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"I took the king of hearts," a reader says, "and led the ace and another diamond. East showed out.

"I took the king, lost a diamond to West's nine, won the next heart in my hand and led another diamond, setting up my last diamond; but I took only eight tricks in all.

"I thought I was unlucky to find the diamonds breaking badly; but my partner shot me a glare that would have opened a can of tuna at 50 paces. Did I make a 'glaring' error?"

South has seven top tricks and needs two extra diamonds; he must start by cashing the king. If both defenders played low, South would take the ace next, losing only if West had Q-10-9-x.

In the actual deal, South's safety play pays off when East's ten falls on the first diamond. South leads the seven next, planning to play low from dummy if West follows with the six. If East can win, diamonds have split 3-2, and South is safe; if instead East shows out, South cashes the ace, returns to his hand and concedes one diamond.

You hold: 6 3 Q 7 3 K J 8 7 2 A K 4. You open one diamond, and your partner responds one heart. The opponents pass. What do you say?

A: Bid two hearts. You'd rather have four-card support -- after all, partner may hold only four poor hearts -- but the alternatives are worse. A bid of 1NT with two low spades isn't attractive, and a rebid of two diamonds would promise a six-card or longer suit. When in doubt, raise.

South dealer

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

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