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Today's deal took place 400 years from now in a Galaxy-wide championship, with the Federation team led by Captain Jean-Luc Picard facing a Ferengi squad.

Picard, sitting West, led the deuce of clubs against the Ferengi game contract; and Commander Riker as East falsecarded with the nine. South won with the king and led a trump, and Riker won and led the jack of clubs.

Declarer assumed Picard had started with Q-8-2 in clubs. South therefore put up the ace, expecting an overtrick, but Picard ruffed.

"What treachery is this?" howled the Ferengi declarer.

"A new Rule of Acquisition for the Ferengi list," Picard said suavely. "It's better to defeat a contract than to let declarer make it." He then led a heart, and declarer lost two clubs to East and went down.

"Unfair," South snarled.

"Misplayed," said Picard. "Play low on the second club. No matter how the cards lie, you can lose only three tricks."

And the Ferengi, for once, was silent.

You hold: 9 8 5 4 A J 5 A 8 10 7 5 4. Dealer, at your left, opens one spade. Your partner doubles, and the next player passes. What do you say?

A: Bid two clubs, suggesting no more than nine points. You'd like to do more, but can't jump to three clubs with such a poor suit or bid one no trump with no stopper in spades. If partner acts again, promising a strong hand, you'll make sure of reaching game.

South dealer

Both sides vulnerable
9 8 5 4
A J 5
A 8
10 7 5 4
7 6 2
Q 7 6 3 2
Q 9 5 2
K 10 9 4
J 10 6 3
Q J 9 8
K Q J 10 3
K 7 4
A K 6 3
South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
3 Pass 4 All Pass
Opening lead -- 2

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