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"I'm retiring from bridge," Unlucky Louie announced briskly. "I'm going into the rabbit-farming business with my cousin."

"Sounds like a hare-raising experience," I remarked. "His name wouldn't be Warren by chance?"

"Hutchins," Louie shook his head. "This was my final deal. When East put up the king of diamonds, I played low. I ducked the next diamond also, won the third diamond and led a spade. West won and cashed two more diamonds -- as quick as a rabbit, I'd say -- to beat me.

"I make the contract if I guess to win the first diamond; but with my luck it's hopeless."

I didn't tell Louie (lest he aim a rabbit punch in my direction), but he should win the first diamond. Since West was willing to lead from a long minor suit, he's slightly more likely than not to have an entry to it; and that entry can only be the ace of spades.

Louie's new enterprise may produce a crop of rabbit's feet; but I'm afraid it'll take a million of 'em to change his luck.

You hold: J 9 3 A Q 10 3 3 2 A K 5 2. Dealer, at your right, opens one club. What do you say?

A: Pass. This is a good defensive hand; for the moment, your best hope is that the opponents are headed for trouble. You'd need better diamonds to double for takeout. You might get away with an overcall of one heart, but to promise a five-card suit when you don't have one is no way to build partnership trust.

North dealer

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

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