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Bridge 6/16
Most rules are for the defenders
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    As you know, bridge is full of maxims like second hand low, third hand high, and cover an honor with an honor. These have two big snags: They are not right all that often, and they are intended almost entirely for the defenders. But inexperienced players incorrectly believe that they also apply when they are the declarer.
    This deal highlights the folly in thinking this way. You are South, in three no-trump. West leads his fourth-highest heart. How would you plan the play?
    After West overcalled one heart, North made a negative double to show exactly four spades. (A one-spade response would have guaranteed at least a five-card suit.)
Note West's opening lead. Against a suit contract, say four spades, West would lead the heart king (top of touching honors), but not against no-trump. Then West would also need the 10 or jack to lead the king.
    South, remembering second hand low, called for dummy's heart six and captured East's eight with his nine. (Ducking would not have helped if East found a club shift.) Declarer cashed his spade queen, played a spade to dummy's king, then ran the diamond eight. West won with his queen and returned the heart king. South took that trick and played another diamond, but West won and cashed three heart tricks for down one.
    Now suppose declarer plays dummy's heart 10 at trick one. He holds the trick and takes a diamond finesse. West may win with his queen and persevere with the heart king, but South's nine becomes a third stopper in the suit and the contract makes.
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