# Why are bridge games seemingly documented only by the hands and bidding?

I was looking for an interesting sample hand in Bridge to sort of demonstrate a card game system that could be used for Bridge (a game I know exists, and thought I knew more-or-less the system of it, but which I do not play). I wanted to have a simulation play through a famous and well known hand...as I understand the game is studied.

Seemingly I was correct, and I found this game that was apparently an old one rehashed in a James Bond movie:

Okay... that's great, but that's just the hands and the bidding. Where's the list of plays?

Couldn't find them. So I looked around to try and find another "famous" Bridge game that listed the plays, but they all seem to just skip that. Just the hands and maybe one small note about "they ruff this" or "they scrobble that" etc.

Is it simply the case that in Bridge you can hand-wave and say that the game is essentially over once you've seen the hands and the bidding? Because that looks to be what people do. Can anyone give me the actual play list for this game, merely from that notation of the hands and the bids?

• You should have click the show answer- "While the crafty 007 (sitting North) only has 8 points in his hand, by finessing Drax's Club tenances and promoting Bond's long Diamond suit, he establishes a whopping 13 tricks!" Its a good summary of the play. Apr 9 '14 at 11:12
• @user2617804 I did click show answer, but I was looking for the list of plays... I was trying to generate a way to "auto-play" a logged bridge game in an animation, without having to learn bridge to do so. Yet all the bridge games I find online are just hands and a few pieces of jargon suggesting that jargon is enough to compress the game that happened. If it compresses that well then great I guess, but that doesn't make my task any easier. :-/ I have to "decompress" the jargon assuming purely logical players whose only "decisions" are captured in that short jargon. Apr 9 '14 at 16:14
• With what basis do you expect to understand difficult instances of a complicated game without actually learning it? Your example hand is trivial in regards to even a basic throw-in, never mind a Vienna Coup (generally regarded as an early intermediate play) or a repeating double squeeze. Apr 9 '14 at 21:36
• @PieterGeerkens With no basis do I intend to understand the game. I wanted a famous game and the list of plays so I don't have to learn it but can animate the game so those who understand the game or are trying to learn can watch the animation. That was my question and clearly stated. I asked why the plays are left as an exercise to the reader vs. an enumeration in most every "famous" hand I could find. Hence deferring to the Internet with a question. If I knew the answer, I wouldn't ask a question. Also, no one has given me the play list for this. Apr 10 '14 at 0:37
• @HostileFork: I believe ruds gave you a list of plays, albeit in English and in an indirect fashion. You play spades, why don't you try and figure out what he is saying? (Bridge players are also lazy :-)) Apr 10 '14 at 0:58

Usually play in double-dummy problems (that is problems with all hands visible) is left as an exercise to the reader. The play in this problem depends on the opening lead.

If the opening lead is not a diamond, it is ruffed in hand. A diamond is ruffed in dummy and a club played toward hand, where it is won as cheaply as possible. Another diamond is ruffed in dummy (note that the AK of diamonds have now both been played), and another club finessed. Declarer may now play his high club from hand, drawing the last trump, then the diamond queen, establishing that suit. Now declarer's hand is good the cards may be played in any order.

• So basically what I said. :-) That still isn't a play list. It's as if you're suggesting that the game play that happened when all the cards aren't shown was equivalent to the game play when the cards are shown. I've played spades, not bridge, yet I'd assume there's some free will. I guess the dynamic is changed considerably by having one player at the table who can see half the cards. My broad question is: at bridge tournaments do they just write down the hands and the contract, or do they log the actual plays? Is it really that deterministic? If it's deterministic, why play the hand? Apr 9 '14 at 16:06
• In bridge tournaments, you write down the contracts and the results (number of tricks taken and resulting score). Typically the tournament organizers provide hand records afterward so players may analyze results.
– ruds
Apr 9 '14 at 21:07
• The play is not particularly deterministic; often there are multiple legitimate lines of play that may be pursued. The example you give here is a bad example, as Bond has arranged to cheat so that he knows all four hands. The defenders are helpless here, as they have no way to take a single trick. If non-cheaters picked up these hands and somehow got to 7CXN, they would probably play it in a similar way as it's the only way to take all 13 tricks.
– ruds
Apr 9 '14 at 21:10

For the sake of a concrete list of plays, I'll give one (with the leader listed).

