Both sides vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} A 7 4 2

{heart} Q 10 7 5 4 2

{diam} 5 4

{club} K

WEST

{spade} J

{heart} K 6

{diam} 10 8 7 3

{club} A Q 9 8 4 2

EAST

{spade} K 10 9 8 3

{heart} J 9 3

{diam} Q J 6

{club} J 5

SOUTH (D)

{spade} Q 6 5

{heart} A 8

{diam} A K 9 2

{club} 10 7 6 3

The bidding: South West NorthEast1 {diam} 2 {club} 2 {heart} Pass2 NT Pass 3 NT(!) All Pass Opening lead: {club} 8

"Who's that playing with Minnie?" I asked Mabel, our club manager. Minnie Bottoms is our senior member. Her old bifocals make her mix up kings and jacks, usually to her opponents' chagrin.

"That's Minnie's baby sister, Lotta," Mabel replied. "She's only 79. She's here visiting."

A duplicate was in progress, and since the Bottoms sisters were about to play against Cy the Cynic, I sat down to watch. Minnie usually makes mincemeat of Cy. Sure enough, Cy landed at a strange 3NT -- North's raise was inexplicable -- and Minnie, West, led the eight of clubs. Cy welcomed the appearance of dummy's king.

Lotta Bottoms also wore bifocals -- held together with adhesive tape. She peered owlishly at dummy and followed with her jack. Cy then called for a heart from dummy.

"It's not your lead," Lotta murmured. "My king won."

"Oh boy," Cy groaned.

They got it straightened out, but when Cy played his ace of hearts, Minnie dumped her king! Eventually, Lotta got in with her jack and led her last club, and Minnie ran the clubs. Down two.

"Your sister defends like you, Minnie," Cy said resignedly, "only more so."

"All I did was signal high from a doubleton," Minnie quavered.

"And I know enough to cover an honor," Lotta added.

Cy threw up his hands in despair.

If East doesn't get rid of her jack of clubs, the clubs are blocked. If West doesn't throw her king of hearts under the ace, she must win the next heart. Either way, Cy would be safe.

(c)2004, Tribune Media Services