N-S vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} 10 9 7 6

{heart} A 6

{diam} J 9 7 6 5

{club} Q 9

WEST

{spade} A 5 2

{heart} J 9 3

{diam} A K 8 4 3 2

{club} 6

EAST

{spade} K J 8 4 3

{heart} 10 2

{diam} 10

{club} 10 8 7 4 3

SOUTH (D)

{spade} Q

{heart} K Q 8 7 5 4

{diam} Q

{club} A K J 5 2

The bidding: South West NorthEast1 {heart} 2 {diam} PassPass3 {club} Pass 3{heart}(!) Pass4{heart}(!)All Pass Opening lead: {diam} K

Iwalked into the club lounge and found my friend the English professor grading papers while waiting for the afternoon duplicate to start.

"Look at this," he groaned, shoving a freshman's essay under my nose, "and tell me the country's not in an intellectual funk."

"The greatest writer of the Renaissance," I read, "was William Shakespeare, who was born in 1564, supposedly on his birthday. Shakespeare never made much money and is famous only because of his plays. He wrote comedies, tradegies and historectomies, all in Islamic pentameter."

In today's deal, which I watched an hour later, the bidding was a comedy and the play was a "tradegy." North, with two key honors in South's suits, should have bid more than three hearts. South roared on to game even though North's hand might have been much less suitable.

At the second trick, the prof, sitting West, cashed his ace of spades. When South's queen fell, the prof led a low diamond next. East obliged by uppercutting with his 10 of trumps, and South overruffed with the queen. South then took the A-K of trumps, but the prof's jack was high. When the clubs broke 5-1, the contract was history: South also lost a club and went down one.

"The man plays the dummy as well as my students write," the prof muttered to me.

Instead of overruffing East's 10 of trumps, South should pitch a club, a loser on a loser. He preserves his high trumps and is sure of six trump tricks and four clubs.

(c)2004, Tribune Media Services