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"Expert status is my goal," an aspiring player told me, "but how will I know when I get there? What makes an expert anyway?"

"It's not so much a knack for producing brilliancies," I replied, "as being careful on the easy hands."

Today's deal is a classic. In a team match, one South at seven hearts correctly visualized 13 tricks by ruffing two spades in his hand. He took the ace of spades, ruffed a spade with the ace of trumps, returned a trump to dummy and ruffed a spade with the queen.

South then led a club, trying to return to dummy to draw trumps; but West, who had discarded a club on the third spade, ruffed. Down one.

At the second table, South was Don Krauss, a world-class player. Krauss also got a trump lead against his seven hearts and also began with the ace of spades and a spade ruff; but Krauss led a club to dummy to ruff the second spade.

This tiny precaution saved 2310 points, since South could then draw trumps and claim the rest.

You hold: 4 A Q 4 2 A 10 6 2 A K 7 3. Dealer, at your right, opens one diamond. You pass, the next player bids one spade and the opening bidder raises to two spades. What do you say?

A: You couldn't act over one diamond: you had no long suit to bid and couldn't double without spade support. Now, though, you can double, promising a good hand with hearts and clubs. Since partner has not bid, this double asks him to do so.

South dealer

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

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