Bridge is such an unforgiving game; you can’t afford to take your eye off the ball for a single moment. Take, for example, the penalty for revoking. There you are, concentrating fiercely, counting the cards — and suddenly you realise you’ve done something as idiotic as fail to follow suit. You try to correct your mistake, apologise. But no, declarer is determined to take full advantage. He calls for the director, who tells you that the card must remain face up on the table — like a beacon of shame — and that you must play it at the first opportunity. Your humiliation is complete when this turns out to be the only way to let the contract through.
Players have every right to insist on their rights, of course. But I do relish stories of it backfiring. The following hand comes from Australia’s recent Gold Coast Congress:
It looks like slam can’t go down: a club finesse gets rid of your heart loser. But Bruce Neill, president of the Australian Bridge Federation, and his partner Avi Kanetkar found the most incredible defence. First, Kanetkar led a deceptive ♥J — obviously declarer could run it to make his contract, but no sensible player would do that. South (Ziggy Konig) rose with the ♥A and drew trumps, but on the third round, East (Neill) revoked, discarding the ♥5. He noticed the revoke almost immediately, but the card was now on the table as a major penalty card. This gave declarer an extra option — and he grabbed it. Instead of taking the club finesse, he played the ♥Q, knowing Neill would have to follow with the ♥5. Imagine his horror when Kanetkar produced the ♥K and switched at once to a diamond!