Unlucky Louie, a proponent of Murphy’s Law, says that no matter how carefully you store your Christmas tree lights, they will be tangled up when you take them out of the box next year.

When Louie is declarer, whatever can go wrong, will. At 3NT, he took the king of spades and led the king and a low club, finessing with dummy’s jack. East won and returned a spade.

Louie won and led a club to the ace, sighing when East discarded. He came to the ace of diamonds and finessed in hearts to win three tricks there but took only eight in all: two spades, three hearts, a diamond and two clubs.


“When I’m declarer,” Louie growled, “it’s rare for even one finesse to win.”

Louie misplayed: He must finesse in hearts at Trick Two. If the finesse lost, Louie would need four club tricks and would hope West had Q-x-x. When the heart finesse wins, Louie needs only three clubs: He can play as safe as possible by taking the A-K before leading toward the jack.


You hold: S 7 6 H A J 4 D 7 6 5 4 C A J 5 2. Your partner opens one diamond. The next player passes. What do you say?

ANSWER: A limit raise to three diamonds is possible, but you would prefer better support and a more distributional hand. I would settle for a raise to two diamonds. Some pairs use “inverted” minor-suit raises: A single raise is strong, a jump-raise is weak. I dislike that treatment because some hands, such as this one, are unbiddable.

South dealer

Both sides vulnerable


S 7 6

H A J 4

D 7 6 5 4

C A J 5 2


S Q J 10 5

H K 7 6


C 10 9 7 3


S 9 8 4

H 9 8 5 2

D Q 10 9 2

C Q 8


S A K 3 2

H Q 10 3

D A 8 3

C K 6 4

South West North East
1 NT Pass 3 NT All Pass
Opening lead — S Q

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