Harvey Bernstein's Bridge Columns

The Rabbi's Rule.

First Published on October 8, 2000

(E-Mailed on January 16, 2018)


This hand came up at a recent duplicate bridge game. Mort Pierce of Chagrin Falls was the declarer. The vulnerability kept the East-West pair out of the auction, and Pierce found himself in four hearts missing three aces and the king of hearts.

West opened the ace of clubs and when that held he switched to the three of diamonds. East won the ace and continued with the six of diamonds. Pierce won the king and led the queen of hearts. West played the nine and Pierce called for the ace, dropping the singleton king.

In this particular hand, the analysis that led to the play of the ace of hearts was made easier by the opening lead. Once West has shown the ace of clubs, it would be impossible for him to also hold the king of hearts. Holding that card, especially doubleton, he would most certainly have found a response to the opening bid. West's first round pass, and his play of the ace of clubs, marked East with the rest of the outstanding honor cards, and since the nine of hearts had already appeared, the king had to be singleton.

If you look in the Bridge Encyclopedia under the entry "Rabbi's Rule", you will find that it applies to this hand. It is attributed to Milton Shattner of New York City who was known as "The Rabbi" because of his ability to create rabbinical sounding pronouncements for each and every bridge situation. In this particular situation, Shattner's rule was: "When the king is singleton, play the ace!" As it turns out, this is always good advice. Pierce made his game and got a very good score on the hand as a result of following the "Rabbi's Rule".
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Past eMailed Columns

