Ray Lee

Bridge Jeopardy

Barry Rigal introduced me to a real time-waster in the Press Room a couple of world championships ago – a web site called Sploofus.  Now unfortunately defunct, it consisted of a fantastic collection of trivia and word games, which grew organically through constant member contributions.  At one point, I was inspired to develop a bridge quiz for Sploofus, which (blush) got an Editor’s Award.  Since the site is no longer there, I thought I’d recreate it, with some modifications, for this blog.  No prizes – you can Google the answers in 5 minutes – the trick is to see how many you can get right off the top of your head.  Since this blog has a bridge-savvy readership, I’ve made it a little harder: the original was multiple choice, but for this one, you’re mostly on your own.   I’ll post the answers in a few days.


1.  The exact origins of bridge are murky, although it obviously derives from whist and its precursors.  The trail runs through games such as plafond and biritch, finally arriving at auction bridge and then contract.  The game as we know it today came into being when an American millionaire invented a new scoring table during a New Year cruise on the SS Norway, in 1927-8.  With only minor changes, we still use his scoring today.  Who was he?

2.  Some of the pundits of auction bridge, like Milton Work, made the transition to contract, and continued to play, teach and write about the new game.  One of the most prolific early auction/contract authors became notorious when he was found dying of a gunshot wound in his NY townhouse in 1920, a murder which has never been solved.  It was the subject of a Philo Vance mystery novel by S.S. van Dine: in fact The Benson Murder Case suggested a possible solution.  Who was the victim?

3. Ely Culbertson was the first great promoter of bridge: he founded a magazine (The Bridge World), a bidding system, conducted newspaper columns and radio shows, and wrote dozens of books.  The final pages of his first book were dictated in a cab on the way to catch a transatlantic liner, which was to take him to play a challenge match in the UK.  The book, the first description of his methods, went on to sell millions of copies, making it comfortably the all-time best-selling book on the game.  What was its title?

4. The bridge world was stunned in 1965 when Terence Reese and his partner Boris Schapiro were accused of using illegal finger signals at the world championships in Buenos Aires.  The case generated controversy for years, not least because they were exonerated (or at least the charges were declared ‘not proven’) after an enquiry by a non-bridge-playing judge in the UK.  Today it is generally accepted that they were indeed cheating.  What information did the partners convey to one another?

5. Which of the following is not a type of squeeze?

Clash squeeze

Entry squeeze

Hexagonal squeeze

Knockout squeeze

Mole squeeze

Smother squeeze

6.  Many celebrities have been keen bridge players, including more than one US President and First Lady.  One of the best-known was this comedian, who was still playing cards at his country club a few days before his death at a very advanced age. He was born Nathan Birnbaum; what was his stage name?

7.  Ely Culbertson’s successor as ‘Mr. Bridge’ was Charles Goren, who promulgated Point Count Bidding, an easier method than Culbertson’s system based on Honor Tricks.  Yet the Goren System was not invented by him: it owed much to Milton Work and Bryant McCampbell, but the final touch, the addition of distributional points, came from a Toronto actuary.  What was his name?

8.  One of Goren’s favourite bridge partners was perhaps the best woman player of all time.  When a kibitzer asked her one time what it was like to partner one of the world’s great players, she snapped, ‘I don’t know – why don’t you ask Charlie?’  Who was she?

9.  Far and away the liveliest and most readable history of contract bridge from its beginnings to the early 1950s was penned by Irishman Rex Mackey: The Walk of the Oysters. The title is a reference to a line in a literary work… from which of these authors?  For a bonus point: what does the line have to do with bridge?

Lewis Carroll

T.S. Eliot

James Joyce

William Shakespeare

G.B. Shaw

10. Ira Corn’s sponsorship of the Aces changed bridge forever, and ushered in the era of professional teams.  The makeup of the squad changed several times over the years.  Which of the following players was never a member of the Aces?

