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"Since we added Minnie to our team," Unlucky Louie told me, "we've won every match we've played."

Minnie Bottoms, our club's senior member, is still a fierce competitor despite ancient bifocals that make her confuse kings and jacks.

"I was declarer at 3NT," Louie went on, showing me today's deal, "and West led a low diamond. I won thankfully with dummy's queen and led the jack of hearts, tempting East to cover.

"When instead he played low, I went up with the ace and led a club to dummy's ten to guard against a 4-1 break. East took the jack and returned a diamond; but I had five clubs, two diamonds, a spade and a heart."

"Well done," I nodded. "But any good declarer would play safe in clubs to assure nine tricks."

"Minnie was sitting West at the other table," Louie grinned. "Her opening lead was the KING of diamonds; she thought she was leading the jack, of course, the top of a sequence. She pinned dummy's singleton queen, and declarer had no chance."

You hold: 10 8 5 K 10 4 2 K 10 9 5 3 6. Your partner opens one club, you bid one diamond and he then bids one spade. The opponents pass. What do you say?

A: Pass. Since partner did not jump to two spades, he has at most 18 points, and game is out of reach. Your alternative is a bid of 1NT; but your hand may provide a ruff or two at spades; and if you bid again, you'll give partner another chance to bid -- and to get too high.

South dealer

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

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