We all know to be superstitious is silly, but it still costs us nothing to avoid walking under a ladder. Some deceptive plays are like that: they look silly, but to try them costs nothing.

In a big tournament, West led a low diamond against South's 3NT -- not the wisest choice -- and East played the nine. South won with the QUEEN of diamonds and returned the three.

This play had little to gain -- West couldn't lose by putting up the jack -- but it also had nothing to lose. In fact, West mechanically played low, and dummy's seven won. South then led a club to his hand, took the ace of diamonds and lost a diamond to a red-faced West.

END PLAY

When West shifted to a spade, South took East's ten with the queen, cashed the last diamond and ran the clubs. At Trick 11 he judged to exit with a spade to East's ace, and East had to lead from the king of hearts, giving South 11 tricks!

Taking just nine tricks would have earned a top score. Most Souths at 3NT went down.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S A J 10 H K J 9 8 5 D 9 5 C 6 4 3. Your partner opens one diamond, you respond one heart and he bids 1NT. The opponents pass. What do you say?

ANSWER: Partner has a balanced 12 to 15 points. Your hand is worth ten points, adding a point for your fifth heart; but 25 points are too few for game. Pass. To rebid two hearts would be an error; you've no reason to think eight tricks at hearts would be easier than seven at notrump.

South dealer

E-W vulnerable

NORTH

S K 4 3

H A Q 6 2

D 7 4

C Q J 9 5

WEST

S 7 6 5 2

H 7 3

D K J 6 2

C 10 7 2

EAST

S A J 10

H K J 9 8 5

D 9 5

C 6 4 3

SOUTH

S Q 9 8

H 10 4

D A Q 10 8 3

C A K 8

South West North East

1 NT Pass 2 C Pass

2 D Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening lead -- D 2