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Today we have the pleasure of a guest post from world champion and acclaimed bridge author and teacher Mathew Granovetter. I have been helping him update his website, Bridge Today, a great site for learning more about the game of bridge.

Matt Granvetter (photo by Peg Kaplan)

The Kabbalah Approach to Bridge
by Matthew Granovetter

Here is an excerpt from a new book I’m writing about my life, where I’ve had to mix my religion and bridge career to make both work. I’ve run into many unusual and funny situations.

Two Worlds
It seems like I live in two different worlds at the same time. One is my profession, the game of bridge. The other is my religious affiliation, Chabad Lubavitch. It appears that the two worlds could not be farther apart. One is a game played with a deck of cards, while the other is a daily commitment to the Bible and G-d’s laws for the Jewish people.

Nevertheless, I have come to mix the two, not always in a good way. For example, often while praying, I lose focus because my mind is thinking about a bridge hand I misplayed last night. “Oy, how could I have been so stupid.”

Sometimes while I’m dummy at the bridge table, I start reading from a book of psalms and pull the wrong card. “I called a spade not a heart!” says partner.

During the World Mixed Pairs championships in Verona, Italy, on the very last hand I became dummy. I still had a few psalms to finish for my daily quota, so I picked up my book and started reading quietly. My partner made the contract and we won the championship. Afterwards a woman from France came over and said, “Monsieur Granovetter, I do wish my partner would pray for me when I declare the hand.”

Recently, I taught a series of classes on cardplay at our bridge club in Cincinnati. I incorporated a Chassidic method to help my students in their declarer play. The word “Chabad” is pronounced CH gutteral, like the CH in the holiday of Chanukah: CHabahd. It stands for the Hebrew words Cochmah, Binah, Daas.

  • Cochmah: the initial flash of an idea
  • Binah: the development of the idea
  • Daas: the final knowledge that was developed from the idea

From a practical point of view, these three words can be used in almost anything you do in life. In my bridge class I asked my students to apply them when dummy comes down, before they call a card.

  • Cochmah: the initial flash of an idea — how you will play the bridge hand
  • Binah: the development of the idea — the method to apply the flash of the idea
  • Daas: the final knowledge that was developed from the idea — the execution when you “know” now what the hand is all about (or at least you think you do)

Here’s a simple example.

K 9 8
J 6 5 4 2
K Q 5 4

Declarer (you)
A Q J 7 4 2
A 3
A 8
Q 7 5

You’re playing duplicate and you reach four spades. West leads the 7. Dummy comes down. Before you call a card, you apply the Kabbalah method.

Chochmah: Your initial flash of an idea is that you should ruff your club losers in dummy.

Binah: Developing this idea, you decide not to touch trump but lead a club first. But then a defender will win and cash a heart trick. Wait. You see you can discard the 3 by cashing three diamond tricks. You have to do that first, before leading the club.

Daas: You now feel like you know this is the right line of play and you confidently execute it. “Play low, please.”

Readers, I’d like to invite you to visit where you’ll find other articles about bridge and many helpful bridge lessons, quizzes and courses, offered free or at a reasonable cost.

Matthew Granovetter is the author of more than 20 bridge books about the game of bridge. He can be reached at

Disclaimer: I do some web programming for Bridge Today in return for coaching.

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