National Post (National Edition)
Guidelines? Rules? Directives?
Whatever you might want to call the abundance of instructional platitudes our game has generated over the years, they are not solely intended for observance by less-than-expert players. As in “Second Hand Low”! During an online experts' match, the Souths held an awkward hand to describe when West's strong notrump opening came round. Overlooking the internal weakness of the longest suit, both chose to start with three spades.
The North hand had just enough positive features for a raise to game but both Wests judged that decision to be an error, an opinion stated by the final penalty double.
The passive opening lead of a small diamond at both tables was won in the closed hand for a small trump towards the dummy.
Seeing no compelling reason to do anything else (the acid test when deciding whether to follow “Second Hand Low”), one defender did indeed play his lowest spade to leave declarer headed for a minus score regardless of which spade he played from dummy: down one if he chose the six, down two if,as he actually did, he chose the ten for East to beat with the Queen.
But the other team's West thought he knew better than to follow what he considered to be a Nursery Rhyme not meant for experts to blindly adhere to.
Whoops! The errant second hand play of the Jack reduced South's loser count to three (two spades and the heart ace) and earned West a spot in his club's next staging of Basic Defense 101!