Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 11 Jul 1942    

Any one who blindly follows the so-called rules of play, such as «second hand low,» «never finesse against your partner,» and so forth, is not likely to distinguish himself at the bridge table. The only reason that I cannot truly call these- «rules» obsolete is that they were never valid. In today’s hand, for example, a defenders refusal to «finesse against his partner» created an insoluble problem.

South; dealer. North-South vulnerable.

West opened his fourth highest spade. East virtuously put up the king and declarer won. The heart ace was cashed, the jack was overtaken with the queen and the club queen was returned, declarer playing low. West won and now found himself in a terrible dilemma.

Needless to say, he could not know that East had the spade jack, hence West was faced with the following choice: He could lay down the spade queen, then follow with the ace and queen of diamonds in the hope that East had the diamond king. This defense would envisage a South hand such as

  A J 10  A K J 10 x x  x x  A x

Obviously, if this were declarer’s holding it would well justify his bidding. The other line of defense was to play East for the spade jack and declarer for the diamond king. This would involve an underlead of the spade queen by West, so that East could win and return a diamond through the king.

Forced to a sheer guess between these alternative defenses, West unfortunately chose the former, that is, he laid down the spade queen and, after that, there was no way to defeat the contract.

If East had used imagination and foresight at the very first trick, his partner would not have been faced with this difficult guess. On the bidding it was perfectly obvious that dummy was comparatively weak and declarer extremely strong. That being so, it was – inconceivable that West would have underled the spade ace if he had held it.

Such a lead would be outrageous. Therefore, East should not have put up the spade king: he should have played the ten spot. Obviously, this would have forced the ace, and later when West was given his club king, he would have led another spade as the only reasonable play to build four tricks for the defense.