”

Well, some day I may learn this game. At least you kept the father out of your story.

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Copy this and Mabel will put you in her stories.