N-S vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} 4 3

{heart} 8 6 3

{diam} K Q 8 4 2

{club} 7 3 2

WEST

{spade} J 8 7

{heart} A 7

{diam} 10 9 7 6 5 3

{club} 10 8

EAST

{spade} 9 6

{heart} K Q 10 9 4 2

{diam} J

{club} Q J 9 6

SOUTH (D)

{spade} A K Q 10 5 2

{heart} J 5

{diam} A

{club} A K 5 4

The bidding:SouthWestNorthEast 2 {club}Pass2 {diam} 3 {heart}3 {spade} Pass4 {spade} All Pass Opening lead: {heart} A

"Isaw it and still don't believe it."

Ed, my club's best player, was telling me about a deal he'd encountered against the redoubtable Minnie Bottoms. Minnie is 82 and wears ancient bifocals that make her mix up kings and jacks, usually to her opponents' chagrin. Against Ed's four spades, Minnie led the ace and a low heart, and East took the queen and led the king.

"I didn't like my chances," Ed said. "I could ruff with the ten, but West figured to have the jack. If she overruffed, I'd be down one even if the clubs broke 3-3.

"Finally, I came up with a line of play that looked good. I knew East had a shapely hand to preempt, but she had only six hearts, and if she had one low trump or three clubs, I had little chance. So I gave her 2-6-1-4 distribution.

"I ruffed the third heart with the king." Ed went on. "I'd cash the ace of diamonds, A-K of clubs and A-Q of trumps and throw Minnie in, I hoped, with the jack of trumps. If she had no more clubs, she'd have to lead a diamond to dummy, and my club losers would go away."

Ed's picture of the deal was on target, and he was due to make the contract. Alas, Minnie's bifocals got him.

"When I ruffed with the king of trumps," Ed sighed, "Minnie 'overruffed' with the jack. She thought I'd ruffed with the jack, and she had the king. Now I couldn't end-play her, and I lost two clubs and went down."

"Your technique was almost perfect," I consoled Ed. "But against Minnie, ruff the third heart with the ace of trumps."

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