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Bridge, like all other institutions, has its woe-sayers and head-waggers, and they are never more active than when they have a new convention to consider. The typical, unreconstructed view of the old-school Tory is simple. He has gotten along quite well with what he already knows, thank you, and he will be content to follow his card sense wherever it leads him—even to blessed mediocrity, I presume.
Such a player would do well to borrow from the advertising slogan of the honest milkman who told his patrons, "My cows are not contented; they are anxious to do better."
What happened when one of these fogies encountered the following deal indicates that even the keenest bridge player should be alert to the latest conventions—non-political, of course.
South, without drastic distortion of his high-card values, could have opened with a bid of one no trump. His 15 high-quality points were reinforced with a 10 and two 9s. Not that I have any fault to find with his bid of one heart. I have not gone over to the light no trump. Long years of experience have convinced me that in no-trump bidding the spread between maximum and minimum high-card values should never be more than three points. Since 18-point hands are members in good standing of the no-trump fraternity, the use of a 15-point minimum would effect a four-point spread between top and bottom requirements and should therefore be vetoed in all but exceptional cases.
Against the three no-trump contract, West chose the natural lead of the 6 of spades. East's queen was permitted to hold. The spade 4 was returned and again declarer ducked. West won with the jack. Now the only important spade outstanding was the ace, and West could drive it out with any of his three remaining spades with equal effect. Since it made no difference to him, he chose to do so with the 3.
Declarer won and took a club finesse, which lost to East. East's aim now was to put partner in to cash the setting tricks. Mindful of South's original heart bid, he chose to return a diamond. Thus declarer scampered off with nine tricks—four diamonds and four clubs in addition to his ace of spades.
Should East, as his partner contended, have smelled out the killing heart return because dummy discarded a heart on the third spade? Maybe, but a convention makes such guesses unnecessary.
When a player who has opened a suit is about to establish it finally, he can use a simple device to suggest to his partner the suit in which his future re-entry will be found. The clue is the size of the card he uses to drive out declarer's last stopper. If he leads his lowest card, he announces that his entry is to be found in the lower-ranking of the off-suits (in this case, diamonds). If he establishes his suit by leading his highest card—in this case, the king—the suggested return is the higher-ranking of the off-suit, in this instance hearts.
One beauty of this convention is that it does not interfere to any great extent with any long-established theory. It is an additional refinement which may be employed with no added cost.