Both sides vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} A 9 4

{heart} A 8 4 3

{diam} Q 10 2

{club} 10 6 4

WEST

{spade} Q J 10 5 2

{heart} 10 9 5

{diam} A 3

{club} J 9 3

EAST

{spade} 6 3

{heart} Q J 6 2

{diam} 9 7 6 5 4

{club} K 8

SOUTH (D)

{spade} K 8 7

{heart} K 7

{diam} K J 8

{club} A Q 7 5 2

The bidding:

South

West

North

East 1 NT

Pass

2 {club}

Pass 2 {diam}

Pass

3 NT

All Pass

Opening lead: {spade} Q

"How do you win an argument with Cy?" a club player asked me. Cy the Cynic is the type who goes through life pulling doors marked "Push."

"It helps to be right," I said, "but that's seldom enough."

The argument arose after today's deal, with Cy as South. He refused the first spade, took the second in dummy and led a club to the queen.

Next, the Cynic led a diamond: Even if he won four club tricks, he needed a diamond also. West rose with the ace and led a third spade -- and East pitched the king of clubs! Cy still needed a third club trick, but when he led the ace and then a third club, West won and took two spades. Down one.

"I told Cy he should win the first spade," my friend said. "To duck was risky since a heart shift might give the defense two hearts, a spade, a club and a diamond. Cy said I was crazy: His play was fine, and only East's great defense beat him."

Cy should win the first spade, but not because a heart shift threatens. Let Cy win the opening lead in dummy, finesse in clubs and then lead the king of diamonds. West must win, or else Cy shifts back to clubs for nine tricks.

When West leads a second spade, Cy takes his king, leads a diamond to dummy and returns a club. When East's king appears, Cy plays low. If East then had a spade to lead, Cy would lose a club, a diamond and only two spades. If instead East played a low club, having held K-9-8, Cy would take the ace and lead a third club, and again his contract would be safe.

(c)2002, Tribune Media Services