Fred Hamilton

Eddie Kantar

Mike Passell

Paul Soloway

Alan Sontag

John Swanson


Judy Kay-WolffAugust 11th, 2010 at 1:41 am


I’m thinking, I’m thinking — but I just loved it.

Will have to print it out and give it the time of which it is deserving.

A welcome refresher. Beats bridge hands!

LuiseAugust 11th, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Isn’t that funny… I think I just type-set an editorial for next month’s Bridge Magazine with the answer to question #2.

So, off the top of my head, I get a score of 1/10. That’s a pretty good result for me, considering how terrible I am at trivia, and that the subject of this quiz is something I know almost nothing about 🙂

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 11th, 2010 at 4:27 pm


You’re too young to know many of these answers since so much took place before you were a glint in your parents’ eyes. I’d trade in my knowledge of this trivia in a heartbeat to have as much computer savvy as you possess.

I did know quite a few off the top of my head (especially #8 from Bobby’s book which I remembered typing). Quite a great line!



LuiseAugust 11th, 2010 at 6:19 pm

I’ve now realized that I was in fact mistaken. I didn’t read the answer to question #2, I read about a whole DIFFERENT murder case that occurred in 1929, where a women shot at her husband 4 times after they argued over their bridge game. Two of the 4 shots were on target, the last being a fatal wound. Apparently she was charged with murder but aquitted on March 6th, 1931.

However, I re-read the quiz and realized that I knew the answer to question #4, so I’m still 1/10.

LindaAugust 11th, 2010 at 8:33 pm

I know quite a few and most of the rest are on the tip of my tongue – how do you get them from your tongue to your brain?

I am going to remember them by tomorrow morning but fortunately I am not being timed.

Great quiz

Luise LeeAugust 13th, 2010 at 3:29 pm

By the way, if you type into your comment: “<span style="color: #fff;"> *** put your quiz answers HERE! *** </span>”, then what you will end up with in the posted comment will be ” *** something like this *** “. As you can see, the words I have just typed are hidden at first glance, but they can be revealed with your mouse pointer. This will allow you to post your answers to the quiz without anyone having to see your response without wanting to see it!

Try it now… use your mouse to highlight my paragraph above over the blank space to reveal the hidden words!

Anyway, the only answer I knew off the top of my head was to #4: the number of fingers shown on the back of the cards (when they held their hand) equalled the number of hearts held.

I’m doing some research to see if I really can find the answers to the above quiz off google in about “5 minutes” 🙂

LuiseAugust 13th, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Here’s what I found on Google:

#1) Harold Stirling Vanderbilt

#2) Joseph Elwell

#3) Contract Bridge Blue Book

#4 I already posted above…

#5) Smother Squeeze

#6) way too easy to find from google: George Burns

#7) William Anderson

#8) Helen Sobel Smith

#9) I would have guessed Lewis Carroll as the answer to this one, and my guess would have been correct. But it was just that — a guess. I had no clue on the bonus point, I had to look that one up: From The Walrus and the Carpenter – Through the Looking Glass:”O Oysters, come and walk with us!”The Walrus did beseech.”A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,Along the briny beach:We cannot do with more than four,To give a hand to each.

#10) This one took a bit more than 5 minutes to answer, and I’m not even sure that my intel is correct: Is this a trick question? According to this website: bridgeguys.com/Glossary/AcesTeam.html, They ALL were!

Paul Soloway joined 1971

Eddie Kantar joined 1975

John Swanson joined 1975

Fred Hamilton joined in 1980

Mike Passell joined 1980

Alan Sontag joined fall of 1981

Ira Corn died in April, 1982 and 3 months later, the Aces won the Spingold in Albuquerque

LuiseAugust 13th, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Ray, I peeked at your answers because I wanted to know about question #10… Here’s another reference that questions the answer you have given: worldbridge.org/people/Teamroster.asp?qteamid=3662

BTW… It took WAY longer than 5 minutes… (look at the time stamps!)

[…] See Bridge Jeopardy by Ray Lee, posted on August 10th, 2010, for quiz questions. […]

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