1. E DJ C2 DK D2
2. S C3 C9 CT S2
3. N D3 DT C5 DA
4. S C6 CJ CQ S3
5. N CA S4 C7 CK
6. N DQ DJ H3 HJ
7. N D8 S5 H4 SJ
8. N D7 S6 H5 SQ
9. N D6 H2 H6 HQ
10. N D5 H7 S7 HK
11. N D4 H8 S8 SK
12. N C8 H9 S9 HA
13. N C4 HT ST SA

In real life, North would show their hand after trick 4 and say something like: "I claim the rest of the tricks: The CA will pull the last trump and then I will play diamonds from the top."

• ...though my code checks for legitimate plays, and caught the double play of `DJ` in round 6. :-) I'll presume you meant `D9`! Apr 12 '14 at 2:41
• More likely to be claimed after Trick 5, with the last Defensive Club removed, Declarer's claim would be something like: "Rough a Major suit back to my high hand." Claiming with outstanding Defensive trump cards is asking for disputes and unnecessary complications. Dec 12 '18 at 22:43
• You're right in general, of course, but "high crossruff". Wearing my TD hat, 99% of the "disputes and complications" go away if claimers would just knock out the first leg of the L70C stool: "claimer made no statement about the trump". Make A Claim Statement every claim, and Mention The Outstanding Trump every time there is one. Jan 4 at 17:53

People have answered about the Duke of Cumberland hand you found as an example (and if you looked up Fleming's text, you would find a complete play. I just confirmed with my copy).

In general, it's a lot like recipe books for chefs, as opposed to recipe books for duffers like me. Instead of a detailed list of ingredients and thorough preparation steps, each recipe is a couple lines of "with this, this and this, add this during the simmer and serve with that". The key is that is all that is required for the chef to fill in everything else, with their knowledge and experience; all they need is the critical things that make this dish not some other.

And so with explanation of bridge deals. Their audience can be assumed to be very knowledgable; so only the unusual parts of the auction (if any) and the critical parts of the play need be mentioned. The readers will be able to work out the rest. And that's why Fleming wrote out the full play - he couldn't expect all Moonraker readers to be able to see it, the way even the writers of the newspaper bridge columns can expect.

This happens in the bar, after the session as well; everyone has their copy of the hand record, and the teller explains the auction, and says something like "I got the fourth best club lead, which I won. Because there was no other reason to double the slam than he thought he had two trump tricks, I hooked the 7 on the first round, and when partner showed out it was all over. If he hadn't doubled, I probably go down." People see it, smile at the result, and the next person brags about their brilliance (or gripes about their bad luck).

It happens during play as well; only about half of hands play to trick 13 (and many of those only because online it's easier to play the last two tricks than claim). Once all the problems are solved, declarer shows their hand, makes a claim statement (something like "club loser on the long diamond", or "pull the last trump"), everyone quickly sees how the rest of the play will go, and on to the next hand.

I actually find that details of play records (such as what ruds gave you) are harder to understand than a flow explanation.

• Yes, completely agreed, especially as to your last sentence. My initial answer was the flow explanation, and the detailed play record only came later. People recognize patterns, and giving a line of play rather than a record of all plays is more succinct and less error-prone.
– ruds
May 10 at 2:50

Not sure what your question is.

Are you looking for a repository where hands are played to the last trick?

There are plenty of repositories (check out the Vugraph archive on BBO), but in majority of the hands, you will never see the whole hand played out, but you will see some list of plays.

Bridge players hate wasting time on the obvious, and for that reason, there is the concept of "claim" where you stop the play by showing your hand and saying how many tricks you are going to take (stating a line of play, which is not the same as a list of plays). This is especially so in higher levels of the game.

For instance, in this Bond hand, just saying finessing clubs and setting up diamond is good enough for most bridge players to figure out what the sequence of plays will have to be. With the East/West hands hidden, this will become obvious once East shows out of clubs and the Diamond Ace and King fall the first two times diamonds are played (So a claim will occur after about the first 5-6 tricks).

