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Even world-class players make plenty of errors. Any player who wants to improve must treat an error as a lesson on its way to being learned.

In today's deal, South ruffed the second heart, cashed the A-K of trumps and then tested the clubs. Both defenders followed to the ace of clubs, but when South led the king, East ruffed. South could then ruff his low club in dummy but couldn't avoid losing a spade. Down one.

To err is human, but to admit it isn't. "Horrible break in clubs," South grumbled. "My luck is terrible."

How would you play the hand?

South could learn a lesson about timing. After he ruffs the second heart, he can cash the ace of clubs, lead a trump to dummy and return a club. If East discards, South wins, ruffs his low club in dummy, draws trumps and claims 11 tricks.

If instead East ruffs the second club, South plays low. Later he draws trumps, discards three spades from dummy on his high clubs and ruffs his losing spade in dummy.

You hold: A 7 5 3 10 7 4 2 K J 3 5 3. Dealer, at your left, opens one club. Your partner doubles, and the next player passes. What do you say?

A: Partner has opening values or more with help for the unbid suits, especially the major suits. Since he may have four cards in one major and only three in the other, respond one spade. If the auction turns competitive, you can bid hearts next and play cheaply at the suit he prefers.

South dealer

N-S vulnerable

A 7 5 3
10 7 4 2
K J 3
5 3
Q 10 6
Q J 9
5 2
10 9 8 6 4
K J 9 2
A K 8 6 5
8 7 6
8 4
A Q 10 9 4
A K Q J 2
South West North East
1 Pass1 Pass
2 Pass2 Pass
4 Pass5 All Pass
Opening lead -- Q

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