DATELINE July 1962  —  Solitary Confinement

At the tender age of 14, I was sentenced to a hospital for removal of a terrible set of tonsils. On her way to visit, my mother picked up a few books, to help the nurses and me survive each other. (For a healthy teenager, a three-day confinement in the hospital certainly qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment.) One book was a 50¢ paperback,5 Weeks to Winning Bridgeby Alfred Sheinwold. I knew nothing about bridge, but had always enjoyed card games, starting with pinochle at my dad’s knee as a precocious six-year old.

During my hospital stay, I devoured Sheinwold’s book. Luckily for me, my non-bridge-playing mother had stumbled upon an absolute gem. I borrowed a deck of cards from the nurses, who were delighted with my new pacifier.

September 1965 – Classes No, Bridge Yes

Then came college, and what a revelation! Attendance in class was not mandatory. Bridge games were never-ending. Let me see, should I go to Accounting 101 or play some bridge?  Not a tough decision.

My bridge game improved overnight. Unfortunately, my professors were unable to appreciate my skipping classes in pursuit of endplays and slams. When I went home for Christmas break, I was the not-so-proud possessor of a 1.0 GPA.

Meanwhile, I had been introduced to duplicate bridge. Winning masterpoints was much easier than passing exams. However, the following was now definitely in question: Would I graduate?  If I did, which would come first, the required 120 credits or the 300 masterpoints needed to become a life master?  Amazingly, the diploma preceded my gold card by almost six months.

June 1976  —  Goodbye Nine-to-Five

My first published material, “That’s No Bridge Player, That’s My Wife,” had previously appeared inThe Contract Bridge Bulletin. In June 1976, I began writing monthly columns for that publication.

Ever since I decided to make bridge my life’s work, I’ve had three goals. One was to win a national championship. On March 22, 1981, I finally broke through. The second was to win a world championship. Although I’ve been on the verge several times, that one still eludes me.

Goal number three was actually a dream. I’ve always wanted to write a practical, entertaining bridge book, the likes of which the world has never seen. What happened to my dream?  I don’t know; I always seemed to be busy with something else. However, I never forgot.

March 1994  —  Helloooo Dream

The phone rings. It is my long-time friend and bridge partner, Larry Cohen. “Great news, Marty. Remember your idea for a classic bridge book?  I just came across a book exactly like that.”

“What’s so great about that?  I wanted to be the one to write that book. Nobody cares about who is second with a great idea!”

“No, Marty, you don’t understand. It’s a golf book. It represents the easy-to-read yet informative book that you’ve always talked about. Pick up a copy. It’s calledHarvey Penick’s Little Red Book.”

I viewed the wonderful Penick book as my sign from Above: “The time has come, Marty, to stop procrastinating.” It had taken 18 years, but finally, I was on my way.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to start from scratch. Like Penick, I have accumulated material from 20 years of teaching and playing. Many topics are a direct result of students’ questions. Others are a product of their mistakes and confusion. I am very grateful; without them I could not possibly have written this book.

If you have only half as much fun reading this book as I’ve had writing it, my efforts will not have been in vain. Is there more to come? You better believe it. Am I interested in hearing your thoughts and questions? Absolutely!

Marty Bergen

Bergen conventions

Bergen and Mini-SplintersorBAM Raises

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Bergen Drury

Mr. Marty Bergenconcluded that a 2 Club response by his partner, who is already a passed hand, could show a 3-card support for the opening Major suit with 10-12 points, and that a 2 Diamond response by his partner, who is already a passed hand, could show a 4-card support for the opening Major suit with 10-12 points.

Bergen Impossible 3 No Trump

Mr. Marty Bergenhas suggested using a bid of 3 No Trump during the auction in order to perform a sacrifice against the opponents, when it appears that the opponents have a game contract in a suit. The concept is the expectation of not making a contract of 3 No Trump, and therefore the name of this convention or method. The expectation is the hope that in a non-vulnerable situation versus a vulnerable situation for the opponents, the contract is only down five or less in a Minor or Major suit game contract undoubled, down three or less doubled. Since a score of minus 500, down three, non-vulnerable, and doubled, is better than a score of minus 600 if the opponents make their game contract in a Minor suit, and 620 in a Major suit, then the concept proves successful and acceptable.

Bergen Jump Cuebid as a Transfer to 3 No Trump

Mr. Marty Bergendeveloped this conventional method to cover a certain situation which arises after an intervening overcall on the One Level, which is an important element to consider before implementing the jump cuebid as a transfer to 3 No Trump. The concept behind the conventional method is that the overcalling opponent will find himself on lead, leaving him at a distinguished disadvantage.

Bergen Major Suit Raises

Otherwise known as Bergen Raises. This conventional method was originally called Bergen Major Suit Raises, because they were only used after one partner opened a Major suit. This is a conventional method devised by Mr. Marty Bergen, and was first published in the ACBL Bulletin in April 1982. Using the responses of this method, the partner could show his overall strength and his actual trump length with one bid. This method has also undergone some changes since its inception. To some degree, the responses are sometimes completely natural and several are completely artificial.

Bergen Over No Trump

A method to interfere with and enter the bidding auction after the opponents have opened with 1 No Trump.