N-S vulnerable

NORTH

{spade} 8 5 4

{heart} 10 6

{diam} Q J 9 7 6 4

{club} J 6

WEST

{spade} Q 9 7 3 2

{heart} A J 8 4

{diam} 10

{club} Q 9 3

EAST

{spade} 10 6

{heart} Q 9 5 2

{diam} K 8

{club} 10 7 5 4 2

SOUTH (D)

{spade} A K J

{heart} K 7 3

{diam} A 5 3 2

{club} A K 8

The bidding: SouthWestNorthEast 2 NT Pass3 NTAll Pass Opening lead: {spade} 3

Suspicious soul that he is, Cy the Cynic doesn't rely on his partner's signals. Cy believes that when it comes to playing good defense, two heads are more numerous than one.

Cy was East in today's deal. South won West's spade opening lead with the jack and cashed the ace of diamonds. On the next diamond, West discarded a spade, and Cy took the king and shifted to . . . a club. South won and claimed 10 tricks.

"To beat it, you must shift to the queen of hearts," West observed.

"For all I knew," Cy growled, "declarer had the doubleton king of clubs."

Should East-West prevail?

West's spade discard said he was no longer interested in spades, but it didn't tell Cy which suit to shift to. On the second diamond, West must discard the queen of spades as a suit-preference signal: a strikingly high spade to suggest strength in the higher-ranking of the two unplayed suits. Then even Cy might find the winning defense.

(Yes, South might succeed if he led a low diamond without cashing the ace.)

Daily Question

You hold:

{spade} Q 9 7 3 2 {heart} A J 8 4 {diam} 10 {club} Q 9 3.

Dealer, at your left, opens one club. Your partner doubles, and the next player raises to two clubs. What do you say?

Answer: Since your partner promises opening values or more with support for the unbid suits, you may have a game even though your queen of clubs is surely wasted. Jump to three spades, inviting game. You'll probably take 10 tricks if partner has a sound hand such as A K 8 4, K 7 6, A 7 6 5, 5 4.

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