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Today's deal appeared in a team match I watched, and one South at four spades took the ace of diamonds and immediately let the nine of trumps ride.

This was South's best percentage play in trumps, but it let West get in for a heart shift through dummy's king. The defense took two hearts, and South later lost a club. Down one.

I took the plastic tray that held the cards over to the second table; and there I saw South lead a trump to his ace at Trick Two and return the nine of clubs for a finesse. East craftily played low.

South then led the jack of clubs; but this time East took the king and led a third club. South threw a heart, but West ruffed and led a heart. East won and led a fourth club, and West was sure to score the queen of trumps. Down one again.

The second South had the right idea (he didn't want West to gain the lead too soon), but South must cash the king of trumps before repeating the club finesse. He'll lose a heart, a trump and a club.

You hold: 7 5 A Q 8 5 9 7 2 K 7 6 4. Dealer, at your left, opens one club. Your partner doubles, and the next player passes. What do you say?

A: Bid one heart. Since you have nine points, you'd usually jump in your best suit to invite game; but in this case your king of clubs may be worthless since it probably lies under the opening bidder's ace. If you had the king of diamonds instead, you'd bid two hearts.

North dealer

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

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