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Cy the Cynic entered the club lounge looking glum.

“Wendy and I need an understanding,” Cy said, and for once he sounded sincere. “If I make a comment that can be taken two ways, and one way upsets her, then I meant the other one.”

Cy, a shameless chauvinist, and Wendy, a feminist, are always at odds. Wendy was declarer at today’s slam. She won the first spade with the ace, drew trumps, pondered, took the ace of diamonds and led the five to dummy’s jack.

East took the king and led a club, and Wendy won and cashed the queen of diamonds. East discarded, so Wendy had to lose a spade to East. Down one.

“I was dummy,” the Cynic told me. “I said ‘Well played.’ Wendy got mad and told me to keep my sarcasm to myself.”

Say South starts the diamonds by leading low to her queen. If West won and led a second spade, South would have to decide whether to finesse or try for three diamond tricks. Wendy’s play failed but was well conceived; it offered more options.

You hold: ´ Q 9 6 ™ 8 4 2 © K 7 ® Q 10 5 3 2. Your partner opens one heart, you raise to two hearts and he bids three diamonds. What do you say?

A: Your partner has tried for game and asks you to decide a close case based on your holding in his second suit. You would bid four hearts with a fair raise containing help for the diamonds. Since your values are minimum, your trumps are poor and your queens may be worthless, sign off at three hearts.

South dealer

N-S vulnerable

NORTH

´ A K J

™ K 10 7 3

© J 9 6 2

® 9 4

WEST EAST

´ 10 8 3 2 ´ Q 9 6

™ 9 6 ™ 8 4 2

© 10 8 4 3 © K 7

® J 8 7 ® Q 10 5 3 2

SOUTH

´ 7 5 4

™ A Q J 5

© A Q 5

® A K 6

South West North East

2 NT Pass 3 ® Pass

3 ™ Pass 6 ™ All Pass

Opening lead – ´ 2