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If you boot a hand, admit it with a smile and promise to do better. Trying to justify a fault doubles it.

South ruffed the third heart and took the K-J of trumps. When East discarded, South couldn't afford to draw trumps since he'd have none left; he could run the diamonds, but West would win the last two tricks with the ace of clubs and a heart.

South hence led a club to his king at Trick Six, and West won and led a fourth heart. South ruffed in dummy, but when he tried to return with a diamond to draw trumps, West ruffed.

"I'd play the same way again," South said. "Who'd think diamonds would break 5-0?"

South multiplied his fault with an alibi: he must lead the queen, not a low club, from dummy. If West ducks, South draws trumps and takes his 10 tricks. If instead West wins and leads a heart, South ruffs in dummy and gets to his hand with the king of clubs (safer than with a diamond, especially if West paused before taking the ace) to draw trumps.

You hold: K J 2 10 9 5 Q J 8 3 Q 6 3. Your partner opens two spades (strong), you raise to three spades and he then bids four clubs. The opponents pass. What do you say?

A: Partner's four clubs is a cue bid to try for slam; he has the ace of clubs. If you had a red ace, you'd cue-bid in that suit; if you had the king of clubs, you'd cue-bid five clubs. With your actual hand, you can only return to four spades.

South dealer

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

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