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Posted on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 5 a.m.

Bridge column, December 29: Bridge logic says not to give in

By Phillip Alder

Jane Roberts, who was pre-eminent in the field of paranormal phenomena, said: "Beneath words and logic are emotional connections that largely direct how we use our words and logic."

Some bridge players have a good feel -- it's usually called table presence -- for when to "ignore" the textbook. Others stick to it. What would the textbook recommend in this deal?

After South deals and opens one heart, what should West do?

If he passes and North's raise to two hearts is passed around to him, what should he do then?

The values required for a one-level overcall have been sinking steadily. But there is a limit. Playing that an overcall shows anywhere from 6 to 18 high-card points and anything from jack-fifth to an excellent six-card suit makes partner's life more a guessing game than a science. Although we strain to bid spades, that West hand has neither power nor suit quality. Pass stands out.

However, when two hearts comes back to him, West must courageously balance with two spades. East is marked with some values. West must try to nudge North-South to three hearts, which might be too high.

Here, North should go to three hearts because he knows of a nine-card fit.

Now East must pass -- when West bid two spades, he was acting on the partnership's points. (If East does bid three spades, North should double, collecting 200 if he gains a club ruff.)

Three hearts will presumably make, South losing one spade, one heart and two diamonds.

When the logic of the situation recommends acting, do not pass.

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