“I know all of you think of me as arrogant,” the Queen of Hearts confided to Alice as the players at the Mad Hatter’s took a tea break.

“Why would anyone think such a thing, your majesty?” Alice asked, trying not to smile.

The Red Queens, who had been kibitzing, had argued heatedly. The Queen of Hearts blustered that she was the most powerful card in Wonderland, and no ace or king would dare capture her.

“If my cousin were any more self-absorbed,” the Queen of Diamonds told Alice, “she would be a roll of toilet paper. Everyone knows it can be better to lose a trick than win one.”

“Don’t listen,” the Queen of Hearts insisted. “The truth is, I can be quite modest.”

North-South, the Dormouse and the Hatter, bid to 3NT, and Alice, West, led the king of spades. East discouraged with the three, and the Hatter played low. If he took the ace and led a club, East would win and return a fatal spade.

Alice saw that another spade lead would be futile. To have a chance, she had to find East with something in hearts. She was about to lead the deuce when she felt the Queen of Hearts’ penetrating gaze; so Alice led the queen.

The Hatter was doomed. If he took the ace and forced out the ace of clubs, East would lead the king and another heart, and Alice would score the seven and ten for down one. Nor would it help declarer to duck the queen of hearts.

“See?” the Queen of Hearts said triumphantly. “If you lead a low heart at the second trick, the contract is made.”

And Alice had to admit that so it was.

North dealer

N-S vulnerable


S 6 4

H J 8

D A Q 2

C K Q J 10 4 2


S K Q 10 9 5

H Q 10 7 2

D J 8 6

C 3


S 8 7 3

H K 6 3

D 9 7 5

C A 9 7 6


S A J 2

H A 9 5 4

D K 10 4 3

C 8 5

North East South West
1 C Pass 1 H 1 S
2 C Pass 3 NT All Pass
Opening lead — S K

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