“Don’t you hate it,” Cy the Cynic said to me in the club lounge, “when people ask you something and then answer their own question? I do.”

Some questions are hard to answer. A world-class declarer’s thought processes may involve analysis that would perplex a novice. When West led the king of spades against today’s slam, South took dummy’s ace — and immediately ruffed a spade. He next took the A-K of trumps.


When East discarded, South continued with the queen of trumps, a diamond to the queen and another spade ruff with his last trump. South then ran the diamonds. When West ruffed with his high trump, he had to lead a club, and South put up dummy’s queen and took the rest.

If you asked South why he ruffed a spade at Trick Two, he might say only that it seemed like a good idea at the time. But if he leads a trump instead, the slam is unmakeable.

A diamond opening lead beats six hearts. Do you think West would have needed a crystal ball to find that lead? I do.


You hold: S A 9 5 2 H 9 8 3 D Q 7 2 C Q 7 4. Your partner opens one diamond, you respond one spade, he bids two clubs and you return to two diamonds. Partner then bids three clubs. What do you say?

ANSWER: Your preference bid of two diamonds showed weakness, but partner is trying for game anyway. Your hand couldn’t be much better. You have two useful queens plus a side ace. Bid four diamonds or five diamonds. Partner may hold K 4, 7, A K 10 6 3, A J 10 8 2.

South dealer

N-S vulnerable


S A 9 5 2

H 9 8 3

D Q 7 2

C Q 7 4



H J 10 4 2

D 4

C K 9 8 5 2


S 10 8 6 4 3

H 5

D 10 8 6 3

C J 10 3


S 7

H A K Q 7 6

D A K J 9 5

C A 6

South West North East2 C Pass 2 D Pass2 H Pass 3 H Pass6 H All Pass

Opening lead — S K


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Author: Frank Stewart