"Only a mediocre player is always at his best," an expert told me, "but I was upset at myself after this deal."

South ruffed the second spade and cashed the A-K of trumps; he couldn't reach dummy for a finesse. When West discarded, South took the top diamonds and led another trump. East won and led the ace of spades, and South ruffed, drew trumps, cashed the ace of clubs and lost the rest. Down two.


"I can ruff the second spade," South said, "unblock the top diamonds and lead the ace and a low club. If West takes the queen and leads a third spade, I ruff and lead another club. When East wins, he must lead a diamond or a trump, and I can pick up the trumps and take the rest."

South was too hard on himself: The complex play he cited fails if East overtakes the queen of clubs and gives West a club ruff! West then exits with a spade, and South loses a trump.

(To succeed, South starts by cashing one high trump; eventually, he can catch East in a coup or end play.)

South dealer

E-W vulnerable



{spade} K 4 2

{heart} 10 6

{diamond} Q J 5 4

{club} J 10 4 3



{spade} Q J 10 7 6 3 {spade} A 9 8

{heart} 5 {heart} Q 4 3 2

{diamond} 9 7 6 3 {diamond} 10 8 2

{club} Q 8 {club} K 9 6



{spade} 5

{heart} A K J 9 8 7

{diamond} A K

{club} A 7 5 2



2{heart} Pass 3 NT Pass

4{heart} All Pass

Opening lead--{spade} Q


2001, Tribune Media Services

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