Defying Conventional Wisdom at a Florida Regional

The axioms of the game are intended to guide less experienced players, although a primary reason bridge retains its worldwide appeal is that there are so many exceptions to these “rules.”

Even so, many players sitting West in the diagramed deal would have let three no-trump make by producing a reflex reaction.

The deal occurred during a knockout team match at the Naples, Fla., regional in September.

When South bid for a second time, North pushed his partner into three no-trump.

Reese Milner of Los Angeles (West) led his highest heart to deny an honor in the suit.

Hemant Lall of Dallas (East) could see that hearts would not be fruitful for the defense. He could have dropped the deuce to deny interest in the suit. But he tried a different tack, playing his jack. Since this in principle denied the ten, East hoped his partner would now steer away from hearts.

South, who had eight top tricks (three hearts and five clubs), won with his queen and immediately tried for a ninth by leading a spade from his hand.

Many defenders would have played “second hand low” and let the contract make.

Milner, though, saw the danger. He won with his ace and shifted to a low diamond. The defenders then took four tricks in that suit for down one.

At the other table, Gigi Simpson of Sarasota, Fla., and Ralph Katz of Burr Ridge, Ill., had defeated two hearts by one trick. So the Milner team gained 3 international match points on the board. But if three no-trump had made, the team would have lost 8 imps.

Try not to play by rote. Analyze each deal on its merits and trust your partner’s cards.

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