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Last year, Unlucky Louie forgot to send his Christmas cards. He hastily dug a box out of his closet, consulted his list and mailed out two dozen. It was only then that he inspected the inside of the card -- and read this:

"This little card is just to say

a gift from me is on its way."

After Louie finished shopping, he still had the wherewithal to give today's East-West a gift. West led the ace and a low heart against Louie's game. Louie won and led a trump, but East took the ace and led another heart. West ruffed and led a club to East's ace. Down one.

Louie's trump lead was too generous. He must instead take the top diamonds, throwing his last heart. He then leads a trump and loses only two more tricks.

Louie and all the other members of my club appear in "Frank Stewart's Bridge Club," published just last year. For a postpaid copy, send $18.95 to PO Box 962, Fayette AL 35555 and tell me if you'd like it signed or inscribed. Proceeds go to charities in my town.

You hold: A 8 J 10 4 3 Q 7 3 A 6 4 2. Your partner opens one diamond, and the next player bids one spade. What do you say?

A: The best solution is a "negative double," suggesting length in hearts (plus either diamond support or length in clubs) but the wrong type of hand to bid two hearts. This is the best way to make sure you find a heart fit if your side has one. If your partnership hasn't agreed to use negative doubles, bid two clubs.

South dealer

Both sides vulnerable

9 3
9 8 6 2
A K 9 5
K Q 9
4 2
A 5
J 10 8 4 2
10 7 5 3
A 8
J 10 4 3
Q 7 3
A 6 4 2
K Q J 10 7 6 5
K Q 7
J 8
South West North East
1 Pass2 Pass
2 Pass3 NTPass
4 All Pass
Opening lead -- A

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