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Odds against having same four hands twice? Astronomical!

How many times have you picked up a hand and thought that it looked familiar? I would imagine very rarely, and that led me to look up the chances of having all four hands replicate a previous deal.

Well, did I open a can of worms! What I found out was that in a deck of 52 playing cards, the total number of possible shuffles is astronomical.

It seems that if a trillion people each shuffled a deck of cards a trillion times per second, and they each did this for a trillion years, … and it occurred in a trillion civilizations across our universe …. and that played out in a trillion universes across the multiverse … after all this shuffling, on your next shuffle, only then is there a nearly even chance your deck will match any previously shuffled deck! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Which means any time you fully shuffle a deck of cards, it’s not likely to match any deck that has ever been shuffled before.

It appears that the actual odds against are 80000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 to one!

If you count those zeroes there are 67 of them!

All wonderfully useless information, but for yet more useless information it reminds me of my Dad in India telling of the villager who saved the life of the King’s daughter in his State … the King asked the villager to name anything he wanted and the villager said, “Some rice ”. The King replied: “How much rice?” The villager looked over at the life-size chessboard in the royal courtyard and said, “Put one grain in the first square, two in the second, four in the third and keep doubling it till all the 64 squares are completed – that will be enough for me.”

The King was incredulous at this meagre request and ordered his henchmen to start the process…..he soon realised that in order to fulfil the villager’s “meagre” request he would need enough rice which, if each grain was put end to end, would reach the moon and back!

Pretty cool thinking from the villager!

And you thought this was a bridge column? To prove it is, let’s get on to a bridge hand.

This week’s hand is about counting your tricks and not making reflex plays either in defence or as declarer – with that in mind, see how you would have fared as declarer. See the hand in Figure 1.

South opened one spade and North had an easy raise to our spades.

Figure 1

This deal was used in an intermediate class on play. The bidding was designated to be the same at every table, as was the lead – the nine of hearts.

At one table, the heart was covered by the Queen, King, and Ace. Declarer drew trumps with his King and dummy’s Ace then led a club from dummy. The defenders took two clubs and had to make a diamond trick as one losing diamond went away on the third heart – four spades making.

At a second table, the nine of hearts was again covered by the Queen but, here, East was cannier, playing the two of hearts. Declarer now had some work to do – she drew two trumps, cashed the Ace of hearts, crossed to the Ace of spades and took the ruffing finesse in hearts. Again one diamond went away and declarer made ten tricks.

The most elegant route to success, however, was found at a third table – declarer played the four of hearts from dummy at trick one!

After taking his Ace of hearts, declarer drew trumps with the King and Queen then played his remaining heart to dummy’s ten and East’s King. East’s continuation of the Queen of clubs was covered by the King and Ace.

After winning the club continuation with the ten, East shifted to the ten of diamonds. Declarer won with the ace and then threw his losing diamonds on the Queen and Jack of hearts.

More than one way to skin a cat – or a bridge defender!

• Well done to Diana Diel and Marge Way finishing first last week in a 100-pair event on BBO – funnily enough, finishing second in that event were ex-Bermuda pair Jean Johnson and Bill Souster!

• There is some sad news to report this week, with the passing of David Barber. David was a member of the Bridge Club for many years and was a regular but not frequent visitor to the club. He was a remarkably good player, given that he did not play week in and week out.

He will, however, be best remembered for his always pleasant demeanour and his genteel nature, which was important as he played with many different members.

Our thoughts are with his wife Fiona and his family.

David Ezekiel can be reached on davidezekiel999@gmail.com


Friday, August 11

1. Margaret Way-Jane Smith

2. Harry Kast-Sancia Garrison

3. Stephanie Kyme-Diana Diel

Monday, August 14

1. Martha Ferguson-Margaret Way

2. Joseph Wakefield-Molly Taussig

3. Harry Kast-Sancia Garrison

Tuesday, August 15

1. Jean Schilling-John Thorne

2. Malcolm Moseley-Duncan Silver

3. Heidi Dyson-Wilena White

Wednesday, August 16

1. Wendy Gray-Richard Gray

2. Patricia Siddle-Diana Diel

3. William Pollett-Linda Pollett

Thursday, August 17

No Game

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Published August 19, 2023 at 7:26 am (Updated August 19, 2023 at 12:53 am)

Odds against having same four hands twice? Astronomical!

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