Both sides vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} 5 4 3 2

{heart} A Q 9 2

{diam} A J 5 2

{club} 2

WEST (D)

{spade} A J 10 9 7 6

{heart} K 5

{diam} 10

{club} A 7 6 5

EAST

{spade} K Q 8

{heart} 10 8 7 6

{diam} 7 6

{club} J 10 9 8

SOUTH

{spade} None

{heart} J 4 3

{diam} K Q 9 8 4 3

{club} K Q 4 3

The bidding:WestNorthEastSouth1 {spade} Pass2 {spade} 3 {diam}3 {spade} 6{diam} (!)All Pass Opening lead: {spade} A

"What do you think of players who make 'master bids'?" Cy the Cynic asked me. Cy's tone left no doubt how he felt.

An expert sometimes indulges in bids that are too imaginative. He looks like a genius when the bids work or a lunatic when they fail.

"Discipline wins in the long run," I shrugged.

Cy showed me today's deal. He'd been South.

"Little did I know when I bid three diamonds that my partner would go nuts," the Cynic said.

"Not many players would think of bidding slam," I nodded.

"Not many would admit it if they had," Cy growled.

Cy ruffed the opening lead, drew trumps and led a club from dummy to his king and West's ace. Cy ruffed the next spade and led the jack of hearts, playing West for both the king and 10. Alas, West covered, and East's 10 scored. Down one.

North's bid was good. He knew from the auction that South had one spade at most, and a heart finesse through the opening bidder rated to work. If South had only None, J 10 3, K 10 9 8 6 3, A 9 6 5, he might take 13 tricks!

Cy makes six diamonds by getting a distributional count. He leads a trump to dummy at Trick Two, returns a club to the king and ace, ruffs the spade return, cashes the queen of clubs, ruffs a club, ruffs a spade, ruffs a club and draws trumps.

Cy then knows West began with four clubs and one trump, and the bidding and the fall of East's honors suggest that West had six spades -- hence two hearts. So Cy leads a low heart to the queen and cashes the ace to drop the king.

(c)2004, Tribune Media Services