Bridge - The Scotsman, 13/02/13

SECOND Hand Low, like most Rules, has exceptions. Sometimes you have to win your trick or lose it.

North-South reached 4S after a Stayman auction. West fancied his chances, but wisely did not double in case the information helped declarer in the play. He led the ten of diamonds and declarer won East’s queen with the king. He led a spade towards dummy. West played Second Hand Low, hoping that South was not planning a deep duck, and was pleased to see partner’s nine drop under the ace. Declarer led a second spade, and looked annoyed when East showed out. He won the king and led a club. West ducked, but he won the second club, drew the remaining trump, and got off lead with a diamond. Declarer could cash six tricks in the minors, but eventually he had no choice but to lead a heart towards the queen. Not the moment for Second Hand Low – West grabbed his king, the setting trick.

Note that if West splits his spade honours on the first round the fall of the nine might arouse declarer’s suspicions. He can abandon trump, playing clubs to knock out the ace. Now if West plays another spade he is held to one trump trick, so he has to exit in a minor. Declarer cashes his diamonds and clubs, then plays king and another spade, giving West the lead. After cashing two trump he has nothing left but hearts and must lead away from his king, giving declarer his contract.