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Edgar Kaplan Nuggets I

Source: Nikos Sarantakos


All bridge enthusiasts are probably aware of the fact that Edgar Kaplan was a magnificent Vugraph commentator, much admired for his wit, besides his analyses. Such witty Vugraph comments have been collected, published in bulletins and, in fact, most of them are already on the Net (see, for instance, David Stevenson's pages).


On the other hand, Kaplan also was an unsurpassable tournament reporter for the Bridge World. His reports contain a wealth of witty remarks which have not, as far as I know, been the subject of an anthology. It occurred to me to try and select those "Kaplan Nuggets" from his reports, as a tribute to the great man that I was not fortunate enough to know.


As opposed to the Vugraph comments, the nuggets in the reports are on the average less droll -the purpose here is different; nor are there in a report idle moments to be handsomely filled with a witty remark. On the other hand, the reports give to Kaplan the opportunity to present a distilled piece of wisdom and experience in witty form.


The unavoidable snag with such an anthology is that the net result may seem perhaps unfair to Kaplan; I mean, the reader might conclude that E.K. was continually poking fun at the players for their errors or bad luck -this is not obviously the case. Also, since my anthology is concentrated in some periods, some players may seem to have been constantly the target of Kaplan's wit, which is also inaccurate. Another snag: some witty remarks are repeated here and there, especially when Kaplan is criticizing his pet targets (the off-beat notrump opening, for instance).


My Bridge World corpus is far from complete; I have almost all the 90s issues, perhaps half of the 80s' issues and very few from earlier (from the Kaplan era, that is: I have perhaps 50 issues from the early 60s but Kaplan was not writing the tournament reports back then; Moyse was). So, inevitably the anthology is a bit lopsided.


After all these warnings, please do proceed to the texts. I believe they are worth it!


Nikos Sarantakos

Luxembourg, February 2001



[Hamman reads the cards perfectly, makes 2NT with an overtrick]


Making three, plus 150 (what a waste of talent to have him declarer in a part-score!).


"Chicago Spingold, II", TBW 1/1990, p. 7



Perhaps you understand why three Wests decided to double four spades after their partner had preempted in hearts. All three are marvellous players, so no doubt the decision is more sensible than it looks to me; perhaps it would be right in the long run. In the short run, though, they were unable to take any heart tricks in defence [declarer made an overtrick]


Ibid, p. 12



[On a 1D opening on: Q63/Q3/QJ10952/K9]


My first bridge partner used to bid on such hands -still does, actually; he would decide later whether to treat his action as a psych or as a light opening.


"Antipodean Bowl, II", TBW 5/1990, p. 6


There was a swing in both matches when layers impiously chose not to lead their God-given sequence.

"Texas Vanderbilt", TBW 9/1990, p. 9


[On grand slams:]


It is astonishing how often a player in seven is laying huge odds because the opposing team did not reach even six at the other table.

"Texas Vanderbilt, II", TBW 10/1990, p. 5


[On keycard disasters]


Many with-it partnerships are up to six aces, plus several queens of trumps -talk about inflation!

"1990 Spingold", TBW 11/1990, p. 9



Edgar Kaplan Quotes


[At both tables South holds: KJ1097/A4/AK6/J82, opens 1NT, North goes to 3NT]

When I started to play bridge, everyone would bid: one spade-two spades: two notrump-four spades. Plus 420, for a tied board. Nowadays, for some reason that is far too subtle for me, it is fashionable to open with one notrump. I admit that it makes no difference, since the result, a tied board, is the same. Everyone went honorably down in three notrump, no swing.


Franco carefully picked his way among winning lines and found the only losing line in a game everyone else made.



'In his three notrump contract, declarer has seven tricks. One more from heaven makes eight and where there's eight, there's nine.'