Column Date Date Emailed
October 16, 1994January 13, 2018
October 21, 2001January 9, 2018
September 18, 1994January 2, 2018
February 20, 2000December 30, 2017
June 25, 2004December 30, 2017
December 30, 2001December 26, 2017
January 28, 2005September 26, 2017
February 24, 2007September 23, 2017
June 11, 1995September 19, 2017
February 4, 2006September 16, 2017
February 4, 2001September 12, 2017
March 30, 2010September 9, 2017
January 23, 2004September 5, 2017
January 28, 2001September 2, 2017
August 19, 2001August 29, 2017
December 2, 2001August 26, 2017
September 27, 2002August 22, 2017
December 28, 1997August 22, 2017
January 2, 2004August 19, 2017
July 8, 2005August 15, 2017
September 9, 2006August 12, 2017
July 7, 2007August 8, 2017
October 7, 2001August 5, 2017
October 17, 1993August 1, 2017
February 27, 2004July 29, 2017
January 13, 2007July 25, 2017
March 15, 2002July 22, 2017
February 18, 2006July 18, 2017
June 18, 1995July 15, 2017
February 7, 1999July 11, 2017
November 1, 1992July 8, 2017
March 29, 2010July 4, 2017
February 22, 2002July 1, 2017
February 27, 1994June 27, 2017
December 5, 2003June 24, 2017
April 29, 2001June 20, 2017
February 11, 2001June 17, 2017
June 17, 2001June 13, 2017
August 28, 1994June 10, 2017
May 4, 2015June 6, 2017
December 3, 1995June 3, 2017
October 8, 2004May 30, 2017
July 30, 2000May 27, 2017
October 28, 2008May 23, 2017
June 14, 2002May 20, 2017
March 5, 2004May 16, 2017
July 30, 2004May 13, 2017
March 7, 1999May 9, 2017
September 6, 1998May 6, 2017
June 11, 2004May 2, 2017
April 26, 2009April 29, 2017
October 5, 1997April 29, 2017
September 1, 2007April 25, 2017
January 6, 2007April 22, 2017
March 12, 2000April 18, 2017
August 2, 2002April 15, 2017
May 14, 2000April 11, 2017
December 10, 1995April 8, 2017
January 12, 1997April 8, 2017
March 9, 1997April 8, 2017
July 17, 1994April 4, 2017
April 22, 2005April 1, 2017
July 29, 2006March 28, 2017
March 29, 2010March 25, 2017
May 30, 2003March 21, 2017
July 15, 2006March 18, 2017
December 10, 2004March 14, 2017
February 11, 2005March 11, 2017
September 8, 2007March 7, 2017
October 7, 2005March 4, 2017
July 2, 2000February 28, 2017
October 29, 2004February 25, 2017
October 4, 1998February 21, 2017
April 15, 2006February 18, 2017
March 18, 2005February 14, 2017
September 3, 1995February 11, 2017
June 25, 2000February 7, 2017
November 12, 2004February 4, 2017
January 11, 2002January 31, 2017
October 4, 2002January 28, 2017
July 9, 2000January 24, 2017
December 14, 1997January 24, 2017
May 28, 2000January 21, 2017
December 20, 1992January 17, 2017
October 10, 1993January 14, 2017
December 7, 1997January 10, 2017
September 20, 1998January 10, 2017
September 19, 2003January 7, 2017
April 4, 1999January 3, 2017
October 13, 2007December 31, 2016
May 20, 2001December 27, 2016
November 11, 2006December 24, 2016
February 2, 2008December 20, 2016
July 23, 1995December 17, 2016
April 1, 2006December 13, 2016
May 20, 2005December 10, 2016
May 7, 2000December 6, 2016
January 31, 2009December 3, 2016
September 5, 2003November 29, 2016
February 18, 2001November 26, 2016
October 31, 1993November 22, 2016
October 15, 1995November 19, 2016
July 2, 2004November 15, 2016
August 4, 2007November 12, 2016
May 21, 1995November 8, 2016
August 19, 2005November 5, 2016
August 5, 2005November 1, 2016
February 17, 2007October 29, 2016
May 22, 2012October 25, 2016
September 30, 2005October 22, 2016
December 6, 1998October 18, 2016
March 19, 2008October 15, 2016
March 3, 2007October 11, 2016
February 1, 2015October 8, 2016
April 3, 1994October 4, 2016
June 17, 2005October 1, 2016
August 27, 1995September 27, 2016
January 28, 2010September 24, 2016
October 14, 2005September 20, 2016
May 13, 2001September 17, 2016
May 5, 2015September 13, 2016
January 26, 2010September 10, 2016
October 25, 2002September 6, 2016
September 2, 2001September 3, 2016
February 3, 2015August 30, 2016
April 26, 2002August 23, 2016
January 19, 1997August 23, 2016
April 27, 1997August 23, 2016
October 29, 1995August 20, 2016
June 12, 1994August 16, 2016
July 9, 2008August 13, 2016
February 12, 1995August 9, 2016
October 15, 2004August 6, 2016
September 12, 2003August 2, 2016
July 29, 2005July 30, 2016
October 24, 1993July 26, 2016
October 10, 2003July 23, 2016
September 16, 2005July 19, 2016
December 13, 2002July 16, 2016
April 18, 2003July 12, 2016
January 2, 2000July 9, 2016
June 28, 2002July 5, 2016
September 27, 1998July 2, 2016
October 25, 1998July 2, 2016
May 13, 2006June 29, 2016
July 2, 2010June 28, 2016
February 19, 1995June 28, 2016
November 25, 2001June 25, 2016
February 9, 2010June 21, 2016
April 29, 2006June 18, 2016
September 9, 2001June 14, 2016
June 4, 2000June 11, 2016
November 18, 2001June 11, 2016
January 30, 2004June 7, 2016
March 28, 1999June 7, 2016
May 20, 2006May 21, 2016
August 19, 2006May 21, 2016
August 20, 2000May 17, 2016
March 12, 1995May 14, 2016
February 11, 2006May 10, 2016
August 30, 1998May 7, 2016
September 11, 2010May 3, 2016
March 8, 2002April 30, 2016
August 27, 2000April 26, 2016
May 16, 2008April 23, 2016
July 29, 2001April 19, 2016
December 2, 2005April 19, 2016
April 18, 1999April 19, 2016
April 13, 1997April 19, 2016
December 21, 1997April 19, 2016
February 15, 1998April 19, 2016
April 1, 2014April 16, 2016
November 4, 2001April 12, 2016
September 13, 2002April 9, 2016
March 19, 2000April 2, 2016
March 1, 1998March 29, 2016
March 24, 2007March 26, 2016
December 6, 1992March 22, 2016
September 16, 2001March 19, 2016
October 14, 2006March 15, 2016
March 21, 2003March 12, 2016
April 9, 2004March 8, 2016
November 5, 2000March 5, 2016
July 22, 2005March 1, 2016
July 14, 2007February 27, 2016
October 18, 1992February 23, 2016
July 9, 1995February 20, 2016
May 3, 2015February 16, 2016
September 11, 2010February 13, 2016
September 10, 1995February 9, 2016
January 24, 1999February 6, 2016
August 6, 2004February 2, 2016
May 7, 1995January 30, 2016
December 17, 2004January 26, 2016
July 16, 2000January 23, 2016
May 6, 2006January 19, 2016
November 1, 2002January 16, 2016
December 1, 2007January 9, 2016
September 3, 2000January 5, 2016
June 25, 1995January 2, 2016
May 19, 2007December 29, 2015
October 28, 2006December 28, 2015
November 17, 2007December 27, 2015
May 26, 2014December 26, 2015
April 30, 2000December 25, 2015
October 9, 1994December 24, 2015
December 19, 1993November 30, -0001
November 27, 1994December 31, 1969