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Since baseball season is here, we can recall that not every out comes off a pitcher's best stuff, and not every hit comes off a hanging curveball. At bridge, not every good line of play succeeds and not every misplay is punished.

East took the ace of diamonds, cashed the A-K of hearts and led another diamond. South won and let the queen of spades ride, and East took the king and led a third diamond. South ruffed and drew trumps.

South then had to pick up the clubs. He knew East had the queen: West had shown the Q-J of diamonds and queen of hearts, so East needed the missing points to open 1NT. South also knew East had at least three clubs: East had only two hearts and wouldn't have opened 1NT with two doubletons.

As the only chance South led dummy's jack of clubs, hoping West had the doubleton 10-9 or East would be snoozing. Alas, East covered with the queen, and the defense got a club and a heart for down one.

South still gets credit for a good at-bat.

You hold: K 7 2 A K A 10 5 Q 9 6 5 4. You open 1NT, your partner responds two clubs (Stayman), you bid two diamonds and he bids two hearts. The opponents pass. What do you say?

A: Partner's sequence invites game. He has about eight points with a five-card suit. Since your values are minimum, you can't accept, but you shouldn't leave him at hearts when you have only a doubleton. Bid 2NT. If your five of diamonds were the jack, you'd try 3NT.

East dealer

Neither side vulnerable

A 9 5
8 4 2
8 6 4 3
A J 8
8 3
Q 10 9 7 6
Q J 9 2
10 7
K 7 2
A 10 5
Q 9 6 5 4
Q J 10 6 4
J 5 3
K 7
K 3 2
East South West North
1 NTPass2 Pass
Pass2 All Pass
Opening lead -- Q

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