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A bridge-playing golfer might call today's defense a "gimme," but East-West managed to blow it.

East took the ace of spades and returned a spade; and West took South's jack and led the deuce of spades -- the one nearest his thumb -- to force out the queen.

South next led the 10 of clubs to finesse, and East played low. On the next club, West followed with the three of hearts, planning to complete a come-on signal with the deuce later. But when dummy played low, East took the king and led a diamond, handing South his contract.

East-West had three chances to prevail. First, West could duck the second spade to keep communication. Failing that, he could lead the 10 of spades at Trick Three as a suit-preference play. (If West leads a high spade when any spade will do, he suggests an entry in a high-ranking suit.) Finally, East could refuse the second club, giving West a chance to finish his signal.

Even a six-inch putt doesn't count until it's holed.

You hold: Q J 4 K 5 4 A K 9 4 10 7 2. Your partner opens one club, you respond two no trump and he next bids three spades. The opponents pass. What do you say?

A: Partner is worried about notrump. Since you have only one heart stopper, to bid three no trump is inadvisable; a heart lead may beat it. Bid four clubs. Second choice: a raise to four spades; partner will know you don't have four-card support since you didn't respond one spade.

North dealer

Neither side vulnerable
Q J 8 7
Q J 7
A Q J 6 4
K 10 9 5 3 2
A 3 2
10 8 6
A 8 7
10 9 6
5 3 2
K 9 8 3
Q J 4
K 5 4
A K 9 4
10 7 2
North East South West
1 Pass 2 NT Pass
3 Pass 3 NT All Pass
Opening lead -- 5

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