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Baseball season has come again, which reminds me that if at first you don't succeed, you might try playing second.

Today's South let an easy grounder go through his legs. He took the king of diamonds and counted 11 tricks if the clubs broke 3-2. South therefore led the king and then a low club. West unkindly threw a heart, and South couldn't take even nine tricks. He cashed dummy's high clubs and led the ace and a low spade, but East won, took his good club and led a diamond. All South could do was cash his eight top tricks and give up.

South's play was a case of "If at first you don't succeed, you go down." South gave himself no chance at first but had a second chance available. After South wins the first trick, he takes his top hearts and leads a third heart. When the hearts break 3-3, dummy's fourth heart is good for South's ninth trick, and he can get to dummy with a high club to cash it.

If the hearts didn't break, South would be safe if clubs broke 3-2.

You hold: A 9 5 3 2 A K 5 A 7 3 K 6. Your partner opens one club, and the next player passes. What do you say?

A: Bid two spades, showing interest in slam. If your partner next bids 2NT, rebids three clubs or raises to three spades, you'll bid 3NT, saying your jump was based on a hand worth about 18 points with balanced distribution. Then if partner has minimum values he can pass at a safe game, but with extra strength he'll move on.

South dealer

N-S vulnerable

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

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