Most bridge hands you find online will be a puzzle to the reader, and in most cases, just a paragraph or so are sufficient for the intelligent reader to grasp the solution.

What you seem to be asking seems akin to posing a mathematical problem and asking for a computer verifiable proof, or a chess master announcing mate in 10 and you asking for every possible sequence from that point.

btw, "hand waving" would not be the words I would use, especially if you have absolutely no clue about what is being talked about.

• "a chess master announcing mate in 10 and you asking for every possible sequence from that point." No, I ask only for one sequence: the one that is actually played. My point is that there are many plays and I'm asking what the threshold is in this game for when leaving things as an exercise to the reader is considered appropriate. From spades I understand following suit, and you'd never follow suit with a higher vs. lower card losing to what's been played unless you were being cheeky and just knew it made no difference. It seemed to me there was more choice, still. Apr 10 '14 at 0:48
• @HostileFork: There is no more play once a claim occurs, so there is no "actually played sequence". As to "documentation" online which you seem to be running into, those are just puzzles. Not a record of real games played. The Vugraph link I gave above is a real record of games played. You will see a partial list of plays, followed by a claim, after which you won't see any list of plays. Am I making sense? Or did I misunderstand you? Apr 10 '14 at 0:54
• Well I could pick a random game but I was looking for a famous one to demo a card game animation tool, as applied to bridge. It was an idea, I just got frustrated that I couldn't find the plays. I've looked up LIN and PBN and really I'm only working at the single hand level, I'd just like something everyone would recognize. The claim issue is interesting; to stop play by showing your hand (?) How often do people make mistakes? Odd game... Apr 10 '14 at 0:58
• @HostileFork: Mistakes do happen. The opposing side is allowed to reject the claim, in which case the game continues with the claimers hands exposed (there are even bridge laws which deal with these). Most of the times, though, if everyone is a reasonable player, the valid claims will get accepted. Showing a single sequence of plays which works might not sit well with bridge players. Those few sentences of English actually pack a lot more info than a sequence of 52 cards played. They cover all possible plays by the defenders! Apr 10 '14 at 1:06

This is an example of a "cooked" deal. The defender, West, has three AK's and various assorted other values, and yet can't take a single trick because all his cards are badly positioned in the worst possible way. As a result, the hero makes a highly dubious 7 club bid, and a dubious redouble, and gets away with it!

Most bridge hands in movies and stories are described in the way you discuss (bidding and no play) because the purpose is other than bridge (here, the idea is to make the hero, James Bond look good, even though his bidding is quite foolish).

"Serious" bridge, as discussed in bridge books or columns, do feature play as well as bidding. The problem is that non-bridge books and literature gloss over these bridge matters for non-bridge reasons.

• The hand was rigged through slight of hand - Bond's bidding is intended to look foolish so as to entice a double, that can be redoubled. Apr 10 '14 at 0:50
• The problem is that non-bridge books and literature gloss over these bridge matters for non-bridge reasons. +1 thanks. This makes sense. I'm still looking for the list of plays though, just for the sake of argument would you mind listing them? I'm only doing a demo for bridge players...not trying to get deep into bridge, I thought it would be funny to use something they'd recognize and maybe laugh at. Apr 10 '14 at 0:50
• @PieterGeerkens: It goes back to a point that you made in an earlier post that West should not double with a "finessable" holding such as KJ9 of trumps because it warns declarer where the finesse is. But if West had KQJ of trumps, he'd have two "forced" (not just possible) trump tricks. Even so, Bond was lucky to find all five little trumps in the South hand, rather than split, say 3-2 South and East (or 2-2 if West has four). Apr 10 '14 at 14:48
• It was a fixed hand - Bond knew where every spot was because he rigged the deck during the shuffle. Choosing this particular deal, well known as the Duke of Cumberland Hand, was also an insult to Drax's new money, as any old money bridge player would have been introduced to the hand at Eton. Apr 10 '14 at 21:39