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"Each year the stores put up Christmas decorations closer to Thanksgiving," a player at the club observed.

"Tell me about it," Cy the Cynic muttered. "The other day I saw a turkey in a pear tree."

South won the trump lead and hastened to get rid of a diamond loser. He took the ace of clubs, led a trump to dummy and threw a diamond on the king of clubs. South next led a heart to the queen, but West won and led his last trump. South then led the ace and a low heart, but West got two more hearts, and East got a diamond. Down one.

It's fine to do your Christmas shopping early (it gets you in shape for those January sales), but South was too quick to seek a discard; he should finesse in hearts at Trick Two.

West is sure to lead another trump; and South wins, takes the ace of clubs and the ace of hearts, and ruffs a heart. He throws a diamond on the king of clubs, ruffs a club and draws trumps. South then concedes a heart and loses two hearts and one diamond.

You hold: 4 2 7 4 A J 9 4 J 10 9 5 3. Your partner opens one club, you raise to two clubs and he bids 2NT. The opponents pass. What do you say?

A: Partner has a strong hand; he bid 2NT to try for game, not to escape from clubs. (Without game interest, he should pass regardless of his club holding.) Since you have a minimum raise, you can't bid game; but since your hand is distributional, you should return to three clubs.

South dealer

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

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