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by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish

 When we start to learn the game of bridge we are introduced to many different snippets of wisdom, general guidelines often presented as catchy phrases such as "eight ever, nine never" and "when in doubt, lead trumps." As our skills develop and experience mounts, we begin to see that there are few absolutes in bridge. Virtually every one of the "rules" we absorbed and added to our burgeoning repertoire is exposed for what it is, a starting point. Reasoning and technique are the tools that will get us through life at the bridge table, and sooner or later, we kiss those rules goodbye.

North-South vulnerable South deals

  K 8 4
7 6 3
A J 8 3 2

Q 2

J 7 6
K 8 2
K 6 5

J 8 6 4

Q 10 9 3 2
Q 9
Q 10 7 4

9 3

  A 5
A J 10 5 4

A K 10 7 5

West North East South
Pass 2 Pass 3
Pass 3 Pass 3
Pass 4 Pass 4NT
Pass 5(1) Pass 6

(1) One ace

Opening Lead:

 When it comes to general defensive technique, "second hand low" and "third hand high" will usually work well enough. Today's deal is a notable exception to the former.

 Three of the four North-South pairs stopped in 4
. Declarer led a trump to the ten and king early on, then (after regaining the lead) led a second round of trumps from dummy to the queen and ace. When declarer ruffed a club in dummy, East, out of trumps, could not over-ruff, so declarer could come to hand, remove West's last trump, and claim twelve tricks.

 At the fourth table, North-South reached 6
on the diagrammed auction. North intended his jump to 4 as a weak signoff but South either misread North's intentions or felt he was strong enough to check on aces in any case.

 Declarer won the attacking diamond lead in dummy and led a trump, but here East did not follow the traditional wisdom by playing low. When he played the queen (second hand rose), declarer had no winning countermove. If won the ace and tried to ruff a club East would over-ruff with the nine. If he won the ace and continued with the jack or ten (the better card because West might err by playing low to cater to partner's queen-jack doubleton) of trumps, West could win and play a third trump, depriving declarer of the club ruff he needed on this layout.