Both sides vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} A 9 7 5 2

{heart} K 6 4 3

{diam} J 3

{club} 7 2

WEST

{spade} J 10 8

{heart} 10 8 7 2

{diam} K Q 10 6 2

{club} 5

EAST

{spade} K Q 4 3

{heart} 9

{diam} A 9 8 4

{club} Q 8 6 4

SOUTH (D)

{spade} 6

{heart} A Q J 5

{diam} 7 5

{club} A K J 10 9 3

The bidding:SouthWestNorthEast1 {club} Pass1 {spade} Pass 2 {heart} Pass3 {heart} Pass4 {heart} All Pass Opening lead: {diam} K

"Minnie nails me because she can't see straight. Her teammate nails me because he doesn't know what the contract is."

Cy the Cynic was bemoaning another loss to Minnie Bottoms, my club's senior member, whose old bifocals make her mix up kings and jacks. In a match against Minnie's team, Cy, West, cashed the king and queen of diamonds against Minnie's four hearts and next led the jack of spades.

"Minnie won," Cy said, "and took the A-Q of trumps. When she saw the 4-1 break, she went after the clubs: She led the ace and . . . the jack!"

"She thought she was cashing the ace-king," I observed.

"If she had," Cy growled, "I'd ruff, and she'd go down. As it was, East took the queen and tried to cash a spade. Minnie ruffed and led good clubs, and I was helpless: When I ruffed, dummy overruffed and Minnie drew my last trump and ran the clubs."

"Bifocals or not, her play guarded against a bad club break," I said. "What happened at the other table?"

"Millard Pringle was West," Cy bit out. "After he took two diamonds, he led a third diamond, giving South a ruff-sluff he didn't want. South could still have made four hearts, but he ruffed in his hand and cashed a high trump. Then there was no way to make the contract."

Millard is a shy little man whose window shade doesn't quite go all the way to the top. "Even Millard knows not to concede a ruff-sluff," I said.

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