Rockwell Files: Bridge Night

Nearly half of all households in the 1940s played bridge, so lots of folks back then would have understood what was going on in Rockwell's 1948 cover.

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Nearly half of all households in the 1940s contained at least one bridge player. So when Rockwell featured this game on the Post’s cover in 1948, lots of readers would have understood what was going on.

Rockwell had been kicking around ideas for a bridge-themed cover before he took this unique angle on the game, which enabled him to show all the players’ cards.

The woman scratching her head is “South,” and since she’s won the bid for this hand, her partner “North” has laid down his cards to become the dummy player. South played her jack of spades, West has followed suit with the four. Now comes South’s dilemma. If East has the king, she can force it out with her ace. But if it’s in West’s hand, she’ll probably lose a trick.

A group playing a game of bridge.
Playing the odds: For Rockwell’s May 15, 1948, cover, Post editors concluded that playing a low spade was safer than going with the ace. Normally, South would have just a 1-in-6 chance of drawing out East’s king. (Norman Rockwell / SEPS).

Meanwhile, her partner simply sits back and enjoys her quandary.

This article is featured in the September/October 2019 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features. Subscribers get access to digital archives of the magazine dating back to 1821. 

Featured image: Norman Rockwell / SEPS.

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