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Every Time the postman gratefully unloads a substantial portion of his burden on my doorstep, it's a reasonable bet that the most anguished letter will read something like this: "My partner passed my opening two-bid. Isn't that against the rules?"
Yes, it is against the rules. But it is not against the laws—a difference which isn't always clear in the mind of the average player. The official laws declare how the game must be played. It isn't permissible to violate these laws knowingly, and if you do so, even unknowingly, you must pay a penalty. Rules, on the other hand, are simply guides to "correct" bidding and play. Some, like the rule about responding to a two-bid, should be obeyed without exception, though there is no penalty save the loss of partner's esteem if you fail to do so. Others should often be ignored. Many a bridge player remains in the mediocre class through blind faith in such old wives' tales as: "second-hand low," "never finesse against partner" and "always cover an honor."
At best, these rules are helpful only to the beginner. They cannot take the place of imagination in deciding what to do in a particular case. Here is a simple illustration of what I mean:
Both sides vulnerable North dealer
[King of Spades]
[Queen of Spades]
[7 of Spades]