Both sides vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} 10 6 2

{heart} K 10 4

{diam} A 5 2

{club} 6 5 3 2

WEST

{spade} K Q J 9 8 4

{heart} 7

{diam} J 10 6

{club} 10 9 8

EAST

{spade} None

{heart} 9 8 6 5 3 2

{diam} Q 9 8 4

{club} K J 4

SOUTH (D)

{spade} A 7 5 3

{heart} A Q J

{diam} K 7 3

{club} A Q 7

The bidding: South West North East1 {club}2 {spade} Pass Pass 2 NT Pass 3 NT All Pass Opening lead: {spade} K

Cy the Cynic is something of an enigma at my club. Nobody knows whether he has family or money, and his former occupation, if ever he had one, is a mystery. Our efforts to pry information out of Cy have developed into a running gag.

"Cy, did you work in an underwear shop?"

"Briefly," he replies.

"Did you manage a towel factory?"

"For a while, but it folded."

"Were you a windshield repairman, Cy?"

"I tried but I couldn't get a break."

Cy got a break in today's deal but didn't take advantage of it. As declarer at 3NT, he won the first spade -- to duck was pointless -- led a heart to dummy and returned a club.

East alertly started to unblock by following with the jack, and Cy's queen won.

Cy next cashed the ace of clubs, and East continued his good defense by dropping the king. Cy couldn't afford to lead another club; he judged rightly to cash his red-suit tricks and give up. Down one.

To take three club tricks and nine tricks in all, Cy needed East to hold K-J-x of clubs -- and he got that break. How would you play the hand?

It's not easy to see, but South must cash the ace of clubs at the second trick. Suppose East drops the jack. South then leads a heart to dummy and returns a club. If East plays the king, South plays low. He later cashes the queen and gets to dummy with the ace of diamonds for the 13th club.

If instead East plays low on the second club, South takes the queen and leads a third club to East.

East might beat 3NT by discarding a club honor on the first spade.

(c)2004, Tribune Media Services