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A true optimist is somebody who expects his ship to come in when he never sent one out. In today's deal, even an optimistic declarer would have to be self-reliant.

In real life, East played the jack on the first diamond, and South took the ace and needed to reach dummy to try the trump finesse. He led a club, consulted the ceiling when West played low and tried dummy's jack. East took the queen, cashed the K-Q of diamonds and led a club to West's ace. West then exited with a spade, and South was stuck in his hand and had to cash the ace of trumps. Down two.

Should South make four hearts?

To see his ship come in, South will assume East has the king of trumps. But West's opening lead marks East with the K-Q-J of diamonds, and East didn't open the bidding. Hence South can't get home unless West has the ace of clubs.

South should lead a club to the king at Trick Two. He next lets the jack of trumps ride and winds up losing two diamonds and one club.

You hold: J 9 6 5 2 J 7 5 6 3 2 K J. The dealer, at your left, opens one heart, your partner doubles and the next player bids two hearts. What do you say?

A: Bid two spades. This is a minimum hand with which to act, but since you're only competing at the level of two, your partner won't assume you have more strength. Since he has opening values with spade support, eight tricks are likely, and the opponents may make two hearts if you pass.

East dealer

Both sides vulnerable

J 9 6 5 2
J 7 5
6 3 2
Q 8 7 3
9 8 7
A 10 8 4 3
10 4
K 8 3
K Q J 4
Q 9 6 2
A Q 10 9 6 2
A 10 5
7 5
East South West North
Pass1 Pass2
Pass4 All Pass
Opening lead -- 9

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